Labour Party Conference

It’s good to be back in Manchester – Labour Manchester – with a Combined Authority achieving great things. Your example here is why  we’ll push power away from Whitehall enabling cities and regions to be masters of their own destiny.

Now, with eight months to go our task is to show people that who you vote for does make a difference.

That we’re not all the same. 

We know this Party achieves in office what others wouldn’t even try.

Millions of young people with a better education; university no longer for the few; apprenticeships quadrupled; the first ever national minimum wage.

So when we are on the doorstep, we are proud of our record. We are proud to be Labour.

Our challenge in 2015 is clear: too many people don’t have secure fulfilling jobs that give dignity, respect and a wage they can live on.

So the next Labour Government’s driving purpose is this: jobs – better paid, more secure jobs in every part of our nation.

Working poverty in 2014

We’re meant to be a rich country but for too many people, work is simply not paying enough.

The majority of people living in poverty in this country actually have a job.

Conference, if you work hard day in, day out – you should not have to live in poverty in modern Britain.

And do you know what –the TUC and the CBI agree with us that work needs to pay.

Now, David Cameron and George Osborne like to boast about the job numbers. But they ignore what it’s like to work in our country today.

1.3 million working part-time because they can’t find a full time job.

People taking two jobs to make ends meet.

Over 1.4 million zero hours contracts.

No wonder people are so worried.

UKIP division

Some – like UKIP – want to exploit these insecurities for their own agenda. 

Nigel Farage says he wants to keep the flame of Thatcherism alive. 

Well, to quote The Lady herself, “No. No. No.”

We saw how Thatcherism divided and devastated so many of our communities across Britain.

A divided Britain is not a stronger Britain

Now UKIP are seeking to take this division to a whole new level: scapegoating and setting different groups against each other. 

We won’t stand for it.

We can only build the economy we need by working together.

Employees, businesses, trade unionists and government, ensuring everyone has a stake in our future and a decent job.

Dealing with low pay and insecurity

So – how will we do this?

It starts by recognising the contribution of every person and their work.

Your dignity is why we’ll increase the value of the minimum wage and incentivise employers to pay a living wage.

Your security is why we’ll ban exploitative zero hour contracts.

Your rights are why we’ll reform tribunal fees so affordability is not a barrier to justice.

And it is for the sake of justice that we will set up a proper inquiry into the disgraceful blacklisting of construction workers.

Conference – the Tories have nothing to offer on these issues.

It’s up to us to act.

Building more middle income jobs

But we need to do more: to ensure our businesses can compete in the world and create the jobs of the future.

That’s why we set out Agenda 2030 – our long-term plan to support business, grow our economy, and earn our way to a higher standard of living for all.  

It’s a plan that does away with the snobbery that says an apprenticeship is not as important as university.

So we will invest in high-quality apprenticeships, and new technical degrees.

It’s a plan that recognises new jobs depend on new ideas.

So we will support the companies and sectors with ground-breaking products and services that the world needs.

That’s why when the Tories cheered on the sale of AstraZeneca, Labour raised the alarm. 

We want more AstraZenecas, not less.    

It’s a plan that understands a global future depends on global partners – beginning with our continued membership of the

European Union, working to reform our largest market and our gateway to the rest of the world.

I’ve talked about the importance of our businesses.

I’ve talked about valuing the people who work in them.

The bottom line is this: to be pro-jobs you have to be pro- the people that create them.

And to be pro-business, you have to be pro- the people who work in them. 

Conclusion: a future in the balance

Conference, not all parties are the same and nor are their leaders.

On one hand, David Cameron and his Tories: with their society of haves and have-nots, where you’re on your own and even if you have a job, you can find yourself on the breadline.

On the other, Ed Miliband, our leader and this Labour Party: building a society that knows the value and contribution of every single person; an economy built on all our talents; where having a job means having a decent life. 

Conference, that is the choice before the British people.

That is what is at stake.

That is why we have to win.    

Thank you.