Jon Cruddas MP – Speech to Labour Conference
Good afternoon conference.
I must admit I never thought I would be standing up here.
We meet together here in Manchester to take stock and plan for the future. We are obliged to do this.
Our Country is in trouble.
Our task is to win and retain power in 2015.
It won’t be easy.
It follows one of our worst ever election defeats.
In defeat we tend to turn inward; taking lumps out of each other.
Another collision with the electorate soon follows.
That cannot happen. The stakes are too high.
It feels like we are a country on tilt.
Where, to quote FDR:
‘Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.'
Our economy has ground to a halt.
Demand is falling.Public borrowing is rising. Banks are unreformed. Barely 2 years into Government, the Conservatives are sinking; running on empty. Cameron is captive to the hard right and in retreat. The hard liners - the true economic liberals - are running the show. They are not conservative in terms of valuing the traditions, institutions and common life of our country. Rather - through austerity and retrenchment – they are conducting an economic experiment. It pivots around the idea that self interest is the only ruling principle; It overrules that of community, society, country.
Things are going to get bumpy and nasty.They have admitted they are coming for our leader. Rather than focus on the needs of the Country. They are going to get low and personal. Well I am up for that fight to support Ed. No wonder Andrew Mitchell wasn’t sacked. He reveals what lies beneath. Cameron’s modernisation is dead. Compassionate conservatism exposed as a synthetic creed. What is left is extreme, harsh and destructive. It threatens the essential character of this country - our country.
So Ed Miliband is not just our leader. He is a standard bearer for what this country could be.
For a new economy, society and politics.
So remember when the low blows start flying.
We fight not just for our leader and party but for what this country could be.
That great Welshman Raymond Williams once said that ‘to be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing’
That is our task; a fight to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.
The only thing George Osborne can promise Britain is that the rich will get richer.While the earnings of people on low and middle incomes fall. While the jobs of skilled workers disappear. While the proportion of national income going to wages falls. Where the majority will suffer.
This crew think they were born to rule.In politics they think you kiss up and you kick down.
Watching Andrew Mitchell I was reminded of one of the opening lines from The Great Gatsby: where the narrator’s father says:
‘whenever you feel like criticising anyone just remember that all the people in the world have not had the advantages that you’ve had’.
Tory strategists think they can hide this by Dave going on American talkshows and opening a twitter account.
It won’t fly.
The Liberal Democrats are like orphans in the storm.
Nick Clegg is priceless.
He speaks with absolute certainty and then totally flip flops.
Listening to Nick last week reminded me of the words of another Deputy Leader who once said this:
‘We are on an irreversible trend towards greater freedom and decency. But of course all of that could change’.
Nick Clegg is our very own Dan Quayle. Remember him?
Lib Dem conference was a sorry sight.
They were apologising over tuition fees
changes to VAT
Over nuclear power
Over treatment of the disabled
They were saying sorry over welfare reform
Tax cuts for high earners
Treatment of women
Over the AV referendum debacle
Literally running around with ‘I am sorry’ badges
The were apologising for Nick Clegg
In turn their apologiser in chief was saying sorry to anyone who would listen, for anything he could think of.
Personally, I hate all this saying sorry - it is cynical and synthetic.
Stand up and take responsibility for what you are doing.
Here is the rub - just like Andrew Mitchell- you can offer up countless synthetic apologies;
You can bob and weave.
But you cannot fool the British public - you cannot take them for mugs.
Bottom line is this: a deficit reduction plan without a growth plan is a national disaster.
So brace yourselves for what’s coming down the tracks.
I read in the Daily Telegraph last week that, and I quote:
‘The air of anxiety is palpable as Whitehall waits for the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.'
A consensus is emerging that the fiscal situation revealed by George Osborne will be even bleaker than expected.
One influential figure explains. “It will be a moment of national peril.”
It is crunch time.
We cannot go on like this - a broken economy, wounded society and failing political system.We need to rebuild Britain. Where we all contribute and take responsibility. But people are shut out of the institutions that run the country - Whitehall, the media, our political system and our big corporations. They are ignored or taken for granted. The economic crisis is also a crisis of our democracy.
The Policy Review has to forge a new vision for Britain for the 21st century.
Reaching out to where there is energy.
Party members organizing in their local areas.
Forging alliances for change.
Contributing ideas on policy.
The policy review is organised around three pillars:
A new economy for working people not just the few at the top
A good society that is about decency and an ethic of give and takeA new politics which includes people in the decisions that affect their lives
Later this month the Shadow Cabinet will agree the work plan for the next 12 months.
Angela, Tom and I will be working to ensure the Party is fully welded into that process.
That organisation and policy are anchored together.
Why? Because we have to.
At certain times in our history. Labour has stepped up.
In early 1940 when Attlee and Greenwood joined the Wartime Cabinet.
It was Labour who supported Churchill against those in his own Party who wanted to cut a deal with the fascists.
In 1945 it was Labour who sought to build a new country against the Party of 30s mass unemployment and appeasement.
In 1964 it was Labour who sought to grapple with the scientific and technological challenges of our time whilst our opponents wondered around their grouse moors.
In 1997 Labour sought to modernise our country in the face of drift and decay.
So the choice today is to Rebuild Britain or manage our decline.
To make hope possible rather than despair convincing.
This task lies deep within our history
Return to FDR in March 1933. He said this:
'We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity, with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values, with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike.'
We are about Nation Building.
It is not a choice that confronts Labour it is an obligation on us all.