Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Ed Miliband speech to launch Labour's local election campaign

It is almost two years since David Cameron and Nick Clegg promised change.

The British people have given them a chance.

But two years on, it’s time to take stock.

They promised us growth that lasts.

And we haven’t even had any growth for eighteen months.

They promised fairer taxes.

But two years on, they are raising taxes for pensioners but cutting them for millionaires.

They promised us a stronger society.

But, accrding to the British Crime Survey, violence, theft and robbery are going up - the fastest rise in a decade.

Wrong values, wrong priorities, wrong choices.

This is a government out of touch.

But we are not going to rely just on the unpopularity of this government.

Because I know a lot of people thought Labour eventually lost touch when we were in government.

That is why Labour is changing so that we can once more change the country.

The issues on which Labour will campaign in these local elections are rooted in real life, in the experiences people in every local authority area in the country.

Living Standards


The NHS.


On each of these issues we are with you.

These solutions are about making different choices, having different priorities and showimg we can deliver even when there is less money around.

Living standards

I’ve met so many people who say it’s so difficult to make ends meet.

Families all around this country are facing a quiet crisis of rising costs.

When they fill up a tank of petrol, take the train to work, or pay their gas or electricity bills.

And the government doesn’t understand what it’s like.

They are letting companies put up train fares by as much as 11%.

They are letting energy companies overcharge pensioners.

And they are making it worse in their decisions on tax.

Labour councils are working to keep your costs down.

In Manchester, despite having their budgets cut, the council are keeping every Sure Start centre open which helps keen childcare affordable.

In Newcastle, Labour councillors have kept libraries open, so families can afford to find a book to read to their children.

And just up the M42 in Gedling, the council is helping keep mortgages and parking affordable.

If Labour was in government in Westminster, we would end rail rip-offs by capping fare increases on every route.

We would force the energy firms to give pensioners over the age of 75 the lowest possible tariff.

We stop the tax on pensioners by not going ahead with the 50p tax cut.

And reverse the cuts to tax credits by reversing the more generous pensions tax reliefs the government introduced for the richest.

None of these require extra spending.

They just need better choices, different values.
We have a jobs crisis in this country.

A million young people are out of work.

The government have set up a work programme which doesn’t even guarantee work.

A jobs programme which doesn’t even guarantee jobs.

How out of touch can you get?

Labour councils and councillors across the country are already showing there is another way.

In Liverpool for example, a Labour council is creating more than a thousand new apprenticeships and building more than two thousand homes.

Working to bring back hope.

And if we were in government in Westminster, we would tax bank bonuses to guarantee 100,000 unemployed young people real jobs.

We would conquer long-term youth unemployment all around the country.

Every person aged 18 - 24 who was out of work for a year would be given a placement in a small business or similar.
And we’d make sure they take it.

Real jobs, real prospects, real training.

We would get Britain working again.


Look what they’re doing to the NHS.

David Cameron has betrayed all his promises on the NHS.

His government came to office saying they were going to leave the NHS alone.

‘No more top down reorganisations of the NHS’ is what they said.

But as soon as they got in, what did they try to do?

Not just a reorganisation of the NHS.

But the biggest reorganisation in the history of the NHS.

Breaking it up.

Damaging patient care.

And spending money reorganising even while they sack nurses.

How out of touch can you get?

Labour councils will act as the last line of defence against the fragmentation of the NHS.

And if we were in government now, we would protect 6,000 nurses’ jobs by dumping their top-down reorganisation


And when it comes to keeping our communities safe, look what this Tory-led government are doing. Taking 16,000 police officers off the streets.

Ditching ASBOs.

How out touch can you get?

Our parents and grandparents often say that communities were safer and stronger in times gone by.

You were more likely to know your neighbour, kids respected the elderly and young people felt the country had something to offer them.

We can’t recreate the past.

But I believe in a country with those values of respect, responsibility and opportunity.

The Labour Group here in Birmingham is campaigning to introduce a tougher approach to anti social behaviour and challenging cuts to the West Midlands police budget.

And that is the approach we want to see:

Common Sense Policing

That means three things.

Firstly, keeping frontline police on the streets.

Keeping PCSOs on the streets.

Secondly, it means that the police and local authorities must have enough power to deal with antisocial behaviour.

ASBOs aren’t perfect, but I have had too many people in my constituency in tears about their neighbours from hell to think that the solution is to just scrap ASBOs altogether.

But that’s what the Tories are doing.

Thirdly, we need to encourage police to nip problems in the bud.

Instead of just giving people a caution knowing they will commit further offences, those who do the wrong thing should be forced to make it up to the victim.

Make good on the damage they have caused, help rebuild the community project, clean up the graffiti, fix a wrecked garden.

Of course, it won’t be appropriate in all circumstances and should only happen if the victim wants it to happen.

When offenders have to confront the consquences of their crimes and meet their victims, they can come to understand what they have done and the damage they have caused.

This has made some less likely to commit further offences: it puts them back onto the right path.

Here in the West Midlands, the police are already working with local authorities to try out this approach.

And it is working.

But the problem is less than one in thirty victims across the country sees this kind of approach being employed.

So the difference with Labour is that:

We would be keeping police on the streets not taking them off.

We would be strengthening powers to deal with anti social behaviour not taking it away.

And we would force offenders who break something or cause damage in the community to fix it.

That's commonsense policing.

The Tories have abandoned any pretence they can govern for the whole country.

They have abandoned Middle Britain.

They prefer to listen to those who have given millions of pounds to the Conservative Party.

Labour would govern for the whole country, not just for the wealthy few.

Those are the values that in these tough times, this country needs more than ever today.

Those are the values at the heart of what we are campaigning for in these local elections.