Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Brendan Barber's address to Labour Party conference 2011

Brendan Barber

"Chair, conference - it's great to be with you in Liverpool today to bring a message of solidarity from the TUC, returning the sororal greetings that your NEC chair Norma Stephenson brought to our Congress just two weeks ago. "In her address, Norma stressed the historic ties that have bound us together through good times and bad.
"Back in 1900 a resolution passed at a special TUC conference proposed the establishment of a new Labour Party - and today, over a century on, the alliance between the two wings of the labour movement is as strong and important as ever.
"But, as Ed Miliband said in his address to our Congress, we need to reinvigorate and reinvent that relationship for a new age.
"Together we must develop the policies that Britain needs - that the British people need - at this time of profound crisis.
"In the short term, we urgently need an alternative to austerity. A 'Plan B' to get people back to work, get our economy moving, and get tax revenues flowing.
"Because with each passing day it's becoming clearer that the government's austerity agenda is dragging our economy down.
"Just last week, the IMF warned that a double dip recession is now possible - and pressed George Osborne to change course.
"That's why we need a different deficit reduction strategy. Not cuts that scar the poorest, but fair taxes the rich cannot dodge. Not a four-year fiscal straightjacket, but a ten-year plan for growth.
"Not a headlong rush to austerity, but a sensible timetable for repairing the public finances.
"And as we set out our alternative to massive cuts, let's nail the Tory lie that the crisis we face was caused by Labour's investment in schools and hospitals.
"No, it was made in the boardrooms and trading floors of the City, where greed and recklessness caused the worst financial crash in living memory - leaving us with the deepest recession since the 1930s, and a trillion pound bill for bailing out the banks.
"Conference, there can be no going back to businesses or bonuses as usual - never again can we allow the financial elite to destroy the lives, livelihoods and living standards of the hard-working majority.
"Instead, we have to address some fundamental challenges. How we build a stronger, fairer, more stable economy, how we nurture a more caring, compassionate society, and how we make Britain a better, more equal place.
"Yesterday, Ed Balls gave us his five-point plan for immediate action that could be taken to boost recovery. Let me make five proposals on longer term reform that could begin to build the new economy that we so desperately need.
"One: let's transform the banks from casinos that enrich themselves into utilities that serve real people and real businesses, and support genuine wealth creation.
"Two: let's support more investment in the low-carbon technologies that can bring prosperity to our regions and rebuild our manufacturing base, as we face up to the climate change crisis.
"Three: let's create a genuinely fair, progressive tax system where UK plc, the City and the super rich can no longer avoid their moral and material obligations to the rest of us.
"Four: let's put the focus on generating decent jobs that pay fair wages, so that working people are no longer forced to borrow to keep up.
"And five: let's make the fight against inequality our defining purpose, so we begin to heal the terrible social scars we saw this summer as Britain's cities burned.

"Conference, we need that new progressive agenda urgently. Because with each day that passes, the damage caused by this ongoing crisis is getting worse.
"Today's announcement by BAE of 3,000 job losses is yet another devastating body blow to our manufacturing base.
"Unemployment going up. Real earnings going down. Living standards squeezed as we have not seen for generations.
"And with millions of public service workers fearful for the future of their pensions too as the government seeks to impose change without proper negotiation, levying an unfair tax on public servants in the name of short-term deficit reduction targets rather than long-term fairness.
"I hope that we will be able to resolve this dispute through negotiation and there is still time, but if that proves impossible, then at the end of November, an unprecedented array of unions will make common cause in a TUC day of action.
"The government will try to turn the wider community against the teachers, nurses, home helps and all the other dedicated members of the public service workforce with lies about gold-plated pensions. I am confident that they will fail and we will win the battle for public support and for fairness.
"Conference, in these profoundly tough times, working people across Britain look to us for answers.
"So let's work together to give people a sense of hope. Because I want to take pride in our shared history. But more than that, I want us to forge a shared future.
"Now, more than ever, Britain needs a strong labour movement. Now, more than ever, Britain needs strong labour values.
"And as coalition policies drag our country down, Britain will soon need a strong Labour government once again. Thanks for listening."

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