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Lesley Laird MP

Shadow Scottish Secretary

Speech to the 2017 Labour Conference

Thank you, Conference

 

Friends, it is a pleasure to be here with you today in the wonderful and vibrant city of Brighton.

 

And like Brighton the mood of our party is vibrant and I want to thank you all for being here today and the energy you bring to our party.

 

I'd also like to give a very special shout out to those of you from Scotland - because despite what some people would like to think - we are alive and kicking!

 

Friends, we face a stark reality in this country.

 

A Government that claims to be competent, that claims to be compassionate, that claims to be caring but is nothing of the kind.

 

Friends, the poisonous medicine of austerity was supposed to fix our economy.

 

Instead, after over 7 years of austerity, the Tories have mismanaged our economy, and failed on their own terms.

 

They have missed every fiscal target they ever set themselves.

 

The deficit was supposed to be eradicated by 2015. 

 

Public sector net debt was supposed to fall.

 

Instead, it has increased by £150 billion over the last year.

 

Meanwhile, the real cost is in human terms.

 

People stripped of dignity.

 

Hope - extinguished.

 

Wages frozen. Services declining. Poverty increasing. Benefits slashed.

 

A generation of young people who will be less well off than the last.

 

In Scotland, the Tory and SNP governments have failed to create the well-paid, rewarding work that we need.

 

Instead, people are left to scrape by in poorly-paid work and zero-hours contracts.

 

Around 1 million people in Scotland are living in poverty, half a million are in work yet still in poverty; and nearly half a million earn less than the living wage.

 

More than a quarter of a million children in Scotland are poverty - a 40,000 increase in a one year period - a figure that should shame the Tories and the SNP - but sadly it does not.

 

Even those who we value most in our society are not safe.

 

The nurses and doctors who we rely on in our most vulnerable hours.

 

The police and the fire services who risk their lives every day to ensure that we are safe.

 

Conference, - enough.

 

When Labour wins the next election, we will be ready to transform our society.

 

To restore aspiration and opportunity. To restore dignity and respect. To reignite hope. Bit by bit.

 

We will ban zero hour contracts.

 

We will introduce a £10 an hour Living Wage. 

 

We will end the public sector pay cap. 

 

We will protect the triple-lock on state pensions.  

 

And we will not stop there.

 

Because if we want to see real change in our economy and society then we must invest.

 

In Scotland, we will establish a Scottish Investment Bank, releasing £20 billion of lending power to invest in our economy and create the high skilled jobs that our economy so desperately needs.

 

And Labour’s spending plans, set out in our manifesto, would translate into over £3 billion a year in additional resources for the Scottish Parliament through Barnett consequentials – a vital injection of funds following years of Tory and SNP cuts.

 

Politics is ultimately about choice. What you spend your time doing and who you spend your time doing it for.

 

We have very different politics - and will make very different choices.

 

We will invest in our young people, in our workers, and in our vital public services. We will invest in housing and education. We will invest in jobs and skills. We will invest in the many. Not the few.

The Tories and the SNP have one thing in common – they protect the rich at the expense of the poor.

 

But it is time for change. And that time is now.

 

And that's why all day every day we need to all keep campaigning. Because friends that is the only way we will get a Labour government elected.

 

Now is the time for the only party who have ever had the political will to deliver the change that this country needs.

 

Now is the time to stay focused on the big prize. Let's not get distracted from that ultimate goal.

 

So – when you go home to your constituencies - keep campaigning, keep building hope.

 

Let's get the Tories out.

 

And let's all work together and deliver a Labour government that will deliver for the many not the few.