Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Red Ed's First Speech in full...

“Comrades, I am not Red Ed. I am a nice boy, the son of immigrants who escaped the Nazis. I might have had an unusual childhood growing up in a house full of passionate lefties, but my elder brother, David, is a good guy. But I am in charge now.

"In Government, Labour got a lot right: the minimum wage, the New Deal, better schools and hospitals, civil partnerships, devolution. But we also got a lot wrong and that is why we lost the election. We must not blame the electorate for not voting for us.

"So, without batting an eyelid, I am quite happy to trash much of Labour's record. The party was wrong on the Iraq war, bank regulation, mass immigration, civil liberties, and tuition fees. I will brush over the fact that I was part of the government that made these mistakes. I was a Gordon Brown protege, but he was wrong to claim that.

So, I will do things differently. I am the new generation even if I am a similar age to the prime minister. I will be a responsible leader. I will back the coalition on some issues: Ken Clarke's plans for shorter prison sentences, Theresa May's review of stop and search, and even Iain Duncan Smith's plans to reform welfare. I will speak for the mainstream majority. But I will shape the centre ground of politics, not occupy it.

"Oh, and by the way, I spent much of my campaign slagging off the Liberal Democrats but I will vote yes for AV, an elected Lords, stronger civil liberties, more freedom for local authorities and no more Iraq-style wars. Just in case we might need to work with Nick Clegg and he kind of likes these things too.

"I want to try to work out a credible policy on the economy. I want to cut the deficit. It is patriotic to do so. So, cutting the deficit by half over four years is a good starting point. But we must not cut at a pace and a scale that endangers the recovery. So that's a hint I will cut spending more slowly but I will not tell you today what that means in practice.

"I think Dave Cameroon is onto something with his "big society" riff so I will support this too. I too, you see, believe in the good society and community, the importance of post office, pub and family. But government must play a big role in shaping this, I mean, the state can itself be a "vested interest" and impede the good society. So I might not a "big state" man, whatever my critics say.

"Now, I might have won the leadership election on the back of union votes when I wasn’t the real winner (Get over it brother) but I want to tackle the idea that I am in their pocket. So, brothers, you must be responsible. There must be no irresponsible strikes in the face of cuts. That would alienate the public against us. I won't support irresponsible strikes. But don't worry, I haven't gone all Tory on you. I still support a living wage, I want to tax the banks and the country to the hilt but my answer to immigration is not a cap but less flexible labour markets and stronger workers' rights.

"So, look, I am the new kid on the block right, I am not like that bonkers awkward Scottish bloke who came before me. And I am an optimist. This is my new dividing line with the Tories. David Cameron is a miserable pessimist who believes that biggest issue facing the country is the deficit. I am an optimist who will cut spending but don’t know how. I am an optimist who can lead Labour's new, new left wing generation to second place at the next election.

"And yes, I am not Forrest Gump. I do not believe that life is like a box of chocolates..."

No comments: