Fight for a future fair for all

Gordon Brown 1Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, Gordon Brown, speaking at a young people's mobilisation event in Central London said today:

"You know it is one of the great myths perpetrated by the media that young people do not care about politics. But my experience is that young people care more about the world around them than any other group of people. And the world around you is what politics is about. Which is why so many people support Children in Need, Comic Relief, the Disaster Fund for Haiti and act when they see pictures of destitution, deprivation and despair.

"People feel, no matter how dimly an d distantly the pain of others, and people believe in something bigger than just themselves.

"The other myth is that there are no differences between the parties. They are enormous and today I want to set out just some of the reasons why I care so much that we should keep Britain moving forward with a majority Labour government.

"And why we should fear so much for Britain if we go back to a Tory government. And I want to do so in the context of fairness.

"I want to show that our policies are rooted in fairness. And that those of our opponents are not just wrong but wrong because they are unfair.

"How many of you sometimes hear what's happening in the world - whether poverty at home, environmental degradation and hunger abroad – and then contrast the excesses of some against the misery of others and exclaim that it is just not fair?

"All parents are used to hearing their children say 'it's just not fair' and you know I think the cry for fa irness is not just a whinge. It is something deep in our DNA. who we are as people, who we are as a country, and what is our moral sense.

"And all the policies I put forward for the future flow from that belief in fairness. A future fair for all. We chose it as our theme because it speaks to who we are as a party. I believe it speaks to the decent instincts of who we are as a people.

"And so today I want to talk to you about the different future on offer with Labour – about three big questions about our future that are relevant to the kind of fairer Britain we are going to have at the end of this century.

"The first is our bold global campaign to address climate change, the dominant issue humanity has to face together this century.

"So today we are launching Labour’s Green Manifesto, including new commitments to:

  • fight this year for a world wide climate change agreement
  • make sure that the more than one hundred countries signed up to ac tion will come together to agree a framework for reducing carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050
  • ensure the poorest countries facing climate refuges and climate evacuees have the help they need
  • legislate for a statutory code of consumer rights
  • create 5,000 low carbon apprenticeships and a low carbon economic area in every region
  • and to show our commitment to fairness, help those on low incomes with their energy bills
  • And I can say today that to ensure fairness to the elderly we will offer for all pensioners over 75 on pension credit at least £100 off energy bills on top of the £250 winter fuel allowance

"And the second big concern I have and again it is about a fairness issue, is how we create a new politics that doesn’t only inspire you with the big causes – like making poverty history, beating cancer in this generation, and making the banks serve the public and not themselves, but also gives you the chance to get more involved in changi ng Britain. So I am proposing a new type of election for the Commons and the Lords, a new right to recall and petition your MPs and pushing forward with a vote on votes at 16.

"And let’s be honest: the Conservatives are hardly the party of change if they are still the party of hereditary peers. They are hardly the party of change, if they still want to repeal the ban on fox hunting. If they were to be the party of change they would have changed themselves.

"The third issue about fairness to young people is in education and employment. I’m incredibly proud that we now have a record number of students, and that for the first time the majority are women. And even in the recent budget, despite the tough times we are facing, we still prioritised creating extra university places, and the student financing to go with them. That’s because we don’t believe in limited room at the top – but that all young people have something to offer if given the right support.

"And I’m sure you know about the young people’s guarantee we are already offering – but I think, if we stay on the road to recovery, we can create one million new skilled jobs, and give all of you not only the chance to get by in life, but the chance to get on.

"But what did we read in the paper this morning?

"That the newspapers have got hold of a secret Tory memo that reveals that they will end Labour’s guarantee of free nursery places and allow nurseries to charge parents of 3 and 4 year old millions of pounds in supplementary fees.

"Just think about that; top up fees for the under fives – the very reason we created Sure Start, the very reason we backed free nursery places, the very reason we have fought so hard to lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty because it is unfair for a child’s birth to be its destiny, unfair that the wealth of your parents should determine the end of your story and that instead of developin g some of the potential of some of our people we should be a society where we develop all of the potential of all of the people.

"And I say we should apply to every policy a fairness test.

Is it right?

Will it work?

But above all is it fair?

"So let me set five fairness tests that go to the heart of our modern welfare society – and then test whether the Conservative policies can begin to match the fairness we offer, policies where I believe we can show that the Tories are hurting not just modest income Britain but middle income Britain and policies where they are now being revealed to be intent on kicking away the ladder of social mobility for thousands of young people.

"For once you go behind the gloss and the posters and the PR and the style; you find that policy by policy, detail by detail the Tories are planning an assault on all the pillars of the welfare state – our commitment to education, to employment opportunity, to tackling poverty and unfairness, and to decent life chances for your children.

"Meeting the first fairness test is ensuring that nursery school children should receive their education free of charge without top up fees.

"We’re just raising the hours to 15 hours a week, because getting your first chance to learn at nursery school is key to the development of your talents for the future.

"But the Tories will not match our commitment to raise the real terms budgets for nursery schools, nor will they match the cash for Sure Start children’s centres for the under 4s.

"And now worse than that they propose top up fees for children and will create a two tier and divided system for three year and four year olds in our country.

"They have walked away from nursery schools with what the head of the day care industry calls an attack on free entitlement.

"But do you know what makes me angriest? It’s that they are mounting this attack on children - not just nurs ery schools but Sure Start centres at exactly the same time as proposing a massive tax break to the 3,000 richest estates worth 200,000 each in the country.

"I say: in the year 2010 to give the richest estates money while demanding money from parents for their nursery school education is simply not fair. Fairness means decent education for all nursery aged children, not 200,000 tax cuts for a wealthy few.

"The second fairness test I apply is to child tax credits.

"We asked the Tories to ensure that children and parents are entitled to continue to receive the child tax credits worth £10 a week on top of child benefit and often more for child care tax credits for middle class families.

"But when we pressed them to continue child tax credits for middle class they walked by on the other side. They failed the fairness test. They are prepared to see one million families or more a week lose child tax credits while they are still prepared to see the richest given £200,000 each.

"1.5 billion pounds would be given to the richest estates in the country while middle class families permanently lose their tax credit on which they depend. Fairness today surely means giving children the tax credits they need and not £200,000 inheritance tax cuts for the few.

"The third fairness test is Child Trust Funds. We have made child trust available to every family – an essential element of savings for the younger generation.

"And why, because we want not just a few sons and daughters of wealthy families to have trust funds but to give everyone the chance as a c hild to build up a trust fund.

"The Tories would take them away from the children of men and women on 16,000 or more - and the Liberals would take them away altogether.

"I say that it's not fair to cut child trust funds that should be available for all children, by cutting inheritance tax for the few.

"Even when young people need to build up savings of their own they would rather add to the savings of the wealthiest estates in the country by 200,000 each by a cut in inheritance tax, than help our children for the future.

"Fourth we asked them to maintain the schools budget so that families could rely on ever improving schools for their children.

"And we wanted to make sure that every child who needed it had the chance of tuition and that every child in secondary school had a director of students to see their education all the way through.

"And they won’t support our rising budgets for schools or our free tuition for school pupils.

" I know that some can afford to pay privately for tuition but its right that we make available tuition for all those when they cannot afford to pay too.

"When we asked the Tories to support our children by funding our schools policy they walked on by on the other side, because they prefer inheritance cuts for the few to guaranting rising investment in the education of the many.

"It’s not fair and people will see it’s not fair.

"And fifth we asked them to support education to 18 and a guarantee that every school leaver will have an opportunity and then if unemployed have the chance of a job with the Futures Jobs Fund.

"I don’t know why they have not supported our proposals because they’re the best guarantee of avoiding a return to the desperate situation of the 1980s when too many young people became part of a lost and wasted generation.

"But when we asked them to support our measures for education to 18 and the future jobs fund they walked o n by on the other side.

"Let me say the importance of this.

"Better early learning, more nursery education provision, better help with tuition at school, better help to stay on at school - these are not only help for families now, but the main routes to social mobility in our country.

"By bringing them in together we double the chances of someone on a low income, getting a middle class job in the future.

"So what the Tories are doing by their unfairness is pulling away the ladders of social mobility in this country.

  • Tax credits cut for thousands of middle class families
  • Child Trust Fund removed from most families
  • School budgets cut because they won’t match our pledges on schools
  • Tuition ruled out for young people who need one to one tuition who cannot afford to pay
  • Children's centres cut
  • And now we find that nursery education would be a casualty of Tory years

"Day by day the full extent of Tory cuts is being re vealed, and all the same time as promising an inheritance tax cut for the wealthiest.

"Their motto is not 'God helps people who help themselves', but that 'God helps those whom he has already helped'.

"And I say that is morally wrong.

"And the British people know it is wrong.

"And I think even some Conservatives know that it is wrong.

"So I say this election choice is becoming clearer.

"Some want to say it is between substance and slogans.

"Some want to say it is between new and old.

"But I say it’s between fairness and unfairness.

"Because what did we hear from Mr Cameron on Friday? That they have already marked out the regions to be hit first and hardest by Tory cuts.

"Northern Ireland and the north east of England have been singled out as the first places for the axe to fall. They have Sunderland in their sights. Hartlepool. Redcar, Durham. Then it will be Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Morpeth – and what begins with the towns and cities of the North East will not end there – but will set the blueprint for their attacks on jobs and investment in the North West, the Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber too.

"But it doesn’t need to be like that. Britain deserves better, and Britain will get better if we can persuade enough people to vote for fairness on May the 6th.

"You know when I was at university I led a campaign for fair pay for cleaners, and to get Edinburgh to disinvest from apartheid South Africa. I was an idealist then – and I’m an idealist now. I believe politics can change the world – and that our Labour Party is the greatest fighting force for fairness our country has ever known.

"Because our country has been moving forward these last 13 years.

"We’ve come so far in your short lives – now it’s up to you to ensure the country goes forward not back.

"So if you want a fairer Britain you have to vote for it. And you have to vot e Labour.

"If you want to secure the recovery you have to vote for it. And vote Labour.

"If you want to protect jobs and public services you have to vote for it. And vote Labour.

"If you want to stop their immoral, unfair, unjust, unBritish inheritance tax cut for the richest people in the country you have to vote for it. And you have to vote Labour.

"If you want to stop the cuts to the North East, North West, in and every region in our land you have to vote to stop them and that means voting Labour.

"If we believe in fairness we need to fight for it – because a fairer future never happens by chance.

"So get out there and fight for Labour’s cancer guarantee, for Sure Start, for tax credits, for the Child Trust Fund.

"Get out there and fight to protect investment in our NHS, our schools, our neighbourhood police.

"Get out there and fight for one million skilled jobs, for universal broadband, for high speed rail.

"Get out and fight for a national care service and to beat cancer in this generation. Get out and fight and fight and fight again – not for our party’s future but for our country’s future.

"It’s when you see the Tory proposals that you realise fairness is in our DNA. Fairness in the British people’s DNA. Fairness at the core of the British people's DNA.

"We are fighting an election on the recovery and not putting that a risk.

We are fighting an election on building Britain’s economy for the future.

We are fighting an election on defending our schools hospital and police against Tory withdrawal of our guarantees for their improved service.

And we are fighting an election a future fair for all.

"Get out there and fight as if your life depends on it – because it does."