Ed Miliband fightback speech in full

You know there is a saying which goes: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Being Leader of the Opposition, particularly in the last few days, I know what it means.

You need resilience in this job.

You need thick skin.

But above all, you need belief in what you are doing.

Not belief based on a longing to have a picture on the wall in Downing Street.

Not belief driven by a sense of entitlement, that it is somehow Labour’s turn.

Instead, belief driven by how we must change the country.

That is why I am in this job.

That is why it matters to me.

That is what drives me on.

And it is through our beliefs that we’re going to win this election.

And if ever my job seems pretty hard, to you or to me, just pause for a minute.

And think about the people doing really hard jobs.

Shift work.

Night work.

Zero hours contracts.

Sixty hours a week.

Two jobs, even three jobs, to make ends meet.

For me, this election is about them.

And let me just say this:

I am willing to put up with whatever is thrown at me, in order to fight for you.

That’s my duty, that’s my responsibility.

That’s our duty, that’s our responsibility.

Not to shrink from the fight.

Not to buckle under the pressure.

But to win.

And remember:

We’re in a fight not because our opponents think we’re destined to lose the election.

But because they fear we can win.

And between now and the election they are going to use every tactic to try to destabilise, distract us and throw us off course.

Our task, the task for every person in this party, is simple:

To focus our eyes on the prize of changing this country.

Now I have heard some people say they don’t know what we stand for.

So let me take the opportunity today to spell it out in the simplest of terms.

It is what I stood for when I won the leadership of this party.

And it is what I stand for today.

This country is too unequal.

And we need to change it.

This inequality doesn’t just affect a few.

But it is about a country that increasingly doesn’t work for the many.

So it starts with one core belief.

Our country only works for the privileged few today, not for most people.

And when I say, “Britain only works for the privileged few”, it is not just a slogan or some theoretical idea, it is rooted in the lives of people in every part of our country.

This is what I stand for.

It is about:

People asking why are they being told there is a recovery when they aren’t feeling the benefits.

People working so hard but not being rewarded.

Young people who fear that they are going to have a worse life than their parents.

People making a decent living but who can’t afford to buy a home of their own.

People who worry that one of the foundation stones of their security – the NHS – is under threat.

People asking why they are on zero hours contracts while some of those at the top get away with paying zero tax.

The zero zero economy we need to change.

And we will be saying more about tax avoidance and how we tackle it later today.

And it is about all those people who feel that there is something just not right about the values of a country when they see Chief Executives get a 21 per cent pay rise last year, as everyone else’s wages have fallen.

These are the symptoms of a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country.

That’s why I want to be Prime Minister.

To change it.

And this inequality is not some accident.

It is driven by beliefs about how you run countries and how we should run Britain.

Wrong beliefs.

Beliefs that have had their time.

The belief that insecurity is the way you make working people work harder.

The view that low pay is the only way we can compete in the world.

The idea that markets will always get the right outcome, even if that means powerful interests have all the power.

The notion that we cannot afford decent public services when money is tight.

And above all, the most mistaken view of all, that the success of the country depends just on a few at the top.

And when they do well, everyone in Britain does well.

These are the failed ideas of the past.

These are the failed ideas that have landed us with the problems we have as a country.

These are the failed ideas I will consign to history if we are the next government.

And this Conservative government can never change these ideas because they believe all these things and more.

Because they have a core belief, just like we do, but its content couldn’t be more different.

They think that Britain does best when the most powerful do best.

That’s why, when they twist and turn to try to pretend that really, truly, they are on the side of working people, don’t believe it.

They won’t act on zero hours contracts because they think they are good enough for working people.

They won’t do anything about low pay or the living wage, because they think that’s how we compete.

They won’t stand up to the banks or the energy companies, because they are in hock to the vested interests.

They won’t stand up for all our young people because they think we can succeed with only a few doing well.

They won’t raise taxes on the very richest for the NHS, because their donors and lobbyists won’t wear it.

And they simply don’t get why it would matter that we see such unequal rewards in our country.

In fact they make it worse with tax cuts for millionaires and a recovery skewed to the top.

They don’t understand the problem and they can’t stand up for you.

So what do we replace these failed ideas with?

Here’s what I believe.

Basic security at work is the foundation of a successful economy.

That’s how Britain has succeeded in the past and that’s how we will succeed in the future.

Everyone who works hard should be rewarded.

And we cannot put up with an economy based on low pay and low skills.

No vested interest, whoever they are and however powerful they are, from banks to energy companies, should ever be able to hold our country back.

Decent public services are the foundation of who we are as a country.

And above all Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

Basic British values.


Hard work rewarded.

Vested interests made to work in the public interest.

Public services there when you need them.

And a country succeeding together, not ripped apart.

Labour values.

The values of the British people.

The values that will win us the general election.

And this isn’t just what I believe, it is who I am.

Let me say directly to the British people, here’s what I think matters in a Prime Minister.

When I hear the stories of people who say this country isn’t working for them and they don’t see a future, I don’t shrug my shoulders and say there’s nothing we can do.

Because I was brought up to believe that it matters and we can change things.

When powerful forces try to tell me “no way”, I answer: “who says?”

Because I’ve always believed that no force in our country should be too powerful to be held to account.

And I am proud to believe that we need big ideas to change our country.

Decency, determination and ideas to change Britain – that’s what matters to me.

Big ideas, not the old ideas.

That’s the journey we’ve been on since 2010.

The old ideas won’t work anymore.

There was a global financial crash only a few years ago and there is a deficit that still has to be paid down.

And we will pay the deficit down in a fair way.

That’s why change has to be about big reform, not about big spending.

And in fact, big spending can’t change the fundamentals of an economy that doesn’t work for working people.

And we won’t have the money to do it anyway.

This is about our character as a party.

The wealth creators, not just the wealth distributors.

Because we need to make possible good, private sector jobs at decent wages.

The devolvers of power, not the centralisers.

Because we believe in giving power away so people can change their own lives and communities.

And the reformers of the state, not the defenders of the status quo.

Because we can’t just make decisions in Westminster.

Just as tackling economic inequality is Labour’s mission, so too tackling inequalities of power must be our mission too.

And we’ve changed in other ways as well.

Like on immigration.

It isn’t prejudiced to worry about the effects of immigration.

It is because of the real impacts it has.

I am the son of immigrants.

It is 70 years next year since my grandfather was killed by the Nazis.

And I know the contribution my family has made to this country.

But I also know that it is not enough to say immigration benefits our country as a whole.

So just as we should apply the values of the British people in the way our country is run, so too on immigration.

A sense of fairness means that we can’t simply allow wages to be undercut.

A sense of fairness means that entitlement to benefits should be earned, so you contribute for longer before you claim.

And belief in community means that people should learn English and be part of our society.

We should be proud to stand up for those values.

We will be talking more about immigration as a party.

But always on the basis of Labour values, not UKIP values.

We know that the deep discontent with the country gives rise to those who suggest false solutions.

But unlike the Tories, what we will never do is try to out-UKIP UKIP.

I think it is time we levelled with people about UKIP.

They’ve got away with it for too long.

It is time we had a debate about where they really stand.

They do have a vision of the past.

But I say to working people in this country, let’s really examine their vision.

Because when you stop and look at it, it is not really very attractive.

And it is rooted in the same failed ideas that have let our country down.

Piece together the different statements from Mr Farage and his gang and think about what it says:

That working mothers aren’t worth as much as men.

Life was easier when there wasn’t equality for gay and lesbian people.

You feel safer when you don’t have someone who is foreign living next door.

The NHS would be better off privatised.

Rights at work, whether they come from Europe or from here, are simply a barrier to economic success.

And let’s get out of the European Union.

Is that really the country we want to be?

I don’t believe that.

I don’t believe that’s the kind of country people want.

Of course, people rightly feel a sense of loss about the past.

Jobs that have gone.

Communities that have changed.

Prospects for your kids that are diminished.

But the answer is not to return to a more unequal, more unjust past.

Mr Farage, you may want to live in that world.

But come the general election, I don’t believe the people of Britain will follow.

We’re Britain, we’re better than this.

Surely the better thing is to construct a vision of the future, which does work for everyday people.

And here’s the thing: you can’t construct a vision of the future if you don’t think working women are as valuable as men.

You can’t build a vision of the future if you don’t believe in equal rights.

You can’t succeed as a country if you try to close yourself off from the rest of the world.

You can’t make a fairer Britain if you try to destroy our National Health Service.

The Tories have no answers to the discontent people feel.

UKIP have wildly wrong answers to that discontent.

And who knows what one can say about the Liberal Democrats?

Friends, I say we can take this lot apart and it is time we did.

And we know how we will do it.

Door by door.

Street by street.

Town by town.

And just in case you find people who still believe that there is no difference between the parties, just tell them what we are fighting for:

An £8 minimum wage.

An end to the exploitation of zero hours contracts.

Freezing energy bills until 2017.

Putting our young people back to work.

Paying down the deficit and doing it fairly.

Reforming our banks so that they work for small businesses.

Cutting business rates.

Apprenticeships alongside every government contract.

Building 200,000 homes a year.

Abolishing the bedroom tax.

Tackling tax avoidance.

Hiring more doctors, nurses, midwives and careworkers, and putting the right values back at the heart of the NHS and repealing the Health and Social Care Act.

That’s a plan to build a country that works for everyday people, and not just a privileged few.

A recovery that works for you and your family.

The next generation doing better than the last.

The NHS there when you need it.

We’re less than six months from the general election.

We’re in a fight but it is our fight to win.

Millions of people in this country are resting their hopes on us.

We can’t let them down.

We must not let them down.

We will not let them down.

Let’s fight for a fairer, more just, more equal Britain.

That’s what I am going to do.

That’s what you do, day in, day out.

That’s what every person in this Party must do.

That’s the way we’re going to fight and win this general election.