Yvette Cooper MP speech to Labour Party Conference 2014

Published at: September 24, 2014 12:57 PM

Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary speech to Labour Party Annual Conference 2014

24 September 2014



You have seen Leyla’s incredible strength

Her fight for her daughter and all our daughters

We must stand with her

A Labour Government will bring in new powers to help prevent Female Genital Mutilation.

As part of a new law on violence against women and girls

Because Leyla, this Conference backs your brave and vital fight to stop the violence that is destroying girls lives

Because that’s what we in the Labour party believe in

Fighting against abuse

Fighting for justice

Standing up for those whose voices aren’t heard or who get left behind

For those who don’t feel safe or live in fear

Standing up for our values – equality, community, liberty justice and unity

Nye Bevan knew the importance of standing together as a Welshman who founded our National Health Service

Keir Hardie knew it, as a Scot struggling for universal women’s suffrage

Barbara Castle knew it, as a Yorkshire woman who worked with Dagenham trade unionists to bring in the Equal Pay Act.

Unity, solidarity, a bond between our nations, north and south, men and women, together, fighting for each other’s rights.

Yes conference, there is power in a union.


For 114 years we’ve fought for the change the Labour Party can bring

And with 32 weeks until that General Election, we will not stop now.

To help families across the country, to strengthen our communities

And as Ed  said in his powerful speech yesterday, standing together to save our National Health Service

That is why we need Ed Miliband in Downing Street as our next Labour Prime Minister.

Our party believes we are stronger together than when we leave each other to sink or swim alone

Born in Scotland, brought up in England, I am so glad our United Kingdom stayed together.

And though we’ve argued, seen strong passions, – many of the yes and no voters I talked to weren’t as far apart as you’d think.


The yes voter who told me she just didn’t want a Tory Government ever, ever, ever again

Conference, we’re all with her on that one.

Or the no voter who told me he was confused because he was born in London and now lived in Glasgow – would he need to get two passports before he went on his summer holiday.

Two passports?

Frankly after this summer’s Tory passport fiasco, he’d be lucky to get one off Theresa May.


Last week our proud nation nearly broke.

We’re still together. But we don’t feel fixed.

People feeling insecure, anxious, pessimistic. Powerless, ignored, let down.

Feeling buffeted by globalisation and abandoned by Government

Falling living standards, fast changing communities, people desperate for hope, determined things should be different.


Demanding change in our economy so it works for working people

Demanding change in our politics, devolving power

Wanting a fair deal for Wales, for Scotland, for Northern Ireland and for England

A fair deal for north and south.


Instead of fixing those problems, some people are exploiting them

With the politics of division.

The politics of finding someone else to scorn and blame. A politics that leaves us angrier, poorer, and weaker


Be it the SNP or UKIP – in their different ways, they are trying to pull us apart.

As for David Cameron and the Tories, they just don’t get the insecurity, or the scale of the reforms needed to hold us together.

David Cameron can’t unite a people when he pits us one against another.

The Tories can’t pull us together, they are divided and they are divisive.

Unity? They don’t know the meaning of the word.


Our party will always stand up against the politics of hatred and division, so this is our task

To ensure security within our borders,

To be a nation self-confident so we can look outwards at the world, not just inwards at ourselves,

To defend the most basic security of all – a life lived free from fear, intimidation or crime

To fight for justice for those whose voices are not heard.

Not division, Not hostility, but hope, pride, and unity

That is true patriotism.


When our security is at stake we have to stand together.

From the Glasgow Airport attack to the Manchester city centre bomb, our communities, citizens and unsung heroes in our police and intelligence agencies do vital work to keep us safe.

And we face new threats.

British citizens have joined the barbarism of Isil

A vile movement that is holding hostage Alan Henning, a British aid worker who has only ever helped the innocent.

As Muslims across Britain have made clear, this is not religion. It is a perverted ideology  that persecutes anyone who gets in their way.

We will work with the Government to tackle the threat, supporting the action the United States has taken and calling for a UN Security Council resolution.

But more must be done at home too.

Not knee jerk reactions, but practical tested measures, to protect our citizens and our democratic values

No return to 90 days – that was never justified by the evidence

But not flailing around announcing policies with no idea how they’ll work or when they’ll come in.

It’s time to strengthen the counter terror powers that Theresa May weakened – so the courts can stop serious terror suspects running away

To revive the community Prevent work that Theresa May cancelled – so that communities can do their bit to stop vile extremist ideologies taking hold.


And we must challenge all forms of extremism.

The awful desecration of Jewish gravestones, as anti-semitic attacks have risen this summer.

The stones through the mosque windows as islamophobic attacks have risen this year.

We will always stand together to defend democracy, freedom and security, and never let extremists win.


But for our nation to stay strong, with the confidence to look outwards, not inwards at ourselves, people need to feel secure in our borders, in communities, and in the workplace.

Right now too many don’t

I know some people think it is right wing to be worried about immigration.

But remember it is the reactionary right who want to build a wall to keep the world out

It is the free market right who want a wide open border – in the interests of cheap labour

the right wing politics of division and the right wing politics of exploitation.

Neither will ever be right for Britain, for working people, or for Labour

We know our country is built on centuries of migration.

From Nobel prizewinners to Olympic medal winners, from the designer of the mini to the founders of Marks & Spencers.

But immigration has to be controlled and managed.

We know in a global economy, we need to draw on international talent and investment but the system has to be fair.

We won’t engage in an arms race of rhetoric. Just practical policies that help

We will never do what the Tories did last year to send round “Go Home” Ad Vans to intimidate and stigmatise British citizens.

That was a disgrace.

Yes, Labour got things wrong on immigration – on transitional controls for Eastern Europe, on the impact on jobs but look at what this government is doing now.

David Cameron promised “no ifs no buts” he would meet his net migration target

Theresa May boasted last year that her progress on her target was “an achievement to be proud of”.

Yet net migration is the same now as when they came to office. Their target is in tatters.

And people are more worried than ever because here’s what’s got worse.

More exploitation, more insecurity, border controls reduced, fewer foreign criminals sent home, fewer firms fined for employing illegal migrants.

Yet for the first time in decades the number of international University students who bring billions into Britain went down. 

It’s the worst of all worlds.

That’s why a Labour Government will bring in stronger border controls to tackle illegal immigration.

Proper entry and exit checks, so visas can be enforced and criminals stopped.

We will set smarter controls and targets – to reduce low skilled migration and tackle abuse, yet make sure we have the University students and top talent we need.

We will never turn our backs on those fleeing persecution and I’m proud our party forced the Government to accept vulnerable Syrian refugees.

But those who come to work and live need to contribute not claim benefits, and abide by the law. Rules must be fair. And they must be properly enforced.


And we need radical reform when it comes to Europe

To stop the growing crisis at Calais, strengthen restrictions on new countries, change benefit rules so people can’t claim when they first arrive, change deportation rules to make it easier to send home EU citizens who commit crimes and to change employment rules to stop employers exploiting cheap migrant labour to undercut wages and jobs.

Not free movement, but fair movement.

We’ll outlaw agencies who only recruit abroad, we’ll close the loopholes in the minimum wage, we’ll increase fines for employing people here illegally.

And we should do more.


Take the Eastern European workers brought here by a gang to work. Their wages were stolen, they slept on bug ridden mattresses six to a room, they had dogs set on them if they complained, and they were held in the back of a transit van for five days at a time.

The police tried to stop it but said they couldn’t prosecute because the men were here legally and they’d consented to work, so there was no crime.

People treated like animals, used to undercut local wages and jobs. Responsible businesses losing out.

No crime?

Conference, this is not the economy we want or the Britain we believe in.

So the next Labour government will make this exploitation a crime.


And conference we need to do more to stop the criminals trading in humanity here and across the world.

To stop clothing woven with the sweat of slaves reaching our fashion rails.

Seafood stained with the blood of slaves reaching our supermarket shelves.

The Government’s Modern Slavery Bill doesn’t go nearly far enough.

There can be no half measures. A Labour Government will demand action from major companies throughout their international supply chains.

It’s time to stamp out this evil trade.


Only Labour will tackle the exploitation of immigration that hits wages and jobs.

The Tories, Liberal Democrats and UKIP would make things worse.

The coalition has already made it harder to enforce employment rights.

As for UKIP

Don’t let them ever tell you they’ll sort out problems on immigration

They’d make it harder to get France to sort out the Calais crisis

They’d ditch the European Arrest Warrant and make it harder to send foreign criminals back home

They’d cut employment rights and make it harder to stop employers exploiting immigration to undercut local pay

Don’t let them ever, ever tell you they stand for working people

When their plans hit jobs

Scrap your rights at work

Charge you to see your GP

And cut taxes for millionaires by more than David Cameron

That’s not helping working people, that’s hurting working people.


Let us be clear about this - it is not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls.

But when a UKIP candidate says Lenny Henry should leave the country because of the colour of his skin, that is racist. We will never let racism go unchallenged.


We will always stand together against extremism, exploitation and racism.

And to keep communities safe and get justice for victims.

Right now, under Theresa May, the clock is turning back

The Government boasts that crime is falling.

But crime is changing – and they are turning a blind eye.

Theft from cars is falling – but online theft is through the roof

Violent crime has gone up - but fewer violent criminals are being caught

As Emily Thornbury has shown, reported rapes are up but prosecutions are down by 14%.

That’s not justice.


And all of us should be worried about the way children have been let down.

Rotherham, Oxfordshire, Rochdale, Savile, the BBC, the NHS.

One girl told the police she was being sexually abused by a gang. They took no action and decided she wasn’t at risk. Just one month later, the police found her in a derelict house with a group of men. They arrested her for being drunk and disorderly. None of the men was arrested. She was 11 years old.

Too many people turning a blind eye.

Too many victims not believed

This isn’t history. It is happening now.

More cases of child sex abuse are being reported to the police

But prosecutions are down by 9%,

Convicted child sex offenders used to be barred from working with children.

But since the Government changed the barring rules, nearly 10,000 fewer child sex offenders have been barred from working with children.

The National Crime Agency has the detail of over 25,000 people suspected of downloading vile abusive images of children online

But they have only investigated and arrested 660 suspects and they say the police don’t have the capacity to investigate them all.

But the police arrest 230,000 people a year for theft. 110,000 for drug offences. Why don’t they have the capacity to investigate 25,000 cases where children may be at risk?

The truth is this is not just about capacity it’s about priority.

Theresa May says crime is falling and we don’t need as many police,

I say crime is changing and we need police and Home Office action to keep our children safe.

We need the national inquiry we called for two years ago that still hasn’t started

We need a massive overhaul of the way national organisations tackle this heinous crime.

We need stronger laws so professionals can never turn a blind eye.

And a Labour Government will change the law to bar convicted child sex offenders from working with children and put child protection first.


We have always been the party tough not just on crime but on the causes of crime, that means doing far more to prevent violence in the first place.

To prevent growing violence in teenage relationships, educating them about online risks.

Tackling homophobic bullying. Teaching zero tolerance of violence.

So the next Labour Government will bring in compulsory sex and relationship education in all our schools.


To tackle serious crimes we also need a police service fit for the 21st century.

We have some of the bravest, most effective police officers in the world.

But when policing goes wrong, we need higher standards and swift action to put it right.

That is why we will introduce the radical police reforms Lord Stevens called for in the independent commission we set up.

Chartered police officers – who can be struck off, just as doctors and lawyers can be when things go wrong.

A new stronger inspectorate – a Police Standards Authority - to make sure standards are met, holding people to account.


We will also show how we deliver when budgets will be tight and the police budget is being cut.

George Osborne’s failure to get the economy growing fast enough means he’s failed on the deficit too. We will have to sort out his mess.

Under Theresa May’s plans for next year, forces are already expecting to cut over 1,100 more officers on top of the 16,000 officers who have already gone.

Neighbourhood policing has been decimated, 999 waits are up.


What’s Theresa May’s answer.

She’s good at shouting at the police.

Hopeless at reforming the police.

Her flagship reform was to create Police and Crime Commissioners.

Here in Manchester, Labour’s Tony Lloyd has been working immensely hard to make the system work.

But Tony and others have told us how it is flawed.

Remember Theresa May spent £75m spent on elections in November – 7 out of 8 voters stayed home.

There’s no way to hold PCCs to account between elections, as we found out in Rotherham.

We need a better system.

With stronger accountability to victims, local communities and local government in a new devolution settlement for England and Wales.

Better accountability and saving money too.

So the next Labour Government will abolish Police and Crime Commissioners and put the savings back into frontline policing instead.

We can make other savings through a National Procurement Plan and ending the absurd £17m taxpayer subsidy for gun licences that David Cameron is desperate personally to defend.

With the savings we have found, we can help our police, our communities and victims.

Theresa May wants to cut 1,100 police officers next year. So I can announce, Labour’s plan will give forces enough money next year to save all those officers from being cut.


And there is one other area, where we believe some of those savings should be used.

We heard at the beginning from Leyla about violence against women and girls

Yet Theresa May has failed to support victims of violence and abuse.

Across the country under this Government refuges are facing imminent closure. Entire cities and counties have no refuge provision left at all.


Letting down mothers like Nadia. When she found the strength to leave the partner who had abused her many times, she got no further than the council housing office. She sat there for hours with her three children. There was nowhere for her to go. So she went back home. That night she left again – this time for hospital, she had been beaten and hurt.

So we will bring in new laws, new standards, a new commissioner on domestic and sexual abuse and a Labour Government will use some of the savings to fund a national network of refuges, because those fleeing abuse should always have a safe place to turn.


We only keep our communities safe and strong if we stand together

But we can only stand together if we face up to the problems that risk pulling us apart.

This is Labour’s plan.

Stronger controls at our borders,

Stronger action against exploitation ,

Standing up to extremism,

More police back on our streets,

More help for victims to stay safe,

Justice for those whose voices aren’t heard

Fairness. Security. Justice for all

This is Labour’s plan for Britain’s future.



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