Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said in a speech to Scottish Labour Conference:
It is a pleasure to be here at the Scottish Conference.
I want to start by saying something about events in Libya.
We have a proud history as an internationalist party.
The United Nations, overseas aid and the fight for human rights.
And also, from the fight against fascism to the fight against ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
We showed then that as part of the international community we would not stand by as innocent people were slaughtered.
We showed that our values, Labour values - our commitment to justice and democracy – aren’t limited by borders.
I know that not just from our party’s history, not just from our country’s history, but from my family’s history too.
My father a refugee who sought help from Britain and found it here during the Second World War.
That is why we know in our hearts and in our heads when we see Colonel Gaddafi murdering his own people, it is right to take this action.
It is always a grave decision to send our armed forces into possible combat.
And I pay tribute to the brave men and women who may be asked to serve in Libya, including from RAF bases here in Scotland.
But to stand by, to do nothing would be totally wrong.
So let’s send from this conference a clear message.
Labour stands by the United Nations, Labour stands by our values, and Labour stands for the people of Libya in their hour of need.
And just as we stand against repression in Libya, so too across the Middle East we support the demands for democracy, justice and human rights.
And in this new Middle East we must address too the long running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Including with what our movement has so long demanded, a proper two-state solution which gives security to Israel and a viable state to the Palestinian people.
Conference, this is the kind of Opposition I said we would be when I became Leader nearly six months ago.
Supporting the Government where they get things right: as with the UN resolution.
At the same time, however, speaking out when they make the wrong calls here at home.
That is why it’s so important to be here on the eve of the Scottish election.
Conference, we are ready for this election fight.
We are ready to fight for every vote.
We are ready for the campaign of our lives.
We are ready to make Iain Gray First Minister of Scotland.
We introduced a Scottish Parliament for the first time in 300 years.
We introduced it in the good times, with a Labour Government in Westmi nster.
Today, things are very different.
The Tories are back.
And now more than ever we need a Labour Government in Holyrood.
And the question at this election will be a simple one.
When it really matters, who can the Scottish people trust to stand up to the Tories?
Who will puts jobs and services first?
Who will make those Tories think again on the economy and their reckless programme of cuts?
I’ll tell you who. The Scottish Labour party. Rejuvenated and reborn under Iain Gray’s leadership.
Scotland remembers the 1980s more than anyone.
The Poll Tax imposed on Scotland.
Manufacturing industries destroyed.
A generation of young people lost to the despair of long-term unemployment.
All part of that belief, from the sermon on the mound, that there is no such thing as society.
And today the children of Thatcher are back.
Back to finish the job she started.
The Tories - imposing another unfair tax rise on Scotland, VAT to 20%.
The Tories - consigning the young unemployed to the scrap heap, just like they did in the 1980s.
The Tories - in ten short months putting our economy into reverse.
The Tories – this time saying they believe in the Big Society, but by their deeds shall we judge them, destroying the things our communities value most.
I say today to this conference and this party – it is our job, Labour's job, to stop them in their tracks.
And let me tell you plainly how Labour will stand up to the Tories.
In Scotland, with Iain as First Minister, Labour will create 10,000 jobs for young people. Because we will never stand by as if unemployment is a price worth paying.
In Scotland, with Iain as First Minister, Labour will guarantee apprenticeships for qualified school leavers. Because we will uphold, protect, and defend the interests of the next generation.
Under Iain's leadership, in Scotland, we will attack poverty pay as the real enemy by promoting a living wage of £7.15 an hour. Because we the Labour Party understand the dignity of work.
Under Iain's leadership, in Scotland, we will keep the N in the National Health Service by halving waiting times for cancer patients to see a specialist in every part of Scotland. Because we understand, we know, it is Britain’s proudest institution.
Let me say directly to the people of Scotland: We don’t just offer different management from the Tories. We offer a different vision of society. One where we look after each other, we help each other and we restore faith in our politics.
And what do the SNP offer as an alternative? We know their record. Broken promises on teachers, class sizes, first time buyers and scrapping the council tax.
And just imagine for a moment if the SNP win again. Whatever they say now, they will take it as a mandate to pursue their goal of independence.
That’s not what Scotland needs. It needs a government focusing on the things that matter – jobs, living standards, public services.
The Tory threat can and must be fought here in Scotland. But history tells us that it can only be defeated by a party able to stand up to the Tories across the whole of the United Kingdom.
When a Conservative-led government in London is cutting too far, too fast, it threatens the economic prosperity and living standards of the whole country.
The facts speak for themselves – the recovery that was well underway when the Tories came to power has stalled.
Unemployment and inflation up.
Without a change of course, tens of thousands of jobs are at risk in Scotland alone. Don’t let anyone con you into believing that separatism would somehow make this threat go away. We only need to look around Europe to see the folly of that.
Is anyone in Scotland today lon ging to share the economic fate of Iceland or Ireland? Whatever did happen to Alex Salmond’s ‘Arc of Prosperity’?
It collided with economic reality.
The global economic crisis has shattered the myth that we can hide from the problems of the world by putting up new national barriers.
Scotland understands this. Because the only way to guarantee its future prosperity is as part of a strong and prosperous Britain.
So we need a party able to stand up to the Tories in Westminster as well as Holyrood.
A party that sets out the real alternative to the irresponsible policies that have derailed our economy.
That’s why we have set two tests for the Budget next week. Does it deal with the cost of living crisis facing families up and down this country?
People across Scotland are suffering an unprecedented squeeze on their living standards, worth as much as 5 pence on the basic rate of income tax this April.
Sometimes I wonder i f these Tories really understand the struggle people are facing to make ends meet. Rising prices, frozen wages, the fear of unemployment – and all the time the Government making it worse.
It is this insecurity that is holding our economy back.
So we need to ease the squeeze, starting with a reduction in VAT on petrol.
But they also have to meet a second test. Will the Budget put the recovery back on track?
Of course we need to reduce the deficit but without growth, that won’t happen.
We would take action to boost skilled employment. We would give hope and opportunity to school leavers by putting young people to work. And we would introduce new measures to support enterprise.
In the interests of justice and prosperity the Government should pay for these measures not by cutting taxes for the banks but by imposing a tax on irresponsible bankers’ bonuses. It’s time the people who caused this crisis pay their fair share in putting thi ngs right.
Standing up to the Tories means fighting them day-in-day-out.
It means campaigning for change and having the confidence to win.
I tell you this conference, we must take this shambolic Tory Government apart.
We’ve already seen what we can do in just a few short months.
We stopped their plans to end free school milk.
We stopped a 10% cut in housing benefits for the long-term unemployed.
We stopped the privatisation of England’s forests.
And that is just the start. Their policy to break apart the NHS – unravelling.
The decisions to axe building schools for the future in England – illegal.
And their plan to remove child benefit – unfair and unjustified.
And why is it that so many of their policies fall apart on first contact with reality? In many cases they haven’t even been debated.
The scale of the cuts, the dismantling of the NHS and the attempt to sell off the fo rests – none of those things were in the Tory manifesto last May. They haven’t got a mandate. They haven’t thought it through. They haven’t got a clue.
And what about the Liberal Democrats?
On the weekend of Comic Relief, let’s spare a thought for Nick Clegg – the man for whom every day is Red Nose Day.
Out of step with the country and out of his depth in government. When his boss was abroad recently, he even forgot that he was supposed to be in charge.
The man who coined the phrase “alarm clock Britain” needs a wake-up call of his own.
Let’s be honest, we never really expected the Liberal democrats to be good at governing. But we did at least hope that they would stick to their principles.
A year ago the Liberal Democrats launched their general election manifesto with a party political broadcast.
Guess what it was called – “Say Goodbye to Broken Promises”. You couldn’t make it up.
And what ha ppened to the promises they made in that election.
The promise to oppose public spending cuts too far and too fast – broken.
The promise to oppose higher student tuition fees – broken.
The promise to keep VAT at 17.5% – broken.
The promise to keep the Future Jobs Fund – broken.
The promise to defend universal child benefit – broken.
The Liberal Democrat party – broken.
Centuries of political tradition destroyed by one man in ten short months.
Standing up to the Tories means being ready for the fight whenever the next general election comes.
It means beating them at every available opportunity between now and then.
It means fighting them in The Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and Westminster.
It means fighting them in every Town Hall in every part of the country.
It means Team Labour fighting back.
Team Labour: the most potent force the Tories fear
Team Labour: an alliance across the United Kingdom
And Scotland, ask yourself this.
When David Cameron wakes up on the morning of Friday 6th May, what is it that will make him think again? What is it that will force the changes of direction on the economy and public services that you want, that our country needs? What is it that will make the Liberal Democrats realise that they’ve made a terrible mistake?
It certainly won’t be the SNP. The Tories know that they can rest easy with Alex Salmond. He would spend his time arguing for separatism. They would spend their time arguing against it. And in the meantime, they can deflect attention from their dangerous right-wing policies doing such damage to our country.
What the Tories really fear is a Labour government in Edinburgh setting out the real alternative. Not just for Scotland, but building a platform for the whole of the UK.
That is the platform we must build at these elections.
You know, we are a party that people are coming towards not moving away from.
Fifty thousand new members since the General Election.
By-election wins in Oldham East and Barnsley Central.
Council by-elections going our way.
Just this week in Paisley. Taking a seat from the SNP.
We need to win at these elections and we need to send a message to the government at Westminster.
We need to send a message to the Liberal Democrats: keep on as you are, locked in the boot of the Conservative government and drive off a political cliff.
Or come to your senses and get out of the coalition.
I have never wanted this to be a five-year government because of the damage it will do.
And when people ask me, what are you going to do to reverse things in 2015, I say we can’t wait until then.
So let’s use these elections to give us the best chance of stopping it going to the full term.
Throughout the history of our party, Scott ish Labour has been central to our growth and success at a national level.
It was true when Keir Hardie led the way in forming our party.
It was true again during our long march to power in the eighties and nineties.
It is a tradition that has helped to provide our movement with deep moral purpose.
That has sustained us as a major force for social progress.
Embodied in great figures from our past like John Smith and Donald Dewar.
People who devoted their lives to the service of others out of a profound belief that the good society is one in which we take care of each other.
They sought a newer world: one in which the strong and the weak alike were joined by deep bonds of fellowship and mutual obligation.
For them politics was not about pursuing different managerial solutions.
It was about creating a different kind of society based on a different set of values.
Iain Gray is deeply rooted in that tradit ion.
He is Scottish Labour through and through.
He has shown it not just in his words as a politician, but in his deeds as a man throughout his life.
When people asked who will lead the fight for decent homes in communities like Wester Hailes? Iain said I will.
When people asked who will come forward to inspire the next generation to learn and thrive? Iain said I will.
When people asked who will stand up for the most vulnerable people across the world? Iain said I will.
Now when the people of Scotland ask who will stand up to the Tories and lead Scotland forward?
We know the answer: Iain Gray will.
So let’s go out.
Let’s win that election.
Let’s stand up to the Tories.
Let’s win for the people of Scotland.