Full transcript | Ed Miliband | Speech to TUC anti-cuts march | 26 March 2011

"David Cameron, this is the big society."

Friends, we come here today from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, from all generations.

Men, women and children with one simple message for this country and this government: there is an alternative.

I look out at this extraordinary sea of faces gathered in this historic park and I feel profoundly moved by this moment.

We come in the tradition of movements that have marched in peaceful but powerful protest for justice, fairness and political change.

The suffragettes who fought for votes for women and won.

The civil rights movement in America that fought against racism and won.

The anti apartheid movement that fought the horror of that system and won.

The cause may be different but in coming together today to realise our voice, we are standing on the shoulders of those who have marched and struggled for great causes in the past.

Our struggle is to fight to preserve, protect and defend the best of the services we cherish because they represent the best of the country we love.
We know what the government will say: that this is a march of the minority.

They are so wrong.

David Cameron: you wanted to create the big society.

This is the big society.

The big society united against what your government is doing to our country.

We stand today not as the minority, but as the voice of the mainstream majority in this country.

The midwives from Kingston here to speak up for maternity services.

The sure start workers from Hampshire here to speak up for children's centres.

The small business owners from Liverpool here to speak up for jobs.

The teachers and students here to speak up for the next generation.

We speak today for the mainstream of Britain because we are the mainstream of Britain.

We recall the greatest moments of our country's history.

We remember what happened after the second world war when we faced enormous challenges but built a country fit for the future.

The National Health Service.

Homes fit for heroes.

The welfare state.

Out of the shadows of that time, we built a better society.

Every one of us knows that today the country faces difficult

But we know too there is a different way.

We hold to some simple truths:

We need jobs to cut the deficit. Unemployment is never a price worth paying.

The next generation should never have their hopes sacrificed on the altar of dogmatic deficit reduction.

There is a need for difficult choices, and some cuts.

But, this government is going too far and too fast and destroying the fabric of our communities.

Where is the fairness?

They say we are all in this together.

But how can it be right that while children's centres close, it is business as usual for the bankers?

How can it be right that while the cost of living goes up for everyone else, the government gives the banks a tax cut?

We are not talking about the politics of envy, we are talking about the politics of fairness.

We do not simply reject the government's policies.

We reject the narrowness of their vision, the injustice of their ideology and the poverty of their aspiration for our great country.

They are the dividers not the unifiers.

We reject their attempt to divide Britain.

I grew up in the 1980s.

This government is taking us back.

Setting private sector against public sector.

Setting those in work against those on benefits.

Setting North against South.

I say to David Cameron:

The hundreds of thousands of people on this march reject your politics of division.

It falls to us to be the unifiers of our country.

That is why it is so important that this is a peaceful protest that wins public support.

A protest remembered for its cause and for its purpose.

And it falls to us to be the optimists too.

We do need to cut the deficit.

But we must also protect families struggling to get by.

We must also protect the promise of Britain that the next generation does better than the last

We must also preserve the things we value in our communities: the library, the citizen's advice bureaux, the community centre.

We know, from generations before us, that it is not just politicians who make change happen, it is people.

And so when people ask, who will, stand up for our NHS?

Let us say: we will

When People ask who will stand up for our children's centres,

Let us say: we will

When people ask who will stand up for the hopes and dreams of the next generation,

Let us say: We will

And when people ask us who will stand up for the mainstream majority in Britain, we say: We will.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King said: The arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice.

But only if people bend it that way.

You are those people standing up for our country.

Standing up for justice.

Standing up for fairness.

Standing up for change.

Thank you for your commitment.

We will prevail.

Thank you.