UK Politics

Harriet Harman: Emboldened Labour have fighting chance

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHarriet Harman closes the party conference revealing Ed Miliband used to write her political speeches

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has said her party is "emboldened" and has a "fighting chance" of returning to power as she closed its conference.

Praising leader Ed Miliband, she said his conference speech had "changed the game" and "fired the starting gun" for the next election - expected in 2015.

Although Labour "still had a long way to go", Ms Harman said the party "had grown in confidence and self-belief".

She also attacked the Lib Dems as "accomplices" to their Tory partners.

Ms Harman used her traditional end-of-conference address to rally Labour members, urging them to keep the pressure up on the coalition and fight hard for every vote in a series of Parliamentary by-elections next month.

"This week the game has changed," she said. "We know we have big challenges ahead but we leave Manchester emboldened, enthused and with a strong sense of purpose.

"We have grown in confidence and self-belief. The country needs a government for, and of, all its people, not a coalition that plays divides and rule. This country needs a one nation country and Labour government."

Ms Harman also turned her fire on the Lib Dems, saying the party's claim that it has served as a brake on its Conservative coalition partners did not ring true.

The deputy leader suggested "good" Lib Dem policies such as extra money for poorer pupils, tax breaks for the lowest paid and a crackdown on tax avoidance have been nullified by their support for coalition cuts to the education budget, the withdrawal of tax credits and the reduction in the 50p top rate of tax.

'Fighting to win'

"They claim to be a brake on the Tories - but they are nothing of the sort - they are their accomplices," she said.

"People say you get the politicians you deserve. But no-one deserves Nick Clegg. Calamity Clegg has propped up this miserable Tory government every step of the way."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEd Miliband on Labour's record - and on brother David

She also criticised Business Secretary Vince Cable - who has been praised in the past by senior Labour figures such as Ed Balls, and who has exchanged text messages with Ed Miliband.

"It's no wonder Vince Cable is on manoeuvres," she added.

"But let's not forget, saint Vince is in it up to his neck too. After all It was his policy to treble tuition fees. I have a message for Vince 'don't bother texting Ed, he has changed his number."

There has been talk of possible co-operation between Labour and the Lib Dems after the next election if there is another inconclusive result, as there was after the 2010 poll.

But Ms Harman insisted: "We are not fighting to be part of a coalition government - we are fighting to win. We have a first-past-the-post system and voters get one vote - we're saying to them vote Labour."

On the last day of the conference in Manchester, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg and shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn have also spoken.