It is great to be in Labour Manchester. And you know Manchester has special memories for me because two years ago I was elected the leader of this party. I'm older. I feel a lot older actually. I hope I'm a bit wiser. But I am prouder than ever to be the Leader of the Labour Party.
You may have noticed that doing this job you get called some names, some of the nice, some of them not so nice. Let me tell you my favourite; it was when Mitt Romney came to Britain and called me ‘Mr Leader.' I don't know about you but I think it has a certain ring to it myself, it's sort of half-way to North Korea. Mitt, thanks a lot for that.
Let me tell you a bit of insight in to Conference. I always look forward to Conference. But the Leader's Speech, as previous leaders will attest, can be a bit of a trial. You get all kinds of advice from people. Say this, don't say that. Smile here, don't smile there. Stand there, don't stand there. Thanks Tony, Gordon and Neil for that. But sometimes you get a bit fed up with it as the Leader. And so the other day, and this is an absolutely true story, I decided that to get away from it all, the speechwriting, all of that, I'd go for a walk with my three year old son, Daniel. It was an absolutely gorgeous late summer day. So we went out, I wanted to go to the park. Here's the first thing he said to me: "Daddy, I can help you with your speech." I was like not you as well! He is a Miliband after all. And he said to me: "Daddy, you can't do it on your own." This is absolutely true, and I said "well that's a good Labour insight, you can't do it all your own. Daniel what do you want in my speech?" He said "I want dinosaurs! I want dinosaurs, I want flying dinosaurs! I want dinosaurs that eat people daddy!" I said, "No Daniel. We tried predators last year."
OK, look only one problem, where's my speech? I want to do something different today. I want to tell you my story. I want to tell you who I am. What I believe. And why I have a deep conviction that together we can change this country. My conviction is rooted in my family's story, a story that starts 1,000 miles from here, because the Miliband's haven't sat under the same oak tree for the last five hundred years.
Both of my parents' came to Britain as immigrants, Jewish refugees from the Nazis. I know I would not be standing on this stage today without the compassion and tolerance of our great country. Great Britain.
And you know my parents saw Britain rebuilt after the Second World War. I was born in my local NHS hospital, the same hospital my two sons would later be born in. As you saw in the film I went to my local school. I went to my local comprehensive with people from all backgrounds. I still remember the amazing and inspiring teaching I got at that school, and one of my teachers, my English teacher, Chris Dunne, is here with us today. Thank you Chris and to all the teachers at Haverstock.
It was a really tough school, but order was kept by one of the scariest headmistress you could possibly imagine, Mrs Jenkins. And you know what? I learned at my school about a lot more than how to pass exams. I learned how to get on with people from all backgrounds, whoever they were.
I wouldn't be standing on this stage today without my comprehensive school education.
So, Britain gave me, gave my family, a great gift that my parents never had. A safe and secure childhood. And you know my parents didn't talk much about their early lives, it was too painful, it hurt too much. The pain of those they lost. The guilt of survivors. But I believe that their experience meant they brought up both David and myself differently as a result. Because having struggled for life itself, they instilled in us a sense of duty to ease the struggles of others. And this came not just from my parents' wartime experience it came from the daily fabric of our childhood. You know there were toys and games, rows about homework. I was actually a Dallas fan, believe it or not, which didn't go down well with my dad as you can imagine.
So of course there were the normal things, but every upbringing is special, and mine was special because of the place of politics within it. When I was twelve years old, I met a South African friend of my parents, her name was Ruth First. The image I remember is of somebody vivacious, full of life, full of laughter. And then I remember a few months later coming down to breakfast and seeing my mum in tears because Ruth First had been murdered by a letter bomb from the South African secret police. Murdered for being part of the anti-apartheid movement. Now I didn't understand the ins and outs of it, but I was shocked. I was angry I knew that wasn't the way the world was meant to be. I knew I had a duty to do something about it. It is this upbringing that has made me who I am. A person of faith, not a religious faith but a faith nonetheless. A faith, I believe, many religious people would recognise. So here is my faith. I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better pl ace than we found it. I believe we cannot shrug our shoulders at injustice, and just say that's the way the world is. And I believe that we can overcome any odds if we come together as people.
That's how my Mum survived the war. The kindness of strangers. Nuns in a convent who took her in and sheltered her from the Nazis, took in a Jewish girl at risk to themselves. It's what my dad found when he came to these shores and joined the Royal Navy and was part of Britain winning the war.
Now of course my parents didn't tell me what career to go into. My late father, as some of you know, wouldn't agree with many of the things I stand for. He would've loved the idea of "Red Ed." But he would have been a little bit disappointed that it isn't true. My mum probably doesn't agree with me either, but like most mums is too kind to say so. And look when I was younger I wasn't certain I wanted to be a politician. But I do believe the best way me for to give back to Britain, the best way to be true to my faith, is through politics. Now that is not a fashionable view today. Because millions of people have given up on politics, they think we're all the same. Well I guess you could say I am out to prove them wrong.
That is who I am. That is what I believe. That is my faith.
And I know who I need to serve in Britain with my faith. It's the people I've met on my journey as Leader of the Opposition. The people who come up to me on trains, in the street, in shops who ask me about what the Labour Party is going to do for them and tell me the stories of their lives. It's for them, the people I have met on my journey as Leader of the Opposition that today's speech is for. You know I think of the young woman I met at a youth centre in London earlier this year. She was brimming with hopes and ambitions for the future. She was full of life. She was full of desire to get on and do the best for herself. And then she told me her story. She'd sent off her CV to 137 employers and she'd not had a reply from any of them. Many of you in this audience will know people in the same position. Just think how that crushes the hopes of a generation. I want to talk to her, to a whole generation of young people who feel that Britain under this Government is no t offering them a future.
I think back to the small businessman I met in July. A proud man called Alan Henderson, a small businessman. Let me tell you Alan Henderson's story: He'd spent 40 years building up his sign making business, 40 years. He told me his story, he went to see his bank manager in 1972 at his local high street bank, he got a loan and he started his business. But something terrible happened to Alan Henderson and his family a few years back. He was ripped off by the bank he had been with all that time and Alan Henderson and his family have been living through a nightmare ever since. I want to talk to him, and all the people of Britain who feel they're at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
I want to talk to all of the people of this country who always thought of themselves as comfortably off, but who now find themselves struggling to make ends meet. They ask: Why is it that when oil prices go up, the petrol price goes up. But when the oil price comes down, the petrol price just stays the same? They ask: Why is it that the gas and electricity bills just go up and up and up? And they ask: Why is it that the privatised train companies can make hundreds of millions of pounds in profit at the same time as train fares are going up by 10% a year? They think the system just doesn't work for them. And you know what? They're right. It doesn't. It doesn't work for them but for the cosy cartels and powerful interests that government hasn't cut down to size. I want to talk to them and all the millions of people across our country who don't think they get a fair crack of the whip.
And I want to say to them, yes our problems are deep. But they can be overcome. Deep problems about who Britain is run for and who prospers within it. One rule for those at the top, another rule for everybody else. Two nations, not one. I want to say to them today it's not the Britain you believe in. It's not the Britain I believe in. It's not the Britain this party will ever be satisfied with. So friends we're going to change it. And here's how.