Saturday 21 September 2019 / 4:19 PM Dawn Butler / Women and Equalities

Dawn Butler speaking at Labour Party Conference


Conference, I want to start with a quote. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.”

Edmund Burke said “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will face, one by one, unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible strength.”

This means to me if we don’t pull together Johnson will win. Boris Johnson, Donald Trump – these are just some of the bad racist men combining, and we are the good people who need to associate.

Conference, this cannot be a normal conference today. This is a call-to-action. Be under no illusion, our democracy is under threat with the supreme court deliberating. And  the values we hold dear like inclusion, diversity, equality, are all under threat. And we must be the shields of protection on the front line.

Boris Johnson – or the incredible sulk as I call him, actually I call him many other things like Johnson by name, Johnson by nature – has shown that he will do anything; lie, cheat, steal just to hold onto power he has so desperately craved since the age of 10 when he wanted to rule the world.

I am sure that he has lied to every woman in his entire life so, of course, it is not much of a stretch to conclude that he lied to the Queen.

When it comes to cheating, he locked us out of Parliament to stop us scrutinising him. Listen, he kicked out 21 members from his own Party and he only had a majority of 1. Never before has a Prime Minister done that. He did it because he is spoilt. If he can do that to them, and sacrifice his majority, just imagine what he is capable of doing to us.

He tried to fix a date for the election, in the hope that students travelling to university wouldn’t vote. He is pushing the idea of rolling out Voter ID, in the hope it will stop some people from voting. A leaf out of the Trump Playbook.

We need to wake up and start registering people to vote like crazy. I want to thank people who are already doing that. Every young person you know and everyone who has suffered over the last nine years, get them registered to vote, encourage them to read our manifesto, and understand that a better Labour Socialist ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ government is possible.

I know what you’re thinking, what manifesto? Well the new one is currently being written but we need more input from you, the members.

I need help with my race and faith manifesto, so please, log onto the Labour website with your ideas. Together, we will create a people-powered manifesto, bolder and braver than we have ever been – empowering and aspirational policies for our country. This is our serious call-to-action.

All the teachers, academics, race and equality professions, and other experts. We are not afraid of experts unlike the Tories. We need your help with the Emancipation Educational Trust, the initiative that I announced with our Leader Jeremy Corbyn last year in Liverpool.

We need experts to build on the vision so that we can hit the road running when we win the next election and are in government. This initiative is a vital component in the fight against the far-right.

This initiative is a vital component in the fight against the far-right. There needs to be a greater understanding of Empire, colonialism, and imperial migration. False framing of these histories reinforced the artificial separation between their history and our history. It reinforces an ‘us’ and ‘them’. Black history is British history. This false division can develop into hate. So by breaking this down, we can tackle the misconceptions, and start to stem the growth of the far-right – which is the fastest growing threat in the UK.

This Emancipation Education Trust will aim to provide a hub and school programmes to ensure a deeper understanding of British history. It will offer a story for all to engage and learn from. Where there is a will, there is a way.

We have already seen the University of Glasgow make available £20 million in reparations. Other banks and businesses must follow. Labour will begin with consultation hubs in Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow and London.

I would like to thank the Runnymede Trust, who we have been working closely with, in building this policy idea and have been doing such vital work regarding slavery, migration, and Empire.

Why is all this a priority, you may ask? Because for the first time in our country’s history. We have a Prime Minister who the far-right regard as their leader.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, you might know him better by his stage name Tommy Robinson, he proclaimed “We Back Boris”. And Johnson’s close friend Donald Trump’s campaign, supported by the Ku Klux Klan and a former Grand Wizard. They may not wear pointy hats anymore but they are still amongst us.

This is such a dark time in our history. If we don’t stand up to them now, it will get worse. All you have to do is open the paper or look on social media and you can see the abuse. MPs and politicians are subjected to vile threats every single day.

The person who threatened to kill me is currently in jail. People are being attacked in the streets, there is a rise in hate crime, people have been raped and beaten up just because they have a different point of view, or skin colour, or religion or even just because of who they love.

When the plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper was foiled, the judge said “The criminal had a perverted view of history and current politics. That he was prepared to act on his white supremacist world view in a plot to kill a Member of Parliament.”

I want to publicly thank ‘Hope Not Hate’. They saved Rosie’s life and exposed many right-wing extremists in the process.

And we know in the last year that the man convicted of the Finsburys Park Mosque terror attack, also wanted to kill our Leader Jeremy Corbyn and our London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

And our dear friend Jo Cox. She was brutally murdered by a right-wing extremist. It’s hard for me to talk about Jo, but we should never forget her name and her profound words that ‘there’s more that unites us than divides us.’

A Labour government will unite our country with positive policies. We will also tackle the rise of the far-right and launch an independent review into the spread of hard right extremism.

Labour want what’s best for our country, but not everyone has that intention. Some are using Brexit as an excuse to sow division and hate, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are people in this hall who voted to Leave and Remain. We are all good people and we should be able to debate and disagree without attacking or condemning one another.

Those elitists like Jacob – ‘never changed a nappy, let me lie down in parliament and take a nap’ – Reese-Mogg. Those elitist at the very top have a plan and when I read the recent, excellent United Nations report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance it really hit home.

The Tories are carrying out their plan before our very eyes. We are letting these bad men drag us into this dark place. But we say no more and Labour in government will work towards full implementation of these powerful recommendations. Feel proud that labour is building an international human rights anti-racism agenda in the shadow of populist nationalism.

Conference, when we win the next election, we will put a stop to austerity. We cannot continue to suffer like we have suffered over the last 9 years.

Never forget that 87 per cent of successive Tory and Lib Dem government cuts have fallen on the shoulders of women.

So let’s win the next election, because Labour are ready to place equality right at the heart of our government.

I and my fantastic team of Carolyn Harris, Naz Shah and Baroness gale have announced many bold, positive policies to bring about true equality in this country – from race and gender pay audits, domestic violence paid leave, and now from menstruation to our new menopause policy.

It is time we incorporate respect for women and our bodies into workplace policies. Most women will go through the menopause and many feel ill-equipped to manage the symptoms of the menopause at work.

So Conference, today I am pleased to announce that a Labour government, with the help of the unions, will ensure that training is provided for line managers so they can understand what adjustments may be necessary to

  • ensure flexible working
  • conduct risk assessments
  • review sickness absence procedures
  • and to consider the specific needs of menopausal women.

Conference I would like to thank all the trade unions – the bakers union for their McStrike policy, and an extra thanks to Unite for their period in dignity policy, and GMB for their menopause policy.

These policies are important because women are working longer than ever before -some have no choice (and to the 1950’s women first of all thank you and i am so sorry for what the nasty Tories have done to you). These policies will make a positive difference for women up and down the country.

Conference, together we will build a country and workplace that works for everyone.

The Labour Party’s people powered movement, does what it says on the tin, it is for the people.

And Conference, before I end my speech, can I just say hello to some special people, the very first graduates the Bernie Grant leadership programme, a programme named after the first black male MP.

Conference, the future of the party is in great hands. Listen conference we will build our movement faster, than the Tories are trying to dismantle the very fabric of our society.

We need this movement, we need activists, we need all good people in this Conference and in the country as Edmund Burke said ‘to associate’ in this struggle to save our country and defeat these bad men.

If you are in social housing, if you are LGBT+, if you are straight, if you are a traveller, if you struggle to pay rent, if you wear a hijab, turban, a cross, if you are black, white, Asian, if you are disabled, if you don’t have a trust fund, if you didn’t go to Oxbridge, if you are working class, if you are under 18, if you are aspirational, if you work, if you are a carer, if you feel you won’t live beyond 25, if you have ever ticked the other box – you have a future and you are worthy, worthy of equality dignity and respect. And a Labour government will value you, just be your true authentic self.