Anneliese Dodds’ Speech at Labour Party Conference
Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary
Speaking at Labour Party Conference
Sunday 8 October 2023
Conference, it’s wonderful to be back here in Liverpool again.
Speaking to conference for the third time as Party Chair and Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary.
And for the first time as Chair of the National Policy Forum.
Yes, it’s been a busy year for me. And an even busier one for Labour.
The year we set out our mission-driven agenda to give Britain its future back.
And agreed a policy programme to deliver that change at the full meeting of the NPF.
Change that is desperately needed after thirteen years of the Conservatives.
Just look at the damage they’ve done over the last year alone.
When we last met, Liz Truss was crashing our economy.
A year on, Rishi Sunak is trashing our economic future.
And who always pays the highest price for this economic incompetence?
Those who can least afford it.
The Tories have stood by as inequality has soared.
Only Labour will stand up and do something about it.
With a mission to deliver the highest sustained growth in the G7 so that everyone can reach their full potential.
With a New Deal that will transform the rights of working people.
With action to support women experiencing menopause, tackle the Gender Pay Gap and boost businesses led by women and ethnic minority people.
We’ll protect the right to equal pay by enshrining the ‘single source test’ in UK law – rights the Tories only promised to keep after Labour challenged them on it.
And new commitments I announced yesterday to women’s conference will boost representation in Parliament by forcing every political party to publish data on the diversity of candidates for parliamentary elections in the UK, Scotland and Wales.
Tories – we’re looking at you – and the public will be, too.
We’ll build an NHS fit for the future by tackling rising maternal mortality, and the health disparities that leave Black women four times more likely to die in childbirth.
Figures which shame this government.
We’ll halve serious violent crime, including the appalling epidemic of violence against women and girls.
We’ll break down barriers to opportunity by embedding equality at the heart of everything government does, genuinely assessing the impact of new policies on equality, and defending the Equality Act from Conservative attack.
The last Labour Government did more to advance equality than any in history.
The next will finish the job and break new ground by tackling the inequalities we face today.
Like the structural racism that scars our society, leaving Black, Asian and ethnic minority families worse off, in poorer health and bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis.
The Conservatives don’t even think there’s a problem – they deny structural racism even exists.
Only Labour has a plan to tackle it at source, with a new, landmark Race Equality Act.
I want to thank Baroness Doreen Lawrence for her leadership and support in the development of this vital work, as well as the community groups and policy experts who have fed into it.
Experts on racial inequality who gave up their time freely – not because they support a political cause, but because they care about righting this wrong.
Attacked by a Conservative Government that would rather stoke culture wars than fight for equality.
So to everyone who has contributed to our Act – thank you.
Labour stands with you.
All that goes to show, that the enemies of Equality will stop at nothing.
But combating inequality is fundamental to our party. It’s why we’ll always take the right decision over the easy one.
And we’ll never descend into the gutter where the Conservatives wish to take us.
I know it’s been a difficult year for LGBT+ people.
Rising hate crime including physical attacks.
A Tory Government that treats their lives and their rights as a political football and a Prime Minister who sees them as a cheap punchline.
Labour will never do that.
We believe everyone deserves to be accepted, without exception and treated with respect and dignity.
That’s why we will tackle the rising tide of hate, with stronger laws so those who carry out anti-LGBT+ hate crime get the tougher sentences they deserve.
We will deliver where the Conservatives have failed by bringing in a full, no-loopholes, trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.
And we will modernise the gender recognition law to a new process, while continuing to support the implementation of the Equality Act that protects everyone.
Disabled people also deserve respect and they deserve dignity.
But they’re getting neither under the Conservatives.
Labour is determined to break down barriers to opportunity for disabled people.
That’s why we are committed to the social model of disability and the principles of co-production and independent living.
We will honour our commitments to the UN Convention for the Rights of Disabled People, bring in mandatory disability pay gap reporting for big businesses, reform access to work and act to make it simpler to secure reasonable adjustments.
Conference, we must act, to undo the damage of the last thirteen years.
To break down barriers to opportunity.
To root out inequality wherever we see it.
To build a better, fairer Britain.
The British people have had enough of the Conservatives.
And they are looking to Labour to give them hope. It’s our job to convince people that a vote for Labour will deliver the change they’re crying out for.
And the British people are listening.
As Labour Party Chair, I can only rejoice in many of the election results we have seen since we met last year.
We won the local elections – with our best result since 1997, gaining 500 councillors and 22 councils.
We are now the largest party in local government and gaining ground in the areas we need to win at the next general election.
Then there are the by-elections.
We won in City of Chester.
We won in Stretford and Urmston.
We won West Lancashire.
And of course, we won for the first time ever in Selby and Ainsty – with the largest majority ever reversed at a by-election.
And for the first time, on Thursday, we took a seat from the SNP at a Westminster by-election.
I want to congratulate our newest MP Michael Shanks.
While the SNP yet again took the low road, we took the high road- and we won. Friends, in Scotland, Labour’s gaan hame.
Labour winning the local elections.
Labour winning Tory seats for the first time.
Labour winning in Scotland again.
Conference, how good does that sound?
It’s clear the country is desperate for change.
But this alone will not win us the next General Election.
Yes, Labour is a party transformed under Keir Starmer’s leadership – back in the service of working people.
But there is no room for complacency.
No resting on our laurels.
No time to waste to answer the question: if not the Conservatives, then why Labour?
That is why the overriding priority for this year’s National Policy Forum was to develop a policy programme that serves the British people.
The final report of the NPF shows that we have delivered upon that, with a serious, credible and ambitious policy programme to deliver real change.
All built on the rock of economic stability and our plan for growth.
It is the culmination of three and a half years of hard work. 28 formal policy consultations.
Over 5,000 written responses.
Policy seminars with hundreds of party members.
Three annual reports to Conference.
And our Stronger Together policy review.
Every spending commitment within the NPF final report is fully funded.
Four years after the Labour Party’s worst defeat in eight decades, the final report of the NPF shows we are united and ready to get to work for the British people.
That’s why I’m delighted to present this report to Annual Conference and want to call upon every delegate to vote for it.
Because only Labour can give Britain its hope, its optimism and its future back.
The NPF report shows how. Thank you.