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Waving the Flag for Women

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

With all the political parties gearing up for their respective Spring conferences, Meg wrote the following for the Labour Women's conference. Published in The House Magazine 7th February 2005.

Women’s conference this year will be a crucial staging post that looks forward to the next General Election. 

 

Increased investment and reform of our public services has led to improved standards in our schools and the lowest hospital waiting lists since 1987. More than 920,000 new childcare places have been created; free part-time nursery education has been guaranteed for all three and four year olds; and Sure Start programmes have been set up to support families in disadvantaged areas. 

 

As we approach the next election, we have real achievements to be proud of - and a great record to campaign on.

 

“Forward not back” is the central message that we are taking forward into the General Election. We know that we have more to do to deliver for women.

 

Labour won in 1997 and 2001 because we reversed the ‘gender gap’, so that an equal proportion of women voted Labour as men. Women in the Party and the trade unions have a critical role to play in ensuring we continue to win women’s support and trust at the forthcoming election.

 

We have to talk to women about our achievements - on the economy, public services and crime - and tell them we know that we have more to do in a third term. Tell them just how the Labour government will continue to help meet the hopes and aspirations women have for themselves and their families.

 

That means doing even more to help families balance their work and family responsibilities, through the creation of 2,500 children’s centres by 2008 and by extending paid maternity leave to a full year by the end of the next Parliament.  It means doing more to tackle unequal pay, and it means doing more to ensure women get the pensions they deserve. 

 

The public’s view of our record is that whilst services are improving, even where improvement is greatest - on school exams and hospital waiting times for example - they know there is more to do. They also understand that the economy needs to stay strong if we are to continue to make and pay for the necessary improvements we all want.

 

We know that the people of this country do not think we are perfect. We have not done everything we or they want us to. But they believe we have made positive changes in a number of areas, and they want to see more of it. The country is moving in the right direction, and the majority of people do not want to reverse course.

 

Our purpose has to be to secure a third term Labour government that continues to drive forward change. A government that fulfils our Party’s promise to renew the country, that takes Britain forward to a better future.

 

This does mean campaigning against our opponents’ record and their policy programme. It also means exposing the reality of their strategy, which is to try to create as much cynicism as they can, drive down turnout in the hope a depressed vote will deliver them a better result.

 

But whilst doing this our main message should be about hope for the future, a better tomorrow for the majority of the population - not a return to when the possibility of the ‘good life’ was only for the few.

 

I look forward to a women’s conference where we focus on the challenges ahead. 

 

Meg Munn MP

Chair of Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party

 

 

 

 

 

 


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