Here is the video and text of my speech to the Labour Party Conference in Manchester on the subject of Europe:
Our party needs to be more pro-European, and our party needs to be more proud to be pro-European.
It is foolish to think that Britain is not part of Europe. The question is about Britain’s role in Europe, and what role Labour has to play.
Labour doesn’t share the Tory vision of an isolated Britain. Relegated, forgotten, abandoned, ignored. Our Britain is one that is listened to, trusted and respected across the continent.
The problem with the other parties is that they think that Europe is a zero-sum game. That’s not just pathetically shortsighted; it’s deeply destructive too.
We must not let ourselves be dragged to the Right by Tory, UKIP and tabloid lies about the European Union.
However, Conference, I don’t know whether you’ve had time to browse this. This is the National Policy Forum report. It weighs in at an impressive 115 pages, but only two of them discuss Europe.
Europe is too important to try and just wish away.
If we do, we will be caught off guard when the debate begins and be on the defensive, in 2014, when the European elections arrive.
Let’s not forget that the current difficulties were not created by Europe itself.
Those responsible include the financial sector, of course. There are the economic and moral shortcomings of the banks. And then there are the unfair and ineffective austerity measures that have been pursued over the past few years.
Europe is not the problem here; the problem comes from the Right-wing Governments, including our own, that dominate it.
Labour must have the confidence to reaffirm our commitment to Europe.
We must have the confidence to stand up to those who want to pull Britain out so that we can drown alone in the Atlantic.
And we must have the confidence to say that Britain is better off in Europe.
Open to Europe, active in Europe. That’s our way.