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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
In full: Harriet Harman's speech
Harriet Harman, the justice minister, has been elected to replace John Prescott as Labour's deputy leader. This is the full text of her acceptance speech to the party's special conference in Manchester.

It is an honour and a privilege to be elected as your deputy leader. Thank you.

It will be an honour and a privilege to work alongside Gordon Brown, our new leader and new prime minister.

I am confident about the future. And I think the party is too. We feel confident because, 10 years on from Tony Blair leading Labour into government, we are proud of what we have achieved.

'Tories out'

We remember how things have changed. I will never forget how, at my advice surgeries in Peckham Town Hall when we were in opposition, my constituents would hand me their pay slips showing 1.60 an hour.

The national minimum wage put an end to that. There would have been no national minimum wage without Labour.

I will never forget my constituents showing me letters from Kings College Hospital saying 'you have an appointment for your hip operation - it's in two years', three months' time'.

You want our plans to be debated and presented to parliament, not briefed and spun to the media
Harriet Harman

That no longer happens now. Waiting lists have fallen dramatically. But we know the doubling of investment in the NHS would never have happened without Labour.

Nor will I forget the woman in my constituency who said to me, 'I've got two lads indoors. One's 19 and one's 21. Neither has had a day's work or training since they left school. Can you help?'

But I couldn't help. We couldn't help until we kicked the Tories out and Labour was in government.

'Unity, discipline and debate'

The deputy leader contest has been good for this party.

You have spelt out loud and clear how you want our politics to change and the issues where you want action for the future.

You have said: You joined the party to have a say, not just to be a leadership supporters club.

You want us to listen, but you know there are tough decisions to be made in government and you want us to face up to those decisions, not run away from them.

You want unity, discipline and debate.

You want us to acknowledge the anger and division caused by Iraq. And we do. But we must give our total support to our armed forces as they support Iraq's fragile democracy.

You want our plans to be debated and presented to parliament, not briefed and spun to the media.

You want a party that will stand up for every family - in the south as well as the north, in middle England as well as our heartlands.

You want a party which will build consensus, not division, in every corner of Britain.

A Labour party which unites the south as well as the north, women as well as men, that supports families with ambition and aspiration, working hard for their future.

'We can disagree'

I see my mandate from this deputy leadership election as being about the general election to come; the battle to beat the Tories across our nation.

So I will work to reach out to win people back to Labour in the crucial marginal seats, in Crawley and Enfield, in Basildon and Dorset, in middle England and across Britain, relentlessly focused on where we need to win.

I want to thank Neil Kinnock for his support for me. You know, Tony, Gordon and I, we were all Neil's apprentices
Harriet Harman

This contest has shown that we can dare to disagree and argue about the way ahead because we are strong in our shared principles and common values. So we should never be afraid to debate the things that matter.

We are the stronger because we have the courage to debate our differences.

One thing we must never forget is that we are a progressive party and our ideas for the future are radical just as they were in 1997.

In 1997, we listened to and understood the problems that people faced. We drew up plans to tackle them. And we won support for those plans. Sometimes it was a fight.

'Radical, not conservative'

Britain faces new challenges in 2007 at home and abroad.

And during the deputy leadership campaign, I heard what you said. And you want action.

Action to tackle the shortage of affordable housing.

Action to do as much for youth services as we've done for children under five.

Action to ensure better support for families with older relatives.

Action to guarantee equal treatment in the workplace.

Action to improve our environment.

These are challenges that face our heartlands and our marginals. These are challenges that face everyone in Britain. And it will be this Labour government that has the will and the experience to tackle these challenges.

1997 - we were radical then. We will not be conservative now.

'Neil's apprentices'

Conference, we've got a new leader. We should be saying to the country, if it's experience, substance, strength and principles you want - then Gordon Brown's your man.

But if what you're after is opportunism, weakness and no sense of direction - then it's David Cameron.

I don't want to embark on a Gwyneth Paltrow moment but I do have to say some 'thank yous'.

To my fellow candidates - we spent more time together than we have with our own families.

It's been good-natured and comradely. It's been a serious debate about ideas. And each one of you has made a difference to the contest. Just as the contest has made a difference to the party.

I must thank my brilliant and hard-working campaign team led by Joan Ruddock and Mike Foster.

And I want to thank Neil Kinnock for his support for me. You know, Tony, Gordon and I, we were all Neil's apprentices.

'Champion for women'

And I must thank my family who have an unreasonable belief in me. And that in turn gives me my commitment that Labour is, and must remain, the party of the family.

With a top leadership team of a man and woman, Labour once again leads the way
Harriet Harman

I have always tried to be a champion for women and, as deputy leader, that's what I will do.

It feels like politics has come a long way since I first entered parliament in 1982.

Today we have 97 strong Labour women MPs - but back then, I was one of only 10 Labour women in a parliament of 3% women and 97% men.

I must also thank my constituents in Camberwell and Peckham who have elected me as their MP for 25 years and who have always been my political sounding-board.

And I want to pay tribute to my 700-strong constituency Labour party. Peckham is a hard-pressed inner-city area. But it is dynamic and diverse.

To be in Peckham is to have a window on the world. For Britain, a small country, understanding the challenges and opportunities of globalisation is the key to our future prosperity and security.

'Hollow sham'

You have elected me as your deputy leader. With a top leadership team of a man and woman, Labour once again leads the way.

And I want to make this promise:

I will listen to and be a voice for the Labour Party.

I will do all I can to strive for justice and fairness.

I will support Gordon as he takes on the immense responsibility of leadership not just of this party but of the country. Under Gordon's leadership and working together united with all of you.

We will rebuild the party.

We will renew our plans for the future.

We will expose the hollow sham that is Cameron's Conservative Party.

We will build a fairer Britain and win a fourth term for Labour.



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