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Agenda: Labour is working hard to restore the link between people and power

Last month, on a visit to the Western Isles, people were telling me how remote they felt from politics in Edinburgh.

If you are in Stornoway or Kirkwall, it's understandable that you feel decisions are made far away from you.

But even in my constituency in the East End of Glasgow, people have the same complaint. It doesn't matter whether it's Parliaments in Edinburgh or London, or debates about the next General Election or the future of Scotland. People and power are too far apart.

That's why Ed Miliband is making changes to the way the Labour Party he leads works.

Our party has always been a movement of working people the length and breadth of Britain. This week we marked the 114th birthday of the Labour Party and honoured the men and women, many from Scotland, who met in London to create it.

The Labour Party that will meet today at a special conference will bear the hallmarks of that original meeting. There will be working people, representatives of trade unions and dozens of affiliated organisations.

But we need to make our party even more representative and to change it to respond to a changing world. The Labour Party was successful in the last century because of its direct link with hundreds of thousands of working people. We need to renew that link for this century.

That's why we want to strengthen our connection with millions of ordinary trade union members across the UK. We want the voices and experiences of care workers and car workers to be at the heart of our party.

That's one of the changes we will make today. We will amend our rules so that individual trade unionists will have to consent to paying fees to the party.

In exchange, they will have a voice in our party, and a vote in the election of the UK Labour leader. It's not right that thousands of trade unionists are only part of our party on paper and not in practice. We want them to play a full part in our movement by campaigning and working with us.

Ed Miliband will also complete the job the late, great John Smith started in 1993, when he introduced one member, one vote for the selection of Labour's parliamentary candidates. That was the right change to make and today we will extend one member, one vote to the election of our UK leader.

That means that everyone who votes for the UK leader of the Labour Party, whether MP or party member, will have a vote that is worth exactly the same. It means that everyone is treated equally in worth to everyone else.

Both changes will help fulfill Labour's historic mission to bridge the gulf between political debate in Edinburgh and London and communities across the country.

I hope it will be another step in restoring trust in our democracy, an absolute necessity if we want to change our country for the better.

With the debate about Scotland's future raging and with 200 days to go till the referendum, Alex Salmond will continue to tell us that the only way to change our country is with independence.

I know that isn't true. He's still ignoring the hard realities of independence, whether on jobs or the currency, and hasn't come clean with the answers. That's not how you create real change.

Ed Miliband has been honest about how he wants to change Britain, and about how hard the fights will be to make change happen. None of these is an easy choice, whether it is taking on the energy companies to reduce fuel bills or facing up to bankers on their bonuses. This is how real change happens. It is not through warm words and false promises.

That's why Ed Miliband wants to change the party, so that he can create a movement that can help him deliver the changes Labour will make in government.

The SNP have built a movement to separate our country. Today, we will strengthen our movement to change people's lives.

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