Aung San Suu Kyi opens Labour's new HQ


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Indy Politics

Ed Miliband hailed Aung San Suu Kyi as "the most famous opposition leader in the world" as the Burmese pro-democracy campaigner opened Labour's new London headquarters today.

On the latest leg of her lengthy tour of the UK, she unveiled a plaque at the office building before joining the Shadow Cabinet for its weekly meeting.

"In the end it is people who are most important, not buildings," she told the assembled staff.

"Although this is a beautiful building and I would not mind taking it back to Burma with me."

Mr Miliband told her: "As the main party of opposition in Britain, hoping to be the government, I can think of no better person than the most famous leader of the opposition in the world, if I may say so - and the most distinguished, and the most courageous and the most brave - to open our offices.

"We have admired from afar, and we have supported your struggles over the past many years. We have seen the courage you have shown, we have seen the fortitude that you have displayed and we are absolutely with you in the fight for ... the transition to a full democracy.

"We are with you every step of the way. You will be our leader in this struggle."

Ms Suu Kyi said it was particularly poignant for her to meet the party as it was a Labour prime minister - Clement Attlee - whom her father met in London in 1947 to seal an agreement for Burmese independence.

"I would never have noticed this building if you had not been here because there are other buildings this good in London.

"But the fact that you are here and have welcomed us so warmly and with genuine enthusiasm for the cause in which we have been engaged for so many decades, this is very special to me," she told the assembled politicians and party workers."

In a light-hearted moment, she said: "Although we are the biggest opposition party in the Burmese national assembly, there are only 44 of us out of over 600. So Labour need not despair."

But returning to her theme of the importance of opposition, she went on: "We consider ourselves the main opposition party and we do not in any way feel that we are too weak to deal with the work we have to do.

"But we certainly appreciate help and support from others who believe in democracy - especially those who understand that democracy needs a strong, effective opposition.

"This is something people have to learn in Burma, especially those in power: that without a strong, effective opposition, you cannot really have democracy.

"And that a strong, effective opposition is the best way of keeping yourself in trim. You watch your step because otherwise someone else will come in and take your place."