Tony Blair - Labour Party Conference, Brighton: 28 September, 2004

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So here we are facing possibility unique in our 100 history, of governing Britain for third successive term.
Never done before. Never debated it before. imagined it before.
Progressive parties, the Labour Party, rarely fail of their values. Fairness, justice, , opportunity for all. These are impulses of any decent human . No. We almost always fail we don't foresee the future which those values must be . The values require steadfast conviction. the future requires restless courage know and act upon the reality, however hard the challenge holds. And when the two, and courage, combine their strength take on the challenges, they them and in time what a challenge, becomes part of new consensus.
Reflect on the once the passionate subject of , people no longer talk about reflect how our country has . Remember the march for jobs. -one talks of mass unemployment now. two weeks ago it fell its lowest level for 30 , it passed without notice. And did it? The British people, voting for change. And there people who a decade ago tell you of interest rates what they are today, of repossessed, of families who didn't from one week to the where the mortgage payments were to come from. But who of boom and bust economics ? Who did it? The British by voting for change.
And was the last time we of a winter crisis in health service or the scandal outside toilets in primary schools, that this country, Britain, is only one anywhere in the world increasing public spending on and education every year, year year, as a proportion of national income? And who did ? The British people did it voting for change.
When did last hear of pensioners freezing death in the cold because couldn't afford the heating? Or great a debate is there about the break-up of the Kingdom, now that Scotland has Parliament and Wales its Assembly? 12 years ago an election fought on it.
A week , after the talks on Northern , an 18-year-old asked me: "How we never hear much about Ireland?" But we used to up every morning to it, 't we? And remember when to in favour of gay rights to be a loony leftie, relations was political correctness, and Ken frightened people even as as your own leadership? Now parties compete for the gay , unite against the BNP and has led and won the on congestion charging and community .
So many things that used divide our country, now unite in healthy consensus. Who did ? The British people, by voting change.
Or when the next comes, will they say Labour 't run the economy; there'll be run on the markets; that can't defend Britain or won't the police? No. Labour is . Britain is working. The longest of economic growth since records , an economy now bigger than of Italy and France. The unemployment and highest employment rate any of our competitors for first time since the 1950s. standards up, for everyone, and the poorest up most. The reductions in poverty and biggest in investment for decades. This 't a country in decline. The people aren't a people on way down. We are winning. is winning. They are winning.
why did they vote for ? Because we had the courage our convictions and we dared change. So why is government tough? Because for all the , life is still tough for hard-working families: if you're a married couple trying to buy house; if you're trying to home and family life; if 're worried about saving for retirement; you're scared to go out night; if you, the taxpayer, people who don't deserve it benefits, when you can't get help you need and do . Modern life is being perpetually out. You can do more, more, consume more, live longer. nothing stays still. It's always .
And for the politicians, it's having a conversation with people an area where your mobile doesn't work properly. You know it's like. You hear scraps the conversation, most of it and it's all intensely irritating. public think the politicians then 't know or care about their ; and the politicians feel misunderstood.
I am an optimist about ; and the difference between an and a pessimist is not the optimist believes the world wonderful and the pessimist believes 's beset by challenges; the difference the pessimist believes we will defeated by them; the optimist the challenges can be overcome.
meanwhile, think how lucky we . Lucky to have been able change our party from one permanent opposition to one that compete for government on equal . Lucky to be in a as great as this serving people as decent as the people. Lucky to have a of talented men and women 'm proud to call friends, as as colleagues.
I won't list all. You know who they . They know how much I what they do. But I mention the two who have with me, in Opposition and government in the same jobs step of the way. Gordon John, the one a personal for 20 years and the chancellor this country has ever and the other the strongest, loyal deputy any leader could wish for.
And, of course, are lucky in our Opposition. know people say we should the Lib Dems seriously. But can't. I like Charles, incidentally. recently he asked: "The Lib are doing well, he said, we have to answer the : what do you stand for?" , my strong advice is: don't there. The great advantage of Lib Dems is precisely that -one knows what they stand for. they ever find out it'll the end of you.
They against every single measure for against Anti Social Behaviour; against benefits from failed asylum seekers when all their appeals were ; and they believe you can an extra £30 billion in in one Parliament just from -rate taxpayers, to pay for spending they can't possibly afford.
Meanwhile other part of their party to change our NHS for system of compulsory, private medical . Believe me, Charles, leave the in blissful ignorance.
The Tories, contrast, well, they don't need ask what they stand for.
know what they stand for. for them, so do the people. Two recessions, 10 per mortgage rates, the poll tax, million unemployed, opposition to the wage and crime doubled. Michael did well at first because had forgotten him. Now they've . All you need to know that when his advisers told the Tories had to become party of the future, he back John Redwood.
So yes, is New Labour that now the one nation mantle. And daftest thing said about New is not the usual "What the Romans ever done for ?" Like someone I met at TUC, who said: "What have ever done for trade unionists?" said: "What about the right union recognition?" "Yeah, but apart that?" "The first ever minimum ." "Yeah, alright, but ...." "Or Social Chapter, paid holidays, restoration union rights at GCHQ, an to blacklisting, information and consultation ". Then he said: "Yeah, but -one knows about it". I said ", try telling them."
It's not , actually. Someone showed me an recently about how: "Tony Blair marginalised the Tories." I thought 's a change to read something . Then I realised it was criticism. Like, after years in people thought the Labour Party unfit to govern, now they the Tories are and I be really sorry about it.
you know, the trouble is now, even after the lessons 18 years of opposition and terms of government, we still they're the party of government, 're the ruling class and we're part of it. And we're . Neither should we be. But point is: Britain doesn't need ruling class today. The rulers the people.
And the reason Tories are marginalised is they to accept us as equals. still think they don't need ask any fundamental questions about 's Tory Party. They just hope we'll buckle. Well, we won't. we have the heart to true to our values; and head to understand the future which they have to work.
what have we learnt in period of government? That the is thrown out with scarcely to become familiar; before a future emerges to assert itself. , we're proud of our record. economic stability in the first . Record investment in the second. numbers of jobs in both. fairer Britain, yes. Better than Tory Britain, I should hope . But not yet a Britain as our constitution puts it: , wealth and opportunity are in hands of the many not few. If you have professional you are five times more to go to university. If live in a smart part town you are half as to be a victim of . You may have noticed company aren't the ones losing their . There is a glass ceiling opportunity in this country. And have raised the ceiling. But haven't broken it. It's great introduced 2½ hours free nursery . But if your job means till 5 o’clock in the , what good is it? And New Deal has given half million youngsters a job. But happens when they want a ? No inner-city London borough now fewer than 40 per cent its pupils with good GCSEs, from as low as 25 cent in 1997. That's still per cent not good enough. 's wonderful that maximum waiting times come down from 18 months 1997 to six months by end of next year. But would not want a member my family to wait in , let alone for six months. we may have a stable , but every business I visit me however well Britain does , within a decade hundreds of of UK jobs will go China to India unless we a wholly new platform of opportunity in knowledge, skills and .
Now, for the wealthy few, one of those challenges of future could be overcome. The term mission is to overcome for the many.
Changing Britain better. Changing it for good.
what kind of Britain is going to be? Not one all succeed equally - that utopia; but an opportunity society all have an equal chance succeed; that could and should the 21st century Britain under Labour Government.
And that society that there’s nothing in your , whether you're black or white, man or a woman, able-bodied disabled, that stands in the of what your merit and work can achieve. Where hard families who play by the are not going to see opportunities blighted by those that 't. And where if any of citizens, no matter how poor, in sickness or need, they the best care available without regard to their wealth.
So, , wealth and opportunity in the of the many, not the . Not our hands. But theirs.
see fairness in the future not be built on the , structures, services and government of gone by. Their values remain. the reality of life has . The relationship between state and has changed. People have grown . They want to make their life choices. Their expectations, their , their hopes are all different higher. The 20th Century traditional state that did so much so many has to be -shaped as the opportunity society capable liberation and advance, every bit substantial as the past but the contours of the future. this will be a progressive as long as we remember the reason for our struggle injustice has always been to the individual. And the argument not between those who do those who do not love . It is between the Conservatives believe freedom requires only that stand back while the fittest most privileged prosper. And we understand, that freedom for the , for every individual, whatever their point in life, is best through a just and a community.
In an opportunity society, opposed to the old welfare , government does not dictate; it . It makes the individual - , parent, law-abiding citizen, job-seeker - driver of the system, not state. It sets free the talent of our public servants social entrepreneurs whose ability is thwarted by outdated rules and bureaucracy. It changes how government , to open up the means delivery to every resource, public, and voluntary, that can deliver based on need not wealth.
I hear people describe "choice" a Tory word. It reminds of when I first used knock on doors as a and was told if they their own home they were . Choice a Tory word? Tell to the 50 per cent heart patients who have exercised to get swifter operations and bringing down cardiac deaths in country 16,000 since we came power.
Or to the parents have made the new City Schools so popular in areas the greatest social disadvantage. Or people I met in Teesside couple of weeks ago who transformed their neighbourhood, yes with money but most of all, making their decisions, their choices how it was spent in way they wanted to run community.
Choice is not a word. Choice dependent on wealth; are the Tory words. The to demand the best and the worst and do so by virtue of your wealth your equal status as a , that is precisely what the Labour Party should stand for.
here are ten things a Labour third term can do Britain's hard-working families.
1 - the circle of opportunity by mortgage rates, rising living standards; jobs in every region of UK; special help for first homebuyers and in a week the Tories are advocating an tax cut which gives £2 to the richest five per of estates, Labour's priority will tax relief for the millions hard-working families, not tax cuts the wealthy few.
2 - society where we put the commitment to quality vocational skills we do academic education, with vocational courses at school, every given skills free of charge to level two and further for level three, and 300,000 Apprenticeships at the workplace.
3 - parent with the choice a good specialist school, 200 City Academies all in areas deprivation, but with no return selection at 11; new powers heads to tackle disruptive pupils; secondary schools part of the Schools for the Future programme, as each wave of schools rebuilt, modern sports facilities in one, with a guaranteed number hours of sport per week every school.
And whilst we’re that subject, let's work to the Olympics to London in and have a sporting legacy just for the capital but the whole country.
4 - patients able to choose their , to book the time and for treatment. Maximum waiting times from 18 months to 18 . 100 new hospital schemes, 2,700 premises improved and modernised already more to come, life expectancy , cardiac and cancer deaths down. NHS safe in the patient's .
5 - Life made easier families. More choice for mums home and at work. Universal, and flexible childcare for the of all three-14 year-olds who it from 8am in the to six at night and Sure Start Children's Centre in community of Britain.
6 - and dignity for everyone in . Year by year we will to increase the numbers who move off benefit and into , whether from Job Seekers Allowance, Benefit or any other benefit, with the money saved, design pension system that has the state pension at its core; special help to the poorest provides incentives to save for -working families whatever their wealth or .
7 - Our country and people prospering in the knowledge . Increasing by £1 billion the in science, boosting support to businesses and ending the digital by bringing broadband technology to home in Britain that wants by 2008.
8 - On back of the success of behaviour legislation and record numbers police, we will take a approach to the whole of and order. By the end the next Parliament, all communities their own dedicated policing team; the local community as well the police having a say it is policed. There will a radical extension of compulsory testing for offenders; a doubling investment in drug treatment; summary to deal with drug dealers with the violence from binge-drinking; those believed to be part organised crime will have their confiscated, their bank accounts opened and if they intimidate juries, trial without a jury.
9 - will introduce identity cards electronic registration of all who our borders. We have cut the numbers of failed asylum . By the end of 2005, for the first time in , we will remove more each than apply and so restore in a system that we has been abused. But we welcome lawful migrants to this ; we will praise, not apologise, our multi-cultural society and we never play politics with the of race.
10 - A deal for all at work. opportunity society is one in we stop ignoring the lives the millions of hard working paid families who do the that we all rely on. jobs that get overlooked, the who we too often see through, walk straight past, take granted. The office cleaners who the early morning shift, clearing the mess before the office filled. The security guards staying through the night. The dinner , who cook meals for hundreds kids in the school canteen days a week. The hospital who often do as much patient care as the nurse. them, we offer not just respect they deserve, but the of a decent income, a minimum wage, equal pay between and women, four weeks paid from now on, plus bank included.
There they are: ten to what a third term Government would do for Britain's -working families. Don't tell me that's worth fighting for. A stronger, , more prosperous nation.
And now have to go out and the trust of the people do it. When people talk trust, I say this: I manifestos rarely make best sellers. any party activist who wants answer to the question about - go and read what said we would do in and 2001. It's a happy because rarely has a political been able to deliver so of what it promised. And you can't be bothered with whole manifesto, get out those cards.
1995, 7, 1997 five . All delivered. Except its not 100,000 off the waiting lists, 300,000 and not 250,000 young but half a million.
2001, pledges. All delivered. Except it 't 10,000 teachers, it's almost 20,000 it’s not 20,000 extra nurses ’s 60,000. And the minimum wage not £4.50 an hour but £4.85 and set to rise further.
So a new manifesto being written. A new pledge is being prepared for insertion John Prescott's wallet. And then the hands of everyone of as we knock on doors, the factories, tour the shops, out and campaign with some in our bellies, with some in what we’ve done for country.
And of course, every will be hard - change is; every time we act the reality of the future, ’ll be accused of reneging on values of the past. But the issues we have just - the normal run of , you feel, the country feels confident. The problem of trust 't primarily that, is it? It over the decisions I have , the judgements about our future I have made since I here in this hall, about address the TUC on September three years ago.
And since , as with every other country its leaders the world over, with America, those against America, life has been dominated in way we never foresaw. There talk before this conference that wanted to put aside discussion Iraq. That was never my . I want to deal with head on. The evidence about having actual biological and chemical , as opposed to the capability develop them, has turned out be wrong. I acknowledge that; accept it. I simply point , such evidence was agreed by whole international community, not least Saddam had used such weapons his own people and neighbouring .
And the problem is that can apologise for the information turned out to be wrong, I can't, sincerely at least, for removing Saddam.
The world a better place with Saddam prison not in power. But the heart of this is belief of a more profound that the basic judgment I made since September 11th, including Iraq, is wrong, that by actions we have made matters not better. I know this has divided the country. I understand why many disagree. I , too, that as people see struggling with it, they think 's stopped caring about us; or he's just pandering to George and what's more in a that's irrelevant to us. It's hard for you. Like the who told me: "I've defended so well to everyone I've convinced myself." Do I know 'm right? Judgements aren't the same facts. Instinct is not science. 'm like any other human being, fallible and as capable of wrong. I only know what believe.
There are two views what is happening in the today.
One view is that are isolated individuals, extremists, engaged essentially isolated acts of terrorism. what is happening is not different from the terrorism we always lived with. And if believe this, we carry on same path as before September . We try not to provoke and hope in time they wither.
The other view is this is a wholly new , a worldwide global terrorism based a perversion of the true, and honourable faith of Islam; its roots are not superficial deep, in the madrassehs of , in the extreme forms of doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in training camps of Al Qaeda Afghanistan; in the cauldron of ; in parts of the politics most countries of the Middle and many in Asia; in extremist minority that now in European city preach hatred of West and our way of .
And if you take this , you believe September 11th changed world; that Bali, Beslan, Madrid scores of other atrocities that make the news are part the same threat and the path to take is to this terrorism, remove it root branch and at all costs them acquiring the weapons to on a massive scale because terrorists would use them.
And when you take the first , then when you see the brought to Iraq you say: , we told you; look what have stirred up; now stop them.
But if you take second view, you don't believe terrorists are in Iraq to it. They're not protesting about rights of women - what, same people who stopped Afghan going to school, made women the Burka and beat them the streets of Kabul, who assassinate women just for daring register to vote in Afghanistan's ever democratic ballot, though you four million women have done ?
They are not provoked by actions; but by our existence. are in Iraq for the reason we should be. They chosen this battleground because they success for us in Iraq not success for America or or even Iraq itself but the values and way of that democracy represents. They know . That's why they are there. is why we should be and whatever disagreements we have , should unite now in our to stand by the Iraqi until the job is done.
, of course, at first the is more fighting. But Iraq not a safe country before 2003. Few had heard of Taliban before September 11th. But was not a nation at .
So it's not that I more about foreign affairs than state of our economy, NHS, or crime. It's simply that believe democracy there means security ; and that if I don't and act on this terrorist , then the day will come all our good work on issues that decide people's lives be undone because the stability which our economy, in an of globalisation, depends, and that will vanish.
And I never this to happen on that dawn of 1 May 1997 neither did you. I never spending time on working out terrorists trained in some remote of the Hindu Kush could up present on British streets our way of life.
And irony for me is that , as a progressive politician, know despite the opposition of so of progressive politics to what 've done, the only lasting way defeat this terrorism is through politics and values.
Salvation from will not come solely from gunship. Military action will be unless we address the conditions which this terrorism breeds and causes it preys upon. That why it is worth staying course to bring democracy to and Afghanistan, because then people world over will see that is not and has never some new war of religion; the oldest struggle humankind knows, liberty or oppression, tolerance or ; between government by terror or the rule of law.
And demonstrate to Muslims here in that these are values we dear and apply to all citizens. We should change the to make religious discrimination unlawful we do with race, gender disability.
There’s more we need do. I think you know depth of my commitment to Middle East peace process and my frustration at the lack progress.
I can only say you that after November I make its revival a personal and two states, Israel and , living side by side in enduring peace would do more defeat this terrorism than bullets can ever do.
Britain is , too, committed for the first in our history to the Nation’s aid target of 0.7 cent of GDP.
Next year president of the G8 along action on climate change, we try for consensus on a plan for Africa, that not on aid and trade but conflict resolution, on fighting corruption, the killer diseases Aids, malaria TB, on education, water, infrastructure. plan to lift that continent hope and lift from ourselves shame that so many human live and die in misery we know together we could it; and when unchecked this will some time, somewhere in future will threaten us.
But this reality. Little of it happen except in alliance with United States of America. And am I, told by the -Europeans to give up on America the Atlanticists to forget about . And yet I know Britain be at the centre of Europe now 25 nations, reunited centuries of conflict, the biggest market and most powerful political in the world and I that to retreat from its now would be utter self-defeating .
I know too, to cast the transatlantic alliance would be for Britain. And I believe strongly that if Europe and could only put aside their and unite around a common , the future could be so different and better and more .
So the decisions I've been on to make are stark. I hear people say: "I the old Tony Blair back, one who cares", I tell something. I don't think as human being, as a family , I've changed at all. I changed as a leader. I’ve to realise that caring in isn't really about "caring". It's doing what you think is and sticking to it.
So do not minimise whatever differences of you have with me Iraq and the only healing come from understanding that the , whether agreed with or not, taken because I believe, genuinely, 's future security depended on it.
’s been no third way, this . Believe me, I looked for . But nor should we minimise strength that unites this Labour and this Labour Party as seek to win a third for change. It is the change we make to the of the British people that matters. It is the residents Somers Town in Camden who me how they are using powers we have given them fight back against the yobs had made their lives a . It is the mothers I at Dean Bank Sure Start my own constituency, delighted and that their children were getting much better a start in than they had. It was Barney I met in Nottingham, to stay on at school do A-levels because of the Maintenance Allowance - and last Natalie started at Nottingham Trent with 4 A-levels to her .
It’s talking to the decent working people of this country gives me strength. And when read out to you that list of policies for the term, I could do so absolute confidence that we will them. Why? Because, whatever the , unexpected as well as planned, the way, on the central and purpose of our politics, our plan to modernise our , give a fair deal to , build our economy on the of all, we are delivering promised, and we can deliver more if we win that term.
And all we have do is have the courage our convictions. Knowing that it are to make the NHS what it was created to , free, universal, decent health care all, we have to modernise to meet the demands of new age. Knowing that unless offer more than the standard , parents will desert our state and the whole of our will suffer. Knowing that we not solve our transport problems traditional methods of funding or pensions challenge without altering the of our welfare state.
And are the easy bits and bits of leadership. And believe there's no doubt which is . But true leadership means doing . Without the climb, you don't the peak. And we can that peak.
Our ambition therefore to make the change in country and in our world and irreversible. Because in the century brief periods of progressive were rapidly extinguished. In this we must ensure that the case once made is maintained, the periods of conservatism are punctuation marks not the sentences which our history is written.
so long, we knew only importance and futility of Opposition. because we dared to change, dared to dream that we win again. And we did. now we stand, in a no Labour Party ever dared dream of standing before, with third term Labour Government beckoning. the values for today, the for tomorrow, and a policy that will change the country better and for good.
Power, and opportunity in the hands the many, not the few. was our mission; that is mission and our purpose. And want us to win a term not so that we go in the history books. so that we can consign 's failings to the history books. ’s why we want it.
Build the progress we have made. everyone the chance to make most of themselves. Deliver better for those hard working families. in our values, proud in record, optimistic about the future. the courage of our convictions, can deliver the third term, therefore deliver the lasting change.
tell you, conference, it is the fight. Now let's get and do it.