Ed Balls – 2007 Speech on Ending Child Poverty


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Balls, the then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, on ending child poverty made on 10th December 2007.


I’m delighted to be speaking here today. And it is timely for me to be here because – as many of you know – tomorrow we are publishing our Children’s Plan.

Over the past six months, we have been listening to parents, teachers, professionals, and children and young people themselves.

We have heard that while there are more opportunities for young people today than ever before, parents want more support in managing the new pressures they face such as balancing work and family life, dealing with the internet and modern commercialism, and letting their children play and learn whilst staying safe.

We heard that while children are doing better than ever in school, we need to do more to ensure that every child gets a world class education.

And we heard that while fewer children now live in poverty, too many children’s education is still being held back by poverty and disadvantage.

If we are going to make this the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up.

If we are going to help all children and young people to fulfil their potential, we need to eradicate child poverty.

This morning, Beverley Hughes and I visited Cardwell Primary School in Woolwich. Cardwell Primary School is located in an area of high deprivation, with over half of the children eligible for free school. But those children’s education is not held back by poverty and disadvantage.

They are not held back because of the commitment of the head teacher – Carol Smith – and her team to look at the needs of the ‘whole child’ – tackling all the barriers to learning faced by their pupils.

And they are able to do so effectively because their school is co-located with a children’s centre that offers a wide range of different services for the local community.

Eradicating child poverty is something I care passionately about. It was something I was deeply committed to when I worked at the Treasury and I have worked with many of you over the past few years.

It shouldn’t surprise any of you that I have carried this commitment with me to my new role as the first ever Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

Back in 1999, this Government set one of the most ambitious economic and social policy objectives set by any government in the developed world – to eradicate child poverty within a generation.

At that time, we had inherited an intolerable situation. Between 1979 and the mid 1990s, the number of children living in poor households had more than doubled.

By the time this Government came to power in 1997, the UK had the worst rate for child poverty in Europe – indeed, it was one of the worst of any industrialised nation.

Since then, we have managed to stem the long-term trend of rising child poverty by galvanising our efforts around our goal.

Partly through our investment in support for children and families since 1997:

– The reforms to the tax and benefit system that mean that the poorest families will be an average of £4,000 better off in real terms by April 2009;

– The 1,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres that are offering services to over a million young children and their parents;

– And the national minimum wage underpinning all of our support for low-income families.

As a result, there are 600,000 fewer children living in relative poverty now than there were in 1998/99 – the biggest fall of any EU country over this period.

But work has also been central to our ambitions – over 2.7 million more people now in work, including 335,000 more lone parents – bringing the total of lone parents now in work to more than a million.

A child of a lone parent that works is three times less likely to be living in poverty than a child of a lone parent that doesn’t. We know work – for those who can – provides the best, most sustainable, route out of poverty. Better off now, but even better off in the future.

As Michael said, and as you all know and we have discussed in recent months, we still have a long way to go. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and many of you are questioning whether we can sustain our level of progress.

And I share your disappointment that last year’s figures – for the first time since 1999 – showed an increase in the number of children living in poverty.

In every typical class of 30 children in our schools, 6 or 7 of those children are still living in relative low income poverty. In areas such as London, this figure rises to nearly half.

So meeting the 2010 goal to half child poverty and our 2020 goal to eradicate it altogether is not going to be easy. But I want to be clear that we’re not going to abandon these goals just because the going has got tough. This is when we need to redouble our efforts and when we need to try even harder.

The measures we recently announced in the Budget and in the PBR will take an estimated further 300,000 more children out of poverty. I know some of you are disappointed we have not done more. But our commitment is genuine and real.

Rightly, you will always be campaigning for more immediate help to lift children out of poverty. And when I joined the Chancellor of the Exchequer at No 11 Downing Street last month to meet the End Child Poverty rally, we all agreed that we wanted to see more resources to support families living in poverty.

But I know you will also agree with me that, if we want to eradicate child poverty altogether over the next decade, we will need to have a much broader, all-encompassing approach. It is vital that we prevent children who are in primary school today from becoming tomorrow’s impoverished parents if we are to meet our 2020 goal of eradicating child poverty.

Because this is not a problem we can simply buy our way out of – it’s as much about what we do in children’s centres, in our schools and in the health services we provide for families. It’s as much about how we are preparing our children and young people for work as how much we are investing.

This is why we have taken a series of broader decisions over the last few months. And I believe there are reasons for us to be optimistic about our potential to meet that goal because we now have:

– A new department

– A new joint child poverty unit

– New, simpler but tougher PSAs to drive more action on child poverty locally

– A Children’s Plan being published tomorrow.

I would like to say something about each of these in turn.


Let me start with the new department. For the first time, we have a government department – the Department for Children, Schools and Families – that exists to champion the needs of children and young people.

For the first time, all policy for schools, children’s services, youth services and the Respect agenda have been brought together in one department.

And my department shares responsibility for youth justice with the Ministry of Justice – and I am actively working with Jack Straw on how we tackle the causes of youth crime because our approach must be based on prevention.

For child health with the Department of Health.

For children’s sport and play with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

For alcohol and drugs with the Home Office.

And of course, with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury for child poverty.

Understandably, many of you will be wondering what this will mean in practice – is it simply a superficial rebranding exercise or is it a more meaningful change that signals that we are going to do things differently?

I am committed to making sure it is the latter by focussing on all the barriers to learning faced by all today’s children and young people. As the Department for Children, Schools and Families, we can make sure that – at a national level – we are focusing every policy that relates to children and families on tackling child poverty. And we will be able to drive local leaders – from lead members and directors of children’s services to children’s centre managers – to see the work as part of our shared challenge to tackle poverty.

But collaboration at the centre of government needs to be matched – or even exceeded – at a local level.

That’s why we are supporting the LGA’s Narrowing the Gap project, led by Christine Davies.

And that’s why we will champion all the good examples of integrated working between Children’s Information Services, Children’s Centres, Extended Schools and Job Centre Plus.

We need this to become the norm, not the exception, if we are to provide the best support to all parents and families.

Central to this is the provision of affordable, accessible and reliable child care, so that parents can go to work – and fulfil their own ambitions – safe in the knowledge that their children are being well looked after.


Second, our new joint Child Poverty Unit. This is the working expression of how we will do things differently. Sitting in my department, it brings together expertise from DWP and my Department under one banner – and will enable us to co-ordinate our efforts to tackle child poverty more effectively, engaging both local leaders as well as strengthening action across central government, working with the devolved administrations. I am looking at what we need to do to meet our 2020 goal with Alistair Darling and Peter Hain.

One of the most important things about the new unit is that it will be outward facing – it will actively seek and incorporate your views and expertise.

I am very grateful to Martin and to Barnardo’s for allowing Neera Sharma to be seconded to the new Unit.

And I am delighted to announce that we have now appointed a new Head for the Child Poverty Unit – Caroline Kelham, who joins us from the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, where she has recently been leading work on the Government’s Good Childhood Enquiry.

Under Caroline’s leadership and with your support, the Unit will address all policy relating to child poverty – employment, education, health, housing, family and child wellbeing. Its first major task will be to map across government all that we’re doing to tackle child poverty and moving in the right direction.


Third, the new PSA announced in October reaffirmed our commitment to half child poverty by 2010.

But in addition, we have a whole set of simpler and also tougher targets that will, in the long term, lay the foundations for us to eradicate child poverty.

It’s important that, for the first time ever, we have a target not only on raising the achievement of all children, but on narrowing the achievement gap and making sure all young people are on the path to success. We see that as vital if we are to break intergenerational cycles of poverty, not just lift children in the current cycle out of poverty.

We will share responsibility for the Child Poverty PSA with the Treasury and with DWP. A board of senior policy experts will oversee delivery of the target. They will report jointly to Alistair Darling, Peter Hain and me, so the emphasis is firmly on joint working. But again, I want to be clear about this. It doesn’t just mean that, once a year, we’ll listen to a progress update on whether we’re going to meet our target or not. Alistair, Peter and I all see this as something we need to drive forward on a day-to-day basis if necessary – if that’s what it takes to meet the 2020 goal.


Finally, tomorrow we are publishing the first ever Children’s Plan, to put the needs of families, children and young people at the centre of everything we do.

Building on a decade of reform and results, and responding directly to what we heard from parents, teachers, professionals, and children and young people themselves, it will reinforce our commitment to eradicating child poverty and ensuring that all children and young people are happy, healthy and grow up to be successful.

It will consider what more we can do across all of the services we provide to help poorer families in areas such as childcare and children’s play.

It will also set out what more we can do to help narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.

There are early signs that the attainment gap is narrowing – the latest figures show that the gap in GCSE average point scores between pupils receiving free school meals and those not narrowed by 6.2 points from 2004 – 2006.

But we know we need to do more. That is why we have allocated more money for children’s centres, money to support disadvantaged children to access enriching activities through extended schools and one-to-one tuition for those who are falling behind.

And the Children’s Plan we will set out what we can do to get excellent individual services – Sure Start centres and mid-wives, schools and GPs, youth centres and youth offending teams – working together with parents and services co-located in schools to spot problems early, tackle barriers to learning and then act effectively. That is our vision for schools in the 21st century and 21st century children’s services to make England the best place to be a child.

You will no doubt already have heard that we are committing an additional £18 million to provide home safety equipment for families living in the most deprived circumstances. Because we know that children under five from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to die or be injured as a result of household accidents.

We also know that disabled children are much more likely to be living in poverty than non-disabled children.

Today, and on top of the £280m to fund short breaks that we allocated in Aiming High for Disabled Children, I can announce that I am allocating £90million over the next three years to invest in facilities to help disabled young people go on short breaks with their peers.

As you will know, since 1973, we have been investing in the Family Fund to support severely disabled children and their families on low incomes. We will now also provide £8.4 million over the next three years to allow us to raise the age threshold of Family Fund support to include young people aged from 16 to 18. That means 16,000 more grants over the next three years for the families that need it most.


There’s one particular point I’d like to raise with you again today and I know that you have been discussing this morning – what we can do to gain more public support for our efforts to reduce child poverty.

We agree we need an ambitious campaign which creates the space and provides the impetus for real progress:

– forging new alliances and empowering new groups to join the campaign

– winning the backing of the voluntary sector and faith groups

– building a broad-based, cross-party consensus in our country around tackling and ending child poverty is the only way to meet our goal.

Over the past few years, you have made real progress.

You’ve almost trebled in size, bringing in members from new areas and sectors to build much broader support around the shared goal of ending child poverty.

And you’ve always maintained a constructive dialogue with Government, focussing on the long-term prize.

Yet we know that we still sometimes have a hard enough job convincing local leaders and practitioners that they have to take child poverty seriously and do what needs to be done.

And emerging findings from research undertaken by my colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions mirror your own concerns – that there are significant public misconceptions about child poverty, and that many people don’t think child poverty exists in Britain – or fail to see the connection between children living in poverty and poor health or poor achievement in schools.

We need to work with you to ensure more and broader support. And we will do so.


I’d like to end by thanking you for your ceaseless energy – keeping the focus inside and outside government where it needs to be. Your work is invaluable in helping us turn this ambitious – but vital – goal into a reality.

And as we begin to look in detail at how best to achieve our target of eradicating child poverty by 2020, it is important to recognise that many of the parents and young adults of 2020 are children and young people today.

It should no longer be acceptable for poverty to be something that’s inherited by successive generations.

It shouldn’t be an automatic marker for poor health or underachievement.

Breaking that cycle is an important part of what our Children’s Plan sets out to do.

In 2005, when the global economy was in a downturn – when the going got tough – we redoubled our efforts and we rose to the challenge of tackling child poverty.

I and my colleagues in Government are determined to do so again. But we need your support and we need you to continue to work with us to help us to achieve our goal.

Thank you.

Arthur Balfour – 1902 Speech on Becoming Prime Minister


Below is the text of the speech made by Arthur Balfour in the House of Commons on 14th July 1902 on becoming Prime Minister.

I can assure the House that it is not easy for me to express in adequate terms my sense of its kindness on this occasion. The right hon. Gentleman, in the words he has spoken, has really moved me more than I can well say; and the manner in which his most kind observations have been received, not only among my own friends and supporters, but among Gentlemen on the other side — with whom I am so often brought into what I hope is never unfriendly collision— I can assure them I feel most deeply. In fact, I am quite incapable of saying anything more.

By leave of the House I think I ought to say one word, though it will only be one word, about the distinguished statesman whose services the country has lost by the new arrangement which has been entered into. It would be improper, and, indeed, impossible, for me to express my personal feelings on the subject, nor would it be any more proper, though it would be easier, to express the loss which Gentlemen on this side of the House, and the Party to which I belong, feel on the subject. But it is the glory of British statesmanship that we have never regarded our Party Leaders, because they are Party Leaders, as otherwise than representative of the country of which they are statesmen. And when I remember that Lord Salisbury has been, I think, four times Foreign Secretary, and three times Prime Minister, and that probably there has not been a man in our generation whose name has carried more weight outside this country, and who has done greater services to the State within this country, I think it will be felt that I can hardly allow the occasion to pass without expressing my deep feelings of the immense public loss which this country has sustained in his retirement from the public service.

Vera Baird – 2007 Speech on Legal Aid Reforms


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Vera Baird, on 13th March 2007.


I am grateful for the opportunity to address this conference. We have just seen in those video clips the importance of advice in helping the most vulnerable in our society. It is no coincidence that my ministerial responsibilities include both legal aid and social exclusion. Advice, both specialist legal advice and general advice, can make a real difference in lifting people out of difficulty. I want to talk to you today about the benefits of early advice and consider what legal services should look like for rural areas in the future.

Let me begin by recapping on the founding principles that are part of the advice system for which I am responsible – legal aid. Flowing from the Rushcliffe Report in 1945 and enacted in the 1949 Legal Aid and Advice Act, it was decided that a “judicare system” should be set up so lawyers would cater for the needs of the poor as well as the affluent. The poor would be able to receive legal advice so as to prosecute and defend a legal right and both counsel, like me, and solicitors would benefit from fair remuneration for what was clearly important services.

These principles were right then and, I believe, they are right now. We have to move the system forward so that it is sound for the future. What happened was that, unlike now, only lawyers increased on what they already did and broadened the client base, but it was all based on history, it was never planned to ensure the adequacy of supply. So in some places there was over supply and in some undersupply. It was a haphazard, piecemeal approach, which is how it has grown. Following a lot of development and consultation, the Community Legal Service was launched in April 2000. Its aim was to make the provision of legally aided and other advice services less fragmented, and to allow people to be sure to get the local advice that best suited their needs.

That is our commitment. It is vital that people can get good quality legal information and advice. I have no doubt at all that many of you in this room will know why. You will have seen the positive effects that the work you have carried out has had on your clients.

However, the case in favour of advice gets stronger when we combine the experience that providers, like you tell me about, with the evidence base from Pascoe Pleasence and the Legal Services Research Centre that we have now. We know from material produced by the Legal Services Research Centre that the provision of good early advice prevents relatively simple civil issues from tumbling into multiple problems causing distress and chaos.

A client may have a problem with their welfare benefits, and be unaware of the allowances to which they are entitled. Without that income they may be unable to meet financial commitments which in turn leads into a debt problem, which could lead to housing problems, family strain and family problems. It is easy for these problems to become more complex. Early legal advice is so important to prevent things from spiralling out of control.

Causes of Action, the bedrock of Pascoe Pleasence’s research, shows that the likely outcome is that people and problems can do well with advice. But if someone has a problem, but does not get help, they will tumble into problems. However, if they get some advice but it does not deal with the whole problem, the outcome can be worse. This was the evidence base on which the Community Legal Service Strategy, ‘Making Legal Rights A Reality’ was launched, almost a year ago.

Since then another piece of research ‘A Trouble Shared’ by Professor Moorhead, has shown that people tend to present with multiple problems, often in inter-related clusters, and vulnerable people have more problems which stress them, so they cannot deal with them themselves. Yet in half of the sample, if they got advice, a few weeks later when they were re-interviewed, they had other problems which the advisor had not unearthed and they were not helped. Often the problems were linked so were exactly in the same category, and the problem was worse than before they got advice. Advisors do not deal with issues seamlessly and if is not their expertise, they don’t see the problems even when they are linked. They don’t refer on well and because stressed and vulnerable people don’t go to appointments, they fall into poverty and worse.

Community Legal Service Strategy

The Strategy sets out the Commission’s intention to purchase legal services in ways that reflect clients’ problems and make it easier for them to access services. It will be a more holistic service, contracting with clients, which in short means providing a more holistic service and contracting with suppliers who can provide advice across several areas of law. At the moment there are few suppliers providing the comprehensive service clients need. The two main organisations delivering advice, Law Centres and Citizens Advice Bureaux are a case in point. I hugely admire the ethos of both, and I met with the Law Centres Federation yesterday. At present only one Law Centre provides services across the full range of core social welfare law categories – Community Care, Housing, Debt, Employment and Welfare Benefits. The most common number of categories delivered by Law Centres is three. It is a similar picture for CABs with the majority of bureaux – 134 holding contracts in two of these core categories.

The nature of our current supplier base does not therefore support the individual in helping them to resolve multiple problems. That is not to diminish in the slightest way how good the current service is being delivered. But it does mean that we have work to do to ensure that holistic service is available. So we propose establishing Advice Centres and Networks to enable us to better join up services and deliver an integrated and improved service that meets clients’ needs.

So what does this mean in practice?

Since the Strategy was published there has been much discussion with interested parties about the distinction between a Centre and a Network. In essence there is not much of a difference; both will offer the full range of social welfare law services and ultimately will operate under a single jointly commissioned contract. But on the whole Networks rather than Centres are the name of the game.

While the model for Centres is based on pulling all the key services into a single legal entity, Networks would bring together a consortium of organisations to provide services. Networks would therefore be likely to have multiple providers able to provide similar complimentary rather than competing types of advice.

The core objectives for any Network will be firstly, that once a client contacts any part of the Network they will have access to the help they need to resolve their multiple problems; and secondly, to reduce the amount of times a client needs to be referred on, avoiding the fallout I referred to.

Networking suppliers has been attempted before within the CLS, mainly through Community Legal Service Partnerships (CLSPs) and of course informal networks also exist throughout the CLS. While some individual networks have been successful in creating better referral processes for clients, The Independent Review of the Community Legal Service concluded that, overall, CLSP referral protocols were not working. It was found that clients are often referred inappropriately, signposted, or not referred at all.

To add value to current models of delivery it is essential that we improve the referral of clients. An ‘end-to-end’ service in Networks must go beyond just signposting clients to other local organisations but instead operate a full client management system. This will mean effective joint working and clients between appropriate Network members and will include the referral of a client where a Network member cannot do more. Those are the principles behind the strategy but each Network will be different. Models for Networks will vary according to local need and on the local supplier base and the quality and quantity of local provision. It is not about imposing the same template brought out from London, we will build on what is there.

Partnership working

One common theme of Centres and Networks will be partnership working. We can only deliver legal advice, not general advice. We need to ensure people get the right level of advice, relative to the severity of their problem.

Centres and Networks will bring together our core funding for specialist legal advice together with local authority funding for more general advice. Joint commissioning will have the added benefit for us, of combining local authority expertise in patterns of local need together with the Commission’s expertise in ensuring quality and value for money in the procurement of legal and advice services.

The LSC will commission the core bundle of social welfare law categories together with family. The budget for each area will be derived through a national funding formula so as to ensure that each area of the country receives an appropriate allocation for needs. The allocation of funding will no longer be based merely on the historic national pattern of spending that has just grown.

Recent discussions between the LSC and Cornwall County Council have been a great success in forging a strong working partnership between these two major funders of advice services in Cornwall. And it gives me great pleasure to be able to announce today, that the Council and the LSC will be working in partnership to develop a Community Legal Advice Network for Cornwall. Following the success of Gateshead CLAC, which is just starting and I am opening in May, Cornwall is the first CLAN and I am very pleased that it is the first model for what I think reflects rural and semi-rural areas.

Whilst it is too early to speak about the proposed network in any great detail I can say that this is good news for those in Cornwall, in need of legal advice. It will involve building on the work Pascoe demonstrated to locate the troubled, in a systematic way, to plan advice services as a whole. We will work out how to deliver it despite rural, transport and demographic problems. We have to engage practitioners about what they do now, how they work and who is delivering to whom, how they outreach or not and where supply types are good. A lot of work will need to be done over the coming weeks and months to develop the advice Network for Cornwall. The LSC and Council will publish further information in due course and will be seeking the input from local solicitors on how the network can be delivered so as to effectively meet client need.

Different forms of advice – technology

Obviously these days, delivering advice is not just about going to an advice agency or a solicitor’s office. In rural communities, and particularly in places like Cornwall where distances between towns can be vast, there needs to be a variety of provision. Community Legal Service (CLS) Direct, for example, offers free information and advice to everyone by phone (0845 345 4 345), the Internet (www.clsdirect.org.uk) and a range of legal leaflets. This service can be particularly helpful for those living in more isolated geographical areas.

Whilst the service is by no means intended to replace face-to-face advisers’, I am aware of the weaknesses, such as more vulnerable and complex issues may not emerge, but it has huge value. In half of cases, problems don’t emerge face to face, especially not the vulnerable. Research tells us that already around half of legal aid clients make first contact with an adviser by phone; and half of these solve their problems without visiting a solicitor or advice office.

Telephone advice can work better, as some people are reluctant to walk through the door of a lawyer’s office, as they are ashamed of their problem and find lawyers intimidating. Telephone is easier, less judgemental and you’re more in control and can hang up if they are not getting the advice they need. You will hear more about CLS Direct from John Sirodcar later this afternoon but the numbers and satisfaction rates for the service look very good with over 70,000 cases being handled through the service in 2005/06 and projections for 100,000 cases in the next twelve months.

But it is important that we don’t stop there – the phone is not enough, the advice sector needs to continue to develop innovative ways of delivering advice. We should be thinking about provision of e-mail advice for clients, particularly those with disabilities, who are not able to access face-to-face services. It is not just the young who e-mail, older people do too. We should consider how we can build up online advice tools like the one being developed by the Consumer Credit Counselling Service for people with debt problems. This works well, organised by credit card and local suppliers through internet contact. We need to think about using webcams to give advice directly to people’s homes. This afternoon you will be hearing from The East Cornwall Citizens Advice Bureaux Initiative and how they are looking to use video conferencing to cut down on the need to travel long distances. All around us in our daily lives we see technology getting smarter, quicker and more economical. We should make the most of that in delivering advice.

Impact of fixed fees and outreach

Although the main focus of this conference is access to advice and how services should work together to provide for rural communities, I also briefly want to touch upon the changes to legal aid fee schemes that will be introduced from October this year. It is well known that after consulting, we changed the detail and timing of the proposals and will support practitioners throughout the change.

I want to stress that not one penny is being cut from the budget for these cases. Money is being sliced in a different way. But those fees include all the amounts appropriate to the elements of vulnerability and complexity currently experienced by providers with their clients. Fixed fees are about standard cases. If a case becomes more complex – 3 times the level of the fixed fee – it goes out and is dealt with on a hourly basis so you can deal with vulnerable people and multiple problems. We will support the transition for the NfPs.

All proposals have adhered to rural proofing guidance. The LSC will, as the conference shows, as we are here, ensure that all roll-out of proposals set out in the Way Ahead, closely take into account rural needs and with Cornwall CLAN at the forefront is how we ensure that.

Some areas are better supplied than others. One of the aims of the changes will be to bring about a redistribution of supply to meet gaps in provision. Moving to a national fee should encourage growth of supply across the country. The LSC has looked at how providers would fare under the new fees based on their current workload and case lengths. More than 60% would improve profitability under the scheme. In other words the majority of providers in this region are already working at levels that will see them make a profit out of fixed fees. It is imperative that we use fixed fees to drive that up so that more people can be helped, many of them are already doing this.

Across the country productivity of not for profit agencies increased by 19% over the past 12 months. But this figure assumes that providers will be working in exactly the same way as they are doing now. They need to reorganise to pre-empt the reforms coming in October.

Crucially, the proposals enable outreach to continue to play an important role in serving more remote communities. Regional offices continue to have resources to agree extra payments for outreach work where this is needed to secure access. This applies to all services, whether delivered via Centres, Networks or the unified contract. As a matter of practice, regions have been making payments to NFPs for some outreach arrangements by agreement. These are usually to cover travel time and costs but some may include other expenses and why not client’s travel time if it is easier and not problematic. This discretion for regions to make extra payments for outreach where they consider it necessary for access, will continue after 1 April 07.

There are some excellent examples of outreach within West Cornwall in particular. Penwith CAB hold the Specialist Quality Mark in debt & welfare benefits and cover Penzance, Hayle, St Ives and Isles of Scilly. Kerrier CAB hold the SQM in debt, welfare benefits and employment and cover Redruth and Camborne. These services will be able to continue under the new payment schemes. Peripatetic advisors are necessary in some places – we understand the need for outreach.


This event demonstrates the depth and breadth of organisations working to deliver advice across the region. Most importantly it demonstrates a real commitment from you and us to overcoming issues about distance and access, in order to help some of the most vulnerable people in our rural communities get advice. The CLAC will combine yours and the council’s local knowledge and our funding for core legal advice and the council’s financial commitment to general advice to work together to provide, on a planned basis, the best advice supply to the public there has ever been. Your work does make a real difference and I am championing that across government. I hope you all enjoy the remainder of the day and I look forward to taking your questions on the panel.


Vera Baird – 2006 Speech on Equality Through Justice


Below is the text of the speech made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of Constitutional Affairs, Vera Baird, on 11th November 2006. The speech was made at the Law Centre’s Federation Annual Conference at Salford.


Good afternoon, I want to thank the Law Centres Federation for asking me to speak to you today. The theme of this conference is equality through justice. It will not be news to any of you here that the DCA and LSC are currently in the process of analysing the responses to the recent consultation exercise held, following Lord Carter’s review of legal aid procurement. Ensuring equality through justice is what the Carter proposals are all about. This is a message I reiterated when I met Not for Profit providers during the summer. We need to make changes to the system to make it more efficient, so that we can use our money well, to get advice to more people. We also need, specifically, to rebalance criminal and civil legal aid spending to put more resources into that project.

So I want to speak to you about two principle issues. Firstly about the Carter review. And secondly about the future of the Community Legal Service, and the role of the Law Centres Federation.

1. Carter

Legal aid is a key part of the welfare state, with whose history you are well aware, flowing from the Rushcliffe Report in 1945.

Since then our country has changed dramatically, But publicly funded legal advice and representation hasn’t kept up with the pace of change.

The system has grown organically, with suppliers providing what they want to provide, rather than being developed in a planned, systematic way, to provide what people need. This is not a criticism – in particular not of you, who have always been very close to your communities. It now needs to be made to work better. Which is why Lord Falconer asked Lord Carter to look at how legal aid services were being procured. And why I believe that we can use the blueprint he has created as the basis for a sustainable future which ensures continued, equitable, access to justice.

I know that in recent weeks there has been some talk about the government’s commitment to the Carter reforms. So let me make this clear right at the outset: we are absolutely committed to fixed and graduated fees. I will not shrink from defending that principle which I think can drive improvements. But of course, the exact shape of some of the reforms needs your input, which is why we consulted, and why we are listening to what respondents have told us.

Fixed and graduated fees need to be appropriate to the nature of the work. We want providers to be able to do the most effective job and to have incentives related to this. And we certainly need an effective supply base.

There is no getting round the fact that the legal aid budget is finite. This is something that is not going to change so we need to continue to work within our funding parameters. It is not under-funded. It is the best system in the world but it is also by far the most expensive system. It is therefore vital that we ensure that every pound of the Legal aid budget is spend on delivering effective and high quality advice services to those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged. I strongly believe that we can get more out of the Legal Aid budget if we can deliver it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

This is why we need to bring these reforms in as quickly as possible, subject to getting them right. The money available for legal aid is limited and the longer they take to introduce, the more will existing cash pressures be an issue that cannot be dodged. These reforms are designed to provide a viable long-term solution – rather than forcing us to make short term, reactive changes to individual schemes, to no useful end.

In terms of the Law Centres Federation’s specific response to Carter, there are a few key points I would like to pick up. I know you have concerns about case mix, and the potential for ‘cherry picking’, and point out that often Law Centres take on many complex cases that other suppliers won’t. It should not be necessary or appropriate to turn away more difficult cases as standard fee levels are based on average case costs that include a range of complexity.

The LSC is still considering suggestions on fee levels as part of their continuing data analysis. We want all suppliers to be capable of taking on all types of case, including complex ones, so we do not want our fee regime to encourage some suppliers to take on only the most complicated cases.

Adapting to the proposed changes will be easier for some of you who are already working under Solicitor contracts. However we intend to ensure that appropriate advice and support is made available to all organisations, that need it or want it, throughout the transitional period, as the new arrangements are brought in. In particular, a gentle supportive transition will help agencies, currently on contracts for hours, to manage the proposed change in payment methods from advance to arrears. It is clear that we can’t just change from one to the other or anything like that and we will discuss how to phase in the changes and work out a way to value work in progress. I know that now you are being asked to ensure that you provide hours and then you will be asked not to provide hours at all but to do cases on a fixed fee basis and clearly we have to be helping with that cultural transition as well.

The Legal Services Commission is responsible for purchasing specialist legal advice from the legal aid budget. We probably ought not to have been providing Level 1 generalist work and that will no longer receive funding from the Commission. However, the value of generalist diagnostic work is clear and we are in no way looking to scrap this work. Clearly the proposals for Community Legal Advice Networks (CLACs) and Community Legal Advice Centres (CLANs) which foresee combining LSC and local authority money in providing holistic advice ought to point a way forward for funding this.

I know the Law Centres Federation has also made some quite detailed comments on the Immigration and Asylum section of the consultation. The graduated fees proposed have been designed to be as flexible as possible, consisting of standard fees for Legal Help and Controlled Legal Representation advice plus additional payments for representation at each interview and hearing attended. We believe that the proposed scheme represents a workable and fair average for the work undertaken at the different stages of the case, whilst maintaining cost-neutrality of the total immigration and asylum budget. However, of course, all responses are currently being considered and the scheme will be reviewed in light of the comments, information and cost data received and where fees are cost neutral it is easier to take more time to fix them.

I know you are concerned that these reforms will reduce your ability to hold providers of public services to account. This is certainly not our intention. In fact, an argument I am keen to sell to my colleagues around Government is that using the feedback from advice agencies is an excellent way to identify where things are going wrong and to take steps to improve services. The movement to fixed fees offers opportunities for the best agencies to expand. The most efficient NfP providers will be able to retain a surplus equivalent to private firms’ rate of profit. That surplus will be unrestricted funding and can be used to develop other services, such as lobbying or campaigning.

Although the LSC are understandably looking to deal with fewer, larger suppliers, the proposals do still offer the opportunity for small, entrepreneurial and BME firms to both exist in the current market and to increase their profitability. The proposal of a minimum fund-take as a pre-requisite for obtaining or keeping a Unified Contract, should not automatically mean the loss of a contract. Those agencies that seek to remain small, locally-based or niche providers, can play a key role as sub-contractors or as the general advice providers within Community Legal Advice Centres and Networks. I have made clear that there will be a diversity impact assessment on all of these proposals to ensure that there is no unjustifiable disproportionate effect on these suppliers.

2. The future of the CLS, and role of Law Centres

The need for providers to work together brings me onto the future direction of the Community Legal Service and the role that Law Centres can play. The DCA/LSC want to build on the valuable services delivered by advice agencies such as Law Centres – not replace them. Through the CLS Strategy the point is to work with advice providers in creating fully integrated and holistic services that provide clients with a full range of high quality advice and legal services.

Law Centres are central to this aim and work with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society. That work is made possible by committed and dedicated staff. Work that has had an immensely positive impact on the local communities that you serve.

Complex and interlinked problems require integrated and holistic solutions. This is what evidence, such as the Legal Services Research Centre’s Causes of Action tells us. To achieve this providers will need to change the way they work (for example through linking together to deliver services via the CLAC/N models), to ensure that clients are offered a more holistic service. You will be aware that the research shows that problems cluster and if there isn’t early advice they can multiply. You will know that people quickly succumb to referral fatigue if they are referred on and that someone with a problem who seeks help and only gets partial advice can suffer a poorer outcome than someone who doesn’t seek advice at all.

It is also important to note that the CLAC/N model is not set in stone – we are willing to work with suppliers, Local Authorities and other key stakeholders in developing models that work locally and involve local expertise. It is in everyone’s interests that we demonstrate flexibility.

The key, intrinsic, point about CLACs is that they will offer integrated advice services across a range of social welfare law categories.

At present only one Law Centre provides services across the full range of core social welfare law categories – Community Care, Housing, Debt, Employment and Welfare Benefits. Five Law Centres offer advice in just one of these core categories; nineteen, twenty-nine, and three Law Centres offer advice in two, three and four of the core social welfare law categories respectively. And of course Law Centres do not do much Family advice. Some new research from Richard Moorhead and another called “A Trouble Shared” shows that though not the most frequent problem cluster, which is debt-welfare benefits-housing, the cluster of problems around family breakdown is the most complex and potentially the most serious, and that makes clear how important it is to have advisers available who can work together on all the aspects of an individuals problems either literally in a one-stop shop or in some closely integrated arrangement.

Let me make it clear, we owe the Law Centres who work tirelessly up and down the country, and all the staff that work within them a huge debt. I am in no way trying to denigrate the absolutely crucial and first class service that you deliver. Quite the opposite in fact, in many cases, Law Centres will be excellently placed to bid for CLAC contracts, and I would strongly encourage Law Centres to do this. “A Trouble Shared” was based on watching advisers interviewing and later interviewing the client – and there was also a process of reviewing a larger number of files. Of the 59 interviews recorded, subsequent conversation with the client suggested that in 28 cases the client had problems other than the one dealt with which had not been brought out or not dealt with. Sometimes this was a linked problem and that does suggest that we still have a lot to learn about ensuring holistic advice.

But, if there is one thing I can say to you today above all else, it is this. We want to build on the expertise and community presence held by Law Centres. We would like to see Law Centres at the heart of CLACs and CLANs. Can I encourage Law Centres to work together and in partnership with other advice providers so that our service becomes systematically client- focused?

I hope that you can see the various reforms we propose not as obstacles but as supports towards improved services and I look forward to working with Law Centres as we move forward.

Thank you all for your time this afternoon.

Paddy Ashdown – 1999 Liberal Democrat Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, at the 1999 Liberal Democrat Conference.


The easy thing for me to do today would be to give you one of those sort of end of jumble sale speeches, where you say thank you to everyone, and say what a success it all was.

Well, there are a great many people who deserve to be thanked.

But I have always tried to avoid making comfortable speeches to you. And I see no reason to make this an exception.

My first ever speech to you – 11 years and 22 conference speeches ago – was about signposts for the way ahead.

I’d like you to treat this one, not as a signpost, but as a message left behind for you to consider as you plan the future under our new leader, Charles Kennedy.

And incidentally, a word about Charles.

In choosing him you have, I believe, chosen a leader of exceptional ability, who will, I have absolute confidence, lead us to greater and greater success in the future.

I look forward to being able to support him in that task. And I know that you will give him and the Party the same unfailing commitment which has made our successes possible over the last eleven years.

And now, a brief look back before looking forward.

Eleven years ago, the first thing we did in the Liberal Democrats was take our liberal agenda and update it.

That new thinking gave us the distinctive messages, which won us the votes, that made us strong, that gave us a role to play on the field of politics as we do today.

That’s the order. First the ideas; then the votes; then the influence; and then the power.

Recently, we have talked a lot about strategy. And rightly so.

But no strategy will work, unless we have something fresh to say and offer something distinctive to vote for.

As a Party, we now have some of the most long-established policies in British politics.

And that can be good.

We have been a party ahead of our time.

Many of our most long-standing policies are actually being implemented. Many more have stood the test of time.

But in some areas we are, I fear, running the risk of becoming rather lazy and complacent in our thinking.

If we Liberal Democrats will not think afresh, then we risk falling into the easy trap of leftist, oppositional politics. And that would mean making ourselves irrelevant again for a generation.

Political parties are always prone to bouts of introspection. We love discussing ourselves with ourselves. We too often believe that all the important questions are internal ones.

They are not.

We live at a time when the questions before us are, quite literally, of global proportions.

Before I say my goodbyes, I want to talk to you about two of these.

I make no apologies that I have spoken to you of them before. Because I believe they are at the centre of the new politics, which we should be at the centre of.

The first is the globalisation of power.

And the second our growing interdependence on each other.

They are the two big facts of our times.

You know, whenever, in history, power breaks free from the structures created to control it, change becomes inevitable – often violent change.

So it was with the barons and Magna Carta. So with Cromwell’s Parliament and the King. So with the growth of industrial power and the Great Reform Act.

And so it is today.

Power is accumulating, often with frightening speed, in the hands of the global players – the commodity brokers, the internet operators, the satellite broadcasters, the multinational traders. All operating unfettered and unlimited by the structures of any government or the constraints of any ideology, or the limits of any creed or culture.

We have begun to talk about this at this Conference.

But do we yet realise the scale of what is involved ?

Here is a thought for you.

A nations currency, perhaps more than anything else today, is seen as a symbol of its national identity – look at the destructive emotions so easily stirred up by the anti-Europeans in this year’s elections. And look out for more of it – much more of it – at the next General Election.

Yet the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, speaking at a conference of central bankers three weeks ago, said that the growth of internet trading risks making central banks completely irrelevant. And with them, incidentally, the capacity for Exchequers to collect taxes for public expenditure – and so for governments to govern in the traditional modern sense. Indeed there is no reason why private firms like Microsoft or News International, should not set up their own currency for internet trading and investment. The Gates Groat. Or the Murdoch Shilling. Rupert’s Rupee!

And that is only one example of the changes that globalisation will bring

Here is the inescapable fact.

Power is now moving, increasingly, beyond the confines of the nation state and is rapidly making many of its institutions irrelevant.

We must start taking global governance seriously.

The nation states, their governments and their politicians are going to hate it. But the longer they leave it the more powerless they will become; the more chaos will be caused and the more painful the transition.

If we as the Party of internationalism will not lead this new thinking, who will?

We will need new doctrines for international intervention in places like Kosovo and, more recently and tragically, East Timor. New structures to enforce control of global pollution; new ways to harness the power of the global market place whilst placing limits on its capacity to destabilise and disrupt.

The new world order needs institutions and rules to match.

But if globalisation is the most important change in the exercise of power in our age, then our increasing interdependence on each other is the key condition that governs our existence as individuals.

The question that has plagued me is this. If nation states cannot any longer protect their citizens from the effects of global power, who can ?

That question took me all the way back to that great revolutionary and thinker, Tom Paine.

The times may have changed, but the question hasn’t. We may be talking about global power, not the power of kings. But the central issue remains: How do we give people dignity and control over their own lives?

And the answer remains, by giving them power and encouraging them to work together.

We used to look on society as a machine. Well ordered, neatly constructed. If only the right person pulled the right levers in the right order – hey presto! All would be well. Marxists believed this. Socialists believed it. Some Social Democrats – forgive me – believed it. Some Liberal Democrats still seem to believe it. And Conservatives, above all, believed it.

And they were all wrong.

Society is not a machine. It is a living, breathing organism, like the people who make it up. It needs to be understood as an entity. Each portion is dependent on the other. Damage one and you damage the whole.

Now we need a name for this idea. And the one I am going to use is mutualism – or, at the risk of offending – new mutualism.

I have tried to persuade you of this idea before. I first wrote about it 10 years ago in ‘Citizen’s Britain’. And I have become increasingly convinced that this idea of mutualism lies at the centre of the new politics.

One commentator, Peter Kellner, says this about it:

Mutualism understands that: we have both rights and responsibilities…. It seeks to rescue the virtues of co-operation and the principles that gave birth to the co-operative movement, from the strangling embrace of socialism. “What matters is not where power comes from, but how it is used, how it is checked and how far it is dispersed”.


Mutualism recognises that our own capacities and self reliance, together with the strength of the communities we live in, matters, probably, more than the governments who govern us, or the nations we belong to.

Here is a theme for liberals, in the widest sense, in the years ahead.

How do we create mutual economic structures, that recognise the common shared interest and interdependence of shareholders and customers and workers?

Do we understand that Governments have a duty to regulate market behaviour, but ought to avoid becoming a market player?

Do we accept the revelation that markets too, are social institutions, whose players, too, have responsibilities as well as rights?

Do we recognise that the key equality that we seek, is not equality of outcome – or even, as I used to think, equality of opportunity – but equality of access?

And do we understand that, because of this, the free market and strong competition are the best means by which ordinary people can get access to what is otherwise always going to be dominated by the bandit capitalists and the economically powerful ?

Perhaps most difficult of all for us as self confessed radicals; are we prepared, to liberate the great institutions that deliver our public services – education, health, justice, welfare – from the clammy embrace of corporatism, whether national or local, in order to make them human in scale and responsive to the interests of the consumer, not the producer?

We have become far too staid, far too conservative – yes, conservative – in our thinking about public services in the Liberal Democrats.

As liberals, our place is to be on the side of the citizen, not the state. Of the consumer, not the producer. What matters is not who provides the service, but how good the service is.

You know, in Jo Grimond’s time we used to have a slogan. “We hate the Tories. But we distrust the state”. It’s not a bad one for the years ahead!


Now to the bit I’ve dreaded.

I hate good-byes. So I will use the words of one of my heroes, William Wilberforce.

A few days before his death he wrote his last letter to a friend who had asked him, how he had done this extraordinary thing, the conquest of slavery. He wrote this:

We did not march as a marshalled army towards a distant obelisk. We travelled the highways and byways, gathering friends and flowers as we went.

Over the last 11 years we have travelled many highways and by-ways together.

And Jane and I have gathered so many friends and so many flowers.

You have given me, quite simply, the pride and the purpose of my life. To have had the privilege to lead you has been the greatest thing I have ever done _ or ever will do.

And you have been a great Party to lead.

Which is not the same thing, incidentally, as an easy Party to lead. You have been uncompromising at times, when I wanted you to bend a little.

Uncomfortable at others, when I could have done with an easier ride.

You have been unbelievably stubborn when I tried to take you in a direction you didn’t want to go.

And unbelievably curmudgeonly at times when I thought I was delivering you a success.

But you have been recklessly generous in forgiving my faults.

Indomitable, especially when we had to face defeat.

And through it all, you have done all I have asked of you and more.

So often I left Westminster tired and dejected, to go out to meet you and campaign with you, in the knowledge that it was my job to inspire you. But ending up with you inspiring me by your trust and your hope and your unshakeable will to win.

And we have achieved great things together.

Things which they said could not be done – but which we have done. We have given millions of our fellow citizens the benefit of government informed by the things we stand for.

We have helped to bring a tidal wave of change which will, for ever, alter the nature of the country that we serve.

We have laid the foundation stone, at last, for a modern Britain, in which the liberal ideal will be stronger and more relevant than it has been since the very earliest years of this century.

It has been a privilege to have been a member of this Party these last 11 years, let alone its leader.

And I have been able to hand over that leadership to Charles Kennedy, with pride and love and confidence.

I can think of no good way to end this.

So I will do so with what my grandmother used to tell me was the Irishman’s blessing.

May the road rise with you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Paddy Ashdown – 1997 Speech at Oxford General Election Rally


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, on 29th April 1997 in Oxford.


There are now just three days left in this campaign.

It’s been a long campaign. For many people, a pretty uninspiring and pretty unintelligent campaign.

A campaign which John Major hoped would uncover the holes in his opponent’s policies – but which has served only to expose the divisions in his own Party.

A campaign in which the Labour Party told us it’s time for a change – then promised that it would change nothing at all.

A campaign in which the media pundits said the Liberal Democrats would be swept aside. But in which we have instead swept forward.

Getting our message across as never before.

Winning respect for our realism about what needs to be done and how it will be paid for.

Winning support for our clear vision of Britain’s future in the years ahead.

And so we end this campaign, not with a whimper, but with the full-blown clarion call of a Party which has struck a true note, a clear, consistent note, a note which has found a resonance in the national mood, reflecting the nation’s needs.

Five years ago, we as a nation contemplated change, but clung on for fear of something worse.

And in the end, that’s what we got. Something much worse!

Not the Labour tax bombshell we were threatened, but an even bigger Tory tax explosion instead. The biggest tax hike in British peacetime history.

They said they had no plans to increase VAT – then put VAT on our fuel bills.

They said they would put a thousand more police officers on our streets – then cut the numbers by a thousand.

They said they would give our children a better education – and instead they have cut budgets and increased class sizes.

The promised strong leadership – and have given us weak leadership.

They promised strong government – and have given us a government paralysed by divisions.

They promised us government that listened – and have grown completely out of touch.

They promised us economic recovery – and immediately plunged us into economic recession, costing thousands of people their jobs.

Well, it is now time for the Government to lose their jobs.

Tired, divided, sleazy, discredited. This, now, is a government which has more than run its course. If there is one clear mood in the country, it is to bring it to an end. It is time for them to go.

Yesterday, Edwina Currie said that on May 2nd, the bloodbath would begin. She’s wrong. It’s already started – and it’s not an edifying sight.

It is quite clear that the Conservative Party needs time to sort themselves out.

But let them do that in opposition, not in government. At their own expense, not at everyone else’s expense.

My message to the Tories is: Get out of office, have your civil war, and let the rest of us get down to the serious job of putting Britain back on track.

And I repeat tonight the message in the Times this morning from my colleagues Emma Nicholson and Peter Thurnham – the two MPs who made the historic, principled decision to leave the Conservative Party and join the Liberal Democrats in this Parliament.

Emma Nicholson and Peter Thurnham joined our Party, not because their principles have changed, but because the Conservative Party has changed.

They are both believers in ‘One Nation’. In values of decency and fairness. In the politics of conscience and compassion as well as enterprise and initiative. In a National Health Service our families can rely on and an education system that gives all our children the best possible education. And they now see the Liberal Democrats as their natural home.

I say to all who previously supported the Conservatives but who now feel disillusioned and let down: come and join us.

Don’t stay at home. Do something positive. Support the Liberal Democrats who now offer ‘One Nation’ Conservatives a warm welcome and a natural home.

And I extend that welcome to others, too.

To everyone who values education and despairs at another year of cuts in our schools – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who worries about beds being closed in our hospitals, services being cut, operations cancelled – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who wants more police officers on our streets – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who worries about the divisions and poverty in our society, and who believes in asking the super-rich to pay a little more to help the very poor – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who worries about threats to our civil liberties and who want reform and modernisation in our politics – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who wants clean air and clean water, safe food and a secure environment for our children and grandchildren – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who has been hammered by our boom and bust economy – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

To everyone who wants strong, positive leadership in Europe – I say: join our crusade and we can do something about it.

And to everyone who wants a referendum on future change in Europe – I say: join our crusade and you will get that referendum.

To everyone in Britain – from north to south, from left to right – I say, join us. The Liberal Democrats. Britain’s party of conscience and reform. Britain’s ‘One Nation’ party.

For this is now much, much more than a campaign. It is a crusade.

A crusade to make Britain the best-educated nation in the world.

A crusade to build a Health Service our families can rely on.

A crusade to preserve our environment for future generations.

A crusade to build a country fit for our children and grandchildren.

A crusade for new opportunity.

A crusade for a new kind of politics.

A crusade of new hope for a new century.

But you know, for there to be real hope for a new century, there has to be on Thursday much more than a change of government.

There has to be a change in the whole way we do things in this country.

It will be a disaster for Britain if the only thing that changes this week is the nameplate on Number Ten.

And that is why I have found Labour’s campaign so disappointing.

Their approach has been timid; their promises, unbelievable.

Labour’s Waiting for Growth policy is the economic equivalent of Waiting for Godot – and as everyone knows, Godot never came.

In the NHS, they have signed up to Tory spending plans that will mean devastating cuts.

In our schools, they offer no new money for the improvements that have to be made.

Many people will wonder if education really is their number one priority, when it so often appears that their priority is saying what needs to be said to win power.

Well I believe that, to coin a phrase, Britain deserves better.

Our campaign has at least been based on realism.

It has been about the challenges before our country, and the costs of putting things right in our country.

Put bluntly, our message has been that if you want better services, better education and better healthcare, then you have to pay for them. And we have won support for that message, because in the real world, everyone knows you don’t get something for nothing.

It’s not a question of whether the other two parties will break their promises. It’s a question of which promise they will break: their promise to maintain decent public services, or their promise to cut taxes.

But beyond the simple message comes the challenge. And it is here that what I have to say takes on a note of urgency.

The choices we make in the few remaining years of this century – in the Parliament we are about to elect – will, quite simply, determine our national success in the next century.

And nowhere is this more important than in our attitude to education.

Unless we start giving education the priority it deserves; unless we invest in nursery education to give our children the best possible start in life; unless we invest in new books and equipment and smaller classes in our schools; unless we invest in training later on, Britain faces disaster in the years ahead.

For human history, as HG Wells put it, becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

That is true for our environment. It is true for our cohesion and stability as a society. It is true for our national prosperity, too.

We are slipping down the world prosperity league as fast as we are slipping down the league table for education and skills – the two trends inextricably linked.

To quote Sir Claus Moser, Chairman of the National Commission for Education and ex-Warden of Wadham College here in Oxford, without drastic action, Britain is one generation away from third world status. That is a devastating prediction.

But it is the truth. There is a catastrophe coming down the tracks for this county, unless we act now to do something about levels of education and skill in Britain.

It’s about time we all faced up to that truth – and that’s why this must be the ‘education election’ – the election when education really does become our nation’s number one priority.

We have, in the British people, in their skill and ingenuity, the natural resource with which to succeed in tomorrow’s world.

But we will never make the most of that enormous individual potential unless we invest. If we don’t, it will be like having a stretch of rich and fertile land, but refusing to invest in seed to sow, or tools to till the soil.

We must not, as a nation, creep timidly into the twenty-first century.

‘Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job’, cried Churchill in the face of a different kind of threat more than half a century ago.

Today the same cry goes up from our schools and colleges and universities.

Give us the resources and we will give you a generation of skill and ingenuity and talent as bright as any in our history.

That is the heart of our message.

We trust the people. We believe in them and in their capacity to respond – to make the most of their lives. But we have to nurture this precious resource with investment and care.

If we, as a political leadership, refuse that challenge, then we face, not brave new opportunities for talent to flower and flourish, but the management of genteel decline.

That is why the task before our Party in the next three days is so urgent.

The Liberal Democrats are the only Party who will fight for the investment that our schools and colleges need in the next Parliament.

And every vote we win and every seat we gain will give us the power to fight that fight.

In the next three days, we must remind people, again and again, of the urgent need to do something about education.

We must show that there is an alternative to the management of decline.

We must show people that they can make a difference in Britain. Because, with their support, we Liberal Democrats will make a difference.

Here in Oxford, Evan Harris is now neck and neck with the Conservatives. Work hard in the next three days, and you will have a Liberal Democrat MP on Thursday.

And with hard work, there will be Liberal Democrat MPs in many other seats across the country, too.

A powerful force of Liberal Democrats in the next Parliament, to put Britain on a new and different path.

What the Liberal Democrats offer in this election is the chance, not just to kick out this Government, but to change the priorities in this country.

A powerful force of Liberal Democrat MPs in the next Parliament will mean that education is never again allowed to be undervalued and underfunded.

It will mean that our Health Service is defended against the crippling cuts now inevitable under either of the other parties.

It will mean that the environment will at last be taken seriously in Westminster and Whitehall.

It will mean that the poor and disadvantaged – the millions left behind by the Thatcher years, and abandoned by Labour – will have a voice.

It will mean that we do at last begin to clean up the mess of our politics, and modernise our failing political system.

All these things can be done – and they will be done with the Liberal Democrats strong in the next Parliament.

In this campaign, we are winning the argument. Now, in these last three days, we must win the votes and win the seats.

To win the power and the mandate to make the difference in our schools and hospitals and communities in the years ahead.

If you believe in what we stand for, then make your vote count.

The effective vote is for investment in a better education for your children and grandchildren.

The effective vote is for a Health Service your family can rely on.

The effective vote is to put 3,000 more police officers on the street to tackle crime.

The effective vote is to strengthen our economy and get people back to work.

The effective vote is to tackle poverty and division.

The effective vote is to clean up our politics.

The effective vote is for a referendum on future change in Europe.

The effective vote is not just to kick out this discredited Government, but for something fresh and clear and strong to put in its place.

To give the Liberal Democrats the power and the mandate to make a difference.

To provide a better future for you, your family and your country.

The only vote that really will make a difference.

Michael Ancram – 2004 Speech to Conservative Spring Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Foreign Secretary, Michael Ancram, to the Conservative Spring Conference in Harrogate on 7th March 2004.


Here at Harrogate today we begin the long march to political victory.

The main battle may still be some way off. But in June already there are battles to be fought, not least the European elections, and they are battles we must win.

At the heart of them will be the burning issues of integrity and trust, so cynically eroded by Tony Blair over these last seven years.

He has undermined them with spin.

He has dishonoured them by the casual ruthlessness with which those who dare to criticize him have been smeared and broken.

It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. Here truth is the inexorable casualty of Blair.

He promised that he would ‘listen’. But his Government ignores the wishes of the British people.

He promised ‘no more lies…no more broken promises’. But these are the common currency of his Government.

He promised to restore ‘the bond of trust between the British people and their government’. No Prime Minister in history has done more to destroy that bond.

He doesn’t trust the British people. And the British people no longer trust him.

As the taxi driver who brought me here on Friday said, “We don’t like him any more. We don’t trust him any more. It’s time he was gone.”

The breakdown of trust has been damaging enough here at home. In terms of our standing in the wider world it has cost us dear.

Britain’s word in the world used to be respected. What we said we meant.

Not any more. The years of spin and deception have put paid to that.

Seven years ago we were promised an ‘ethical’ foreign policy.

Tell that to Gibraltar. There was nothing ‘ethical’ nor honourable about the furtive negotiations to sell out their British sovereignty to Spain.

And two years ago Tony Blair preached of ‘a moral duty to act’.

Ask the suffering Zimbabweans about that moral duty. They have been abandoned and betrayed by Blair in the face of Mugabe’s reign of terror.

In the run-up to the Iraq war Tony Blair asked us to trust him.

I don’t resile from my belief that the action we took in Iraq was justified and right.

It was not an easy decision, but had we walked away from it I am convinced that we would have had to return to it again when the challenge would have been much more dangerous and the risks infinitely more great.

But there are now growing suspicions about the case that Tony Blair made for war.

Too many unsubstantiated claims of personal knowledge of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Too many unanswered questions about what Blair knew and didn’t know.

Too many arrogant dismissals of doubts.

Why Mr Blair? The case for war was sound. You didn’t have to distort it.

He spoke loftily on Friday about the need to reform international law to justify future actions.

Well he must tell us what he meant and whether he can take his party with him.

Because if trust is to be restored, the Government and the Prime Minister must now come clean.

And then there is Europe.

In 1994 Blair proclaimed that “under my leadership Britain will never be isolated or left behind in Europe”.

Well, now we know what he meant.

Going along with the crowd, rather than fighting Britain’s corner. Following rather than leading. Surrendering our sovereignty, abandoning our interests rather than making a stand.

And all so that Tony Blair is never isolated or left behind. Never can one man’s neurosis have cost his country so much for so little.

All humiliatingly illustrated in Berlin three weeks ago. The Prime Minister of our great country scuttling shamelessly around the skirts of France and Germany.

‘Euro-creep’ in every sense of the word.

Spin, deceit, betrayal, sellout. These are the true elements of Blair’s foreign and security policy.

No strategic approach. No proper correlation between objectives and resources. The result – military overstretch, shortage of equipment and failure of direction.

We, on the other hand, will come into government with a coherent foreign and security policy.

It will be based on our national interest, on our sense of duty and of national pride. It will match our resources and our capabilities.

We will rebuild respect for Britain in the world, not least because what we promise we will deliver.

We won’t turn our backs on the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

We will ask the UN to send in observers to monitor fair distribution of food. We will freeze the assets of all those who bankroll Mugabe.

And, much as I love cricket, I would never – unlike Jack Straw – leave England’s captain in the intolerable position of having to shake the bloodied hand of Zimbabwe’s cricket patron, Robert Mugabe.

I would make clear my view that the coming tour should not go ahead.

In Gibraltar we will disown this government’s dishonourable agreement in principle to share sovereignty with Spain. Sovereignty shared is sovereignty surrendered.

And we will never agree to a settlement that has not received the freely given consent of the people of Gibraltar.

And unlike Blair and Straw, we will join the people of Gibraltar in celebrating their proud three hundred years of being British.

Our historic experiences in the Middle East should allow us evenhandedly to promote dialogue towards a settlement.

A settlement based on a secure Israel within acceptable boundaries and a viable Palestinian state.

And we believe that prize is within reach.

We will reassert the primacy of Nato as the cornerstone of our security policy.

We will disown Mr Blair’s proposals to create a separate European military planning capability. We will support the widening role of Nato, and we will encourage continuing American commitment to it.

Our relationship to the United States will be one of genuine partnership, not of subservience.

Where we disagree we will say so. Where we can persuade we will do so.

But always in the spirit of close allies bound together by shared values and shared traditions, where loyalty to each other benefits both nations.

And we will continue to play our part in the fight against international terrorism.

We must never give the terrorist the victory of creating an environment of fear in which we have to restrict our freedoms and change our lives.

Three weeks ago I stood in the ruins of our consulate in Istanbul, where our consul Roger Short and other innocent people were cut down by a suicide bomb.

We owe it to them never to give up and never to give in.

So we must maintain our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq until real stability has been achieved.

I am proud of the way that our soldiers have responded to the challenges that they face there.

I visited them near Kabul recently. Their professionalism remains outstanding.

I honour those who have lost their lives.

I pay tribute to those who carry out their difficult tasks with such distinction.

But there must never again be a situation where our soldiers are put at risk because the likes of Geoff Hoon have delayed crucial military planning for party political reasons.

Never again should any of our soldiers be sent into combat without the right kit.

And never again should a British soldier find himself in the frontline with only five bullets to fight a whole war.

The first priority of a government is the defence of the realm and the protection of its citizens.

We will ensure that our armed forces, that invaluable national asset, are equipped to meet their commitments.

We will ensure that the excellence of our front line troops is maintained, and improved.

We will ensure that their ethos is fully respected and that they are properly resourced for their agreed tasks.

And of course at the same time we will see that every pound that the taxpayer spends on defence is both efficiently and effectively used.

And then the European Union, that partnership of sovereign nations of which we are, and are determined to remain, an important part.

That is why we oppose a Constitution which opens the door to a single European state in which we would be smothered and submerged.

In the Euro-elections in June this will be a major issue. Jonathan Evans will shortly explain why.

Let me here pay tribute to Jonathan and his colleagues for the enormously effective work they do on our behalf.

We want to see their numbers increased.

We want to see that to show Mr Blair that the British people want a forward looking Europe of Nations, not a backward looking Nation of Europe.

We will fight the Euro tooth and nail. And we will fight the proposed Constitution with equal ferocity and strength.

And above all we fight to let the British people decide in a referendum

Because we at last have the opportunity to build a flexible Europe.

A Europe within which those members who wish to integrate more closely may do so as long as they do not require others to do the same. As Michael Howard said recently in Berlin, ‘live and let live’.

A Europe in which the authority and primacy of national parliaments is reasserted, where there is proper accountability, where a genuinely enterprising and competitive Europe is created.

A Europe where national identities still matter.

And we will work with our fellow atlanticists in Europe to strengthen the vital partnership between Europe and America.

We can take the lead in creating a Europe which works for the people and not for Brussels.

We will reinvigorate the Commonwealth around its most influential members in every continent.

Because our historic role must be to bring together the Commonwealth, Europe and the US as a force for stability in an increasingly unstable world. But above all we will rebuild pride in our country.

Michael Howard in January reminded us ” that by good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity, these islands are home to a great people with a noble past and an exciting future”.

I am proud of that past, of those British characteristics which are our strength.

And the greatest of these is our love of freedom, a freedom which as Michael Howard also said should be defended “at any time, against all comers, however mighty”.

And in looking at that exciting future we owe it to the people of this country to stand up for Britain, to have confidence in ourselves and to restore the confidence of others in us.

And under Michael Howard’s clear and determined leadership we can do it.

And we can do more. We can start to set about this wretched government, to show them up for what they really are.

Our task is great.

To sweep this seedy, spin-ridden, self-seeking, self-serving, values-free bunch of second-raters out of the doors of Downing Street and onto the scrap heap of history where they belong.

Michael Ancram – 2003 Speech to Conservative Welsh Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ancram to the 2003 Welsh Conservative Conference on 7th March 2003.


It is an enormous pleasure to be back in Cardiff, once more in Wales again.

Although I only had one year here some years ago as the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales I gained an enormous affection for this country.

I love coming back to Wales, and seeing so many friends. I remember the great devolution battles, the nail-biting referendum campaign. It may be a little politically incorrect to say so now – but then political correctness was never my strongest suit – but we so nearly did it.

That campaign brought out all that was best in Wales on both sides of the argument. I forged friendships across the political spectrum which remain with me today. We fought on all sides for what we believed in.

The only sadness was that so few people bothered to vote.

I believe that here in Wales we are on the brink of a Tory revival.

That hope is down mainly to all of you, who kept faith with our party through the hard and difficult times, never giving up, never ceasing to campaign and always determined to win. You are the beating heart of the Conservative Party in Wales and we owe you a great debt of gratitude for it.

But a revival is not yours to claim credit for alone.

There is our stalwart band of Assembly members under the clear and effective leadership of Nick Bourne, constantly a thorn in Labours side and always ensuring that the Conservative voice is heard loud and clear in Cardiff.

It is the Conservative AM’s who are really making the Assembly work, providing a real opposition and raising the issues that really matter to the people of Wales.

We owe them a great tribute for their fortitude and determination.

And also to Nigel Evans, our Shadow Secretary of State for Wales who makes certain that the voice of conservative Wales reverberates around Westminster and that the interests of Wales are never ignored by the Shadow Cabinet. He is a tower of strength and I thank him too.

We live in troubled times.

Of course we are all troubled by the continuing Iraq crisis. It would be extraordinary if we were not. None of us want war. Some of us have spent significant parts of our lives working for peace, and we must always regard war as a last resort – when there is no better way.

We now face that terrible reality. I still hope and pray that Saddam Hussein will see that he has run out of road and that even at this late date he will fully and proactively comply.

Reluctant or partial compliance of the sort at which he is a past master cannot be enough. Allowing him to buy time is not an option. His attitude must change. If it does not, then I believe the international community must act.

I know there are many questions and many doubts. I understand them and I take them very seriously indeed. I believe the Government should have done much more to answer the questions and to meet the doubts.

Let me share with you my understanding.

The first question is whether Saddam does really pose a risk to international peace and security.

The UN certainly thinks so and has thought so for over 10 years. Under the UN Charter there is one chapter, Chapter VII, which specifically and exclusively deals with threats to international peace and security and which in Article 42 specifically permits the use of military force if necessary to deal with it.

All the 17 UNSC resolutions passed over the last 12 years against Iraq deliberately fall under Chapter VII. Indeed 1441 deliberately replicates the language of Article 42.

Nobody who signed up for it, including France, can be in any doubt as to what it means.

The next question is as to whether the threat is real, present and a danger to us. This is enormously difficult. I am not privy to intelligence information, and there is little direct evidence of such a threat.

I learned however in my time in Northern Ireland the value and importance of intelligence. They are our eyes where we cannot see and our ears where we cannot hear. They evidently have told the PM that the threat is real, present and endangers us.

And even if the smoking gun is not there, the smoke is.

Leave aside the nuclear threat which by all accounts is some way off. Lethal quantities of anthrax and the nerve agent VX were present four years ago. They are easily transported and easily hidden. There has been no convincing explanation as to what has happened to them.

They are relatively simple to deliver either in Iraqi hands or in the hands of terrorists particularly those who are careless of their own lives. And they can be easily developed into even more lethal agents such as pandemic viruses with no antidotes. These are real risks and real threats we cannot ignore.

The third question is why now?

There can never be an absolutely right time. But history teaches us that action delayed or postponed is rarely action avoided; that procrastination, putting off what needs to be done almost always leads to worse challenges later on.

I do believe that if we leave Saddam Hussein armed with WMD now, he will still have to be dealt with later when the risks will almost inevitably be much higher.

He is dangerous now with his weapons only partially developed. How much more dangerous will he be when in due course they are completely developed and deliverable over great distances.

I do not believe we have a right to pass this lethal buck to those who will come after us.

None of us underestimate the importance of the UN in this matter. While a second or more accurately eighteenth resolution may not strictly be necessary, there is no doubt in my mind that the credibility and acceptability of any action will be strengthened by the maximum international support.

We watch with concern and interest Hans Blix’s report to the UNSC today.

One thing is certain. The daft concept of a unified European foreign policy, the abiding dream of those who would build a politically united Europe, has been clearly shown up on the Iraq issue for the banality it is and has always been.

I only hope the lesson has come early enough for us to learn.

There will almost inevitably be feelings of destabilisation throughout the Gulf. We would be naive not to understand how much of a running sore the unresolved problem of Israel/Palestine is.

If we are to demonstrate that this is not a war against Islam we would do well to emulate President Bush’s recent speech when he called for progress on the achieving of two states west of the Jordan, a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state, the ending of settlement activity, the establishment of a genuine ceasefire, and a return to talks.

We must urge both sides to seize this opportunity.

Let me make one thing abundantly clear. We do not give the PM our support in this matter of Iraq lightly.

It does not come easily to me to support him. How much easier it would be to play the cynical Liberal game of facing in all directions at the same time. Tempting. But wrong, and we will not be drawn down that less than honourable path.

The Liberal Democrats behaviour has been despicable. They have even outdone their own usual low standards in the way they have responded.

Hostile to Saddam, sympathetic to Saddam. For firm action, against firm action. For the UN route, against the UN route. Claiming to be consistent when their only consistency has been their inconsistency. Charles Kennedy has made the Grand Old Duke of York look like a paragon of decisiveness.

We will support Tony Blair on Iraq as long as he does what is right because it is right to do so. We will not play the political game at the expense of the national interest and doing what is right.

But that is as far as we will support him.

Where he’s plum wrong and behaving dishonourably as he has on Gibraltar we will oppose him. And not only will we tell him he is wrong as he seeks to sell out the British sovereignty of the people of Gibraltar. We will continue to make it clear that we will not be bound by any agreement with Spain that does not have the wholehearted and freely given consent of the people of Gibraltar. And as we saw in November that is about as likely as the survival of a snowball in hell.

We will stand by the people of Gibraltar and their rights to remain British. We will not betray them.

And then there is Zimbabwe. I can hardly mention that country without feeling a profound sense of shame in how Britain under the lily-livered leadership of a government transfixed by its post-colonial guilt has abandoned that once great land.

I got into Zimbabwe for a day last summer. What I saw was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.

Millions of people facing starvation alongside productive farmland, which had once been the breadbasket of Southern Africa lying, unfarmed with last year’s harvest lying rotting in the fields.

I found farmers illegally evicted from the land which many of them had bought with Mugabe’s assurances after independence. I found displaced black farm workers harassed by ethnic cleansing every bit as nasty as Kosovo starving and frightened in the woods. I was told of the state organised violence, the torture, the rape, the murder.

I met representatives of the proud Matabele tribe who feared genocide by starvation at the hands of Mugabe. I saw democracy and the rule of law being destroyed, and all this at the hands of the vile despot Mugabe.

President Chirac of France may not mind embracing this bloodstained figure. I would not give him the time of day. I along with millions of Zimbabweans just want to see him gone.

As I left Zimbabwe one hollow eyed displaced black farm worker grasped my hand and said simply “Don’t let the world forget us”.

I won’t, but our government has shown every intention of doing so.

They resisted our calls for targeted sanctions until they were too little too late. They have now even connived in the manipulation of those sanctions to allow Mugabe into Paris three weeks ago.

They have failed to enlist the UN into monitoring food distribution in Zimbabwe. They twisted and turned on the cricket world cup issue desperately seeking to walk by on the other side.

Tony Blair who told the world that it was his moral duty to act in Zimbabwe has visited everywhere in Africa but Zimbabwe and has deliberately ducked mentioning Zimbabwe at world summits where to do so might have made a difference.

That is why I am ashamed. Tony Blair’s abandonment of the people of Zimbabwe who look to us in their hour of need shames us all. I will fight for Zimbabwe on behalf of our party until something is done.

We will not walk by on the other side. And we will continue to harry this government at every opportunity and in every possible way to live up to their responsibilities and act.

And we will oppose them on Europe. How many of you here are aware of what is happening in Europe at this time?

How many of you know that despite their promises to the contrary this wretched government of ours is about to raise the white flag of surrender on crucial areas which will decide whether we become a European superstate or not?

How many of you know that the firm intention of those charged with recommending the future shape of Europe is a legal personality which is the first prerequisite of a European state, a fully fledged constitution complete with legally enforceable fundamental rights which is the second prerequisite, and the subjugation of our foreign and defence policy to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which is the final prerequisite.

These together form the Rubicon between the original and acceptable concept of a Europe of Nations, a partnership of sovereign states, and a European political union which ultimately must sound the death knell of the bottom-up Europe which alone in practical terms makes sense.

I am both horrified at the speed in which this alternative Europe is being developed. And this government who originally told us that they would resist such moves to the death are now busy preparing the ground for the shameful volte-face and the despicable surrender.

Parliament with its overwhelming government majority probably can’t stop it. But it must be totally against the spirit of the unwritten British constitution that basic sovereignty can in this way be surrendered without the democratically expressed consent of the British people.

That is why I have demanded a referendum before any treaty embodying such surrender is ratified.

I cannot see how a government which allowed 26% only of the people of Wales in a referendum radically to alter the constitution could now refuse a referendum which will decide whether we accept the surrender of our basic sovereignty or not.

We will campaign vigorously for a referendum before surrender.

Failure to grant one would be the final demonstration of the contempt in which this government hold the democratic wishes of the British people.

Let me make this clear. We are not anti-Europe. Nor have we ever been. We believe in a Europe built from the bottom up – as was always originally intended.

We believe in a partnership of sovereign nations within which the single market is completed, directives are framework rather than specific, there is far greater parliamentary accountability over Euro-decisions, where we cooperate on matters of mutual interest, but where we accept and indeed value our differences and retain our basic rights of self-determination.

This is the theme for the constructive bottom-up Europe which we believe not only offers a constructive and viable Europe for the 21st century but also provides an urgent anti-dote to the government’s surreptitious policy of imposing an integrated Europe upon us.

We have a constructive position. We must make sure it is understood.

My foreign affairs portfolio covers much of what I have wanted to say today. But as an old political warhorse with nostrils flaring at the first whiff of cordite, with elections in the air I cannot fail to mention the open goal with which we are currently faced and of which we must take advantage.

New Labour has failed. Their much-vaunted pledges are in tatters. They have failed on health, they have failed on education, they have failed on pensions, on law and order, on asylum, on tax and on the economy.

They set their own targets and they have failed, not only themselves but us as well. They are suddenly a derelict government, a government with no purpose, no honour and no answers.

I am sick and tired of living in a Britain that is being inexorably undermined by a Government that has lost its way. I am sick and tired of a government that has lost all sense of pride and which has settled for the second rate.

I am sick and tired of a government that can no longer – if it ever could – distinguish truth from spin.

I am sick and tired of a government to whom people don’t matter, to whom the family doesn’t matter, of a government that seeks to make us ashamed of our history, our traditions, our culture, our currency and now of our very Britishness.

I unashamedly, unequivocally, and unchangeably believe in Britain and all within that concept which has in the past made is great and can make us great again. I long for a Britain where people matter again.

I long for a Britain where the family matters again as a symbol of stability in an ever-changing world. I long for a Britain where values matter again, where standards once more count for something, and where personal responsibility is once again a goal to be aimed at.

I long for a Britain where it is worth doing the right thing again; worth working hard, worth saving, worth playing a part in one’s community, worth supporting those less able to fend for themselves, and worth respecting the law.

I long for a Britain where I can be proud of my country without being called extremist, proud of our history without being labelled anachronistic, and proud of our national character without being branded a bigot.

I long for a Britain where truth matters again.

I long for a Britain where freedom means what it says rather than what political correctness tells it to mean. I long for a Britain in which quite simply I can believe again.

We have begun the great march back to power. The door to victory stands gaping before us. Whether we go through depends on us alone.

We will need self-confidence. We will need courage and determination. Above all we will need self-belief. We will need to work together as one, loyal to each other, true to our leader Iain Duncan Smith, and committed to victory.

Such an opportunity may not come easily again. We owe it to our country to send this rotten, duplicitous, venal, self-seeking and self-promoting lot packing.

Your chance will come earlier than ours, in a few weeks time, and there is not a minute to waste. Remember what they have done to Wales – the broken promises, the betrayed trust, and the dashed expectations.

It is time for us to say be gone, to take them head on and show them up for what they are. And then to sweep them into the rubbish tip were they belong. Have strength, have conviction, have hope. Go out and win.

Michael Ancram – 2003 Speech to Conservative Spring Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ancram to the 2003 Conservative Spring Conference on 15th March 2003.


This session has inevitably centred on Iraq. It has been a serious debate. Iain Duncan Smith set the scene for us. Bernard Jenkin and Caroline Spelman have enlarged upon it.

It has also rightly ranged wider.

We must never forget the war against international terrorism. The Chairman reminded us of the horrors of September 11 last year. We must continue to work with the international community to hunt down the terrorists and to ensure that they have nowhere to hide.

We welcome the recent arrests in Pakistan even if they are only the tip of the iceberg.

We have seen from recent alerts in Britain that the threat to us is real.

The first responsibility of government is the protection of its citizens. We will ensure that the Government does not take their eye off this ball.

Iraq however is the immediate priority. I make no excuse for returning to it again.

Of course we are concerned.

None of us want war. Some of us have spent significant parts of our lives working for peace. War must always be the last resort – when there is no better way of achieving what must be done.

That sad reality now stares us in the face. I still pray that Saddam Hussein will finally see that he has run out of road, and that even at this late date he will disarm.

His attitude has to change. If it does not, then the international community must act.

There are many questions and doubts. I take them very seriously. I believe the Government should have done much more to answer the questions and to meet the doubts from the outset.

They have not. So let me share with you our view.

Does Saddam really pose a risk to international peace and security?

The UN certainly thinks so – and has done so for the last 12 years.

All 17 resolutions passed against Iraq fall under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which specifically and exclusively deals with threats to international peace and security and in Article 42 specifically permits the use of military force if necessary to deal with it.. Indeed Resolution 1441 deliberately replicates the language of Article 42.

Nobody who signed up for it, including France, can be in any doubt as to what it means. They knew at the time they signed, and they still know it now.

So is that the threat a danger to us? There may be no obvious smoking gun yet. But I learned in Northern Ireland the value and importance of intelligence advice. They are our eyes where we cannot see and our ears where we cannot hear. They have told the PM that the threat is real, present and endangers us. We would be unwise to seek to second-guess them.

And even if the smoking gun is not there, there is certainly smoke is.

There is the further evidence produced in written form by Dr Hans Blix a week ago. It lists a blood-chilling number of unaccounted for weapons and biological and chemical stockpiles. Tonnes of anthrax and the nerve agent VX were present four years ago. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we can only assume that they are still there. Today’s Iraqi letter at first sight seems once again a propaganda device, too little and too late.

These weapons are simple to use either in Iraqi hands or in the hands of terrorists, particularly those who are careless of their own lives. They can be easily developed into even more lethal agents. They are easily transported and easily hidden.

These are the real risks and real threats we cannot ignore.

So why now?

There can never be an absolutely right time. But history teaches us that action delayed or postponed is rarely action avoided; that putting off what needs to be done almost always leads to worse challenges later on.

If we leave Saddam Hussein armed with WMD now, he will still have to be dealt with later when the risks will almost inevitably be much higher and the dangers infinitely greater.

I do not believe we have a right to pass this lethal buck on to those who will come after us. It would be contemptible, and as Conservatives must never tread that dishonourable path.

We support efforts to achieve a Second Resolution to implement Resolution 1441 within a given timetable. But a second resolution is not, and has never been, a legal prerequisite for military action.

We therefore will support whatever action – in conformity with international law – is necessary to remove Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

There is another aspect we should not ignore.

There are inevitably feelings of destabilisation throughout the Gulf. We should not underestimate how much of a running sore the unresolved problem of Israel/Palestine remains.

If we are to demonstrate that this is not a war against Islam we must support President Bush in his call for real progress on achieving two states west of the Jordan, a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state, and the ending of settlement activity.

We must applaud his decision yesterday to publish the long-awaited ‘road-map’ to achieve this. We must add our weight, and press an ending of violence and a resumption of talks.

And as Caroline Spelman has said we must not lose sight of our obligations to help Iraq get back on its feet once this is all over.

We support the Prime Minister on Iraq. That support is not unconditional. Nor does it come easily. How politically tempting it would be to ride public opinion and oppose. It would also be dishonourable, irresponsible and wrong.

As have been the Liberal Democrats throughout this crisis, facing in all directions at the same time. Their behaviour has been despicable. It has even outdone their own usual low standards.

Hostile to Saddam at one moment, sympathetic at another. For the UN route last September, against the UN route in February, back in favour of it now. Against military action yesterday, apparently morally supporting it to day. What will his position be tomorrow?

He claims to have been consistent, when their only consistency has been their inconsistency. Kennedy makes the Grand Old Duke of York look like a paragon of decisiveness.

The Liberal Democrats are the ‘weather-vaners’, swinging with every shift of the popular wind.

Well we will not take that easy and dishonourable path. We will support Tony Blair on Iraq as long as he is acting in the national interest and is doing what is right.

But that is as far as we will support him.

Where he’s wrong as he has been on Gibraltar we will oppose him. We will stand by the people of Gibraltar and their rights to remain British. We will not betray them. And nor should the Prime Minister even for a moment think that he can trade Gibraltar’s sovereignty tomorrow for Spain’s support today

And then there is the government’s desertion of Zimbabwe. I cannot help feeling a profound sense of shame at how Britain under the lily-livered leadership of a government transfixed by its post-colonial guilt has abandoned that once great land.

Tony Blair told us that it was his moral duty to act in Zimbabwe. In practice he has done nothing.

On the cricket world cup he disgracefully tried to walk by on the other side. I hope he felt ashamed in the face of the courage of the Zimbabwean cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olongo in their black arm-banded protest on the field against what is being done to their land. I salute those two brave cricketers.

Tony Blair may have abandoned the people of Zimbabwe in their hour of need. These two brave men did not. And nor shall we.

And we will oppose this Government on the future shape of Europe.

How many of us here are really aware of what is happening in Europe at this time?

How many of you know that the firm recommendations emanating from those charged with recommending the future shape of Europe are:

– a legal personality which is the first prerequisite of a European state,

– a fully fledged constitution complete with legally enforceable fundamental rights which is the second prerequisite,

– and the subjugation of our foreign and defence policy to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which is the final prerequisite?

These together form a Rubicon between the original and acceptable concept of a Europe of Nations – the Europe we joined – and a European political union which ultimately will sound the death knell of our rights of self-determination.

I am horrified at the speed in which this Europe is being developed. Ministers who originally told us that they would resist such moves are now busy preparing the ground for a shameful volte-face and a despicable surrender.

Sadly Parliament with its overwhelming government majority can’t stop it. But it must be totally against the spirit of the unwritten British constitution that basic sovereignty can in this way be surrendered without the democratically expressed consent of the British people .

That is why I have demanded, and demand again today, a referendum before any treaty embodying such surrender is ratified.

Let me make this clear. We are not anti-Europe. We believe in a Europe built from the bottom up, with power flowing from the nation states – as was always originally intended.

We believe in a partnership of sovereign nations within which the single market is completed, where directives are framework rather than specific,

– where there is far greater parliamentary accountability over Euro-decisions, where we retain our own currency,

– where we cooperate on matters of mutual interest, but where we accept and indeed value our differences

And where we retain our basic rights of self-determination not least on Foreign policy and defence.

We must now go out and fight for this Europe as a genuine option.

Indeed when this current crisis is over there will be much restructuring to be done, much weakness to be repaired – on Europe, on Nato and on the UN. We will have a crucial role to play in all of these exercises. We must be ready.

And while Iraq inevitably preoccupies us, we must make sure that it does not allow this wretched government to get away with it on other international or European fronts.

And we will do so as part of that wider campaign to see this discredited bunch on their way.

New Labour has failed. Their much-vaunted pledges of standing up for Britain and their ethical foreign policy are now in tatters. They have not only failed domestically. They have failed in the international arena as well.

They are a derelict government, a government with no purpose. A government that should go.

I am sick and tired of living in a Britain that is being inexorably undermined by a Government that has lost its way.

I am sick and tired of a government that has lost all sense of national pride and which settles for the second rate.

I am sick and tired of a government that seeks to make us ashamed of our history, our traditions, our culture, our currency and our very Britishness.

As Conservatives we believe in Britain. We long for a country where people matter again, where values and standards once more count for something.

We want to be proud of our country without being called extremist, proud of our history without being labelled anachronistic.

We long for a country where freedom, nationally and internationally, means what it says rather than what political correctness tells us it means.

We are starting the march back to power.

We will need self-confidence. We will need self-belief. Above all we will need to work together as one, loyal to each other, and true to our leader Iain Duncan Smith.

We owe it to our country to send this rotten Government packing.

It is time for us to take them head on. The surrenderers in Europe, the betrayers of trust in Zimbabwe and of loyalty in Gibraltar. And the destroyers of national pride here at home. It is time they were gone.

Our resolution must be clear. To have strength, to have conviction, to have hope. To stand firm in defence of our national interests. And when this crisis is over, to go out and win.

Valerie Amos – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made to the 2013 Labour Party Conference held in Bournemouth. The speech was made by the then International Development Secretary, Valerie Amos, on 1st October 2003.



Let me start by welcoming the work of the Britain in the World Policy Commission.  It has been a model for other commissions, and I am pleased to be moving the Commission’s consultation document.

This afternoon’s debate has once again shown the passion and commitment of our movement, the Labour movement, for a fair, equal and just world.

I am the daughter of immigrant parents.  I was born in Guyana and came to this country when I was nine.  I remember what it felt like:

– being separated from family and friends – the sense of loss for things familiar;

– gradually becoming conscious of being different – my accent, my skin colour;

– but there was also the excitement of being somewhere new.

Adjusting was tough – even in the warmth of a secure and loving family.

So I understand from personal experience what others talk about in the abstract.

My parents came here because of the opportunities – although they never dreamed that their daughter would be the first black woman and one of only two black members of a British Cabinet.  They are proud of what I have achieved.  But it would not have been possible if the fight for equality and social justice was not at the heart of the Labour movement.

Iraq has created many divisions within our party.  Because we share a belief in two things that seem to contradict: both of them important, and both of them morally justifiable.  First, we want to fight oppression and work to liberate those who are oppressed – and second, we share a passionate belief that war only happens when politics has failed.

I have not heard a single argument that says the people of Iraq should not be liberated – and we have all watched in horror and disbelief as the bodies of three hundred thousand human beings – more than the population of Nottingham – have been uncovered in mass graves.

I understand the concerns of those who were against the war.  I visited Basra and Baghdad in July.  I know that we have a lot to do, and since then the security situation has got worse.  But whatever side of the Iraq debate you stand on, we have a common purpose – we want the people of Iraq to enjoy a brighter future than they did under Saddam Hussein, and we want power handed back to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible.  We will not walk away from the people of Iraq.

It has been a difficult year.  But there have been successes too.

In Rwanda just nine years ago, thousands turned on each other, hacking each other to death in the most appalling genocide – and we felt powerless.  The international community, to its shame, did nothing.

In August, Rwanda held presidential elections.  They could not have done it without our support.

In Kenya, a country famed for its corruption, we saw in January a peaceful, democratic change in government.  Every child now promised a free primary school place.  And you would have been moved, as I was, to see classes of fifty or more children eager to learn, some walking five miles or more to school; others going without food – but there, present, and keen.  We funded that.

And the Democratic Republic of Congo.  A rich country which has been raped of its resources.  Where ethnic violence left millions dead, and effectively divided the country in three.  Now, a new national government holds out the prospect of peace at last.  We helped to secure that fragile peace.

But there is still so much to do.  And we know that the greatest long-term challenges that we face are the global challenges.

What of the millions of people struck down in their prime by AIDS, above all in Africa – so that a country like Malawi, a country that needs to be able to invest in the future, loses more teachers to AIDS each year than there are new ones qualifying?

What of the millions who live in states beset by crisis, where their most basic needs go unmet and their own governments fail in their responsibility to protect them?  And what of the millions of refugees who are displaced and lose their homes, their livelihoods?

It is because of the plight of these millions of our fellow human beings that our strong moral purpose – our commitment to equality, and to social justice – is today more important than ever before.

I want to re-state my personal commitment to halving poverty and hunger in the world by 2015.

To reducing drastically the number of mothers that die in childbirth – and to an equally dramatic increase in the number of infants surviving to their fifth birthday.

To have halted – and begun to reverse – the sheer horror of HIV, TB and the other infectious diseases that needlessly destroy so many lives.

And to providing education for every single child of primary school age in the world.

These, and the other United Nations goals for development, are at the front of my mind every day.  Why? – because we can change things.  Through what we do as individuals and what we do as governments. I not only believe in justice and equality – I want us to deliver it.  That’s what my upbringing has taught me.  That’s what being part of this party has taught me.

Africa remains at the top of my list of priorities.

There is a terrible risk of Africa sliding back – and I will not allow Africa to be left behind.  We have doubled spending on Africa since 1997.  Twenty three heavily indebted poor countries in Africa have already qualified for debt relief – and Britain has offered one hundred per cent debt relief to every one of these countries where debt was owed to the UK.

Above all we must fight the needless scourge of HIV-AIDS.  AIDS is not just a health issue.  It kicks away the foundations of societies by affecting people in their prime of life.  People who are needed as parents – as workers – for the future of their countries.

Second, I want to end the scandal of unfair trade.

The average cow in Europe is allocated two dollars a day in subsidies – when two point eight billion people have to live on less.

To build on the alliance between the Labour movement and the Trade Justice Movement.

To fight for a fair deal for small and family farmers.  And to get this trade round – a development round – back on track.

And thirdly, I want the challenges of the global environment to be seen above all as a development issue.  We know that we are consuming the world’s resources at nearly double the levels the earth can sustain – and that these levels will have to fall if we are to survive.

We know that environmental problems always hit the poor hardest.  But it is more than this.  Because if there is a finite amount of resources to go round, we must ensure that the poorest countries and individuals in the world receive a fair share of global resources.

And we have the tools for the job.  My department is recognized around the globe as a world class organization – a department created by Labour.  And Clare Short played an invaluable role in that.

By 2005, the amount we spend on aid will reach four point five billion pounds a year.  Under the Tories, the proportion spent on development was halved.  With Labour, we are on course to double it.  So let no one tell you that all parties are the same.

Of course, Britain cannot do it alone.  We must work in partnership with other countries, and with international institutions – especially the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the IMF and World Bank.

The world is going through a period of massive transition. Last time there was a shift on this scale, it was the industrial revolution.  In that cradle, the left was born – with its outrage that the poor should feel so much of the pain of industrialization, yet taste so few of the benefits.

Now, we are at a new moment of transition, to a fully global society – a world with no islands.  And again, we are called to act against injustice and inequality.  Our historic mission has not ended.  It has just begun.

Dealing with the world’s inequalities is not just a matter of morality – it has become a matter of plain and simple self interest and survival.

But I ask you to support our work not because it is self interest, but because it is the right thing, the moral thing and the just thing to do.