Adam Afriyie – 2009 Speech on the Innovation Gap

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Science and Innovation Minister, Adam Afriyie, on 23rd November 2009.


I come to politics from a background building hi-tech businesses.

And it seems to me our nation’s in trouble.

We’re stuck in the longest recession since records began. Millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes and their businesses. Britain has generated the biggest budget deficit in the G8. And government debt stands at £86,000 for every household in Britain.

Just one year’s interest on this debt will lose us £43 billion. To put it in perspective, that’s about 10 times the entire science budget.

We cannot escape the reality. Whether Labour or Conservative, the next government will be confronted with an empty financial cupboard.

The challenge will be to rebalance our lopsided economy. We must break the over-reliance on housing and government debt and become less wholly dependent on financial services.

Science holds the key.

Sir James Dyson taskforce

I‘m optimistic for the future of British science. Not since the days of Sputnik and Kennedy’s New Frontier has science been more central to a nation’s future.

For me science is not a luxury to be indulged – it is a necessity to be embraced. We can be more than a nation of bankers and borrowers.

We’ve got an impressive scientific tradition, especially here in Cambridge.

British scientists are some of the best in the world. We punch above our weight for citations and Nobel prizes. But something’s gone badly wrong.

We’ve tumbled down the world league tables, to become less competitive. There’s a disconnect between our excellent research on the one hand, and the creation of the high-tech products and jobs we so desperately need on the other.

That’s the innovation gap. And that’s the gap we aim to close.
So I’m delighted that James Dyson is heading a Conservative taskforce. We’re looking to transform Britain into Europe’s leading hi-tech exporter. We’re exploring options for a Future Fund to boost investment into those start-ups.

And we’ve identified three priorities. First, to encourage our brightest young minds into science and engineering. Second, to maintain the excellence of our research base through these difficult economic times. And third, to close the gap between discovery and development – a gap that’s persisted under successive governments.

Continuity after the election

But, of course, before the election, you’ll want to know what a Conservative government means for science.

We mustn’t fight political battles over science. Science should be the least ideological area in government. It’s difficult enough to raise the level of public debate about science, without unseemly squabbles among politicians.

Science and innovation policy has been matured over the decades. William Waldegrave and Michael Heseltine pursued recognisable themes in the 1990s: commercialising research, building business-university links, and maximising the power of public procurement.
The current machinery of science policy looks broadly as it did in 1997. The dual-funding system continues – shared between HEFCE and the Research Councils. And, curiously, the science portfolio has returned to the old DTI, where John Major first put it.

The Technology Strategy Board is a new development. We welcome its arrival, and its functions will remain important.

Stability is what’s needed right now. So let me offer reassurance. I am not planning a major reworking of either the dual funding system or the apparatus of science policy.

After the election

But while there are points of consensus for science, I certainly envisage some changes for innovation.

Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s Origin of Species. For me innovation is an evolutionary impulse. It can’t be mandated regionally or forced through centrally. Innovation arises from a basic biological drive: we adapt to survive.

So our approach will be different. We are going to free people, businesses and universities to innovate. Picking winners, second-guessing scientists, expanding unaccountable quangos – that’s simply not our way.

But let’s cut to the chase. Let’s talk about spending.

If fortunate enough to serve as science minister, I’m going to fight tooth and nail for science. But it’s reckless to make undeliverable promises. Spending constraint will apply for any incoming party.

Gordon Brown has made a-song-and-a-dance over the ring-fenced science budget.

Vince Cable says there should be no ring-fencing at all.

To set out a more balanced approach: we respect the principle of the ring-fence. It operated in the last Conservative government. It’s sensible for Parliament to approve Research Council funding separately from the overall budget.

But I’m concerned that some of Labour’s ring-fencing rhetoric might lull the science community into a false sense of security.
The current ring-fence expires in 2011. The Government has allocated no-money-whatsoever to science beyond that point. The point is this: the Government can’t ring-fence money it hasn’t allocated.

Public investment in science

The value of public investment in science is not in question. Basic research is often too risky for commercial investors alone, and some research, such as ‘big’ physics like the Hadron Collider, can only be sustained at national levels.

David Cameron singled out Research Councils as the right kind of public body. They offer accountability and value-for-money. They also work at arm’s length from politicians to create excellent science over the long-term.

Long-term is the key phrase. The rewards of research can be unpredictable in the short-term. That’s why the public sector has a role to play.

We will never overlook the value of fundamental research. Twenty years ago, a famous chemist said: ‘It is mainly by unlocking nature’s most basic secrets, whether it be about the structure of matter or the nature of life itself, that we have been able to build the modern world.’

She was the only scientist to become Prime Minister. So, while I cannot promise spending increases with an economy on its knees, I can reveal this: a Conservative government will not turn the science budget into a short-term industrial subsidy.

Taxpayers’ money must of course contribute to public goals. But when science meets policy, there is the ever-present risk of politicisation.

How we identify our priorities is the essential question.
Research Councils must support excellent research without undue political interference. Yet the spectre of Lord Haldane haunts the corridors of power. There is confusion about the meaning and relevance of the Haldane Principle today.

The Lords and Commons science committees have been bold in this area. But Ministers have failed to give an adequate response.
The Haldane Principle has largely safeguarded British science from the ideological battles we’ve seen elsewhere.

Today, science is being driven as a tool of ‘industrial activism’. So it is more important than ever that we do not blur the distinction between appropriate strategic guidance and inappropriate political interference.

But, sadly, the Haldane Principle has never been written down. Whether it’s an inquiry, commission or consultation, we need to resolve the uncertainty.

We need a clear view going forward. For confidence and stability research spending priorities must be open. And if the present administration refuses to provide clarity, then we will seek to do so.

Scientific advice in government

Research council independence is essential. So too is the integrity of government scientific advice.

Many of our biggest challenges are scientific challenges: generating energy, securing food supplies, improving the environment, rebalancing the economy, caring for an ageing population. So Government and Parliament need sound scientific advice.
In many ways, Britain has been a world-leader. The last Conservative government setup the Foresight programme to scan the technological horizons. The current government has appointed chief scientific advisers for many departments.

Conservatives recognise and respect the importance of scientific advice. We also recognise the value of the scientific approach to policy-making – so much so that it is now compulsory for all incoming Conservative MPs to have science induction training.

There have been too many slip-ups and unnecessary controversies in the past: BSE, GM, MMR. Building systematically on acquired knowledge, is what unites all walks of a civilised society. For the sake of our economy and our society we must be clear that evidence matters.

And this leads me to the Professor Nutt fiasco. In principle, it’s right that a minister has the power to dismiss an advisor on any grounds they see fit. In political terms, some of the Professor’s statements may well have seemed ill-judged.

But let’s be clear: the science is not in question, only the handling of the situation by the Home Secretary.

Independent scientists are not subject to government whipping – and rightly so. Scientific advisers now need reassurance that they can continue to challenge perceived wisdoms within a clear set of rules.

Unfortunately, the existing rules fail to adequately define the relationship between ministers and their independent scientific advisers.

The Government has now been forced to consult on new guidelines.
A number of scientists have signed a Statement of Principles setting out how they think independent scientific advice should operate. I believe those principles offer a strong basis for a new framework. I support their efforts. And I urge the minister to develop these new guidelines as quickly as possible, to ensure they can be respected by independent advisers and ministers alike.

The next generation of scientists and engineers

Before finishing tonight, I want to say a few words about our plans to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Michael Gove has set out proposals for a new generation of Technical Schools, and plans to restore exam confidence with international benchmarking.

We’re going to revive careers advice with innovative online information, so that students can see the benefits of a science career.

And I want to identify the best ways to attract people into science.
Perhaps what’s missing is longitudinal research into existing interventions to discover what’s most effective. But, who knows? I don’t want to overlook the simple solutions.

The number of places on forensic science degrees has more than doubled since 2002.

Call it the CSI effect, or perhaps the Silence Witness has spoken. Maybe a sexy TV drama would attract more young people to science than all our STEM initiatives put together.

Concluding remarks

So in conclusion, with an incoming Conservative government there will be no ideological revolution in science policy. Whatever the rhetoric, all parties will be forced to face the realities of the debt crisis and budget pressure.

My priority is to deliver the best possible environment for British science and innovation.

Science has a great future with Conservatives.

We are going to lean towards science, engineering and high-technology. We need to rebalance the economy.

And I think we’re ready to make that change.

Thank you.

Adam Afriyie – 2005 Maiden Speech

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Adam Afriyie in the House of Commons on 23rd May 2005.


As an ardent campaigner for decision making to remain in this House, I am delighted to address the House today. I must thank the retiring Member for Windsor for his continuous hard work over many years. It is thanks to him that the doors of the Edward VII hospital remain open; it is thanks to him that the doors of the Helena Day ward remain open. I must also thank him for his good work with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and its continued work in Belarus and Tibet.

I must also thank the members of the Windsor Conservative association, who selected and supported me more than 19 months ago. It really means something to me that they have stuck with me the whole way through the hard work of getting elected. Of course, I must thank the residents of Windsor for the warm welcome that I received on 35,000 doorsteps. I recognise that many of them will have broken with former allegiances to deliver the result that delivers me here today.

I would like to tell you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, about the wonderful constituency that I represent. It has leafy hills and dales; it has great parks and lakes. It is beautiful and attractive, as are the people. I recall one particular doorstep on which I was campaigning early one morning. I knocked on the door and a beautiful young lady answered. She seemed stunned to see me, and I was certainly stunned, but also delighted, to see her — thinking that I was her boyfriend, she had come to the door completely naked. I have lost my train of thought now.

We have some wonderful schools in the constituency. One near Slough, with which many Members will be familiar, is particularly notable. We also have wonderful historic buildings. With the award given to the Fat Duck a few weeks ago it is now accepted the world over that we have the finest dining in the entire world. We benefit from internationally renowned race courses, and we have a strong military presence, with the Household Cavalry and the Blues and Royals. We have one of the finest, grandest and most popular tourist attractions in the whole world — a symbol of our national historic heritage. I refer of course to Legoland. We also have one or two notable residents, of whom I am sure we are all aware.

We face some challenges, too. The character of our area, our community and our neighbourhoods is being ruined by insensitive high-density development. That is placing pressure on our roads, creating queues at our GPs’ surgeries and causing stress to parents who cannot find a place for their children in the local schools. We have also had the blight of flooding in recent years. In areas such as Horton, Wraysbury, Old Windsor and Datchet, the risks caused by the inadequate measures on the Jubilee river still exist. In other parts of the constituency, the challenge and threat of increasing aircraft noise remain. We have a noisy neighbour in Heathrow, which not only provides employment but brings stresses and strains with the continued noise and pollution that is created. We have some challenges, and we must rise to meet them.

Like many Members, I come from a fairly ordinary background. When one comes from an ordinary background, one is determined to make something of oneself. I worked hard at school, I made it to grammar school and then on to university. I have worked hard in business for many years. I am delighted that today, the organisations that I helped to start provide incomes and livelihoods for about 300 people and their families. I will continue to work hard here in Parliament, to take action on the issues that matter to us all.

When I was being lovingly dragged up in south-east London, a thought struck me. My friends, my family and the people with whom I have worked over the years all seem to be happier when they are making decisions for themselves — when they have control of their own lives. One of the biggest causes of stress in Britain today is a feeling that one’s own life is out of one’s control. With my hon. Friends, I am determined that people should regain a sense of control over their lives. We have had a lot of talk today about civil liberties, and I am determined that we shall continue that push towards civil liberties, towards a country free from unnecessary interference from state and government.

Despite the sleep deprivation during the campaign and for the first couple of weeks here in Parliament, I am thrilled, delighted, excited and elated to be here, but I am also conscious of the onerous responsibility that we bear as Members. The House has my commitment that I will take action; I will not only campaign for the residents of Windsor but take action on the things that matter to us all. In the years to come, I want all of us to feel a sense of control over our lives, a sense of self-confidence in who we are and, as far as is possible in a civilised society, a sense of freedom to enjoy our lives in the way that we choose. Above all, I want all British citizens to rediscover a sense of pride in being British. I say without hesitation or hindrance that I am proud to be British. I am proud to play a small role in this debate, and I am proud that under your watchful eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will play a small role in the future of our great nation.

Lord Adonis – 2009 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Lord Adonis, the then Secretary of State for Transport, to the 2009 Labour Party conference.

I took a journey for a week in the spring travelling the railways of Britain. It’s taken me two thousand miles to get here. I met some wonderful people, including the transport staff who keep Britain moving day by day. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve still got the bug. Faced yesterday with a train from London to Brighton I had this irresistible urge to go via Inverness.

More exciting journeys lie ahead of us in all fields of transport and I want to talk to you about them today.

Good transport changes lives. It strengthens communities. It spreads prosperity around the whole country. It’s what we in Labour are all about. But we face a challenge: how to reconcile personal mobility for all, one of the foundations of social justice, with tackling climate change in our generation. I believe we can meet this challenge. We do not have to choose between being green and being free. But only if we create a green transport system for the future.

What does green transport mean?

It means a plan for fundamental change, not incremental change, in the way we travel. No lazy cop-out that society and government should be neutral between different forms of transport, but going for green as a matter of principle.

Take cycling, the greenest form of travel. For too long in this country we have hesitated to promote cycling as a mainstream form of transport.

Yet consider. More than half of all journeys – including journeys to work, to school and to college – are of five miles or less. If we made it easier and safer, more people would cycle. Just talk to the people already on their bikes. They love it. They sail past the traffic, they enjoy the exercise, they get a sense of freedom.

And the cost in petrol?


In much of continental Europe, cycling is already mainstream. In Copenhagen, where I was discussing green transport last week, a staggering 40 per cent of journeys are now by bike.

It is the same in towns and cities across Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Holland. The railway station I recently visited in the small Dutch city of Leiden has supervised parking for 6,000 bikes – 6,000, four times the number in all London’s rail terminals combined. No surprise – a third of all Dutch rail passengers use bikes to get to and from their final destination. In Britain the figure is not a third, but three per cent.

Now, our continental neighbours don’t cycle more because somehow it’s in their genes, but because it’s safe and supported. It needs to be here too. Our rail stations, our workplaces, our schools, colleges and universities, our streets, all need to be cycle friendly.

That’s why, as a step forward, I am today announcing a £14 million programme to create cycling hubs in ten of our major stations including Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and London St Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo. These stations will have thousands of extra supervised bike parking places, as well as cheap cycle repairs and safe cycle routes to and from the stations.

If we want a cycling revolution in this country, everyone should be able to join in. For us, “on your bike” is a transport option, not an insult to the unemployed. These new cycling hubs should be a model not only for other stations, but also for major employers nationwide – starting with government itself.

Joining up different ways of travelling is fundamental to green transport. Not just bikes and trains but better bus interchanges, more car parking at stations, more parkway stations, encouraging people to leave the car at home or to use it for only part of their journey.

Thanks to Labour, millions of older and disabled people are now benefiting from free bus travel. And we should shout this from the rooftops at the General Election. To encourage more bus use we are promoting smartcard ticketing, so that – as with Oystercard in London – passengers can get on and off buses, and change between buses and trains, quickly and easily.

Green transport also means a plan for going green within each mode of transport.

For rail it means more electrification. Gordon Brown and I have set out the biggest electrification programme in a generation – Liverpool to Manchester; London to Bristol, Oxford, Cardiff and Swansea. Wales will no longer be the only European nation besides Albania without a single mile of electrified railway.

For cars, vans and buses, going green means tough carbon limits on new vehicles, and big incentives for the manufacture and take-up of electric and hybrid models to get them off the drawing board and onto the drive.

Aviation must also go much greener. Ed Miliband and I have set a target – the first of its kind in the world – for UK aviation emissions to be lower in 2050 than they are today. Let me stress: all airport expansion, including Heathrow, must be compatible with this target. Greater fuel efficiency and new technologies will help us get there. So too will the international cap on aviation emissions which we are negotiating hard for in the run-up to Copenhagen.

The next essential for green transport is sustained investment in public transport.

Yes, of course these are tough economic times.

But – under this Labour government there will be no repeat of the stop-go, start then cancel, approach to transport which the Tories adopted in past recessions.

Take Crossrail. Proposed in the 1970s, planned in the 1980s, cancelled in the 1990s by the Tories.

Surprise, surprise, the Underground is full because it does not have the vital extra capacity needed in central London. Thanks to Ken Livingstone Crossrail is back and the diggers are digging. I pledge today that we will press ahead with Crossrail and with rail electrification. The Tories would betray the future. We won’t.
Another critical component of green transport is high speed rail.
My support for high-speed rail as an alternative to short haul flights was described recently as ‘insane’ – insane by no less an authority than Michael O’Leary of Ryanair.

I was very grateful for that health advice, so much so I wanted to approach Mr O’Leary with other medical issues of mine, but alas his charges for additional baggage were just too high, so I’m sticking with the NHS.

But let me say something about sanity and insanity in transport policy.

Insanity would be planning yet more motorways and short-haul flights between our major cities where high-speed rail can meet demand.

Sanity is to plan for the 21st century with 21st century technology – fast, clean and green. High speed rail wins on all counts. For large passenger flows between major cities, it is far more energy efficient than cars and planes. It gives huge extra capacity. It slashes journey times and it takes people to the centre of cities connecting directly into other public transport. That’s why I think that for Britain, high speed rail is a no brainer.

Most of Europe and Asia thinks so too. In Europe alone there are now 3,600 miles of high speed rail, plus an extra 7,300 miles in construction or planning.

The trouble is that only 68 of those miles are in Britain, and even those 68 don’t connect any of our major cities, much as I love Folkestone.

By contrast Paris-Marseille, Frankfurt-Hannover, Madrid-Barcelona, Rome-Milan – all are now linked by 200 mile an hour high speed trains – yes, displacing thousands of short-haul flights in the process. But London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh – all are still dependent on slow, saturated, Victorian railways.

Two thirds of journeys from Scotland to London are therefore by plane.

This must change. That’s why over recent months my team has been working so hard to prepare a high speed rail plan for Britain.
It won’t be easy.

A north-south high speed rail line is a twenty year project, with big planning and financial implications.

But I’ve always been an optimist not a fatalist, and Labour’s whole approach to this great project will be one of ‘can do’ not ‘can’t do’. I see this as the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity, pioneering a fundamentally better Britain.

This high speed vision is possible if we make green transport our common cause. True to Labour values. True to our vision of a United Kingdom and a united, prosperous and fair society. The choice is clear. Join Labour on this great journey. Let’s not go down the Tory dead-end street.

Irene Adams – 1990 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Irene Adams on 12th December 1990.

Thank you for calling me so early to make my maiden speech, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the tradition of the House is for a new hon. Member to pay tribute to his or her predecessor. In my case, my predecessor was not only my predecessor but my husband. For that reason, I find it particularly difficult to pay that tribute. I have been in the position of many wives of Members of Parliament—and husbands, for that matter—who know the kind of commitment that is needed to be a Member of the House. I should like to pay tribute to everyone who has been a Member of the House and to their wives and husbands for the long-suffering hours with which they, too, have had to put up.

In my constituency, which was my husband’s constituency, over the past 11 years we have watched as our industrial base has continually deteriorated. It was a once-proud industrial base. We manufactured cotton, built ships, and carried out light engineering. All those industries have suffered grossly over the past 11 years. The cotton industry is now just a skeleton of its former self. The once-proud mills stand empty and are falling apart. The people who worked in them lie idle in their homes.

In my constituency there are pockets in which there is 40 per cent. male unemployment. I listen to Conservative Members telling us that industry in their towns is improving. It certainly is not improving in our town. The latest casualty is Howdens in Renfrew. It was a good industry. It had no reason to go downhill, but, because of the policies that the Government have pursued, it has done so. Once more we shall watch the town of Renfrew go into a downward spiral that not only loses jobs at Howdens but loses related jobs—jobs in shops and in other industries that supported Howdens, again adding to the recession of the economy.

For a long time Scottish people have protested. My own grandfather took part in the hunger marches south. That road south has become a boulevard of broken dreams. When they come south, young people, middle-aged people and elderly people are forced to languish on the streets of this city. We do not need to walk half a mile from here to see cardboard cities and young people who are genuinely looking for work and roofs over their heads. What do they find? They find a shop doorway in the Strand with no chance of finding employment and no chance of finding a home.

Before coming to the House last week, I visited Miss Peggy Herbison, who was a Member of the House in 1945. I am sure that many hon. Members will remember her. Peggy told me that she made her maiden speech on housing. I read her maiden speech. She spoke after the war when we would expect housing to have been in a bad condition. What do I find 45 years later? We are in no better position. In this city alone, 9,000 children will spend Christmas morning in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Things are not much better, despite the efforts of Peggy and many people like her. Still, working people have no roofs over their heads. All they want is a decent home and a decent chance to earn a living. That is not too much to ask.

The Government have presided over a situation that was equalled only by the second world war. Today we still do not have enough housing. It is reckoned that we need 100,000 low-cost rented properties each year even to start to meet the problem. We have no hope of that. If the Government do not intend to change course—from what I heard today, that certainly does not seem to be the case —they should do the honourable thing and move over and let someone who can change course do so.

Gerry Adams – 2000 Speech to Sinn Fein Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Gerry Adams to the Sinn Fein conference on 27th February 2000.



The British government made a huge mistake and miscalculation on 11 February when it endorsed the unionist view that the issue of decommissioning was a precondition on the continuation of the institutions. Whatever reason is put forward to justify the British government’s decision, this is the reality. It is also totally contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and is the biggest single mistake made by the British Labour Party since it took power in May 1997.

It is totally contrary to the Good Friday Agreement because the Agreement took the wise course, the conflict resolution course, which saw the resolution of the arms issue as an objective of a process but not as a blockage on progress on all of the other matters.

However, the ink was barely dry on the Agreement when the British Prime Minister stepped outside of this framework and produced his side letter for the Ulster Unionist Party. From then on, this issue has been treated as an issue of tactical political management.

It ceased to be an objective of a peace process. Instead, from that point it became a precondition dogging the process. This reduced the Good Friday Agreement to something less than the people voted for. It also subverted the electoral mandates of genuinely committed pro-agreement parties. The value of the vote and the implementation process is now subject to unionist terms. From this point, the current vacuum was a crisis waiting to happen.

That’s the flaw which the British government introduced into the Good Friday Agreement.

That is the virus that has infected the process.

This is what has subverted all of Sinn Féin’s efforts to resolve this issue.

All of these efforts were based on our view that the purpose of any peace process must be for opponents or enemies to see each other’s point of view and find a compromise, an agreement, an accord which accommodates the difficulties that exist.

On a number of occasions we went far beyond our obligations under the terms of the Agreement as we tried to resolve this arms issue. Personally, I have lost count of the number of efforts we made to break through the barriers erected by the unionist leadership.

Last November we acted in good faith during the Mitchell Review negotiations to find a resolution to this weapons issue. Of course, the unionists have never dealt with this issue of arms in anything other than a tactical way. No mention of the one hundred and forty thousand legal weapons in their hands.

Sinn Féin isn’t prepared to sit back and allow the democratic rights and entitlements of nationalists living in the North to be filtered through a unionist prism. Equality is equality is equality.

If the task of creating a level playing field is causing so much difficulty within unionism that is in no small way a measure of how unbalanced the situation is or how they perceive it to be.

There is a huge challenge for the unionist section of our people to come to terms with all of that and a huge challenge for Irish republicans to engage with them constructively on an ongoing basis to win more progressive liberal and pluralist elements, more modern elements of unionism, over to this broader view. I am pleased to say that even in these troubled times that dialogue is continuing.

And while we are committed to this dialogue and to listening as well as talking to unionists, I am very very conscious that we can hardly blame David Trimble for behaving as he does when the British government endorses his position. We can hardly blame David Trimble for threatening a British government when, from his point of view, his tactics pay off. So in all of this the London government cannot escape its responsibilities.

Peter Mandelson said that they had to suspend the institutions because Mr Trimble would resign unless they did so. There is now no question of David Trimble resigning. In the USA last week Mr. Mandelson said that the institutions could be restored as easily as they were suspended. Why then are the institutions not back in place? Could it be that if Peter Mandelson restored the institutions then David Trimble would once again resurrect his resignation letter? Or could it be that the British government supports the unionist terms for decommissioning? One thing is certain – the way that Peter Mandelson has dealt with the crisis issue has not only prevented an opportunity to get a resolution but it has also made it more difficult to get one in the future.

In November last we persuaded the IRA to enter into discussions with the de Chastelain Commission in return for the unionists going in to the institutions. One outcome of that was that de Chastelain issued a positive report in which he said that “the Commission believes that this commitment [from the IRA], on the basis described above, holds out the real prospect of an agreement which would enable it to fulfil the substance of its mandate”.

Of course, given the rejection of this position by unionism and the British government, and given their undermining of the de Chastelain Commission, this may never be tested.

So, with hindsight I now think that our efforts to resolve this issue in the Mitchell Review was a mistake by us because we relied on others to keep to their commitments.

It was a good faith engagement by Sinn Féin but it was turned on its head by new deadlines and another side agreement with the British government to collapse the institutions if republicans didn’t jump to David Trimble’s demands. In my view David Trimble did not go into the institutions on the basis which emerged – the Mitchell Review. Instead he went forward on a different promise and that was on the basis of a commitment from the British government that he would have Peter Mandelson’s full support – seeking the suspension of the institutions.

There is no need for me today to deal in detail with what happened on February 11th. That has been spelt out in detail in a series of statements and public engagements and it is clear that our position has been vindicated and our accusation of media management, of manipulation and lies has been borne out by the facts.

Let me make it absolutely clear that this Sinn Féin leadership will support efforts to resolve the arms issue.

We remain wedded to our objective of taking all of the guns out of Irish politics. However, I do not accept any special responsibility on our party to do this above and beyond the responsibilities of every other party in this process. This is only possible response to the rejection and misrepresentation of our efforts, and to a UUP leadership which was never serious about a resolution, other than on its own terms which amounts, despite protestations to the contrary, to nothing more or less than a surrender by the IRA.

And if a British government, with all of its military firepower and muscle could not get an IRA surrender in 30 years of war then unionist leaders or British ministers cannot expect a Sinn Féin leadership to do it for them.

So where is the peace process to from here.

Is everything to be thrown away?

This is a question that all the parties to the Good Friday Agreement and especially the British government must ponder on. This could possibly be the most defining point in this process thus far.

There is a vacuum.

There is the possibility that all of the good work of recent years could be frittered away. This has to be prevented. The priority at this critical point in the peace process must be to get the institutions back in place as soon as possible. This is the sole responsibility of the British government and Peter Mandelson should do it now.

The two governments must also co-operate to operate all outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement. The reality is that we are still awaiting delivery of the:-

– Equality Agenda

– Justice Matters

– Human Rights

– Cultural Rights

– A new Policing Service

– And Demilitarisation.

But if the British government continues to behave in an illegal way, if it continue to maintain its unilateral suspension of the institutions then the Irish government has to move to protect its position. This should see the Irish government introducing legislation in Leinster House to amend the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999, and the related British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act in order to remedy the defective legal basis of the southern leg of the all-Ireland institutions. I feel very strongly that what Peter Mandelson did on February 11th was to give British support for the closure of one phase of this process. Of course, it may not be if Mr. Mandelson moves to restore the institutions. However, I see no sign of that.

And of course, the decision by a British Secretary of State to unilaterally tear down the institutions and set aside the Good Friday Agreement exposes the absence of real democratic rights and real self-determination.

Remember how we were told by leading partitionists and others that the Good Friday Agreement, endorsed in referendum north and south, is the exercise of self-determination by the Irish people.

Sinn Féin took a more measured and accurate view. We said it wasnt. It was clear now who was right given the actions of a British politician two weeks ago? Self-determination for the people of this island has yet to be achieved. And this party and others of similar mind must set our sights on achieving that objective.

So, we have to move forward on the basis that a new phase is now opening up and how it is managed will be critical to the success of all our hopes.

Sinn Féin has been and will remain in contact with the British government

Sinn Féin has been and will remain in contact with the Irish government.

Sinn Féin has been and will remain in contact with all of the pro-Agreement parties and others.

We have to be about creating the space in which people can take ownership of the peace process.

On Friday I appealed to people to again take to the streets in support of peace. I repeat that appeal today.

At different times in recent years there have been widespread public manifestations of support for the peace process and for the Good Friday Agreement. People throughout this island, as well as voting for the Good Friday Agreement, marched, lobbied, wrote letters, put up posters, held forums, placed ads in the newspapers and generally used their imagination to support the process for change.

I am appealing today for a renewed commitment from all these people.

I am appealing to all of those who voted Yes in the referendum to stand up for their democratic rights and entitlements.

I am appealing to civic society, to the churches, to ordinary people the length and breadth of this island to take the initiative and to win back the potential for change that is required to underpin the search for a lasting peace.

I am calling especially on republicans and nationalists to return to the streets in the weeks and months ahead to mobilise, to organise, to build the political strength needed to counter balance the unionist veto.

We must also take a hard look at the job of building Sinn Féin political strength. It is worth recalling that it was the comparative weakness of the nationalist position against the strength of unionism that ensured unionist success in pulling down the institutions.

We should also recall that during the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement that if Sinn Féin had been a stronger player the progressive elements of that Agreement would have been much stronger.

If the Good Friday Agreement is lost because the British government caved into unionists demands one thing is certain. At some point in the future a new agreement will be negotiated. We have to ensure that Sinn Féin is there in a better position to negotiate a better agreement than the one which is there now in tatters.

So we have to be about building our political strength.

It means reorganising; it means updating our analysis; preparing policy positions, based on our republicanism, that are relevant and practical and effective; it means preparing for political challenges; it means recruiting; it means reaching out into those parts of this island which have not heard the real republican message.

It means identifying our weaknesses and removing them and targeting our strengths and building upon them.

Gerry Adams – 1994 Speech in the United States

Below is the text of the speech made by Gerry Adams on 24th March 1994.


Seventy years on from partition, it is universally accepted that partition has hampered and damaged the economic development of the island. This affects not only trade, industry and agriculture but, by association, all parts of the economy – including employment, health, education and social welfare systems – leaving them marginalised and critically underfunded. The people of Ireland are the victims of this process condemned to lower living standards. Up to £3 billion of funding is lost in so-called security costs every year. The Dublin government spend more than twice as much money every year on border ‘security’ as they do on industrial development.

This fact has been recognised by the business community in Ireland. Plans for an island economy have been endorsed by the Dublin government and the Northern Ireland Office. The plans include import substitution, export partnerships, combined economic planning and infrastructural development.

The belief underpinning this plan is that these moves towards a form of economic unity would boost monetary wealth. A 1991 confederation of Irish Industry report that up to 75,000 extra jobs could be created has been used by a range of politicians to endorse the plans. However optimistic the jobs target seems, it is clear that there is an ability for the current political structures to create an economic environment where efficiencies would create wealth and extra employment.

However, there are two fundamental problems with this process. One is the lack of democracy and democratic control of the economy. The second is the inefficiencies in present structures and policies.

Creating an island economy without creating democratic structures will leave the economy in the hands of a minority of financial institutions and business interests. So far it is Irish Business and Employers Confederation and the Confederation of British Industry that have put in place the structures for this island economy. Democratic control of any economic initiative is a prerequisite.

No better example of why this should be can be found in examining the performance of the Industrial Development Board (Six Counties) and Industrial Development Authority (26 Counties). A 1993 report found that “the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland has not performed well since partition”. Northern Ireland Economic Research and Social Council stated in 1993 that IDB grants had “acted as a substitute for low productivity”.

In 1993, the IDB admitted that only half the jobs it assisted between April 1987 and March 1989 were still in existence after 12 months. The British Auditor General found that the IDB spent “millions of pounds funding unnecessary projects”. Last year in the 26 Counties, for every new job created by the IDA, another was lost. For this, the IDA spent £154 million. The IDA has spent £3 billion since 1969.

This inefficiency is only one example of the failure of NIO and Dublin government economic policies. The potential benefits of the “island economy” strategy in its present form will be reduced if the failed industrial and economic policies being implemented now in both economies are merely recreated on a larger scale.

There is no doubt that wealth is being created in the 26 and Six County economies. Creating a united economy could increase the potential for wealth creation, but without an economic democracy it will create less wealth and concentrate it in fewer hands.

Recognising that a national economy must reflect everyone’s interests democratically, must be part of the process of building a new Ireland. Irish unity and independence will form the only basis for creating an economic democracy.

Expectations Raised

Since the IRA cessation last August there has been an unprecedented turn around in public perception and expectations of economic development in the partitioned Irish economy.

This has happened for two reasons:

(1) There is a genuine belief that a lasting peace in Ireland will have a twofold effect on the whole Irish economy. Firstly, both the Dublin and London governments will earn a peace dividend as the financial costs of the conflict dissipate. Secondly, there is a public belief that lasting peace will create a positive economic environment, increased domestic economic growth and increased inward investment.

(2) It now also seems possible that after seventy years of the negative and damaging effects of partition a democratic island economy is a real possibility and that this will also yield a range of positive results for the whole economy.

The Role of the US Government and Investment

Sinn Féin welcomes the decision by the US President, Bill Clinton, to host the White House Conference for Trade and Investment and the other economic initiatives proposed in the 1st November, White House statement.

Sinn Féin recognises that US inward investment has for over 30 years been a significant contributor to employment and economic development in Ireland. The role US investment plays throughout the Irish economy is a crucial one that needs to be examined now more than ever as the prospects of lasting peace offers tangible new opportunities for mutually beneficial inward investment.

The November 1 statement said that the aim of the conference is to “show US companies that sustained peace is dramatically improving business opportunities on the island of Ireland and particularly in Northern Ireland and the border counties. American business should be in on the ground floor of these new opportunities.”

Sinn Féin believes that the chief benefits of any new investment should be in increased employment and enhanced local economic development, particularly in those areas and communities most affected by the conflict.


The history of structured political discrimination in the Six Counties is well documented and a matter of public record.

The responsibility for discrimination against Catholics lay for decades with the unionist controlled government at Stormont which functioned under the Authority of the London government. A system of political, economic and cultural apartheid was institutionalised under this system.

The British government, as the sovereign power, had the ultimate responsibility for allowing this situation to exist.

Since taking direct political control in 1972 the British government has passed two anti-discrimination laws. They have had little impact on the disparity in employment between Catholics and Protestants.

Indeed an internal British government report in September 1992 for the Department of Economic Development concluded that the unemployment differential between Catholics and Protestants is not likely to change over the next ten years.

Catholics are still over two times more likely to be unemployed. (23% of Catholic males are unemployed as against 9% Protestant males.)


It is for all of these reasons that we welcome US concern and interest. President Clinton has brought a particular positive focus to this issue.

The appointment of Senator George Mitchell, the conference for trade and investment and the other initiatives are all evidence of the administrations pro-active interest.

Sinn Féin believes that progressive opinion in Ireland clearly supports the need to address a number of areas in order to enhance the potential for inward investment and to build on the hopes for a lasting peace.

These are:

–  Parity of esteem between the two major political allegiances in Ireland and the communities who hold these allegiances.

– Equality of treatment.

– Equality of opportunity.


Investment should complement local economic activity, and not be used as has happened sometimes in the past as a substitute for domestic economic activity. The net result of badly planned investment in the past has resulted in the inward investor and the host local communities both losing out.

Sinn Féin proposes that for inward investment to be at its most effective in enhancing the benefits of a lasting peace, three sets of criteria need to be met.

One, is that new investments meet a set of minimum labour and environmental standards with positive efforts made to site new plants and operations in the most deprived areas of Ireland and to hire workers from the most deprived communities.

Two, new investment must not prop up the existing status quo of discrimination against Catholics in the Six Counties. It must seek to reverse the disproportionate level of discrimination suffered by Catholics. The British government must be encouraged to introduce new and effective anti-discrimination laws.

Three, is that a new economic strategy for areas most affected by the conflict should be developed in parallel with new investment programmes. It is in the interest of both the investor and the host communities that every effort is made to maximise the benefit of new investment. This could come in the form of aiding the development of support clusters around an inward investing company, or planning strategies to harness the increased employment created by new investments to stimulate other commercial developments in the local economy.

Developing links between local communities and the inward investor is a necessary prerequisite of any new investment initiatives.

Diane Abbott – 2013 Speech on Nelson Mandela

Below is the text of the speech made by Diane Abbott on 9th December 2013 in the House of Commons.

Ms Diane Abbott MP

The fact that the House of Commons has spent the whole day paying tribute to Nelson Mandela is, of course, a tribute to the man himself, but it is also a tribute to the millions of Africans who struggled for their freedom. It is a tribute to activists such as Steve Biko, it is a tribute to the ANC and to the ANC in exile, but it is also a tribute to the thousands of ordinary people in, I believe, all our constituencies who stood on street corners and campaigned over the decades to make the release of Nelson Mandela possible.

I will always remember where I was when I saw Nelson Mandela being released from prison, hand in hand with Winnie Mandela. I also remember the BBC newscaster who was doing the bulletin. It was a friend of mine and one of the most loved newscasters, Moira Stuart. I shall never forget that, because the struggle against apartheid and the struggle to free Nelson Mandela were part of the warp and weft of my life as a young activist in the late 1970s and 1980s. There were the meetings, there were the pickets, there was the examination of the oranges to make sure they were not South African and there were the demonstrations. For a certain generation, anti-apartheid was the iconic international struggle. There were times when we thought that it was no more than a struggle and Nelson Mandela could not be released, so seeing those television pictures of him hand in hand with Winnie was an extraordinary experience for me.

We have heard some brilliant speeches today. The former leader of my party, my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) made one of the best speeches that I have ever heard him make, and I have heard him make some brilliant speeches since I was first a Member of Parliament in the 1980s. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) made a very impressive speech, reminding us that Mandela was a politician first and last, and reminding us also of the importance of the practice of politics. My right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain), who was one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle—it might be said that that was his finest hour—told us about his childhood and his family, and presented a touching vignette of Winnie Mandela leaning down to kiss two white children.

Let me say a little about Winnie Mandela. She did terrible things and terrible things were done in her name, but no one who was active in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s will forget her courage and beauty when she was at the height of her powers. She endured long years in internal exile; she endured 18 months of solitary confinement, parted from her children; she endured beatings, and the blowing up and killing of her friends and comrades around her. As I have said, she did terrible things, but we cannot take away the fact that at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle, she was a transcendent figure.

We have heard about Nelson Mandela and his achievements today. I remember seeing him on his first visit to the United Kingdom. The extraordinary thing about him was not just his presence and charisma, but the fact that there was no sense of the bitterness that he was entitled to feel after spending 28 years in prison and seeing what had happened to his friends and family. As we have heard, it was that nobility of purpose that enabled him—it was his signal contribution—to drive through a peaceful transition to majority rule without the bloodshed that so many people prophesied. He also stood down after one term. If only more leaders in countries around the world were prepared to do as he did and let go of power.

We live in an era that despises politicians, in which the word “political” is practically a term of abuse. We live in an era when too many young people believe that voting changes nothing, but I was privileged to be an election observer for those very first elections in which black people could vote. I remember leaving the centre of Johannesburg and driving all the way up to Soweto, on the edge of the city. We got there for 6 o’clock, but people had been queuing for hours. When the polling station opened, I saw figure after figure go into the polling station, mark the very long and complicated ballot paper and then step to the ballot box. Many of them looked around as they did so, as if even then someone would say, “Not you, you’re not allowed to vote.” It was being an observer at those elections that taught me the value of the ballot—that people can struggle and die for the right to vote.

Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid resonated with me as a young black woman just getting active in politics. The anti-apartheid struggle taught me that I was part of something international, and that politics was in the end about moral purpose. It taught me that if you believe in something, you should push on, because evil cannot stand. There is no more respected politician among young people in the UK than Nelson Mandela. It is a privilege to be allowed to speak today, and if people would only believe what Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle believed €”that you can alter your reality and it is worth getting involved in the struggle and understanding the issues our politics would be enriched so much.