Bernard Jenkin – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Bernard Jenkin to the 2000 Conservative Party Conference on 3 October 2000.

The demonstrations last month proved that Labour is out of touch.

The frustration has been building up for years.

You think that your car is to get you to work, or to visit the family, or to do the shopping.

But it’s not.

Under Labour, the most important job your car does is to siphon money out of your bank account and over to the Chancellor.

Labour’s taxes are such an injustice.

Petrol tax is a regressive tax.

It hits the poor the hardest.

For example, a disabled pensioner in my constituency needs her car to get to the shops and to see her friends.

She used to spend £10 per week on petrol.

Now it costs £20.

This is just one rural pensioner who is worse off under Labour – one of millions.

And as the pressure has mounted, Labour has simply become more devious.

In the last Budget, Gordon Brown said he was putting petrol tax and pensions up by the rate of inflation.

What he didn’t tell you was that he was using two different rates of inflation.

So he put pensions up by just 1.1% – but hiked fuel tax by three times that.

He said, he could only give pensioners an extra 75p a week, but he took away all of that and more with his fuel taxes.

Labour gives with one hand and takes away with another.

And another, and another.

People have been driven to distraction by this stealth taxing government.

Driven to do things they never imagined they would do.

The government calls the protests ‘blockades’.

But there were no blockades.

The people who protested against the government last month were not the trotskyites, communists, militants and anarchists that Jack Straw marched with in his youth.

They were decent, hardworking people.

People with responsibilities, businesses, customers, overdrafts, employees and families to support.

They were supported by a spontaneous groundswell of public feeling.

What an indictment of British democracy under Labour!

Three years of Labour has pushed the British people to breaking point.

Labour had no right to raise taxes.

They have no mandate.

Mr Blair promised no new taxes.

Democracy should be about government by consent.

But Labour is about taxation without representation.

That’s why the protests were so popular.

These protests rumbled Labour’s tax scam.

These protests showed that the British people will not stand for it.

These protests exposed Mr Blair, in the face of a real crisis, as weak and vacillating.

Labour cannot face the truth.

Oh, he could apologise for the Dome.

He could apologise for the Ecclestone affair.

But he can’t apologise for this.

Because his stealth tax deceit goes to the heart of his whole political strategy.

And I say now to everyone who is angry about fuel tax.

William Hague and the Conservative Party are the champions of your cause.

We will cut fuel tax.

So, put your faith in the ballot box and not the barricades!

Don’t get angry. Get even!

Labour failures: the missed opportunity

So what has John Prescott actually done in the last three years?

He put a bus lane on the M4 so that the New Labour elite could whizz past the queues.

He took an environmentally friendly car for a spin, and then crashed it.

At last year’s Labour conference here in Bournemouth, he was driven 200 yards from the Highcliff to here, so that he could tell us to use our cars less.

And so it goes on.

But while Prescott gaffes, everyone else must suffer.

As rural post offices and banks close, more and more people who cannot afford cars are being left stranded.

Everyday misery. That’s Labour’s record.

Last month in London, 2000 Central Line passengers were stuck, stifling in dark tunnels for more than two hours.

Everyday misery. That’s Labour’s record.

Pity the millions stuck in traffic jams every day!

Pity the towns and villages, choked with traffic, still waiting for a bypass.

Pity the haulage firms going bust.

Everyday misery. That’s Labour’s record.

The 10 year plan

And after three years of misery, John Prescott now has the nerve to stand up and say ‘I’ve got a ten year transport plan’.

Suddenly he is promising billions but do you believe him?

And hardly anything would happen until after the next TWO general elections.

Talk about post-dated cheques!

What does he take us for?

The words, ‘ten year transport plan’ should enter the same lexicon as ‘the dog ate my homework’, and ‘the Dome will be a great success’.

This is a ten year plan from a one term government that can’t see further than tomorrow’s headlines.

A broken policy that follows broken promises proposed by a broken-backed Secretary of State.

Last year he was asked whether the job might be a bit too big for one person.

Plucky John replied: ‘No, because I’m Superman’.


Superman didn’t need two Jags and a helicopter to get from A to B.

Mind you, he’s the only comic strip minister who breaks his promises, faster than a speeding bullet.

In 1997, he promised there would be far fewer journeys by car.

Well, John, if you don’t know already, short of a fuel crisis, you’ve failed.

Socialists always think they can change human nature.

Well there’s only one way they have succeeded.

Today, every nine seconds, the average healthy man now thinks about petrol tax.

How much it costs. Where will it end?

Under Labour, we’ll soon all have to take our driving tests on foot.

The sad reality is that by the end of this Parliament, John Prescott will have precisely nothing to show for his four years in office.

And over the next ten years, Labour plans to raise at least £423 billion in taxes from the motorist.

That’s over £18,000 per household.

You could buy one of John Prescott’s Jags for that, but you couldn’t afford to run it!

The Conservatives made the car a privilege for the many and not just the few.

The car and public transport are not enemies or opposites.

We need them both.

We need more of them both.

There’s no point in investing billions more in the railways if you miss your train because you’re stuck in a traffic jam.

Few of us have train stations or bus stops outside our front door.

So let’s get rid of Labour’s anti-car ideology.

Conservative Transport Policy

The next Conservative government will dump all the dogma.

We will ditch the jargon.

We believe in Britain.

So, we will simply get on with the job.

On day one of the next Conservative government, we will abolish Labour’s Integrated Transport Commission.

That will save millions by reducing bureaucracy and waste.

We believe in a prosperous Britain.

So we want Britain’s lifeblood arteries – our roads – to flow.

We will immediately bring forward the vital road improvements to get unsuitable traffic off unsuitable roads.

We believe in a cleaner and greener Britain.

So we want to remove through traffic from towns and villages.

You use less fuel if you don’t have to sit in traffic jams.

We will also reduce congestion by charging companies who dig up the road.

We believe road users deserve better.

So over all of this we shall set up a new Roads Inspectorate.

This will set standards for local councils and the Highways Agency to meet.

It will demand action on poor roads, dangerous roads or where roads cause environmental problems.

Conservatives also believe in Britain’s railways.

Labour inherited the start of our railway renaissance – liberated from state control.

But we are still waiting for stage two.

We propose measures to cut standing on cramped trains;

And to cut queuing for your ticket.

And to increase trains on Sundays.

And we believe in freight on rail.

The rail freight renaissance was started by privatisation.

Believing in Britain means putting the passenger and the freight customer first.

Not just on rail, but across all our transport networks.

And, of course, our commitment to cut 14 pence off a gallon of petrol is just a first step.

Because we are ambitious for Britain we will not treat motorists as some sort of revenue tap.

We believe in honesty in taxation.

So we want petrol stations to display just how much of what you are paying is tax.

We also believe in British business, and we need the haulage industry.

So we will introduce the BRIT disc.

So that foreign trucks will have to pay for using Britain’s roads.

We will use that money to cut the punitive tax on British trucks so they can compete with Europe.

But I give you one supreme pledge.

Our first day in government – and every day – will be about safety.

This week is the anniversary of the terrible Paddington rail crash.

The shock of that tragedy hangs heavy in the memory.

I pledge eternal vigilance on safety.

We have proposed to the Paddington Inquiry a new rail safety regime.

For the first time, there should be specific rail safety legislation – like there is in aviation.

There should be a new National Rail Regulator, with responsibility for performance and safety;

And a new independent rail accident investigation branch of the DETR.

There is no reason why privatised railways should not be every bit as safe as our privatised airlines and airports.

And would that our roads were as safe as the railways.

We will establish a Road Casualty Investigation body, to look into the causes of road accidents.

If you lose someone you love in a road accident, you want to know why it happened and what will be done to stop it happening again.

More than 3,000 people die each year on our roads.

That must change.

There is far more to road safety than just speed humps and cameras.

The government needs a proper, factual and statistical basis for road safety policy.

That will enable us to set the right road safety priorities, to reduce death and injury as effectively as possible.

It can be done without demonising the car, because we believe in the good sense and humanity of the vast majority of the British people.

That’s believing in Britain.


Mr Chairman, conference.

Millions of people every day make millions of transport choices.

People want choice.

Conservative governments increase choice.

That’s why people are beginning to feel they want a new Conservative government.

That’s why a new Conservative government, under William Hague, will get the best for Britain, because we believe in the full potential of what British people can achieve.

Last, week we saw the Labour party on the run.

Mr Blair was blustering like a magician whose tricks have failed to deceive.

We are making Labour sweat!

And look at Mr Prescott’s contorted face!

Conservatives believe in Britain, because we are ambitious for our country.

We believe in a Britain, whose transport networks should be the envy of the world.

A Britain where the opportunity to travel is for the many and not the few.

A Britain where the passenger and the road user come first.

A Britain where everyone shares in the benefits of prosperity.

A Britain strong, independent and free.

A Britain, whose government believes in Britain.

And the Conservatives, under William Hague, are ready to be that government.

Liam Fox – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the then Shadow Health Secretary, to the 2000 Conservative Party Conference on 3 October 2000.

At our conference this week voters don’t need us to remind them that health has actually got worse under Labour.

They don’t need us to remind them that their tax has gone up with nothing to show for it.

They don’t need me to remind them about the increased number of people waiting to get treated, the jobs for Labour cronies, the repeated announcements, the PR stunts, sound-bites, photo opportunities, re-launches, postcode rationing, trolley waits, cancelled operations and the elderly ‘not for resuscitation’.

And all at the hands of a Prime Minister and Secretary of State who represent the most smug, arrogant, complacent, out of touch, ‘blame someone else’ and downright incompetent administration the NHS has ever known.

No, they don’t need to be reminded – so I won’t.

But disillusionment with Labour is not enough. What people rightly want to know is what we would do differently. We are the Government in waiting. It is our duty to outline our approach.

Let’s begin by dispensing with Labour’s great lies in leaflets like these. We will match Labour’s spending plans for health pound for pound. We believe in a comprehensive National Health Service funded from taxation free at the point of use.

When Alan Milburn was still peddling CND propaganda in his socialist bookshop, I was one of those overworked junior doctors in the NHS.

I spent all my working life before politics as a doctor in the NHS so when Tony Blair says that we intend to cut doctors and nurses, he is not only lying but he knows he is lying.

Unlike Labour’s NHS, ours will be one with proper priorities, where the sickest patients are treated first.

Where the value of our care is measured by more than just the numbers treated.

Where doctors decide which patients are treated, and not bureaucrats and where politicians stop interfering.

Where new partnerships are formed inside the NHS and between the public and private sectors.

It doesn’t matter to us where a patient is treated but when a patient is treated and the quality of that treatment.

Patients have a right to expect us to arrange the best treatment we can . If we can use the private sector to speed up the treatment of NHS patients then we should do so.

We should not be treated by the State like some Dickensian paupers having our gruel dispensed and expected to say thank you because it’s all there is. We are citizens and taxpayers in the world’s fourth biggest economy at the beginning of the 21st century. We have a right to expect something better.

But rights also imply responsibilities. Patients who make emergency night calls for trivial complaints, who use ambulances as a taxi service, or who fail to turn up for their hospital appointments are denying others potentially life saving services. And it can not continue.


Sometimes when I look at the NHS, I think that only a fool would believe that you can run a service that employs almost a million people from behind a Minister’s desk in London.

It is crazy to believe that one person can tackle the different and detailed health needs of Penzance, Preston and Peckham with a single ‘one size fits all’ solution dreamed up in Whitehall.

And it is unacceptable that a party political Secretary of State can decide who sits on every health authority and pack it with his own supporters. We will bring this disreputable and shameful practice to an end.

Actually, by letting the experts run the NHS I intend to be the least over worked Health Secretary in history.


Next, we must change the targets we use. For too long, under Conservative as well as Labour Governments, we have been obsessed with targets based on input or throughput. In other words, you are doing a better job if you spend more money irrespective of how you spend it or if you treat more patients, irrespective of whether or not they are the right patients. That is not a sensible approach.

We need to have targets which are based on the outcomes for patients.

That means we need to raise our cure rates and survival rates to match those in neighbouring countries. It is not acceptable that if we develop lung cancer or breast cancer or colonic cancer or heart disease that our chances of survival are sometimes only half of the Dutch or Germans or Americans.

But meaningful targets need investment and not just slogans. That is why, although we will match Labour’s spending plans for health we will spend that money very differently. Our plans mean that investment will be directed towards priority areas beginning with cardiac and cancer services as a first step in delivering our Patients Guarantee. And we will abolish Labour’s iniquitous waiting list initiative which so distorts clinical priorities.

Am I the only one who believes it is unethical and immoral to deny lifesaving treatments in order to speed up more minor ones?

Am I the only one who finds it repulsive that patients have their cancer or cardiac surgery cancelled while surgeons are forced to carry out more hernia surgery so that ministers can claim better figures?

Am I the only one who believes that the sickest patients should be treated first?

It is time we had a system based on sound values, not sound bites.

Yet there are those who urge us to reject this approach. They say “Don’t do it. You may speed up cancer care and improve cardiac care but there are more people with ingrowing toenails, varicose veins and sebaceous cysts and they all have votes.”

Has our society really become that shallow?

Do we really believe that people really think of no one but themselves ?

I don’t believe so. Too many of us here today will have had family, friends or neighbours who have died prematurely as a result of the failure to prioritise our health care.

I believe that in the British people there is a sense of fairness and decency which is offended by this Government’s approach. We Conservatives must be their voice.

Politics is not about following focus groups but informing and leading public opinion.

It is time we got back to doing what is right not just what is popular in the short term.


Of course, the NHS cannot only be about life threatening conditions and, in time, we want to see all waiting times reduced. That is why, as a first step, we support the idea of “stand alone” surgical units for procedures such as cataract surgery or hip replacements. These units, dedicated to a single type of treatment, could work more efficiently (perhaps even round the clock) enabling us to end the scandal of operations being cancelled at the last minute.

Under Labour the NHS is increasingly being run British Leyland in the 1970s where you don’t want to be sick after five o’clock or at weekends and heaven help you if it is a public holiday.

Indeed there is a general need to use our staff more efficiently. As a GP, I spent a lot of time doing things for which I was over-trained. We don’t need someone with nine years training to take blood pressures or blood samples. Doctors and nurses need to be used at the ceiling of their abilities.

For example in my own area of general practice I want to see GPs develop specialist skills to complement their generalist role. When a parent takes their child to the doctor with a problem it would be nice to see someone who had experience in paediatrics or if a woman goes with post menopausal bleeding she should be able to see someone who has trained in gynaecology.

Many of our GPs already work as clinical assistants in hospital out- patients clinics. It makes sense to develop a new level of care in general practice, with semi specialist GPs so that patients can be seen more quickly and locally and hospital outpatient clinics are used for those who genuinely require a Consultant level service.

In the same way, I believe nursing has come of age. In breaking down the territorial barriers we will offer nurses a real opportunity to make full use of their skills.

These developments will have impacts on training.

We need to recruit nurses from a wide spectrum and training must be flexible enough to accommodate a whole range of skills from simple patient care to further academic development.

We must never forget that holding the hand of someone who is afraid can be just as important as operating complex equipment.

And it is time that we all got back to recognising something we seem to have forgotten – that nursing and medicine are not just jobs but a vocation, and should be valued as such.


Despite the lies being perpetrated by the Labour leadership, we have repeatedly made it clear that we will match Labour’s planned health spending. It will be welcome and it will allow a vital expansion of our health care. But it will not be enough in itself.

If we want to see total spending on health care brought up to European levels we will need to see the private sector increased as well as the NHS. That means making private health care more attractive.

To be blunt, the private sector also needs a shake-up. Too many products for individual private health care are too expensive, inflexible, with too many exemptions and covering you for everything except anything you have ever had.

This is especially difficult for the elderly made worse by the Government’s removal of their tax relief on private health. This is a government that seems to have entirely abandoned the elderly.

Labour have also hit company schemes too adding yet another burden to the NHS.

We must not back away from the challenge to make private health care more attractive in addition to the extra NHS spending.

A bigger cake benefits everyone if a real partnership is introduced. In order to encourage company schemes we will abolish disincentives in the taxation system where and when we can afford to do so.

This will ensure that additional provision is available to as wide a range of our fellow citizens as possible.

Choice in healthcare should not just be for the well-off.

By improving choice within the NHS and making access to the private sector cheaper and easier we can bring our spending on health up to the levels of other western countries and close the real health gap.

Labour will oppose us, just as they opposed Conservative trade union reforms which gave individuals more power and just as they opposed Margaret Thatcher’s council house sales which gave so many a share in prosperity.

Our instincts were right then and they are right now. Labour support the state. We support people. A better NHS and an expanded private sector working in a real partnership can benefit all our people.


But health is not just about structures and money. It is also about values. I want to see a return to what I would call ‘Matron’s Values’.

It seems ludicrous to me that ward sisters are not in control of cleaning wards and feeding patients.

When the ward sister says jump the response should be “How high?”, and not “I need to call my supervisor.”

We need to give those who have the responsibility for patient care the authority as well.

One of my elderly neighbours has just come out of hospital. She was very unwell and unable to eat as well as being extremely deaf. For dinner she was given some rock-hard battered fish. There was a time when someone would have said make this lady some scrambled eggs which she can eat. But no, half an hour later the offending fish was simply whisked away untouched.

I’m sure you all know similar examples. It is not about major policy initiatives. It is about seeing patients as people not illnesses with a nametag. Sometimes in health it’s the little things that matter most.

And another thing. I cannot bear this habit of calling people, especially elderly people by their first name when they don’t want it.

My grandmother was never called Sarah in her life, not even by my grandfather. (I won’t say what he called her). She was always known as Mrs. Young. When she became confused she didn’t know who this Sarah was. And it’s not good enough.

We must understand that we are dealing with individuals who have their own identities, sensitivities and pride which should be respected. The Cabinet may call one another Tony and Jack and Mo. Our patients have earned greater respect. Dignity is their irreducible core.


We have a great challenge ahead in the debate on health – to tell the truth.

There is no endless flow of money. We cannot do everything we would like as quickly as we would like. Medical science is expanding faster than our ability to fund it. In the real world choices must be made, priorities must be set. There has always been rationing and there always will be.

We must have the courage to say what we know to be true.

And yes that means if doctors from overseas are not properly qualified and do not have adequate communication skills, then we will say so, irrespective of the knee jerk reaction of the PC brigade and their media allies.

You know promising things you cannot deliver in politics is cynical and creates resentment.

But promising things you know you cannot deliver to the sick and vulnerable is wicked and cruel. That is the charge at Labour’s door.

We must show that we are not just a party of pounds, shillings and pence. We must show what sort of Britain we want to live in and how we will achieve it.

Our way will be different.

Where health care is run for the patients not the politicians.

Where decisions are made by doctors and nurses not bureaucrats.

Where heart bypasses are not given the same priority as in-growing toenails.

Where vocation is once again valued.

Where we treat patients with dignity as individuals, where we tell the truth and do what we believe is right in tune with our beliefs, our experience and our values.

It is time to restore faith in health.

Let Labour play follow the focus group.

Let us say what must be said and do what must be done.

Let our party prepare again to lead our Nation.

Theresa May – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May to the 2000 Conservative Party Conference on 3 October 2000.

Thank you Chairman and I am delighted Ladies and Gentlemen to respond to this excellent debate on Education so very ably introduced by Marion Rix and John Harthman.

The quality of contributions we have heard this morning shows the importance this Party attaches to the education of all this country`s children.

Children have only one chance in their school education. If they are to develop their full potential, we must ensure they and their teachers have the freedom to be creative, the inspiration to achieve and the aspiration to be the best. That is our task and I am privileged to be part of it.

Joining me I have an excellent team. In the House of Commons, Tim Boswell, James Clappison, John Hayes and Geoffrey Clifton Brown; in the European Parliament Philip Bushill-Matthews and in the House of Lords, Emily Blatch, Doreen Miller and Joan Seccombe – “girl power” and haven`t they down a magnificent job in winning votes against the Government to defend grammar schools and keep Section 28.

And joining us on the platform is Cllr Peter Chalke Leader of Wiltshire and our spokesman on education at the LGA -and thank you Peter to you and your colleagues who help to keep our feet on practical ground.

Ladies and Gentlemen: We are ambitious for Britain.

We should be proud of the enormous wealth of talent that exists in this country.

Our young people have so much to offer and education is the key.

Sadly these talents are being squandered by a Labour Government that believes the bureaucrat knows best, that thinks inspiration lies on page 34 of a 100 page government circular, that aspires only to political correctness and that is ashamed of Britain our history and our culture.

What a wasted opportunity. The reality of education under Labour is that class sizes are rising, disruptive children are kept in class, teachers are leaving in droves, too much money is spent on red tape, and standards are stagnating,

Government policy has completely lost touch with the real world. One minister even wants to stop young children playing musical chairs!

Earlier this year the Government paid £4million to consultants to produce a 234 page report which reveals that to be effective a teacher must – wait for it – plan lessons well.

Over the past year the Department for Education and Employment has sent out one publication every hour a teacher is at work.

It`s not surprising that since Labour came to power nearly 100,000 teachers have left the profession. Earlier this year a head teacher in the North East was so disillusioned that he left to become a lorry driver. A primary teacher leaving her job to become a chauffeur saying “I was faced with masses of paperwork every day which was very time consuming and not what I became a teacher to do”.

And what of Labour`s broken promises?

David Blunkett promised that grammar schools were safe in Labour`s hands. Tell that to the parents and teachers of Ripon Grammar School and Ripon College who had to spend months working to save their schools in the face of Labour`s rigged grammar school ballots.

David Blunkett once told a Labour Party Conference “Watch my lips no selection by examination or interview”. Now he says that was a joke.

Children`s education is no joke Mr Blunkett. Ladies and Gentlemen watch my lips – the next Conservative Government will abolish the grammar school ballots.

David Blunkett promised grant maintained schools they had nothing to fear from Labour. Tell that to the headteachers worrying about yet more budget cuts- cuts that have averaged £150,000 per school.

David Blunkett promised head teachers they would get their budget direct. Two weeks ago he turned his back on them. Nothing will change and Labour town hall bosses will still be able to hold money back from our schools and children.

Why? – Because this Labour government is arrogant – they think they know what`s best

They`re out of touch – they just don`t know what is happening in the classrooms

And they don`t trust parents and teachers.

We do trust parents. That`s why we will increase parental choice and give parents the power to change schools where standards are failing. And we will give parents better information about the standards in their local schools by bringing in value-added tables, which better measure the quality of education at the school.

And we trust teachers. That`s why we will give them the freedom to get on with the job our dedicated teachers want to do – teaching children and raising standards – without constant form-filling and interfering red tape.

We have a new approach to raising standards in our schools. By making every school a Free School we will improve the quality of education and ensure that every child is receiving the education that is right for them.

Free Schools will enable Heads, teachers and governors to decide what is best for the children in each school. The bureaucrats in Whitehall don`t know what`s best; and in today`s fast-changing world the traditional model of local authority control of schools does not allow each school enough freedom to be creative to maximise children`s potential.

Free Schools will get their budget direct. It will be based on a national funding formula, which will take account of certain differing needs, but will start to reduce the current disparities in funding across council boundaries.

Too much money is held back from schools. Too much is wasted on bureaucracy. On this year`s figures our Free Schools policy would have meant on average an extra £540 for every child.

Free Schools will be able to keep their sixth forms – free from Labour`s threat of lower funding or closure.

Free Schools will be free to set admissions policy – and I`m confident that yes, there will be more grammar schools in future.

Free Schools mean a different role for central government. No more bureaucrats in Whitehall dedicated to drafting yet more circulars with which to bombard teachers and governors.

Free Schools also mean a different role for local councils – not running schools, but providing certain children`s services such as education welfare and statementing for special educational needs. Our thanks are due to all those who given so much over the years as councillors on LEAs. The future will be different. Our goal is to give children the best education possible and we must not be afraid to do what is necessary to achieve it.

Free Schools means a new role for governors who will be freed from much of today`s bureaucratic burdens, and who will have clearer responsibilities and powers.

Ofsted will be given the power to conduct spot inspections – seeing a school as it really is not after weeks of preparation.

One of Labour`s first acts was to abolish the Assisted Places Scheme depriving children from less well-off families of educational opportunities. Ladies and Gentlemen I can tell you today – the next Conservative Government will introduce a new Assisted Places Scheme.

The quality of education a child receives depends on the quality of their teachers. Our many hard working and committed teachers are fed up with a government that doesn`t trust them.

We want to set teachers free to get on with the job of teaching.

Teachers and parents also worry about discipline in the classroom. The disruptive few must not be allowed to damage the education of the many. The next Conservative Government will give Head teachers the power to expel disruptive pupils putting parents minds at rest that their child`s education will not be damaged by the disruptive few.

And there will be no appeal to the local authority – so the school can`t be forced to keep disruptive pupils in class by some politically correct Labour council.

The expelled pupils will not be forgotten as too many have been in the past. They will be given a full time education in Progress Centres away from the school site, but they will no longer be denying education to others.

But we need to do more to support teachers. Teachers are more vulnerable than any other group of professionals to false allegations of abuse from children. An NASUWT survey last year showed that over 80% of allegations made against teachers were false. Yet, the system seems to believe that an allegation is in itself proof of guilt. And teachers can find their names blazoned across the newspapers, their careers shattered – and all on the basis of a false accusation.

I heard last night of a teacher of 27 years who was falsely accused of abuse by a pupil. He lost his job, his role as a foster parent, and his role in the local scouts. His life ruined by a malicious accusation.

The next Conservative Government will give teachers anonymity in the media until the point where the police decide to press charges. The press will not be allowed to print their names or photos while the accusation is being investigated. Teachers lives should not be ruined by mischievous or malicious accusations.

We will do more to support those entering the profession. I have heard too many stories of teachers not being trained to teach children to read. Teacher training is too theoretical. Why on earth should someone training to be a teacher have to study “the politics of difference”?

The next Conservative Government will reform teacher training. Under the Conservatives trainee teachers will spend 80% of their time in schools and only 20% in college. More than three-quarters of a teacher`s training will be spent learning the skills and craft of teaching. Schools which are centres of excellence will be able to become training schools with funding and support to back that up. In future trainee teachers will learn how to teach in practice not just in theory.

Free Schools will raise standards in our schools. They will be free to be the good schools parents want with an enthusiasm for learning, a strong ethos and values.

But we need to support our FE Colleges and universities too. They need their freedom. FE Colleges will be given back freedoms Labour have taken away by changing their governing bodies and threatening them with Whitehall diktats on what courses they can offer.

And our universities need to be set free from government controls that mean they find it ever more difficult to compete on the world stage. Our young people deserve the best. With funding per student falling, Labour certain to introduce top-up fees, and universities finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff, standards in our universities are under threat as never before.

We owe it to our young people to stem the tide. That is why we will progressively endow universities. We will invest the proceeds from the sale of government assets like the radio spectrum in our universities setting them free of excessive bureaucratic control and interference and ensuring their academic freedom. Endowed universities would be free to recover their global pre-eminence and build a world role.

And they need to retain freedom over admissions. How arrogant of Gordon Brown to think he knows better than Oxford University who should be admitted to read medicine. And how irresponsible. In one speech he has done more to discourage state school pupils from aspiring to go to our leading universities than anyone else. The real problem is low expectations in state schools held back over years by Labour`s dogmatic insistence on levelling down standards.

We also want to help people into jobs. The Government`s New Deal is no deal for the 40,000 who`ve gone back onto benefit, the 60,000 who have failed to get a sustained unsubsidised job, or the 92,000 who left for an unknown destination. In fact far from finding jobs for 250,000 young people as Labour promised, the New Deal has only found jobs for 13,000.

We know that the best thing for someone who wants a job is to get into a job. That`s why we will replace the costly and ineffective New Deal with ‘Britain Works’. ‘Britain Works’ will give people the practical every day skills to get them into a job and help to keep them there.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for too long education in this country has been bedevilled by interference from the educational establishment. If we do nothing to stop this, our education system will grind to a standstill with falling standards betraying our children and damaging our county`s future.

Free Schools and Universities will enable us to develop the wealth of talents in this country to aspire to be the best.

There are those who say it won`t work, there are some who say it shouldn`t be done and there are those who say it can`t be done.

We know from Grant maintained schools that it will work.

For the sake of our young people to enable them to develop their talents to the full, it must be done.

With the will and determination and fired by an ambition for this country of quality education for all it can be done.

And Ladies and Gentlemen it will be done by the next Conservative Government.

Iain Duncan Smith – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Iain Duncan Smith, the then Shadow Secretary of Defence, on 3 October 2000.

Last week the Prime Minister said he had reached his irreducible core. We may not know what his irreducible core is – only his focus groups can tell him that – but we do know that he has reached it. The question is what does he do now he has reached it. I always thought that once you had finished eating an apple you threw away the core.

Today’s debate is not about the Prime Minister’s core, but about what his Government has done to the Armed Forces and how we will rectify that.

We are proud of our Armed Forces. We only need to look at the rescue of the British Army hostages in Sierra Leone to see how good they are. We are proud of their outstanding success. Yet it was not without loss. I would like to pay tribute today to all those who took part, particularly Bombardier Brad Tinnion who gave his life fighting for his comrades and his country.

Yet behind the headlines, in the Gulf our RAF pilots are fired upon nearly every day by the Iraqis. And in Kosovo and Bosnia our forces patrol an uneasy peace with calm assurance. And last week the Navy came to the rescue of the victims of the Greek ferry disaster.

Still in Northern Ireland our troops stand in support of the brave men and women of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Let me say that again, Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Peter Mandelson says that the name conjures up the wrong image. This should come as no surprise from someone who has called our own troops ‘chinless wonders’ But for me RUC stands for dedication, service and sacrifice.

In many other areas around the globe they are the unsung heroes. But the armed forces are leaving in droves. Do you blame them?

Exercises are cancelled, soldiers are being sent into action with guns that don’t work, whilst having to use mobile phones on the battlefield, upgraded bombers that can’t drop bombs and short of enough pilots to fly them anyway.

Fighter jets that won’t have guns, ships without missiles, sailors shouting ‘bang’ in gunnery training instead of firing live ammunition. And service families living in sub-standard accommodation for too long.

Conference, a few weeks ago, people couldn’t get fuel for their cars. Well at the end of last year Navy ships were unable to leave port because they couldn’t even afford the fuel.

The result is that the Armed Forces have 5,000 fewer servicemen and women than they did when we left office. That’s the equivalent of 10 Army battalions. Or 20 destroyer crews.

Last week the Prime Minister pompously talked about difficult choices. What he didn’t say was that because of cuts, the RAF has to choose either to scrap its Tornadoes or Jaguars.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is defence of the realm – Labour style.

Yet today Robin Cook struts his stuff on the world stage, only too happy to commit our overstretched forces everywhere and anywhere. The Armed Forces are the best in the world. But the truth is that behind the gloss, they are being really hurt – yet despite that they show dedication and professionalism in marked contrast to this Government. But whilst they squabble, new threats around the world are emerging.

We are seeing a dangerous and widespread proliferation of long-range missiles, biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons taking place amongst the rogue states of the world. Missiles are now capable of reaching from the Middle East right to the heart of Europe. It won’t be long before they are able to strike here.

The Americans are responding to this new threat, developing anti-missile systems to defeat this new danger. But instead of supporting our American allies, Mr Blair has run away from the problem and instead is playing games with his plans for a Euro Army.

The Blair Government has led the creation of a Euro Army to rival NATO, and the EU is busy creating what Mr Prodi has confirmed is a European Army of some 200,000 men. Blair’s short-sighted short-term use of Defence as a bargaining chip in the corridors of power in Brussels has risked all our security.

A Conservative Government will support the Americans in their development of defences against weapons of mass destruction. And we will put paid to any divisive and political notion of a Euro Army. We want to improve European defence capabilities – but within NATO, never outside it.

But even worse, Labour believes that the Armed Forces are a social experiment in human rights. But what they don’t understand is that being a member of the armed forces isn’t about rights. They give up many of their rights to defend ours. They are expected if necessary to kill or be killed – events just a few weeks ago in Sierra Leone are a stark reminder of this fact.

Yet by applying the European Convention on Human Rights to our forces this Government is putting their effectiveness into the hands of campaign junkies, jobbing lawyers and even judges. Theirs is a creeping tide of political correctness threatening to overwhelm our forces’ military effectiveness.

So when we return to Government we will take the Armed Forces out of this politically correct morass, safeguard their unique ethos, and uphold the primacy of military effectiveness.

Labour’s policy of asking the forces to do more with less has damaged all three services. Labour’s cut of 18,000 men from the Territorial Army was vindictive. Less than a year after the cut was made they were getting ready to call them up for service in Kosovo.

In Government, I promise we will return the Territorial Army to its full effectiveness and restore their important place in support of our regulars. The Army is overstretched and 8,000 men understrength. Full manning will be a priority for a Conservative Government.

We also appreciate and value the dedication and loyalty of service families. And they will be at the centre of our thinking and our policy making.

For us defence of the realm is the first consideration of any Government. Some people say defence doesn’t matter but sixty years ago what Churchill referred to as that brilliant youth risked all in the skies above in the defence of their country and the people they loved.

My father was one of those few. And he never ceased to tell me the reason so many of his friends died was because politicians had failed to heed the warnings and left us without strong defence. But then this Government doesn’t like history ……

It’s a Government which seems to hate the country it was elected to govern, which sets one part of the country against the other. That pours hundreds of millions of pounds into a shapeless piece of foreign plastic, which no one wanted, whilst insulting pensioners and service families.

But what we understand is that no country ever created a future by making war on its past.

At the election there will be a choice between spin and substance, between being embarrassed about our nation and being ambitious for our nation.

Confident and united at last behind William Hague, ours will not be a battle just for Government but for the heart and soul of the country that we love.

David Heathcoat-Amory – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by David Heathcoat-Amory on 4 October 2000.

It is a great privilege to take over the Trade and Industry job from Angela Browning who has done so much to expose the myth that New Labour helps business, or even understands it.

And I’m very lucky to have a team like Alan Duncan, Nick Gibb and Richard Page, as well as Doreen Miller, Peta Buscombe and John Mackay in the Lords. Each of them on their own knows more about Trade and Industry than the entire Labour front bench put together.

One of the puzzles about the DTI is this: How is it that after all the privatisations, all the industries freed from state controls, all the competition we brought in, the DTI has gone on growing? After 3 years of a Labour government its running costs have increased by £114 million. This year alone it will take on an extra 500 civil servants.

So as the DTI’s responsibilities get smaller, the department gets bigger.

So don’t tell me that there aren’t savings to be made in public expenditure without hitting front line services like health and education.

Pledge number one: The drive for a smaller state starts here. The DTI will be reorganised to make it leaner, fitter, and smaller.

And instead of policies from New Labour we get gimmicks. Last year Stephen Byers announced that he had discovered ‘Rip off Britain’. The consumer he said was being ‘treated unfairly’. What he didn’t say was that it’s his government that’s doing the ripping off.

Who made our road fuel the most expensive in Europe? A body blow to the haulage industry and every manufacturing company in Britain. The Labour government did that. Petrol is now taxed more heavily than champagne. The champagne socialists are now the ones with a full tank of petrol.

And it’s not over yet. From next April every business in the country, from the smallest corner shop to the biggest multinational, will pay a new energy tax, the so-called Climate Change Levy, on all their gas and electricity bills.

So yes, Britain is being ripped off, by the Treasury with its stealth taxes. And you Stephen Byers have done absolutely nothing to stand up for either the consumer or British business. For that failure, Mr Byers, amongst so many others – it is time you went.

You’ve done nothing for small business either. Look at sub-post offices – small business which are being chopped off by this government and are now closing in record numbers. The only reaction from this government is to talk of setting up some Universal Bank, which is so universal it’s invisible. This destruction of the post office network will not be forgotten at election time.

It’s not just taxes. As any businessman will tell you, there’s the endless regulations, red tape, and government interference. And the inexhaustible stream of European Union directives.

The government deliberately added to this torrent of regulation by giving away, unilaterally, our hard-won opt out from the European Social Chapter. That was an act of political vandalism that’s costing British business an extra £10 billion in this Parliament.

Labour Ministers and MPs have no idea what it’s like to be on the receiving end of hostile taxes and regulations. I do, and I’m going to do something about it.

But let’s admit that we didn’t do enough when we were in government. We checked the regulatory juggernaut but we failed to reverse it. But now we’ve listened to businesses, particularly smaller ones who haven’t the time to serve on consultation committees in London but who end up bearing the costs.

We’ve listened and we’re going to act. We will independently calculate the total cost of regulations issued by each government department. And that total will have to come down year by year. William Hague has made clear that ministerial careers will depend on it. So we’ve all been warned.

The message is, we’re serious. It adds up to pledge number two: I will de-regulate before breakfast, before lunch and before tea. The DTI under us will be a department for deregulation.

One more point before we start our debate.

There are huge opportunities for this country from the electronic revolution, the internet and e-commerce. These technologies are outward looking, tariff-busting, distance-conquering, and they all use the English language. They are not just liberating technologies themselves; they also reinforce Britain’s position and history as a global trader.

Sometimes I’m accused of being a Little Englander because I’m against joining the euro. The truth is the exact opposite.

It’s the Labour party who are the Little Englanders, they are so defeatist about our nation that they will try and lock us into a continental system of high tariffs, high taxes, high regulations, and the euro.

We have a bolder vision: yes to free trade, no to the euro. British industry needs world markets, and a country which is confident, self-governing and free. That is our policy. That is exactly what we will deliver.

Francis Maude – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the speech made by Francis Maude on 4 October 2000.

Speakers today have all shown that they believe in Britain, they believe our country can be best in world. You all do; so do my team: Richard Spring and Cheryl Gillan in the Commons, who carve up the world between them. Stephen Day, our unsleeping Whip. Patricia Rawlings, who does terrific work in the Lords, and a special welcome, leading our Front Bench team in the Lords, to David Howell. It’s wonderful to have David back in the front line.

I’m a very lucky chap to have such an experienced and talented team. We’re all part of one team. William’s team. We’re ready to govern. And I tell you: we’re raring to go.

Ten years ago I served as one of Margaret Thatcher`s Foreign Office Ministers. Quite a year, that was: the Berlin Wall came down; the Cold War ended, and the shape of the world changed. I don`t want to take all the credit. But in the ten years since then the world has changed out of all recognition.

It’s actually less stable than it was; the Cold War lent a grim predictability to life. Ours is a swirling, tempestuous world; a world bursting with opportunity; a world of lightning information flows. Truly a network world.

People travel more; they know more about the world. Twenty or thirty years ago a trip round Europe was pretty exciting. Today it’s like a trip across town. Today young people in their gap years can span the world – and they do. And they want to make a difference in the world – themselves – they don’t think it’s all down to governments.

If we believe in ourselves, Britain can flourish in this new network world. Just look at the assets we have. The world’s fourth largest economy. The second biggest overseas investor. The greatest international financial centre. English, the language of the internet, and of global exchange. Armed Forces admired throughout the world. Membership of the EU. At the heart of NATO. The transatlantic relationship. At the centre of the Commonwealth – and our new Commonwealth Commission is mapping out a big new role for it in the network world.

In this new world, we aren’t on the edge of anything. Britain can be at the centre of it all. Our foreign policy must be for this new world. We have to look outwards, not inwards. And it shouldn’t be difficult. The British were globalists before the word was invented. We’re committed to global free trade by 2020. That’s the best hope for developing nations. Britain never has sought isolation. It never should. And under the Conservatives it never will.

So yes, Britain can be at the centre of the new network world. We will use that position to serve British interests. We’ll do so honourably and – yes – ethically.

Talking of ethics: did you hear Robin Cook last week, going on about ‘a miserable, shrivelled and shrunken thing’? Up and down the land, people were saying ‘there he goes, talking about himself again. For him, ethics might just as well be a county east of London. There’d be a big change, said Robin Cook. Britain’s foreign policy would have an ethical dimension. Who does this man think he is?

This country, that spread freedom, law and democracy across the globe. That twice last century fought for all Europe against tyranny. That most recently helped liberate millions of our fellow Europeans from the iron hand of Communism. Where was Robin Cook when we were fighting that battle? Posturing in his CND badge. While we never let up, he wanted Britain to slink, weaponless, from the world stage.

Foreign policy is about strength. Strength and honour. We`ll use Britain’s strength in the world. We’ll use it for peace and stability: whether in Kashmir, or Cyprus or the Middle East. We pray today that those caught up in conflagration in Gaza and the West Bank see that peace, not conflict, is the prize. We sincerely hope that the talks in Paris bring this violence to an end.

We’ll use our strength to promote democracy and the rule of law. The verdict of the ballot box must be respected. Mugabe and Milosevic: it’s over. You tried to rig it – and you failed. Give up – and get out.

And – yes – we`ll use British strength to promote the interests of Britain – and Britons.

For we believe in Britain. It isn’t obsolete. In the new network world, nations will matter more, not less. Globalisation means people need to be able to identify with their country more, not less.

Last week I was in the Caucasus. I was meeting people who only regained their nationhood eight years ago. They’re not about to give it up. Go to Kosovo, and talk to people, as I did: nationhood is their dream.

And it makes sense: in this fast-moving world, governments need to be flexible, and responsive. Countries, today more than ever, need the power to govern themselves.

And I just don’t understand why Tony Blair’s given up on it. He claims we either give up more and more powers. Or we condemn Britain to a lonely isolation. What a sad, outdated, defeatist view. Where’s the vision? Where’s the leadership? Where’s the conviction?

All round Europe, there is a really serious debate about its future. We agree with some bits, disagree with others, but it’s a real debate, with real convictions. There’s only one leader with nothing serious to say. Tony Blair. No leadership, no vision.

It’s different behind closed doors. He’d happily take Britain into a European superstate. He’d love to scrap the pound. But he wants to do it by stealth. It’s the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name. He knows that most people, the mainstream majority, want no truck with it.

The mainstream majority want to be in Europe, not run by Europe. That’s why last year, against all expectations – perhaps even against our own – we won the European elections. The winners, under Edward’s leadership, have been hard at work. We work together – one team. In the last few days they’ve tabled the largest number of amendments to the European budget anyone can remember, aimed at cutting waste and eradicating Euro-propaganda.

There’s still a lot to sort out. The Commission needed a man of sharp intellect, decisive action and few words to put their house in order. They chose Neil Kinnock. Why do I think there’s still some distance to go?

Well. Here’s a pointer. The day I was in Brussels last month, Labour MEPs drove through a directive on…how to climb a ladder. That’s right – there really is an EU way to climb a ladder. It says this: ‘Ladders shall be so positioned as to ensure their stability during use.’ ‘Mobile ladders shall be immobilised before any person steps onto them.’ Well, thank you.

Then they agonised over whether to permit ‘The holding of a ladder by another person as a safety measure.’ And there let us leave them, these Labour MEPs: up their ladders; off their trolleys.

You really couldn’t make it up, could you? Tony Blair says we do make it up. He says it’s all fantasy. ‘No one I know wants some overblown United States of Europe’, he says.

Really? You know the German foreign minister, don’t you, Mr Blair? He wants ‘the transition … to … a European Federation.’ ‘We must put into place the last brick in the building of European integration, namely political integration’, he said.

You know Mr Prodi too, don’t you? Didn’t you appoint him? ‘Step by step … the European Commission … behaves like a growing government’, he says – and he means it, too – he approves of it.

And you must have met the French Prime Minister? He claims he’s met you, anyway. He talks of the EU crossing ‘a milestone towards the creation of a united political Europe’.

We may not like what they’re saying. But at least they’re honest. Why can’t Tony Blair tell the truth? Why can’t he be honest?

So let me be clear. If some others decide to integrate more, we won’t stand in their way. That’s their sovereign right. But a Conservative government will not – not – do the same.

And no, we won’t be ‘left behind’, or ‘isolated’; we’re not missing any boats. Two simple things came out of last Thursday’s Danish pasting. No more one size fits all. And nothing inevitable about scrapping the pound. People want to be in Europe but keep the pound. They know they can. And with a Conservative government, they will.

For the mainstream majority agrees with us. They’re not anti-European – and nor are we. If we weren’t committed to stay in Europe, why bother trying to change it? And the first change is that for Britain, integration has gone far enough. We will oppose any further loss of the British veto over EU laws. We will oppose the job-destroying Charter of Rights. And we will oppose the creation of an EU defence force outside NATO.

It’s so clear now that the public agree with us that I suspect Tony Blair may be getting a bit fussed. So don’t be deceived if he tries to water down the Nice Treaty this December. He hasn’t suddenly seen the light. He knows there’s another treaty in the pipeline. A treaty to create a European constitution for a European superstate. A treaty planned for – yes, after the next election. That’s why the stakes are so high: that’s why we’ve really just got to win.

Today I make two commitments. We will legislate so that further transfers of power can only take place after a referendum. Yes, Mr Blair: the people. Remember them?

And we are all fed up with seeing the European Court extending the EU into areas of national government well beyond those that Parliament intended to transfer. So we will legislate to create ‘reserved powers’. Beyond the powers we intended to transfer, EU law will not override the will of Parliament. Never again will the Treaties be extended by un-elected EU judges.

We’re not going to break our treaty obligations. There is no question of that. We honour Britain’s obligations. But why shouldn’t Britain enjoy the same constitutional protection as France, Germany and Italy already do? If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for us.

Next, we’ll insist on a flexibility clause; outside the single market and core areas, let countries be free to accept only those new Euro-laws which meet their needs.

And let’s be blunt: some Brussels policies just aren’t working. The aid programme. The Common Agricultural Policy. The Common Fisheries Policy. They all waste money – they’re failing relics. They don’t need to be run from the centre. More can, and more should, be run by the nation states.

It’s eleven years since that momentous November night when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and the Iron Curtain was shattered. The EU has a historic duty to embrace the whole family of European nations. It’s taking far too long. If we want enlargement – and we do – we need a flexible Europe, a network Europe. We not going to take lectures from those who were nowhere to be seen while the West won the Cold War and made enlargement possible.

Mr Chairman, Europe’s strength is the diversity of its nation states. It’s their very sense of nationhood. This is the basis for our vision of Europe, a flexible and enlarged European Union. It’s the vision for which Conservatives have long argued, under Margaret Thatcher and John Major and William Hague.

For us believing in Britain isn’t just a phrase. It’s what we’re about. Yes, we believe in this United Kingdom – we believe it really can be the best place in the world. Yes, we believe in Britain, because we believe in the British people. Today people know more; they want to do more – themselves – not just for themselves, or by themselves; but together, and for others.

For others not just here at home, but abroad too. You see, like us they don’t think it’s all down to Governments. They’re sceptical about politicians, even suspicious; they just don’t believe today that the answer is ever higher taxes and an ever bigger state.

They long for leaders who are honest with them, who respect their intelligence. They long for a party that is in tune with their hopes and fears, for themselves and for their country. They long for a Government that earns their respect by speaking the truth.

We are such a party and, under William Hague, we will be such a Government. And if we hold fast to our beliefs and fight for them with every sinew, we will not just win the chance to serve. We will be worthy of it.

Michael Portillo – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Portillo, the then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Conservative Party Conference held on 3 October 2000.

Four years ago Tony Blair promised us a new Britain.

He promised taxes wouldn’t rise. But they have.

He promised shorter waiting lists. But they’re longer.

He promised smaller classes. But they’re larger.

He promised more police. But there are fewer.

He promised his government would be purer than pure. What a joke.

I feel so sorry for the many people who put their hopes in that man. They are so bitterly disappointed.

They were sold a dream and it’s just not there. And there hasn’t been a single word of apology.

Well, he did say the Dome hadn’t been a runaway success.

Not a runaway success? As I recall, that’s what people said to me after my defeat in Enfield Southgate.

It’s four years since I could address a party conference from the platform. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge. We’ve travelled a long distance since then: I have, you have, the party has.

I was devastated by my defeat at the time. It certainly didn’t feel like it at the time, but the British electorate did me a favour. My period out of parliament was a chance to connect with the Britain of today.

Now, as Shadow Chancellor, I cannot forget those experiences. My job is not just about dry economics. The quality of British life cannot be measured in material terms alone.

We are the party that understands how much the world has changed.

Our country would be stronger and its people more willing to take responsibility if we had fewer politicians passing fewer laws, raising fewer taxes and intruding less in our lives.

Young people reject the Labour Party’s bossiness, meddling, banning and regulating.

Britain has changed and the Conservatives have changed with it. For new generations of British people, old prejudices have been swept away.

The Conservative Party is a party for our times.

We are a party for people, not against people. We are for all Britons: black Britons, British Asians, white Britons. Britain is a country of rich diversity. That Britain was on display in Sydney. Athletes of every background united by a pride in Britain, and Britain united by its pride in them. Conservatives don’t look for uniformity, but for the qualities that mark people out as individual and exceptional.

We are for people whatever their sexual orientation. The Conservative Party isn’t merely a party of tolerance: it’s a party willing to accord every one of our citizens respect. Why should people respect us if we withhold respect from them?

We value people for what’s inside them.

We heard last week Labour’s smears against our policy on asylum seekers. That policy will re-establish public confidence in our controls. That frees us to give a warm welcome to those who come to Britain in fear of their lives.

That’s how my father came. Britain’s willingness to take in refugees defines us as a generous and responsible people. It’s a tradition that will be upheld by the Conservative Party.

We want people to aspire, to reach the heights to which their qualities can lift them.

While I was out of parliament I took a television camera into some housing estates. I saw a lot of poverty. But in a way what shocked me was not so much the absolute poverty – for many people had videos and their children wore Reebok trainers. What distressed me most was the poverty of expectation and ambition, the lack of hope for anything better in life to come.

But in a Saturday school organised by the black community in Sandwell, I found that aspiration: parents determined that their children should have a chance to fulfil their dreams. And education would be the ladder by which they’d climb.

Many Labour politicians climbed that ladder. But now they want to kick it away from others. For reasons of pure dogma, they destroy good schools: grant-maintained schools and grammar schools.

But they send their own children to exclusive schools. That’s Labour’s real policy on education. One rule for themselves, another rule for those they govern.

William Hague went to a state school. So did Theresa May. So did I. I had excellent teachers. We weren’t intimidated by public schools like Mr Blair’s. We thought we could do just as well as they did.

No state school should ever feel second class.

Every parent knows that a school is only as good as its head teacher. The Conservative way is to trust the head teachers and give them the money to spend as they choose. We will give them the opportunity to create great schools, to lift the sights of their pupils, and to transform their young lives.

This is our message to parents and teachers: we will set the schools free.

The next generation will want to be more independent in their retirement than pensioners are today. We will give them the chance to put their money into a properly-funded pension. We’ll enable future generations to accrue prosperity and share fully in the growth of our economy.

We won’t fudge welfare reform.

Gordon Brown promised pensioners change. They got it. Loose change. 75 pence. And when pensioners sent it back in disgust, Gordon cashed the cheques.

While I was enjoying my sabbatical, I worked for a few shifts as a hospital porter. I remember once wheeling a patient to the operating theatre on a trolley. He was motionless and I was awfully afraid he might be dead. But without warning, almost like Frankenstein’s monster he sat bolt upright and said, “What on earth are you doing here Mr Portillo?”

I was experiencing the sharp end of the NHS.

Everything was in short supply. There weren’t enough wheel chairs. So porters had to horde them. It reminded me of stories of the war, when there was rationing, but everyone mucked in and tried to be cheerful.

It was impressive. The doctors, nurses – and porters – are heroes. But things shouldn’t have to be like that.

Britain spends too little on health.

There’s a consensus amongst the parties that we should spend much more money on the NHS. But not on how to spend it, nor on how that money can be supplemented.

Labour impose politically motivated targets on our doctors and nurses. No wonder they’re demoralised. We would give doctors responsibility, and trust them to spend the money wisely, treating the sickest patients first.

Where Labour’s horizons end, ours begin.

Our neighbours in Europe know that you cannot rely on taxes alone to finance health. They would think it silly that families in Britain are encouraged to spend money on their home, on their continued education and on their retirement, but are discouraged through dogma from spending their own money on their health. So other countries have schemes, for instance organised by trade unions and employers. We’ll want to encourage that in Britain too.

Well spend much more money on the Health Service. And attract extra money too.

Labour are stuck in ancient ideology. As Ann Widdecombe once said, Labour have built a Berlin Wall between the public and private sectors.

We will tear down that wall.

Liberal Democrats have a policy for health and education too. It’s is to make doctors and teachers pay more tax. It’s not much of a gift for the NHS. But it’s a great gift for every Conservative candidate fighting a Liberal Democrat. Let’s hear a round of applause for my old pal Charles Kennedy, the Tory candidate’s friend.

While I was out of Parliament, I became a small business. The Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise sent me a pile of forms and books and tables that thick. I found it daunting and time-wasting. What a pity Gordon Brown doesn’t live in the real world where business people live.

We never forget that governments don’t create prosperity. Businesses do.

Tomorrow David Heathcoat Amory will tell you about our plans to cut red tape. We will make VAT simpler and fairer. Let’s stop punishing the people who create the jobs.

All Labour Chancellors regulate more. All Labour Chancellors tax more. But Gordon Brown is no socialist hero. He hasn’t taxed the rich to give to the poor. He’s cynically chosen soft targets for his stealth taxes: hard-working families, people he thought who would never protest.

Labour think high taxes give them the moral high ground. They talk of social justice. They believe that money that government spends is always more worthwhile than money that people spend for themselves on their families.

But I don’t.

I believe in allowing hardworking families to keep more of the money they have earned. I believe in allowing them to keep more of their dignity and responsibility.

Recently, a man wrote to me, a member of the seamen’s union. The union’s told him Gordon Brown’s taxed the pension fund and he must pay out another £200 a year if he’s not to be worse off in his retirement.

Is that social justice?

Another man told me he’s just retiring. Gordon Brown’s abolished the married couple’s allowance and age allowance. The man will have to pay £500 a year more in tax than his brother who retired last year.

Is that social justice?

In Suffolk last week a mother of four children, a beautician, told me she’s been driven out of business by Gordon Brown. She can’t afford to fill her tank with the most expensive petrol in Europe.

Call that social justice, Mr Brown?

There is no social justice in high taxation.

The Prime Minister devoted a large part of his Brighton speech to smearing the Conservatives. People long ago stopped believing Mr Blair when he spins his own policies let alone when he falsifies ours. People found his speech not only unbelievable but also disillusioning. Wasn’t he meant to bring a new honesty to politics? Why can’t he behave like a Prime Minister?

Before the election Labour claimed it was no longer addicted to high public spending, that the amount we spend is less important than how well we spend it. They committed themselves to stick to Conservative spending plans, because they knew that our prudence was a foundation of economic stability.

But as the events of the last few weeks have shown, this is not a Chancellor whose word is his bond.

Our economy has been growing since 1992. That gives us an opportunity to increase public spending. I plan to spend more on public services in every year than Labour has spent in any year. But I don’t intend to spend money the country hasn’t earned. I will leave room for tax cuts.

Labour taxes more and delivers less, and plans higher taxes year after year. Conservatives will tax less, spend better and deliver more. That will be the choice at the next election.

We will cut taxes on business, so that they can compete and create prosperity and jobs.

We will reform Labour’s taxes on entrepreneurs and on inward investment.

We will encourage savings, to give people security and self-esteem.

We will help pensioners and hard-working families.

We will restore a married couple’s allowance.

We will cut the duty on fuel.

That gives you a flavour of my budgets!

We will keep an independent Bank of England. We will make it more independent of government and more accountable to Parliament.

We will establish a National Accounts Commission to show the world that under the Conservatives there will be no fiddled figures.

And we will have an independent committee of economists to give public advice to me on the proper level of surplus or deficit.

These measures will ensure honesty, transparency and prudence.

They will ensure stable economic policies. They will protect the value of the pound in your pocket.

And when I say the pound I mean the pound. For our economic policy will be based on Britain having its own currency and setting its own interest rates.

Gordon Brown wants to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer and he can’t tell you whether he wants to control his own currency or not.

Labour like to call us little Englanders. Is it likely a little Englander would be called Portillo? I am half Spanish, and proud of it. I am a true European, someone with a love of Europe’s different cultures.

As the Spanish proverb goes: Antes de que te cases, mira lo que haces. Before you get yourself hitched, watch what you’re doing. Look before you leap.

The euro plan fails to respect Europe’s differences. It shoe horns all the economies of Europe, with their different qualities and cycles and stages of development, into just one currency, and just one interest rate.

It threatens to take Europe back to boom and bust. The Irish now have high inflation. But there’s nothing they can do about it. When Ireland joined the euro it gave up the right to set its own interest rates.

In Germany the economy seems to be faltering. For Germany the single European interest rate is too high.

Not surprisingly, one interest rate for all of Europe is wrong for most places most of the time.

And here’s the rub. Supposing the people of Ireland want to vote against the policies that are driving up their prices? They can’t do it. Their elected government doesn’t make the policy. The critical political decisions about growth and jobs in Ireland are being taken by the European Central Bank.

And who votes for the European Central Bank? No one. It’s wholly unaccountable.

The most precious thing in Europe is democracy. Mr Blair hoped to bamboozle Britain into joining the euro. He hoped to scare us like children with tales of how frightening it would be to be left out. Denmark has shown that people cannot be fooled or bullied by arrogant politicians.

Mr Blair please take note.

At the election we will oppose the euro. British public opinion is suspicious of the euro as an unproven piece of political dogma. That is our view. That is the view of the moderate majority. We want to keep the pound.

And remember this. The euro is a bright idea recommended by the people who brought us the Dome!

Labour is leading Britain in the wrong direction. Compared with the United States we are under-performing. Labour is weighing us down with regulations and taxes. It’s making us uncompetitive. It’ll throw away our national goal of full employment.

Last week Tony Blair talked about Britain in his usual cool Britannia terms. In reality Labour lack confidence in Britain and seem ashamed of it. They are defeatist, thinking there’s no future for us unless we are more and more absorbed into Europe, less and less able to make choices for ourselves.

It’s amazing that the government of the world’s fourth largest economy should have given up the game.

Conservatives recognise the need for Britain to be globally competitive and produce global companies. If we commit ourselves to maintain control of our own currency and taxes, to be agile and open to change, to cut regulation and make our taxes competitive with the world, we can make Britain the outstanding enterprise centre in Europe.

We have a vision that fits our times.

William Hague has led this party out of dark days. I have never seen anyone face difficulty with such composure. He has real courage. The courage Britain needs in its next Prime Minister.

The quality of British life cannot be measured in material terms alone. I will not forget the experiences I had while out of parliament.

We will be the party of tax cuts, and welfare reform. Of social justice and full employment.

We will use the months ahead to be ready for government, to win the trust of the people that Labour has betrayed.

We are a party that believes in Britain, a party for all our people, a party that offers them aspiration and hope.

Tim Yeo – 2000 Conservative Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Yeo at the Conservative Party Conference on 4th October 2000.

This debate has shown which party is the true champion of the countryside.

It’s shown that Labour’s claim that it represents rural Britain is utterly bogus.

Last week John Prescott, the true voice of Labour, said supporters of the countryside had contorted faces.

I suppose life looks different through the windows of two Jags.

But John Prescott’ll soon find out that insults like that simply mean that rural Britain will make sure that after the next election he’ll be driving his own car and buying his own petrol.

Maybe by then he’ll be backing Michael Portillo’s tax cuts.

Let me introduce my team.

Our spokesmen in both Houses. Jim Paice, Malcolm Moss and Hazel Byford.

And our whips Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Arthur Luke.

Last year Tony Blair set out his vision of the countryside.

A giant theme park, a rural version of Labour’s Millennium Dome.

Where the past is forgotten, traditions mean nothing, and the future is bleak.

By contrast we believe in a living and working countryside.

A countryside for all the people.

For us the survival of farming is part of Believing in Britain.

Without farming the rural economy will decline.

Without farming our green and pleasant land will fall into decay.

We will never let that happen.

When I finish I want you all to come with me to our Country Fair, just outside the Conference Hall.

To demonstrate our support for the countryside.

Our belief in a sustainable agricultural industry.

Because sustainability is the key to the future.

As the world’s population grows, as living standards rise, how do we leave our children and grandchildren a better planet than the one we inherited?

How do we stop using resources selfishly for ourselves alone?

These are the questions we must answer.

The questions Labour is ignoring.

But before we can achieve our long-term vision short term problems must be tackled.

And as speakers have pointed out this morning these problems have not just been neglected by Labour.

They have been made worse by Labour.

When nice Nick Brown took over from Junket Jack Cunningham there was a sigh of relief.

Nice Mr Brown went round appearing to listen to farmers.

The trouble is that’s all he did.

At last week’s Labour conference he talked about shipbuilding.

About coal mining.

About the steel industry.

But he didn’t once mention dairy farmers, or pig farmers.

That’s why he isn’t fit to be Minster of Agriculture.

He’s not nice Nick any longer.

He’s Nasty Nick.

And if the Cabinet were in Big Brother.

Nasty Nick would be thrown out first.

Unless of course Chatshow Charlie Kennedy was one of the other contestants.

For him, and for the rest of Chatshow Charlie’s barmy army, the ones who were here in Bournemouth two weeks ago, politics is just another chatshow where the audience is bored with getting the same answer to every question.

Whatever the question, Charlie’s answer is a tax increase.

More tax on income.

More tax on petrol.

You name it, they’ll tax it.

But let’s give credit where it’s due.

The Lib Dems say they want to help the countryside.

And they’ve certainly thought up some new ideas.

Like getting rid of the Queen.

Like promoting gay marriages.

Like setting up an asteroid task force.

They’re really in touch.

So closely in touch their agriculture spokesman says, “overall it would be churlish to say [Nick Brown] hasn’t been pretty successful.”

The truth is Nick Brown has been disastrous.

Disastrous for dairy farmers whose income under Labour has fallen by 70 per cent.

Disastrous for cereal farmers whose income under Labour has fallen by 75 per cent.

Disastrous for pig farmers whose income under Labour has disappeared altogether.

Last year sixty people left farming every day.

Gordon Brown boasts of ending boom and bust.

But in the countryside he’s started bust and bust.

And all Nasty Nick offers is a sticking plaster for an industry that’s bleeding to death.

To make matters worse they’re strangling farmers and small businesses with red tape.

Burying them under a mountain of paperwork.

Forcing small abattoirs to close.

Applying regulations more toughly here than elsewhere.

Regulations like a Nitrates Directive which hardly any other country enforces.

An Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, which was never intended to apply to farming at all.

I give you this promise.

When William Hague is Prime Minister and I am Minister of Agriculture we won’t enforce European rules any faster than France, than Spain, not even than Italy.

And we’ll do our damnedest to stop any more needless regulation from being introduced in the first place.

But it isn’t only Nick Brown’s actions which damage farmers, consumers and the countryside.

It’s his inaction too.

Take beef exports.

Last year Labour claimed they’d ended the export ban.

Even though they hadn’t ended their own ban on beef on the bone.

France didn’t agree.

They illegally blocked the export of safe British beef.

In response Nick Brown did nothing.

As the crisis got worse he stopped speaking to his French counterpart.

At the Anglo French summit British beef wasn’t on the agenda or the menu.

Instead of confronting France Nick Brown sat cringing in Whitehall.

And today, fourteen months after Tony Blair boasted that the beef export ban was over, exports are less than one per cent of what they were.

Is that what Tony means when he says, “by playing by the rules it is possible to win in Europe”?

Sadly it isn’t only beef farmers Labour has betrayed.

Pig farmers have also been condemned – often to bankruptcy.

Pig farmers who rear their pigs more humanely than many farmers abroad; who pay for extra health measures because of BSE, a problem they did not cause.

Labour doesn’t care how much bacon or ham or pork is imported from countries with lower health and animal welfare standards.

Other farmers have suffered, too.

Dairy farmers like Graham Bigwood, the Somerset tenant farmer, who is with us today.

Two weeks ago I had a letter from Graham. He said:

“We have now reached the sad stage of talking to the Crown Commissioners about our future. We are a year behind on our rent and our debts are steadily rising.

“Yesterday I spoke to the Tenant Farmer’s Association who advised me to try and negotiate a package with the Crown to leave Binham Farm. For the last twenty five years I have worked for eighty plus hours a week in dairy and face financial ruin as a result of this crisis.”

In March Graham invited me to his farm where I helped milk his cows at five in the morning.

He invited Nick Brown, too.

But Nick didn’t go.

He didn’t want to talk about Tony Blair’s cave in last year on milk quotas or about how he smashed up Milk Marque.

And Labour’s damaged other farmers too.

Sheep farmers have been betrayed because Labour feeds the army South American mutton rather than good British lamb.

Arable farmers, like those in Tony Blair’s own constituency, who I’m visiting next month, have been betrayed by Labour’s refusal to claim agri-monetary compensation.

Hill farmers have been betrayed by Labour’s skewing of the rules to hurt the most vulnerable.

Horticulture farmers are burdened with Labour’s bogus Energy Tax, which we will repeal.

Fruit growers like one I visited in Kent who had to leave fields of fruit to rot because Labour won’t let him employ the people he needs to pick his crops.

You’d think Tony Blair wants to put Britain’s farmers out of business.

And if that’s the case Nasty Nick’s the right man for the job.

It’s a scandal that Britain’s rural communities are being destroyed.

And it’s a scandal that Labour is letting down consumers too.

In March when Parliament debated a Conservative Bill requiring labels to say where food comes from and how it’s produced, a Labour Minister deliberately talked it out.

Tony Blair is too scared of what Brussels might say if Britain stood up for honesty in food labelling even to let Parliament debate the subject.

So consumers continue to buy food labelled British even if the ingredients were grown abroad.

This is a fraud on consumers.

A fraud which Labour refuse to stop.

A fraud we will end.

A fraud made worse because Nick Brown’s too weak to stop sub-standard food entering Britain.

Like the poultry produced in the Far East using growth-promoting drugs banned in Europe on health grounds.

Last year the European Commission found some French livestock was fed on human sewage.

But when I demanded that British consumers should be protected Nick Brown did nothing.

Is there a single person in this hall who believes that if it had been British farmers feeding their animals human sewage, Labour would not have cracked down?

But when it’s a French farmer Nick Brown’s the farmer’s friend.

The Minister who lets British consumers eat sub-standard food – as long as it’s produced abroad.

The Minister who lets British farmers be destroyed by unfair competition.

But it isn’t only farmers and consumers that Labour is betraying.

It’s the environment, too.

Labour’s shambolic handling of GM crop trials threatens the integrity of organic and conventional farmers alike.

And they’re rushing ahead with commercial planting regardless of the effect on wildlife.

In July I launched our policy document “A Fair Deal for Farmers”.

At its heart is our belief that the job of farmers is producing high quality food for British consumers.

As well as looking after our rural environment.

“A Fair Deal for Farmers” is full of positive ideas.

Common sense ideas.

Deliverable ideas.

A retirement scheme for tenant farmers, like those Philip Cochrane and I met two weeks ago in Stafford, the seat Philip will represent in the next Parliament.

A common standard for organic food so consumers know that items labelled organic mean what they say wherever they come from.

Planning guidance to make it easier to reuse old farm buildings for new small businesses.

These policies will be introduced in the first months of the next Conservative government.

Along with lower fuel taxes so country people can afford to use their cars.

Honesty in labelling so mums and dads know what they’re giving the kids.

Less red tape so farmers can get on with what they’re good at instead of filling in forms in triplicate.

An end to substandard imports so we can trust all the food we eat.

So competition is free and fair instead of being loaded against British producers.

“A Fair Deal for Farmers” also sets out our commitment to sweeping reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which has failed consumers, failed taxpayers, failed farmers, and failed the environment.

Farm policy must move more towards the market.

But it must also reflect the unique nature of the industry and its impact on the environment.

If agriculture declines the fabric of our countryside is damaged, wildlife suffers, and the rural economy gets weaker.

So I’ve got a message for Tony Blair.

Instead of banning hunting he should be tackling the real issues.

Instead of raising fuel taxes he should be helping rural business.

Instead of building all over the green fields he should be protecting the environment.

Instead of shutting down the post offices he should be breathing life into villages.

Instead of stripping the countryside of policemen he should be tackling rural crime.

Instead of introducing the right to roam he should be defending private property.

But Labour have had their chance.

And they’ve squandered it.

And the last few weeks have shown voters know that too.

The seeds of Tony Blair’s downfall have been sown in rural communities up and down the land.

A winter crop which will yield a rich harvest.

A harvest of new Conservative MPs.

Who understand farming.

Who care for the countryside.

When the election comes rural Britain will deliver a damning verdict on Labour and its Liberal Democrat lackeys.

Because they’re fed up with all the broken promises.

Fed up with the arrogance and the lies and the spin.

Fed up with a Government that says it’s listening but goes on lecturing.

Fed up with Ministers who preach to us about the environment as they cruise in their chauffeur driven gas-guzzling limos.

Fed up with the highest fuel taxes in Europe, with queues at the pumps and buses that are cancelled.

Fed up with a Government that let’s terrorist murderers out of jail but wants to imprison people who go hunting.

Fed up with the billions wasted on spin-doctors salaries and Dome bail outs while pennies are denied to disabled people and pensioners.

Fed up with a Government that is soft on crime cuts the police force.

Fed up with a Government that says taxes are going down when we all know they are going up.

So whether it takes eighteen days, or eighteen weeks, or eighteen months.

With your help this Conservative Opposition is going to drive Tony and his cronies out of Downing Street and save Britain’s countryside before it’s too late.