Tony Blair – 2002 Speech at the LSE

tonyblair

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on the future of New Labour. The speech was made at the LSE on 12th March 2002.

Just under a decade ago a gathering like this would have been a wake; raking over the ashes of Labour’s fourth election defeat, with everyone asking, can we ever win? Is the left in Britain doomed? Is this the end of progressive politics?

Today the contrast is almost taken for granted. Labour has won an historic second term. As if we had been in power for decades. The Right is seen as divided and incapable.

We are emerging from a long period in which Tory values held sway; elitism; selfish individualism; the belief that there is no such thing as society and its international equivalent, insularity and isolationism, which led Britain to turn its back on Europe and the world.

I passionately, profoundly, reject these values. I reject elitism because I believe that our country will only ever fulfil its true potential when all of our people fulfil their potential. And there is such a thing as society. As communities and as an international community, we do best when we work in co-operation with others.

Our values – our belief in equality, in progress, our belief in the power of community to be a force for good, at home and abroad – these are the values that hold strong now.

But as Mario Cuomo once said: “you campaign in poetry: you govern in prose”. There is a danger in the day to day business of Government – keeping the economy on track, getting the details of health and education improvements sorted out, dealing with the innumerable practical obstacles – large and small – strewn across the path of progress – that we lose sight of the destination. The destination to me is clear: to build a Britain that is a modern, tolerant, outward-looking nation where power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few. Our basic analysis is that people are held back from fulfilling their true potential – by economic failure, poor education, poverty, prejudice, discrimination, class, inadequate access to top quality services. Our job is to liberate that potential; to remove those barriers. To make aspiration and achievement not the ambition of a privileged few but of all; where the limit to that achievement is merit, not birth, class, race or gender.

Britain under the Conservatives was a long way from that lofty ideal. And because we had failed to modernise ourselves, for a long time Labour lacked the credibility to be able to win power, or even had we won power, to deliver it.

Now two election victories later, people are asking: can we carry it through? Is there a core of beliefs that will sustain us? Will we be submerged by the slings and arrows of an outrageous opposition, furious we are in power at all, never mind in power for a full second term for the first time in our history.

The answer is to take stock. Lift our eyes from the immediate and hold high again the ideal we are striving for. And then return to work with renewed energy and determination.

And, of course, patience: change takes time. Yet consider: an economy that is stable, has weathered the downturn better than many, with the best economic record in Europe and the lowest unemployment in the Western world; the first clear signs of public service improvement, certainly in education and increasingly in health; the first concerted attack on social exclusion any Government has undertaken with increased participation rates at work, one million children out of poverty, Sure Start and other programmes giving deprived children at least a fighting chance; overall crime down and police numbers the highest ever; and Britain’s position and influence in the world incomparably higher than 5 years ago. In all sorts of small ways – from banning handguns, to the equal age of consent, to the trebling of women MPs and the first black Ministers and Muslim MPs – the country has a different feel to the harshness of the Thatcher years.

But yes, naturally, a huge amount remains to do. Too many people still wait an unacceptably long time in the NHS. The transport system is nowhere near what the world’s 4th largest economy needs. Street crime and social disintegration in parts of the inner city are a menace we must tackle quickly. There are still many people who could work but don’t. Still too much ignorance, too much wasted potential, too much inequality.

We accept these challenges remain. And the forward programme of the Government is designed to meet them; still driven by that same ideal, of a modern, fairer Britain, where opportunity is open to all.

What we have to do is to explain the journey we are undertaking by reference to that ideal, blow away the fog that is designed to cloud the sight of it and work ever harder to translate it into reality.

Today I call on those who share our beliefs to join us in the battles that lie ahead.

Join us in the battle to extend prosperity and full employment to all parts of the country based on a platform of economic stability.

Join us in the battle for the investment and reform necessary to build strong public services and encourage greater opportunity and equality.

Join us in the battle to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and poverty to build a society based on rights and responsibilities

Join us in the battle against the sceptics and phobes to get Britain back once again at the top table of Europe.

This is the progressive project for a second term, the next steps for the New Labour project, an ambitious programme for the Labour Party as it enters its second century.

First phase of new Labour: becoming a modern centre left party.

But to chart New Labour’s next steps we have to understand our first steps.

The collapse of the Labour Party and its electoral base, most painfully dramatised by the 1992 defeat, was only the most obvious sign of a broader shift in politics and society. Labour stuttered when confronted by the new world that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s: a more diverse, more fractured society; new industries and new attitudes to work and consumption; and an international order that was both more integrated and yet more unpredictable.

In 1956, Anthony Crosland had set out a new path in his “Future of Socialism”. He urged socialists to acknowledge the successes of post-war capitalism and to understand the consumer society and why it was advancing so fast including in Labour’s heartlands.

But in the 70s Labour seemed to forget Crosland’s revisionist message.

New Labour was in part a response to what had gone wrong. We strove to modernise social democracy, to become a party that brought together wealth creation as well as wealth distribution; enterprise as well as fairness.

So New Labour put levelling up, the aspirations of the majority, at the centre of its appeal.

And we changed our constitution to bring it up to date with the modern world.

New Labour’s second phase: laying the foundations

The first phase of New Labour was becoming a modern social democratic party fit for government. The second phase was to use our 1997 victory to put in place the foundations that would allow us to change the country in a way that lasts.

Labour governments of the past had tried to make progress without firm foundations, firm economic foundations in particular. Getting the foundations right is not time wasted. It is not the boring housework of Government. It is the structure within which we live.

That is why we transformed the framework for economic management.

– It matters whether prices in the supermarket are the same from one week to the next. It matters that today inflation is at its lowest level for 30 years.

– It matters whether interest rates let you pay the mortgage or threaten to lose you your home, and today, it matters that the average family is paying £1800 less on their mortgage compared to the early Nineties.

On welfare reform getting the first term foundations right meant tackling unemployment. The New Deal has helped halve unemployment which is now at its lowest for forty years. We introduced the Working Families Tax Credit and the Minimum Wage to make work pay.

On public services, let us be in no doubt what we inherited:

– Crime had doubled

– Waiting lists had risen by 400,000

– Hospital beds cut by 60,000

– Nearly half of all 11-year-olds were failing to reach the basic levels expected for their age in maths and English.

– Infant class sizes were far too high

– Police numbers falling

– Child poverty tripled

– Investment in rail and the tube stalled

– the railways subject to a botched privatisation, which had fragmented them completely.

In each area in the first term we laid the foundations for investment and reform.

– A strategy for improving numeracy and literacy in primary schools, with record primary school tests results.

– A ten year plan for the NHS including the first ever independent inspection, league tables, the creation of primary care trusts now coming to fruition to transform local services, more doctors and 31,000 more nurses since 1997.

– Crime and Disorder Partnerships in every Community. Police numbers rising. Our youth justice system overhauled. Burglary fell by 34% and car crime by 24%. The Auld Report on the criminal justice system was commissioned.

– A 10 year Transport Plan to treble public sector investment in rail and tube.

– devolution and House of Lords reform, a peace process begun in Northern Ireland.

We also set the foundations of a new foreign policy. Before the Amsterdam Summit in 1997 Britain was totally isolated, treated with something between exasperation and contempt. Today as we approach the summit at Barcelona, Britain has a highly influential position. We have a strong constructive relationship with our partners and we have led the way over Kosovo and more recently Afghanistan, and on debt and aid.

New Labour’s third phase: Driving through reform

Now is the third phase of New Labour. It is about driving forward reforms, building lasting change – and a better society – on the foundations so carefully laid.

– on the basis of economic stability a sustained improvement in productivity and enterprise, measures that will form a key part of next month’s Budget.

Overhauling the Criminal Justice System to support victims and witnesses and bring the most persistent offenders to justice; a thorough programme of police reform; and a reform of the asylum system.

– welfare reform that cuts even further the numbers of working age on benefit plus the integrated children’s credit, and the new pensions credit; and the merger of the employment and benefit service, a huge cultural change in Britain’s welfare system.

– completing House of Lords reform, bedding down devolution and making the peace process in Northern Ireland durable for the long term.

– Britain taking its rightful and leading place at the centre of Europe.

– implementing the plan for Africa, continuing to lead on aid and development and the Kyoto protocol on climate change as the basis for sustainable development in the world.

Alongside this, our core mission: to improve our public services.

In each service, there is a comprehensive, detailed plan for change and reform, broadly supported within the public services themselves.

Underlying the plans are the four principles of reform set out in our pamphlet last week: national standards, devolution, flexible staff, more choice – all aimed at redesigning high-quality public services around the consumer.

But without investment, reform will get you very little further – as the Tories found in the Eighties. There is no point designing new structures for the health service if you don’t tackle the fundamental problem of inadequate capacity – and fashion your reforms around the significant increase in capacity essential to build a modern, consumer-focused service. It is the same with schools and transport, and across our public services.

Under this Labour government there will be no blank cheques – but nor will we expect public services to run on empty.

So in next month’s Budget and the spending review in the summer, the country is faced with a fundamental choice. Either we continue investing. Or we cut back.

We aim to continue investing.

There is no question of putting money into some bottomless pit. Each pound spent will be accounted for.

But we can see already where the existing money has gone. The extra money on infant class sizes reduced them. The money spent on literacy and numeracy, together with the teachers’ dedication, delivered the results.

The schools with new buildings: tell them the money’s wasted.

The new surgical centres, the extra cancer and heart operations, the extra critical care beds, the extra nurses in wards: tell the patients using these facilities the money is all wasted.

Money is not enough. But money used to lever in change is what will work.

So these are our second term ambitions and broadly I believe the country supports them. But that is not enough.

Values that unite us

There is a clear road-map to our destination. But sometimes it can seem as if it were a mere technocratic exercise, well or less well managed, but with no overriding moral purpose to it.

What is vital now is to explain the “why” of the programme, to describe it not simply point by point but principle by principle. The reason for the changes we are making is not for their own sake but because they are the means to the fairer society, where aspirations and opportunity are open to all, which we believe in. The programme is not driven by administration but by values.

It means quality public services because they are social justice made real.

It means an economy with a new job if your old one goes.

It means stable mortgage rates.

It means giving the children of someone who did not go to university the hope they can go. Enough of this nonsense that more than half the population don’t have the brains to get there. When I was a student, 7% of school-leavers went to university. Today it’s 33% and rising. Yet we heard the same arguments back then. Are those extra 27% undeserving?

Opportunity means a young woman with a nursing diploma who is able to work her way up to become a consultant nurse or Director of Nursing or hospital Chief Executive.

It means a first rate vocational education system so people can get new and better skills.

It means children in deprived areas getting first-class schools, their parents helped, their environment improved.

It means your health care shouldn’t depend on the size of your wallet.

It means your security shouldn’t depend on the neighbourhood you can afford to live in.

It means that decent hard-working people who play by the rules don’t see others who refuse to, gain by it.

That is the other part.

We believe in responsibility going with the opportunity. That is the reason for measures to curb anti-social behaviour; to ensure if people have the ability to work, they don’t remain dependent on benefit; that employers treat their employees fairly; that we don’t allow poverty pay; that increasingly the polluter should pay for polluting the environment.

It is why we are making a priority of discipline in the classroom. Because without learning discipline and respect, children will not only fail to learn at school but leave school unfit to be decent citizens.

So it’s about the two together – opportunity and responsibility. And its about using our collective power, in our local communities, in society, and through Government, to enable people to help themselves.

At the root of it all is a simple belief in fairness. It isn’t fair that people are held back or live in poverty. We want to change it. Amidst all the day to day pressures, that is our ideal. That is what we hold aloft. Sure, it’s hard to see it from time to time. But it’s there and it will see us through.

My final point is this. It’s important to understand why people can sometimes find the ideals obscured. It’s not just that Governments get embroiled in events and controversies, though they do, and whilst they dominate the news, the people think: what are they concentrating on this for, when, of course, it’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do.

It is also that for some, even in our own ranks, the idea of New Labour remains controversial or unclear. Even now, a large part of the political discourse in Britain assumes that the “true” Labour Party is one that puts trade unions before business; is indifferent to financial discipline; addicted to tax and spend; weak on issues of crime; irresponsible over state benefits for the unemployed or socially excluded; backs the producer interest in public services; and, give or take the odd exception, weak in defence and foreign policy. Since this Government is plainly none of those things, ergo: we are not real Labour and are “unprincipled”.

This, of course suits immensely the right-wing in politics. They love the “true” Labour Party. These positions made it unelectable. But it also suits some on the left. They see the Labour Party as a pressure group. We campaign against those with the power. We fight for these positions, rejoice in our “principles”, are given the odd crumb from the governing table and avoid the harsh realities of taking any hard decisions.

After 18 years of Conservative government we changed all this. I am not so naïve as to deny some changed to win. Banging your head on a brick wall, hurts. At some point, if you want to stop hurting, you devise the brilliant solution of ceasing to bang your head on the wall.

But changing those positions to win, was never the right reason for changing them; nor can it sustain us over the long term. The right reason for change was a principled one. Those positions, hallowed by the Party over many years, were a tangled and mistaken view of the Party’s true raison d’etre and values; positions that were the product of the circumstances of our birth, of 20th century politics and ideology and of the post-war settlement.

The values of the Labour Party are the values of progressive politics throughout the ages. The same values as those of the great Liberal reformers of the 19th Century and early 20th Century, as well as those of the Labour heroes of 1945: the belief in social justice, opportunity for all, liberty; the belief that the individual does best in a strong community and society of others.

The essence of New Labour is to strip away all the outdated dogma and doctrine, the “hallowed positions” and return to those first principles, to those values. Then we ask: if these are our values, what is their proper translation into practice for today’s world? And that is the question each generation of Labour members should ask, and answer in a different way.

New Labour answered it in this way: that if we want strong economic growth to increase the prosperity of ordinary families, we need low inflation and low interest rates and that requires financial discipline. If we want enterprise to flourish in the post industrial economy, to give our people jobs, we need to support and work with business; and levels of tax that don’t discourage the entrepreneur.

If we want to protect the poor and vulnerable against attack and crime, we have to make sure that the criminal is brought to justice. If we want to stop the working age poor being poor, we need to help them to work, not give them more benefit, which would never provide them with a decent enough income. If we want to rebuild our public services, we need to make them work for the consumer of those services, because they are the very people dependent on them for opportunity and help.

If we want to shape the world around us, outside Britain, we must have the alliances and where necessary, the armed forces, to allow us to do so.

And, yes, we are financially disciplined, but one of the ways we got there was by cutting massively the bills of unemployment through the New Deal. Yes we work with business, but we also introduced the minimum wage. Yes we are reforming our public services, but we are also the only major country in the world today increasing health and education spending as a percentage of national income. Yes we are tough on crime but have also lifted one million children out of poverty, cut pensioner poverty and have huge inner-city regeneration programmes underway.

Yes, we are prepared to take military action where necessary, but are also leading the way on debt relief, and international development, especially in Africa.

Hence the confusion I talked of earlier. We don’t fit the mould. Good. We never intended to.

Why don’t we just conform? Because we shouldn’t. The modern Labour Party is here to stay because it is based on values and principle; and is the right way forward for us and the country.

So we should have confidence, hold firm to our course and above all, hold true to the basis of New Labour. We are changing the basis of British politics. Progressive values are in the ascendant because, in the end, they are also the values of the British people and only needed to be applied in a modern way, to be popular.

Look how our opponents are coming on to our agenda.

What a reversal in these last 10 years to see the Tories now falling over themselves to agree with our economic policy hoping some of our economic competence rubs off on them, travelling around Europe to look at public services but dodging the real test of whether they support our extra investment. As someone said success in politics is not changing your own party; it is changing the opposition.

The Lib Dems don’t know whether to oppose us on reform, for opportunism sake because they know change can be unpopular; or scuttle to our right as a pale imitation of the Tories calling for tax cuts.

The centre of gravity of British politics is moving in our direction. A new post Thatcherite progressive consensus is being born and it is one we should be proud of.

A consensus that a dynamic economy and a fairer society where we realise the potential of all go together; a consensus that our public services have been under-invested in for two decades and now need sustained investment, but that investment will only work if coupled with reform.

Understanding this and not being frightened by it is a vital part of us retaining our ability to change Britain.

So help us get there. We need your energy, your ideas, your commitment. We can’t do it alone. The dialogue and partnership we offer you is an indispensable part of our being successful.

Remember ten years ago: we were on our knees, out of office and out of hope. Now look forward ten years and imagine what could be possible. A society that is fairer, more tolerant of people’s differences, with prosperity shared, quality public services more social mobility and less poverty. And imagine too what we could achieve pulling together if we show our determination, stick to the values we believe are right, stick to our plans and see them through.

A Britain that is modern, fair and strong.

Tony Blair – 2002 Speech to TUC Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to the TUC Conference in Blackpool on 10th September 2002.

Tomorrow, September 11, is the anniversary of the worst terrorist act in history. Let us today, once again, remember and mourn the dead. Let us give thanks to the fire fighters, the police, the ambulance and medical services, the ordinary citizens of New York. Their courage was the best answer to the terrorists’ cruelty. Terrorists can kill and maim the innocent, but they have not won and they never will.

We should never forget the role played by trade unions in the struggle for justice. Today we welcome Wellington Chibebe of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Your opposition to the regime of Mugabe is the ultimate riposte to his fraudulent nonsense about fighting colonialism. People here, including myself, fought the detestable apartheid system of South Africa and we know the difference between the cause of freedom and a leader abusing that cause to conceal incompetence and corruption on a catastrophic scale.

We welcome, too, the Colombian CUT’s Hector Fajardo. Your nation is fighting the ugly scourge of narco-terrorism, in which the drugs trade and terror destroy the life chances of a country. You have our solidarity in that struggle.

Thank you also to the trade unions of Northern Ireland – who, throughout the worst and even at the best, are symbols of the non-sectarian future that Northern Ireland needs.

Around the rest of world too, trade unions are at the forefront of campaigns to end child labour, to remove discrimination, to bring democracy in place of dictatorship.

On September 11 last year, with the world still reeling from the shock of events, it came together to demand action. But suppose I had come last year on the same day as this year – 10 September. Suppose I had said to you: there is a terrorist network called Al Qaida. It operates out of Afghanistan. It has carried out several attacks and we believe it is planning more. It has been condemned by the UN in the strongest terms. Unless it is stopped, the threat will grow. And so I want to take action to prevent that.

Your response and probably that of most people would have been very similar to the response of some of you yesterday on Iraq.

There would have been few takers for dealing with it and probably none for taking military action of any description.

So let me tell you why I say Saddam Hussein is a threat that has to be dealt with.

He has twice before started wars of aggression. Over one million people died in them. When the weapons inspectors were evicted from Iraq in 1998 there were still enough chemical and biological weapons remaining to devastate the entire Gulf region.

I sometimes think that there is a kind of word fatigue about chemical and biological weapons. We’re not talking about some mild variants of everyday chemicals, but anthrax, sarin and mustard gas – weapons that can cause hurt and agony on a mass scale beyond the comprehension of most decent people.

Uniquely Saddam has used these weapons against his own people, the Iraqi kurds. Scores of towns and villages were attacked. Iraqi military officials dressed in full protection gear were used to witness the attacks and visited later to assess the damage. Wounded civilians were normally shot on the scene. In one attack alone, on the city of Halabja, it is estimated that 5,000 were murdered and 9,000 wounded in this way. All in all in the North around 100,000 kurds died, according to Amnesty International. In the destruction of the marshlands in Southern Iraq, around 200,000 people were forcibly removed. Many died.

Saddam has a nuclear weapons programme too, denied for years, that was only disrupted after inspectors went in to disrupt it. He is in breach of 23 outstanding UN obligations requiring him to admit inspectors and to disarm.

People say: but containment has worked. Only up to a point. In truth, sanctions are eroding. He now gets around $3 billion through illicit trading every year. It is unaccounted for, but almost certainly used for his weapons programmes.

Every day this year and for years, British and American pilots risk their lives to police the No Fly Zones. But it can’t go on forever. For years when the weapons inspectors were in Iraq, Saddam lied, concealed, obstructed and harassed them. For the last four years there have been no inspections, no monitoring, despite constant pleas and months of negotiating with the UN. In July, Kofi Annan ended his personal involvement in talks because of Iraqi intransigence.

Meanwhile Iraq’s people are oppressed and kept in poverty. With the Taliban gone, Saddam is unrivalled as the world’s worst regime: brutal, dictatorial, with a wretched human rights record.

Given that history, I say to you: to allow him to use the weapons he has or get the weapons he wants, would be an act of gross irresponsibility and we should not countenance it.

Up to this point, I believe many here in this hall would agree. The question is: how to proceed? I totally understand the concerns of people about precipitate military action. Military action should only ever be a last resort. On the four major occasions that I have authorised it as Prime Minister, it has been when no other option remained.

I believe it is right to deal with Saddam through the United Nations. After all, it is the will of the UN he is flouting. He, not me or George Bush, is in breach of UN Resolutions. If the challenge to us is to work with the UN, we will respond to it.

But if we do so, then the challenge to all in the UN is this: the UN must be the way to resolve the threat from Saddam not avoid it.

Let it be clear that he must be disarmed. Let it be clear that there can be no more conditions, no more games, no more prevaricating, no more undermining of the UN’s authority.

And let it be clear that should the will of the UN be ignored, action will follow. Diplomacy is vital. But when dealing with dictators – and none in the world is worse than Saddam – diplomacy has to be backed by the certain knowledge in the dictator’s mind that behind the diplomacy is the possibility of force being used.

Because I say to you in all earnestness: if we do not deal with the threat from this international outlaw and his barbaric regime, it may not erupt and engulf us this month or next; perhaps not even this year or the next. But it will at some point. And I do not want it on my conscience that we knew the threat, saw it coming and did nothing.

I know this is not what some people want to hear. But I ask you only this: to listen to the case I will be developing over the coming weeks and reflect on it.

And before there is any question of taking military action, I can categorically assure you that Parliament will be consulted and will have the fullest opportunity to debate the matter and express its view.

On Kosovo, on Afghanistan, we did not rush. We acted in a sensible, measured way, when all other avenues were exhausted and with the fullest possible debate. We will do so again.

But Saddam is not the only issue. We must restart the Middle East Peace Process. We must work with all concerned, including the US, for a lasting peace which ends the suffering of both the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and the Israelis at the hands of terrorists. It must be based on the twin principles of an Israel safe and secure within its borders, and a viable Palestinian state.

This must go alongside renewed efforts on international terrorism. That threat has not gone away. I cannot emphasise this too strongly.

Put it alongside India and Pakistan, climate change and world poverty, and it is a daunting international agenda. But the most difficult thing is to persuade people that all issues are part of the same agenda. A foreign journalist said to me the other day: ‘I don’t understand it Mr Blair. You’re very Left on Africa and Kyoto. But you’re very Right on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. It doesn’t make sense.’

But it does. The key characteristic of today’s world is interdependence. Your problem becomes my problem. They have to be tackled collectively. All these problems threaten the ability of the world to make progress in an orderly and stable way. Climate change threatens our environment. Africa, if left to decline, will become a breeding ground for extremism. Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction combine modern technology with political or religious fanaticism. If unchecked they will, as September 11 showed, explode into disorder and chaos.

Internationalism is no longer a utopian cry of the Left; it is practical statesmanship.

That is one reason why Britain turning its back on Europe would be an error of vast proportions. Be under no doubt: if the economic tests are met, Britain should join the single currency. For Britain to be marginalised in Europe when soon the EU will have 25 members stretching from Portugal to Poland and the largest commercial market in the world, would not just be economically unwise. It would betray a total misunderstanding of the concept of national interest in the 21st century.

Solidarity is at the core of the being of trade unionism. I want to work with you in confronting the challenges abroad and the challenges at home. Again they are linked. The greatest challenge of our age is globalisation. Tremors in one financial market cause the ground to move round the world. Capital is footloose, fancy-free but also intensely vulnerable to changes in consumer fashion. Industries spring up and fall back. Some corporations, in their desperation to satisfy investors, bend or break the rules, collapsing confidence across the globe.

Meanwhile employees often feel powerless, victims not beneficiaries of globalisation. To add to it all, people live longer and retire earlier, bringing a real strain on pension provision, short and long-term.

This challenge needs a strong and vibrant trade union movement, standing up for its members in a coherent and intelligent way.

It needs the trade union movement to work with employers and Government, mapping out a strategy for the future.

What is it? First and foremost it’s jobs.

Since 1997, we have one and a half million more jobs. More people are in work than ever before. Thanks to the New Deal, over 750,000 have benefited and now long-term youth unemployment stands at just 5,300, the lowest total for 30 years.

We are modernising the whole welfare state, bringing benefits and employment support together in Job Centre Plus, offering the unemployed a deal: we will help you, with money and skills and a job offer; you use that to help yourself.

As a result our unemployment levels are below those not just of France and Germany but of Japan and the US.

The trade unions have been instrumental in the New Deal. That is partnership in action. And don’t let anyone say a Conservative Government – who put unemployment above three million – would ever have shown that commitment to the unemployed.

Second, it’s not just jobs but skills. Since the launch in 2001 of Skills for Life we have helped over 156,000 people achieve basic skills qualifications. And we are on course to meet our 2007 target to help 1.5 million adults do so. Over half a million people have gained new skills for the workplace through Learn Direct, our e-learning network, with trade unions at its heart.

Meanwhile there are over 200,000 young people on modern apprenticeships this year – compared to little more than a tenth of that in 1996. Just this morning at the BAE training centre in Preston, I saw the modern apprenticeships scheme in action, all supported by trade unions.

In the North East, the GMB has pioneered a cross-company skills and workforce strategy for shipbuilding, removing old enmities, dismantling outdated practices, creating new opportunities. The result? An industry people thought was dying on the Tyne, now being re-born.

Third, we need modern manufacturing. We understand the worry about currency instability, which is one of the main reasons why, in principle, we favour joining the single currency.

We understand the need to invest in science, skills and technology, and we are doing so – to the tune of £1.25 billion extra in science alone over the next three years.

The new working group established by Patricia at the DTI, which has trade unions represented on it, will allow us to develop policy together to shape our response to the challenges facing manufacturing, which are common not just in Britain but throughout the world. And this is why we must also continue to press internationally – in Europe to end the wasteful abuse of the Common Agricultural Policy, and with the US to persuade them to reverse their decision on steel tariffs.

And modern workplace partnerships also demand modern employment laws. I am proud we have given union learning reps proper recognition in law – something the TUC long campaigned for. We need fair rights at work, not to revive industrial conflict but to make sure that we do not only have more jobs, but jobs of quality.

I am proud that we brought in the National Minimum Wage, putting money in the pockets of 1.5 million workers – something you campaigned on for years.

We introduced the Working Families Tax Credit – helping to make work pay for 1.3 million families.

Everyone is now entitled to four weeks’ paid holiday. No-one now has to work more than 48 hours a week. There is better protection against unfair dismissal, there is longer statutory maternity leave, and for the first time, paid paternity leave too. We have made sure part-time workers get a better deal.

And there is a statutory right to union recognition where a majority vote for it.

Funding to promote social partnership is now well-established and government support for partnership and the TUC Partnership Institute will continue.

We are reviewing the operation of the 1999 Employment Act to ensure that it is working effectively. We are also considering the best way to implement European provisions on informing and consulting employees, and we look forward to working with the TUC on this.

We are addressing the issue of the two-tier workforce. We are introducing new rules so that new recruits enjoy broadly comparable pay and conditions as other local government employees transferred to the private sector. And that includes, for the first time, a right to a proper pension.

We have also ensured that the vast majority of staff involved in hospital PFI schemes are able to stay on NHS terms and conditions of service. I understand you want us to do more. But when some people say there is no difference between a Labour or Conservative government, I say no Conservative government would ever have introduced a minimum wage or statutory union recognition and both you and I know it.

And in the face of globalisation we need public services of quality too. To achieve their potential, young people need first-class educational opportunity. To work effectively, employees need quality healthcare. To make business efficient, we need a good transport infrastructure.

And across all the public services, we require staff to be motivated, skilled and well resourced.

I always said this was a 10-year challenge and it is. But let’s be clear. Real progress has been made. This year, next year, the year after, the year after that we will be increasing health and education spending as a percentage of GDP faster than any other government in the world. Tell that to those who say a Labour Government makes no difference.

Funding per pupil will have increased between 1997/98 and 2003/04 by over £1,000 in real terms – and it will go on rising, with a further real terms increase in education spending of six per cent up to 2005/06.

At the end of 1997, half a million infants were taught in classes of more than 30 children. Now hardly any child under age 7 has to suffer that.

In 1997 the numbers of nurses in training, teachers in training, police in training were all being cut.

In 2002, we have over 29,000 teachers in training and we have increased the number of training places to 32,000. And there are 20,000 more in post than in 1997. There are 38,000 more nurses at work in our hospitals. And police numbers are at record levels, having increased by 4,500 in the last two years alone.

And it is not only the inputs that have changed. School results, not just for primary schools but also secondary schools, are way up. For instance, under 60 per cent reached the expected standard in maths in 1997, compared with over 70 per cent last year. In 1998, well under half of secondary students were getting more than 5 good GCSEs. This year, we hope results will show that more than half of them are doing so.

On every measure – inpatients or outpatients – waiting lists are shorter now than in 1997. There used to be over 70,000 on the outpatient waiting list for more than 6 months. Now it is down to just over 1,000.

The average waiting list time for an operation is now 4.2 months, and 70 per cent of patients are treated inside 3 months.

So don’t fall for this nonsense about the NHS being a third world health service. I saw a third world service in Mozambique two weeks ago, despite the heroic efforts of its doctors and nurses. To describe the NHS as like that is not just a gross distortion of the truth, it is an insult to the brilliant and dedicated NHS staff who give such good care to people.

Remember: of course in a service that treats 1 million people every 36 hours, there will be mistakes – there are in every healthcare system. But those who use those exceptions to denounce the NHS do so not to improve it but to dismantle it.

But money is not all the services need. They need change and reform. New ways of working. New ways of delivering services. New partnerships between public, private and voluntary sectors, and between managers and unions. More choice for the consumer of those services.

On these issues, I offer again a partnership on this basis. No prejudices. No pre-conceptions. On either side. One test only: what is good for the service and the user of the service. We will listen to you on genuine concerns about workforce conditions. I ask you to listen to us on the need for reform.

Because be in no doubt: if we do not join together and reform our public services, the result will not just be unreformed services. The result will be public dissatisfaction and eventually a Tory government who will return to their unfinished business: the break-up of public services. We both have a responsibility never to allow that to happen.

Finally, our partnership must also tackle the issue of pensions. We have already helped the poorest pensioners, and have announced significant rises this year in the basic state pension. We are reforming SERPS. We have introduced stakeholder pensions and Pension Credit. Later this year, we will publish a Green Paper outlining the future for pensions.

But these issues are really tough. There is real concern at employers opting out of final salary schemes and then cutting their contributions; real anxiety amongst older employees; real confusion amongst younger ones as to the best way to provide for the future.

So I have asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to bring together both the CBI and the TUC to address these issues to inform the Green Paper. We need your input and welcome it.

This is a big agenda for us both: jobs, manufacturing, public services, pensions.

On all these issues we should work together to make globalisation work for the people we represent.

In the last five or six years the trade union movement has come a long way. Last year saw nearly 500 recognition deals – nearly three times the number in the previous year – all made possible by our legislation and your hard work.

Unions are consulted and listened to. My door is open to any union leader. There is no obligation, of course.

But it’s sensible to remember how very different things were just a few years ago. You suffered 18 years of Conservative Government in which union leaders couldn’t get to discuss anything with the Prime Minister. 18 years of being kicked from pillar to post. 18 years of being ignored, derided and attacked as the ‘enemy within’, years of falling membership and zero influence. 18 years in which Government never offered a partnership and employers were encouraged to decline one.

The trade union movement, however, didn’t give up. You re-grouped – not least through the leadership of John Monks. You re-made your reputation with the public, you worked hard to get a government in place that did believe in social partnership.

It would be ironic if, just at the moment when trade unions are achieving such a partnership, some of you might decide to turn your back on it.

It happened before: in 1948, in 1969, in 1979. The result then was the folding of the Labour Government and the return of a Tory Government. Not this time. It will just be less influence with the same Labour Government.

Don’t misunderstand the situation. The media will love the talk of going back to flying pickets, industrial militancy, unions attacking a Labour Government, the BBC re-running all that old footage of the winter of discontent. Believe me, anyone who indulges in it will get a lot of air time.

By contrast, I can honestly say I must have done scores of initiatives on skills and training and never got a blind bit of publicity for any of them. And even pensions only hit the news when there’s a scandal.

Partnership doesn’t make headlines. But the vast majority of trade union leaders and members know that it does far more good than a lot of self-indulgent rhetoric from a few that belongs in the history books.

Indulgence or influence. It’s a very simple choice.

Of course there will be hard issues in this partnership. There are low-paid workers who deserve more, yet we know we have to be careful we don’t just swallow up all the extra public service spending on pay. There are genuine issues around the desire for employees to have better protection and the need to keep the flexibility of our labour markets. And it is in the nature of governments never to be able to satisfy all the demands made on them.

But we also know that a Labour Government making steady progress is infinitely better than a Conservative one taking us backwards. We know it from our experience. We know it from the rest of Europe, where governments of the Left which desert the centre ground, or where the Left has split its vote, have gone. New Labour was the route to victory. It remains the only proven path to continue it. And it’s successful because it’s right.

Your partnership was vital in that victory. Let us keep it, build on it and make it a new political consensus in Britain. That would be an achievement of which we could both be proud.

Tony Blair – Speech to the Parliament of Ghana

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Below is the text of the speech made by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on February 2nd 2002.

It is a pleasure to be here in Ghana today – part of a four-day visit I am making to West Africa, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal. I am accompanied by Clare Short, who will be well known to many of you as the UK’s International Development Secretary.

Yesterday, I spoke to the Nigerian Assembly and today it is my pleasure and privilege to have the opportunity of speaking to your Parliament. Right across the African continent, countries are emerging from military rule and dictatorship. You are rightly proud of your own democratic institutions, including the elections that took place just over a year ago which saw a peaceful change of government. The strength and vitality of this assembly is proof of the strength and health of your young democracy.

The theme of my visit this week is partnership – the necessity and the possibility of a greatly strengthened partnership between reforming African governments and the world’s richer countries. A partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest. A partnership in which both sides commit to the policy reforms required for Africa to secure poverty reduction and development. I believe that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) creates an unprecedented opportunity for progress.

It is clear that Africans themselves must drive the process of reform. If we have learned anything in development over the last decade it is that development strategies imposed from the outside, in the absence of local leadership and commitment, will fail.

But you and I also know that poor countries need support if they are to promote development and consolidate their democratic institutions. Today, I want to focus on this – on our responsibilities to you. The efforts we can make to support your efforts.

There are three dimensions to this.

First, we need to be clear about the purpose of our development co-operation.

There are too many mixed motives in aid and development. Indeed one of the reasons that many people in the West are cynical about aid and development is because a lot of aid has been misused over the years, feeding the elites and corrupt rulers like Mobutu, rather then helping the poor in developing countries.

We need a very different approach. At the UN Millennium Assembly the governments of the world have endorsed a set of Millennium Development Targets. These include halving the proportion of the world’s population living in poverty, universal primary education, a reduction by two-thirds in child mortality, and a cut of three-quarters in maternal mortality – all to be achieved by 2015.

These are the world’s agreed development goals. While there has been progress in recent years, the efforts of the international community are still falling well short of their potential. Too much of global aid is still used to sweeten commercial contracts or tied to the purchase of goods from the donor country. If we are going to make faster progress in development, we need to strengthen the international focus on achieving the Millennium development goals.

Second – if we are to achieve this progress – we need a fundamental conceptual shift in our approach to aid. Not aid as a hand-out but aid as a hand-up, to help people to help themselves. Not aid to create dependence but to create sustainable independence, so that the relationship between the developed and the developing world is not one of donor and passive recipient but one of equal partners in building prosperity for all. This is aid as investment in our collective economic and political security.

Over the years, a great deal of aid has sapped rather than strengthened the capacity of the government locally. This is the very opposite of what is needed. We need investment to help countries put in place more effective states, capable of generating higher levels of economic growth, creating the resources to fund better health, education and public services. In many developing countries institutions are weak, including systems of financial management, increasing the risk of corruption. Our new approach to partnership in development is to provide technical assistance and financial resources to enable you to build capable states.

This is why NEPAD is such an important initiative. It is a real chance – the best chance in a generation – to do development differently, and more effectively. You will understand that there is often concern amongst the publics of developed countries about the way in which development resources are used. This is not a lack of compassion. There is huge compassion and a willingness to tackle poverty and injustice across the world. But there is often scepticism that resources really get to those who need them.

The reforms that NEPAD is making, and that you are making, respond to this concern. It will ensure that our development efforts are more effective. It will also help us to gain support for development across the world.

The UK and other progressive development agencies are now increasingly allocating their aid resources in line with this new approach. As you know, this is also very much the thinking behind the new Poverty Reduction Strategy process, linked to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC). Of the 24 countries that have qualified for HIPC debt relief, 20 are African, freeing up $1.2 billion this year to spend on health, education and other services. I am pleased that Ghana has opted for HIPC, and I hope that within the next month you will have reached Decision Point, and begin to get the benefits of debt relief.

The UK has a £60 million development programme with Ghana. We are working with your Government on health and education, water, roads and bridges, and governance reform. I believe that on health in particular you are at the cutting edge of the new approach to development – with the UK and other donors pooling their resources in support of your own nationally-agreed health strategy. I hope that before too long, the whole of the donor community can go a step further – allocating all of their development resources in support of your Poverty Reduction Strategy. The UK is already doing this in Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. And I believe this approach is the way forward for development as a whole.

Third – and this is critical – we need to recognise that the modern development agenda goes far wider than resource transfers, to embrace issues of trade and investment, conflict, governance and the environment. We need to look at all our policies in these areas to see what reforms are necessary to better assist the poorest countries in their development. Let me say something about two of these issues – trade and conflict.

On trade, I know that Ghana has a particular interest in securing improved trading opportunities.

Developed countries retain significant barriers to trade, particularly in agriculture. Access to EU agricultural markets is still restricted by the Common Agricultural Policy, including tariffs and seasonal levies. And although the market is open to tropical African agriculture and commodities, such as coffee and cocoa, tariffs of up to 300 per cent exist on some products. As I said in my speech in Nigeria yesterday, developed countries must practice what they preach, and cut these trade barriers.

My other priority is conflict, a subject we have been discussing this morning We have published a paper today, setting out some proposals for the G8. Over the years, Ghana has played a crucial role in UN peacekeeping, including in Sierra Leone, and you have been an important stabilising force in the region. And of course in Kofi Annan you have an outstanding representative of your country leading the reform agenda in the UN, including its role in conflict prevention and resolution.

I believe that the developed countries, particularly the G8, need to do more. Yesterday, I announced the establishment of a special envoy for Sudan. We need similar energy and commitment to drive forward on the Lusaka peace process in the DRC. And we need to provide practical support for Africans to tackle conflict on the continent.

This is a big agenda. I believe that it has never been more timely or necessary to forge such a partnership. The NEPAD process creates real potential on your side. On our side, through the G8 and in the wider international community there is a willingness and determination to work with you in new ways.

Real advance is possible. Let’s agree today to work together to make it happen.

Tony Blair – 2002 Speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry

tonyblair

Below is the text of a speech made by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to the Confederation of Indian Industry in Bangalore, India, on Saturday 5th January 2002.

I’m glad to see today such an impressive turnout of both British and Indian companies and so many representatives of key Indian business organisations at this Indo-British Partnership Summit.

I pay especial tribute to both Narayana Murthy and David Jefferies, Co-Chairmen of the Partnership which has proved such a success over the last nine years.

But the partnership between our nations goes much further than that. It has strong roots in a long shared history. You can see that history every day on the streets of both modern India and modern Britain.

Today, as well as our business and trade links, we are joining together in the fight against terrorism. I want to express our total solidarity with you in the face of recent terrorist outrages in India.

There can be no room in any civilised society for organisations such as Lashkar e Toiba and Jaish Mohammed – groups banned by the British government some time ago. The appalling attacks on India’s Parliament of 13 December and on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on 1 October demonstrate more clearly than ever the threat such fanatics pose not just to your democracy, but to all democracies – and to civilised values in the whole world.

Of course, people are entitled to pursue their political views by legitimate means. But the indiscriminate and deliberate murder of civilians to cause chaos and mutilation defiles any political cause. The 11 September attacks in America have changed attitudes towards terrorism. The action against the Al Qa’ida network in Afghanistan has shown international determination. Al Qa’ida failed in their effort to break the West and its economies. They are now themselves broken in Afghanistan.

I am very proud of the role that Britain has played since September 11. Diplomatically, in the UN, and in the alliances we have built to good effect as we have sought to maintain and strengthen the international case against terrorism. On the humanitarian front, where our own Department for International Development has a deservedly high reputation, and where Governments and aid agencies have frankly exceeded all expectations in the help they have managed to get to those who need it most inside Afghanistan. And of course militarily, where Britain has played its part both in offensive operations against the Taliban and the Al Qa’ida network, and where we now lead the International Security Assistance Force helping the new interim administration in Kabul.

I am proud of our role not just because it is the right thing to do, and because we have been able to make a contribution, but also because in today’s globally inter-dependent world, foreign policy and domestic policy are part of the same thing. Dealing with international terrorism abroad is not just right in itself. It is vital to our economy, our jobs, our stability and security.

KASHMIR

Of course, there is much focus at the moment on the issue of Kashmir and the acts of terrorism connected with it. This will feature heavily in my discussions over the coming days here and in Pakistan. But one thing is clear. Only politics not terror can solve issues like this. And the starting point of any dialogue must be the total and absolute rejection of actions such as those of 1 October and 13 December. I view an attack on your Parliament with every bit as much outrage as I would an attack on the Parliament in which I sit. It was an attack on democracy itself. Terrorism is terrorism wherever it occurs, whoever are its victims.

BRITAIN AND INDIA – WORKING TOGETHER

Today, inevitably, I speak against the background of September 11 and the tension here in this sub-continent. But I want to set even these events in a wider context: how Britain and India work together, with others, to confront terrorism; but also how we build support for the policies and values that promote peace and justice and mitigate against extremism and terror, in all nations everywhere.

For terrorism is not new. Fanaticism is not new. What is new is the combination of terrorism, fanaticism and the technological capability to wreak vast and inhumane devastation, whether by acts of terror, weapons of mass destruction, or other means. And even without either the terrorist or the fanatic, the challenges we face of environmental degradation, poverty and the uneven spread of globalisation are more than enough to occupy us.

The dangers are clear. Sometimes the opportunities are less so. Yet the possibilities of technological and scientific advance, particularly now in the new field of genetics, are immense. And the world has recovered from its 20th century infatuation with fundamentalist political ideology, though religious fundamentalism remains a potent threat.

For most politicians, ready to listen and learn from an analysis of the developments of the last few years, the basic rules of what works and what doesn’t, what advances a nation and what holds it back, are increasing plain.

In any country I visit, from the mighty USA to still impoverished Bangladesh, the basic rules are there to be followed. It’s not always easy to follow them, of course; but it is relatively easy to discern them. Let me set them out; and then let us see how Britain and India can work jointly to help achieve them.

AN OPEN ECONOMY

First, any successful economy needs to conform to certain basics. It should be an open economy, willing to let capital and goods move freely. It needs financial and monetary discipline – the markets and investors swiftly punish the profligate. It needs to encourage business and enterprise – to create an enabling climate for entrepreneurs. A few years ago, people might have stopped there. But now we can add confidently: the successful economy also must invest heavily in human capital, technology and infrastructure. Education is a top economic as well as social priority. High levels of unemployment and social exclusion do not just disfigure society, they waste the national resource of human talent. That is why both Britain and India place such emphasis on it today, backed by businesses that know that without the skills, the economy cannot progress. This is the role of the enabling state. These rules are tough though. They require nations to open markets and that can be painful. And they require political leaders to fund investment where benefits may not be fully realised within the electoral cycle.

GOOD GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRACY

Secondly, good governance and democracy are not just right in themselves, they are, at least at a certain juncture, critical to political and economic progress. These include not just regard to proper elections, the absence of corruption, respect for human rights. They also include well-functioning commercial, fiscal and legal systems. People need to know the rule of law is not an empty phrase. They need to know that taxes will be collected and litigation fought over, in a fair and open system. It is hugely to India’s credit that, with all its difficulties and vast population, it provides such governance. Increasingly in the field of development assistance, donor nations are realising that help with a proper system of government or law is at least as crucial, sometimes more so, than cash.

A SOCIAL CONTRACT

Thirdly, the welfare state of the future is based on a social contract between citizens. The relationship cannot simply be one of give by the state and take by the recipient. It must encompass rights and duties. We have a very generous programme to help unemployment in Britain. But we insist that opportunities given are matched by a responsibility to make the most of them or state benefit can be withdrawn. And part of this social contract concerns criminal behaviour. The young child in the village in Bangladesh who told me that when he grew up he wanted to be a lawyer so that he could ‘hang the criminals’ may have taken it a little far! But he was articulating a heartfelt anger in communities the world over at the misery and arbitrary tragedy that crime provokes. There are of course social causes of crime. Tackling them – the poverty, poor housing, lack of education – is part of that social contract. But the causes can’t excuse the criminal. Citizens need protection and they should have it.

GLOBAL INTERDEPENDENCE

Fourth, my constant theme, before September 11 and increasingly since that fateful day, is global interdependence.

Long before September 11, Afghanistan was a failed state, exporting terrorism around the world, living off the drugs trade, the source of 90 per cent of the heroin on British streets; and millions of its people stateless refugees, seeking asylum not only in the immediate region but also in Europe. Finally, it erupted into shocking evil on the streets of America.

This interdependence is being intensified by a number of factors. Global trade has grown twenty fold since 1947, the year in which India became independent and the GATT was formed. Global finance has grown six fold in the last ten years. Today’s economies and markets are heavily swayed by that intangible essential, confidence. Just a few years ago, the East Asian financial crisis nearly provoked a global slowdown. Tensions in the Middle East can impact on the price of oil. Post September 11 there was an immediate effect on the world economy.

Confidence is, by its very nature, directly affected by political events. Those that promote stability increase confidence. Those that tend to instability diminish it. And it can show up, quite quickly, on the jobs, investment and hence living standards of communities in countries like Britain, far from the original source of instability.

Add to that the information revolution. Its consequences are not only economic. It provides, immediately and across the globe, news, views, information that can excite and influence opinions. Again, after 11 September, the battle was not just military – there was a battle for hearts and minds. Would action in Afghanistan be seen as anti-terrorism or anti-Muslim? Had the international coalition been weaker, had the false propaganda that it was anti-Muslim been widely accepted, the whole train of events could have been quite different and adversely so.

Then there is migration and travel. Some interesting facts: 25 per cent of the US population today is Hispanic; there are 4.7 million Muslims in France, 2.6 million in Germany; 1.3 million Indians in the UK, almost 4 million people of Asian origin. The city with the second largest Greek population is not in Greece but Australia. There are over 300 languages spoken in London schools today. The tensions in such migration are very familiar to us. People rightly seek order and discipline in how it occurs. But that it will occur in an ever more intense fashion is frankly beyond doubt.

In consequence of this, politics itself is globalising. If the WTO succeeds, nations prosper. If the problems of global warming are tackled, every nation’s environment is helped. If the global financial system is properly ordered, our economies prosper. If international terrorism is defeated, we are all safer. Very few of these problems can be addressed effectively other than by common action. Hence the need to make alliances to secure it.

So alliances between nations become a vital part of a nation’s self-interest and standing, its ability to secure the advances it needs.

CLARIFYING A NATION’S POSITION IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Which brings me to the fifth rule of politics we can discern today. In this interdependent world, nations need to define their place in it. Other nations need to know what any particular nation stands for, where it is located in the multiplicity of alliances and interests around it.

Here both our nations are in a process of change.

India’s success today is rooted in its long history of civilisation and strong tradition of democracy, grown out of a rich patchwork of ethnicity, religion and language. It is this combination of stability and diversity which gives India such powerful potential.

Over the last decade, more than ever before, India has been realising its potential. The green revolution set the stage, giving India self-sufficiency in food. By opening up its economy in the early 1990s, India released its creative potential, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world – soon set to join the top ten – much of it based in cutting edge technologies like IT and biotechnology. And India’s culture too has impacted worldwide. Bollywood films are seen all over the world. Writers like Arundhati Roy and Gita Mehta have as strong a following in the UK as in India.

So India is strong internally, vibrant culturally and economically, and influential internationally. Its traditions of freedom and democracy make India an obvious partner for us. Its diversity and energy put it in a prime position to benefit from today’s globalising world.

For Britain, there is both challenge and opportunity. The days of Empire are long gone. Europe has been at peace for half a century. Britain has the fourth largest economy in the world but our land mass and population inevitably constrain us. We are not a superpower, but we can act as a pivotal partner, acting with others to make sense of this global interdependence and make it a force for good, for our own nation and the wider world. In so doing, I believe we have found a modern foreign policy role for Britain.

In part this is by virtue of our history. Our past gives us huge, perhaps unparalleled connections with many different regions of the world. We are strong allies of the US. We are part of the European Union. Our ties with the Commonwealth, with India and other parts of this sub-continent, are visibly strengthening. Similarly, our relations with the Middle East, with Russia and China, are all areas where we are enjoying a closer friendship than for many years. Japan already rightly regards us as a leading partner for it in Europe.

Our armed forces in their professionalism and skill give us reach and influence abroad. It is generally accepted that our development assistance programmes, massively increased since 1997, give us an opening to help partner countries achieve their goals. The initiative on Africa is one prime example.

The opportunity therefore is obvious. It shouldn’t be exaggerated. I stress the role is as partner. The challenge, however, is to throw ourselves into this role with confidence, to discard isolationism or retreating into nostalgia. Whatever the merits of membership of the Euro for Britain, the proposition that Britain should be an involved, constructive, leading partner in Europe, seems to me indisputable. It is the key alliance right on our doorstep. We are in it. We aren’t going to leave it. So let us make the most of it, with confidence.

Likewise elsewhere, as here in India, we should engage without hesitation – with humility about the limits of what we can do, but with conviction that much can indeed be done together.

THE SPEED OF GLOBAL CHANGE

Finally, a rule that is a warning.

One consequence of all this economic, political and, above all, technological change is that the change itself moves so fast today. The opportunities are there to be seized. But time doesn’t wait for the hesitant. Moments come in which new directions can be struck, but they pass. The pace, in particular, of the information revolution, and soon the revolution of the human genome, requires in business and in politics a perpetual alertness and willingness to adapt. Nations can be left behind. Businesses, even whole industries, can become obsolete. And we have to look ahead. Let me give one example that I think it is vital.

We have had a wake-up call about religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. There are many reasons why the Al Qa’ida network developed. But one reason that cannot be ducked is fundamentalism. We need a twin track approach. One, within the Moslem world, is to take on the fanatics, the extremists who warp the true message of Islam, which is caring and decent. That can only be done by the true voice of Islam itself; it can’t be imposed from outside. And it must deal with the fanaticism head-on; the schools that teach it, those who preach it, the political extremism that feeds on it. It is immensely encouraging that there are real signs that many clerics and political leaders in the Moslem world are now reclaiming the true values and spirit of that great faith.

Simultaneously, we all need to build a bridge of understanding between faiths. There is too much ignorance, too much prejudice, too little tolerance and all those things are dangerous in today’s world. Understanding the other person’s point of view does not shut out the storm but it gives us shelter under which we can discuss and debate and plan ways forward, with mutual respect rather than fear as our guide.

There is so much here for Britain and India to work on together. A new century. A new partnership. A shared future.

India’s role in peacekeeping from Bosnia to Sierra Leone is just one example of the true international leadership your country has shown the world. India is now a natural contender for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. We will work with you to achieve it.

India knows better than most the terrible risks posed by climate change, especially to some of its low-lying coastal areas. The agreement in Marrakech last November showed that we make progress. Now we need to make a success of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September. India and Britain should co-ordinate closely on our approach.

Nearly a quarter of the world’s population live on less than one US dollar a day. This year nearly 11 million children will die from poverty-related diseases. And 120 million children worldwide are denied the right to basic schooling.

Both India and the UK are jointly committed to the UN Millennium Development Goals, including that of halving, by 2015, the proportion of the world’s population living in abject poverty. Despite India’s economic progress, there are still some 300 million people here who are very poor. So much remains to be done.

The next couple of years will see a major increase in the UK’s bilateral development programme in India, rising from £175 million in the current financial year to £300 million in 2003/04. We intend to increase this further in years to come. Our funding is allocated according to a strategy agreed with the Government of India, and includes spending on health and education and on improving, and getting access to, services for those who need them most.

This month we expect to see the signing of agreements for £98 million of UK government support for polio eradication in India and £123 million for HIV/AIDS relief. In addition, £32 million has been agreed for rebuilding primary schools damaged in the Orissa supercyclone.

Ultimately, the key to reducing poverty is economic growth and policies that help the poor. The lifeblood of the global economy is trade. Since the end of the Uruguay Round in 1994, developing countries’ trade has grown at twice the rate of other countries. That is good for you and good for us.

But not all have benefited equally. Our common challenge now, with the start of a new WTO trade round in Doha last November, is to ensure that globalisation spreads the benefits of economic growth throughout the world and reduces poverty.

The UK is committed to pressing for an EU negotiating position which promotes development. This should include opening markets in the developed world through substantial cuts in high tariffs and subsidies which distort trade. And developing countries also have much to gain by opening their own markets to trade with each other. Again, let us work together on this.

Educational links between the UK and India are flourishing. We are on target for our goal of doubling the numbers of Indians studying in the UK. And I can announce that as a result of the initiative to attract private sector funding for more Chevening scholarships, we will be increasing funding of the India programme to £2 million a year.

We enjoy just as strong links in science. In Delhi on Monday I will open the British Council Science Festival, the largest gathering of top-level British scientists ever outside Britain. We also look forward to better networking between British and Indian scientists, including a substantial number of new scientific scholarships.

And the UK and India are already strong partners for trade and investment. The UK is India’s second largest trading partner. Already there is £5 billion of trade between us. I am confident that India will, in the early part of this century, join the world’s top ten economies.

Since the Indo British Partnership was formed in 1993, UK-India bilateral trade in goods and services has grown by more than two-thirds, and more than 1500 new Indo-British joint ventures have been approved. There has been significant investment by British firms in India, while in the UK some 250 Indian companies are now also well-established investors.

To encourage such activity, the UK Government has relaxed procedures for work permit holders, especially in high-tech industries. And we have simplified processes for allowing innovators and entrepreneurs to set up business in the UK.

The CBI and the CII intend to hold a major economic summit in London in July 2002 involving senior CEOs from both countries, in part to look at the major challenges we face together.

So this is a big, even heady agenda for us to develop. For reasons that don’t need stating, from time to time since independence relations between Britain and India have, let me put it diplomatically, occasionally been a little scratchy. Not so today. Today relations are strong and confident and the deep affection and fascination people in Britain have always had for India has never waned. History, culture, shared interests and values and now those of Indian origin living in Britain, valued and contributing enormously to our society, bind us together. India is changing, finding its place in a new world; Britain likewise. We have much to offer each other. Our new partnership for a better and safer world awaits. I extend to you our respect, solidarity and friendship in making it a reality.