Paul Murphy – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, at the 2013 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 2nd October 2003.

Chair, Conference.

– the minimum wage and union recognition;

– the lowest unemployment in a generation and record investment in public services;

– defence of liberty abroad and economic stability at home.

Just some of the achievements of your Labour government.

However, I’d like today to point you to another achievement of which we can all be equally proud; the Good Friday Agreement.

Before the Agreement, politics in Northern Ireland had been in cold storage for 30 years.

In its absence, bigotry, hatred and sectarianism flourished, until Ulster became a by-word for terror and tragedy throughout the World.

Three and half thousand people killed, out of a population of one and a half million souls.

Almost every household touched in some fashion by a conflict that became banal, so familiar had it become.

And outside Northern Ireland, when the Troubles elbowed their way into the running order of a TV bulletin, or inspired some journalist to write, all too often the unspoken response was a sigh and a weary shrug of the shoulders at the insoluble problems of that part of the United Kingdom.

When I first arrived in NI as a minister, with Mo Mowlem, we were determined that Labour would never succumb to such defeatism.

We were determined that a resolution of the problems could be found and that politics – that democracy – could supplant terror in the future of Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Agreement marked the beginning of that process.

The Assembly, where nationalists and unionists, loyalists and republicans, worked side by side and delivered good government for Northern Ireland, marked a new era of politics and of peace.

It is, of course, an imperfect peace.

Though the ceasefires hold firm, and the deaths are counted in tens and not hundreds, stability and trust are still lacking.

The paramilitaries – whose day should have ended with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement – have not yet gone away.

Their continuing activities lay behind our reluctant decision to suspend the Assembly almost a year ago, and the cessation of those activities is the key to its restoration.

People in Northern Ireland know that Tony Blair, our Prime Minister, has invested unparalleled time and energy in the peace process.

They know, too, that he – and I – have said consistently that we want to see an election to the new Assembly in the coming weeks.

But an election serves a purpose: it must create a government.

And without action and words from the IRA, that can build trust and cement confidence, we risk either more direct rule or an election to a dysfunctional assembly and renewed cold storage for politics in Northern Ireland.

And direct rule cannot continue.

When we have an Assembly in Wales and a Parliament in Scotland, with local ministers and local accountability, it just isn’t right that Northern Ireland should be run by MPs from Torfaen, Merseyside, the Black Country and Essex.

While we are there, however, Jane Kennedy, John Spellar, Angela Smith, Ian Pearson and I will continue to try and provide good government for the people of Northern Ireland.

When those people – over 70% of them – voted for the Belfast Agreement, they signalled their determination to write a new chapter in their troubled history.

The foundations of that agreement are tolerance and compromise, justice and equality, rights and responsibilities.

The agreement leaves no room for hatred and violence, nor for bigotry and sectarianism.

And we are determined that the agreement will be implemented in its entirety and that it will realise the potential that people saw in it five years ago.

We are also determined that we will find other measures to bring about the changes in Northern Ireland society that the Agreement envisages.

That is why today I am announcing changes to the law in NI which will prosecute crimes motivated by sectarian hatred.

Intimidation and violence inspired by sectarian malice has no place in modern Northern Ireland.

The threats and terror visited upon the courageous men and women who are members of the Policing Partnerships in NI are just the latest examples of such vile behaviour.

The thugs who are responsible, and those behind recent death threats aimed at priests, or the cowards who placed pipe bombs in the yard of a catholic primary school, should know today that their actions will, when they are caught, result in prison sentences which properly reflect the sectarian motivation of their crimes.

The changes I am announcing will oblige judges in Northern Ireland to take into account the motivation of crimes by hatred of the victim’s religious faith, racial background or sexual orientation, and will empower them to hand out significantly heavier sentences where such motivation is proven.

I am also increasing the maximum sentences available to judges in such cases.

In so doing I am sending a message that I’m sure will be welcomed by the good people of Northern Ireland.

Sectarianism has no place in our society.

This government will not tolerate it, in Northern Ireland, or anywhere else in the UK.

Since my return to Northern Ireland, despite the difficulties which have ensnared the political talks, I’ve witnessed tremendous improvements in life there.

The transformation of the police is one of the greatest.

The PSNI is now a modern force which enjoys support across religious and political divides and which polices the whole community with fairness and justice.

But there are other changes too…

The economy is growing – faster in many sectors than anywhere in the UK.

People are in work, unemployment at 5%.

Tourism is booming, and figures out just last week show that Belfast is now the 4th most visited city in the country

This is a part of the World which is changing – and at a rate with which we politicians sometimes struggle to keep pace.

But we must now redouble our efforts.

People in Northern Ireland want devolution back.

They want decisions about their schools and hospitals to be taken locally.

And they want their Ministers in government in a locally elected and locally accountable Stormont Assembly.

In conclusion, I’d like to pay tribute to the Party Leaders in Northern Ireland who, for years, have striven to make this peace process work – to David Trimble, Mark Durkan, Gerry Adams, David Ervine, Monica McWilliams, and David Ford.

I applaud too Bertie Ahern and the Irish Government for all their work.

We cannot return to the troubled past.

We must make progress…

And all my instincts tell me that we will.

Rhodri Morgan – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Welsh First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, to the 2003 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 28th September 2003.

Conference, twelve months ago, in the steamy heat of Blackpool, I suggested to you that, if we could draw on the determined effort of the whole Labour movement, we in Wales were in a position to take outright control at this year’s Assembly elections.

Well, we make that effort, we took outright control and today I’m here to thank everyone in the Labour family who helped to make it happen.

Immediately after that election, the Labour Party in Wales met together in a special conference in Cardiff.

What I said on that Saturday seems to me to be even more important today.

We fought our Welsh Assembly campaign as the most united Party which I could ever remember.

United Parties win elections. Divided Parties lose them.

It’s the simplest law of successful politics – and all of us need to remember that today.

And by all of us, I mean what I say.

I mean the platform, as well as the people in the hall.

I mean those who get elected, as well as those who help to get them elected.

I mean the trade unions, as well as political wing of this Movement.

We win when we are united for two main reasons.

Unity means that we get our message across in a direct way, without the discord which disunity brings. When we are all really singing from the same hymn sheet, then not only do we make more noise –  we make it in harmony.

But united parties don’t only deliver messages better. They have better messages to deliver.

I don’t underestimate, for a moment, the struggle which our Party has always had to wage, to get our messages across. The vested interests of power and privilege may change as the years go on – but they are always there, and the message of this Movement will always be – must always be – a message which the powerful and privileged will find so uncomfortable that they will wish to stifle and suppress it.

Let me give you just one example. For 18 years the Conservative Party made a concentrated attack upon our core public services. Nowhere was that attack more sustained, more insidious and more successful than in the case of NHS dentistry. Nor was that the whole of their plan. They wanted dentists out of the NHS, just as they had already got rid of opticians, before moving on to family doctors next.

Since 1997, we have had to pick up the pieces and grow back dental services in parts of Wales where they had been completely abandoned. Since that time, because of the decisions which Labour has made, 31 practices have been expanded and 9 competely new ones opened, 90 dentists have benefited and 52,000 extra NHS places have been created.

Of course, there is more which needs to be done. Many of you will have seen pictures of the queues which formed when an additional 300 NHS places were on offer at a West Wales dental practice over the summer.

But what are the lessons which are really to be drawn from this story?

Firstly, it reminds us, if we needed any reminding, that the NHS remains an institution which people in Wales, and beyond, value beyond almost any other. When people who had been denied such services were offered an opportunity to take them up again, then they welcome it hugely.

Secondly, that the expansion in services only came about because of the actions of government – a Labour government in Westminster prepared to provide the additional investment and a Labour government in the Assembly committed to the NHS. Comrades, that so many should have been denied treatment for so long is a disgrace – but it is a disgrace which only this Party is committed to putting right.

Those 300 places which were the focus of so much attention are only one part of the 6 practices where new and expanded NHS services have been provided in West Wales over the past two years. Even since those pictures appeared earlier in the summer, a  further practice has been expanded in the same part of Wales, using a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government to create 1,300 new NHS places, guaranteed for the next five years.

The third thing we learn from all this is that, even when we are extending services, even when we are doing so in a way which so clearly meets a powerfully felt need, the media, and our opponents, will try to find a way to portray all this as some sort of government-induced crisis. It really is the height of hypocrisy to hear the Tories bleating about a lack of NHS dentists when they set out so deliberately to decimate that service.

That’s why, looking back at our experience in the Assembly elections, I want to suggest to you that parties which win elections don’t just get better at getting their message across. They have to have the best messages – and that means messages which unite us, rather than divide us: messages which connect us with our supporters in the country, rather than cutting us off from them, messages which tell a real story, of real policies, benefiting real people.

In the Assembly elections, we deliberately set out to make our Manifesto the centre-piece of our campaign. It’s become fashionable in some quarters to look down on Manifestos, to portray them as irrelevant to voters and a weak guide to what governments elected upon them will actually deliver. We tried to break out of that destructive circle by concentrating our Manifesto upon a series of practical measures which make a day-to-day difference in the lives of those who look to this Party to be on their side, the vehicle for help and for improvement.

So, over the next four years, we will abolish all prescription charges in Wales and we will see to it that free breakfasts are on offer in all our primary schools.

Why did we chose to make such commitments? Well, they bring direct health and education benefits. When I visited the South Wales Valleys, in the run up to the election, a headteacher of 30 years standing told me that free breakfasts had made the single greatest contribution to learning, of all the many initiatives which she had witnessed during her career. Children who begin the day properly fed are children who are ready for learning, whose behaviour is better, whose sociability is improved and whose alertness and receptivity has been secured.

But there are vital economic as well as social benefits which these measures bring. In Wales, we have to tackle the problems of economic inactivity – people who could be in work, but who the Tories pushed onto the scrap heap. Thanks to the  astonishing success of Labour’s record since 1997, the Welsh economy has been transformed. During that period we have closed two thirds of the employment gap between Wales and the rest of the UK. Employment in Wales has increased by 78,000 comparing the three months to July this year with the same period a year ago. The employment rate in Wales is now higher than all the G7 countries (apart, of course from the UK) and higher than all EU countries apart from Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. And unemployment has fallen in the less well-off parts of the country at an even faster rate than elsewhere.

Now we have to help back into work, those people who, after two decades of Tory neglect, have come to see themselves as cut off from the economic mainstream. To deliver that assistance we have to smooth the path back to work. Prescriptions are free when out of work. Now, in Wales, they’ll be free when working as well.

Conference, the experience in Wales has been that when the Labour Movement offers the sort of policies which connect in this direct way with people’s lives, then this Party remains the natural home for all those who understand that we all do best when we know that we are  part one of another, stronger when united than divided, shaping that society which gave us our chances, so that there are better chances still for those who come after us.

Now, of course, not all our political opponents understand the importance of this sense of inter-dependence.

Our friends in Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Independence Party, have just spend an agonising weekend deciding that independence is, after all, the main aim of their game. Or at least for some of them. Their new President, Dafydd Iwan, a plucker of the more morose form of folk song, was enthusiastically in favour of  a seat at the United Nations, a Welsh army, navy and airforce and, as far as I know, a Welsh man on the moon. Their former president, Lord Elis Thomas, the far from morose Presiding Officer of the Assembly, is adamantly opposed. Their former, and now born-again leader at the Assembly, Ieuan Wyn Jones, nailed his colours so firmly to the fence that he didn’t vote at all.

Ieuan Win – Ieuan Lose – Now it’s Ieuan abstain.

Chair, we live in an interdependent world. What each one of us does in our own lives directly affects the lives of others. What each of us does in our communities affects other communities too. This idea is etched deep in the Welsh political psyche. It is the ethical foundation of our socialism. It is the reason why the narrow nationalist notion of independence is such a one-way ticket to political obscurity.

That’s why when we face the electorate again next year, in our local government and European elections, and in the general election which will follow, it is not the nationalists who we need to draw back to the attention of the voters. It is the Tories, with their own brand of narrow minded malice, whom we will have to hold to account. Now, for two general elections in a row, Wales has been that socialist nirvarnah – a Tory-free zone. And we plan to keep it that way again next time. In the Assembly, however, our voting system means that we’ve been able to see that endangered species – the Welsh Conservative – at close quarters. And the truth is that they are both nastier and more resilient than we sometimes remember. Nastier in their willingness to attack every progressive measure. More resilient in their ability to attract a core vote based around the worst sort of political appeal to fear and to envy.

Conference, we’ve had a Labour Government in Westminster for six years. We’ve had a wholly Labour Government at the Assembly for less than six months.

Now we have a golden chance, the chance of a generation, to use out combine will and our combined skill to make those changes which matter to Labour voters up and down the land.

And when we do that together, we will not let you down.

Andrew Smith – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Work and Pensions Secretary, Andrew Smith, to the 2003 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 2nd October 2003.

[NB, the numbers on this speech have been distorted and are not available]

Conference, this Welfare Reform debate defines the party we are, the values we stand for, and the fight we must win.

Our mission is to win the war on poverty throughout people’s lives.

The Tories gave the poorest families just � a week to cover the cost of a child.  Through record increases in child benefit and tax credits, Labour has increased that to �.

Where the Tories left over 4 million children in families on under �0 a week Labour has cut that by one and a half million.

But it’s right that as Labour’s most ambitious goal we want to see not just fewer children in poverty, but no child in poverty.

It’s about more than income alone.  It’s about education, housing, and health, with freedom from crime, drugs and abuse.  Sure Start is transforming the life chances of Britain’s poorest children.

Giving children the best start also means helping hard working parents.  Eight times as many people are getting help with their childcare than under the Tories, with the new tax credits giving up to �0 a week for childcare.

But we need to make more places available.  It’s ridiculous that so many school buildings stand empty after hours and in the holidays.

So conference, I can announce today that from April we will offer in 3 areas school-based childcare -available 7 to 7, 50 weeks a year, to ensure good care for children and the chance to work for parents.

We will also pilot payments to help lone parents move into work – an extra � a week to look for a job and an extra � a week when they get one.

Conference, we will keep driving forward with welfare to work. It’s one of Labour’s greatest achievements that even in a turbulent world with unemployment rising elsewhere, Britain has not only more people in work than ever before but the lowest unemployment for a generation.

That is not down to chance but to the choices of a Labour Government committed to economic stability and active steps to help people into jobs.  It’s not something to be taken for granted.

Britain must never go back to those Tory days where  three million unemployed were their “price worth paying” with the young condemned to idleness  and older workers thrown on the scrapheap.

So where the Lib Dems and Tories would  axe  the New Deal, Labour will extend it, with extra help for those who need it most, because we are determined to achieve our goal of full employment in every region.

That means removing barriers which still stand in the way of ethnic minorities.  We must ensure that training recruitment, and promotion depend on ability and not the colour of people’s skin. We will challenge racial disadvantage and racism wherever it occurs so that full employment really does mean employment for all.

That also means helping the million disabled people who want to work. This month we start new programmes combining focussed help in finding work, better NHS rehabilitation and extra payments of � a week for those who get jobs.

If everyone is to make the most of their potential, we must change the whole approach to disability from one based on what people can’t do to one based on what they can.

Disability rights is about more than jobs.  It is about people’s equal worth as individuals so they are not disabled by the preconceptions of others.

In years to come the treatment of disabled people typical of the last century – and still too often the case today – will be seen as an affront to their humanity.

This is a great cause of emancipation of our time. Labour wants Britain to lead the world on the rights and opportunities of disabled people.  We will extend anti-discrimination law and publish this year a Draft Bill, to fulfil in this Parliament our manifesto pledge to the full civil rights of disabled people.

Thanks to health and safety reps and workplace partnership, industrial deaths were down 10% last year. But we must do more. I am announcing today a new Challenge Fund, working with unions and employers, to extend workplace safety advice in small and medium size businesses, and we support the Freedom from Fear campaign, because we believe every worker has the right to workplace safety.

As people live longer, opportunities for older workers are critical.

1.2 million more people over the age of 50 are now in work than in 1997 but too many still face barriers.  For young and old alike it is wrong to base opportunities on age rather than aptitude and it’s right that we press ahead to outlaw age discrimination.

Our pensions consultation shows that people want flexible options for retirement.

We will change the rules so people can draw down a pension and continue working for the same employer.

Where people choose to take their state pension later, they deserve a better deal.

So I announce today, we will offer people the choice – for the first time ever – of a lump sum, as much as �,000 where they defer for 5 years. So poorer pensioners can get sums which until now have been the preserve of the better off.

We are giving people more choices.  But it would be wrong to force longer working on the least well off, often with the hardest working lives and the shortest retirement to look forward to. We reject putting up the State Pension Age.

Conference, partnership should be the basis for security in occupational pensions.

We have set up the Pension Commission; it’s work will include the case for greater compulsion.

While we applaud those employers taking tough decisions to meet their pension commitments, we condemn those who walk away from their responsibilities, short-changing workers who saved all their lives. They can’t claim workers’ loyalty, then dump them in retirement. Labour is in government not just to challenge such injustice but to do something about it.

So we will change the law …

– To stop employers walking away from their obligations.

– To stop companies using take-overs to scrap pensions; and,

–  To stop firms changing schemes without consultation

A pension promise made must be a pension promise honoured. When a firm goes bust, it can’t be right that workers see their life savings destroyed. So, conference, our Labour Government will legislate for a Pension Protection Fund…

We build on the improvements we have already made –

–  with the state second pension, extending pension rights to 20 million low paid workers, carers and disabled people, most of them women

–  free TV licences for the over 75s; and

–  the winter fuel payment,  going up to �0 for the over 80s.

And where the Tories want to privatise the state pension, Labour has increased it by �a week more than inflation and will continue to build on it as the foundation of security in retirement.

Labour has already raised the incomes of the 2 million poorest pensioners by more than � a week,  narrowing the gap between them and the society as a whole.

But the system has until now penalised those who’ve put something by for their retirement, with each pound of income knocked straight off benefits.

On Monday we change that. The new Pension Credit – the most significant increase in help for a generation – not only guarantees a minimum income but rewards those who have saved and so often missed out in the past.

It is straightforward, awards are backdated and half of pensioner households – the poorest half – gain, by an average of �0 a year.

From next week – as the Tories debate privatising state pensions – already more than 1 million pensioners will see their income rise with Pension Credit and that number will go up with every passing day.

It’s a key dividing line for the next General Election.  The Tories and Lib Dems will have to explain why they plan to take �0 off half the pensioner households in the country.

So let us get out there, campaigning to ensure pensioners get, and keep, what is rightfully theirs.

And let’s thank all the staff of  the new Pensions Service, the first ever dedicated service for pensioners, just as we value all the New Deal Personal Advisors, the Disability employment workers and the child support staff. They are the front line troops in the war against poverty – and we’re proud of them.

– progress on full employment,

– child and pensioner poverty,

– occupational pensions, and tackling discrimination

– it all shows the difference Labour is making – and how much more Labour can do.

So let’s go from here proud of our achievements, clear in our vision, confident in our purpose to build a Britain of fairness and opportunity, where no-one is left behind.

The campaign for social justice is at Labour’s heart.  It’s what brought all of us into the Labour Party. It is changing Britain for the better and it will be our inspiration until the job is done.

Jack Straw – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech of the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to the 2003 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 1st October 2003.

Conference, let me begin by making two brief introductory comments.

First, I would like to place on record my thanks to colleagues on the Britain in the World Policy Commission, particularly its chair Diana Holland.

I believe this commission has become a model of how Partnership in Power can work.  The document we have been discussing today is testament to that.

Second, I want to pay my own personal tribute to two good friends who have tragically passed away in recent weeks.

Gareth Williams, Lord Williams of Mostyn, our Leader in the Lords, was never a man to grab the headlines, but he made a lasting contribution to our Labour Government.  His work on the Human Rights Act was invaluable, and his dream of a new Supreme Court and an independent judicial appointments system is now official government policy.  Gareth was a man of incisive wisdom and extraordinary warmth, and we will all miss him greatly.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, was the best of humanity – warm, funny, generous, committed.  Her passion for justice, peace and freedom knew no bounds, and I was privileged to know and work alongside her.  In the cruellest of ways, our socialist family has lost one of its brightest stars.


Conference, Clause 4 of our constitution – agreed just eight years ago – commits us, as a democratic socialist party, to the defence and security of the British people, and to co-operating in European institutions, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations … ” to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all.”

It is that statement of beliefs, which provides the overall framework for all that we do as a government, and all that I do as your Foreign Secretary.

But the test of any set of beliefs is its application.  In no case in recent years have the decisions been tougher, nor their consequences more profound, than in respect of Iraq.

For six intensive weeks after last year’s conference, I negotiated for Britain to achieve what became UN Security Council resolution 1441, passed on the 8th November 2002 by 15 votes to zero.

In that resolution, all fifteen members of the Security Council, including Russia, China, France and Syria, recognised, and I quote, the threat posed to international peace and security by:

– Iraq’s long-range missiles,

– its proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and

– Iraq’s non-compliance with twelve years of Security Council resolutions,

The Security Council came to this conclusion – not from US pressure or from any dossier – but from their own experience of Iraq, and their own assessment of its threat.

And in 1441, the Security Council including, yes, China and Russia and France and Syria was clear. It warned Iraq that it had one final opportunity to comply, and that serious consequences would follow if it failed to do so.

Conference, we did seek to resolve the Iraq crisis by peaceful means.

But at four successive meetings of the Security Council, which I attended at the beginning of this year, it became clear to me that the Saddam regime had no intention of complying with the clearest possible obligations imposed on it.

Of course, I understand how controversial our decision to take military action has been. No decisions are graver than those of war, no responsibility heavier than to put a nations young men and women of its armed forces in harm’s way, and contemplate the fact too that innocent people would die.

It is for that reason that the decision to go to war followed months of discussion in Cabinet, in the Parliamentary Party, and in Parliament – where our position was endorsed, not once, but three times by large majorities.

Never before have British forces been committed to military action with such a degree of rigour and open deliberation.

Conference, I respect those who took a different view.  They did so for the best of reasons.

But just as we who took the decision for military action have to face the consequences, including in Iraq today, I ask those who took the opposite view to acknowledge the likely consequences of their position if we had not taken the decisions that we did: Saddam would still be there and, I also suggest that:

– the authority of the UN to enforce its resolutions would gravely have been weakened as the worst, most long-lasting defiance of the Security Council and the international rule of law led to paralysis,

– that Saddam Hussein would have been re-empowered and re-emboldened, to continue the threat he posed to international peace and security and,

– to increase the ferocity of the reign of terror he imposed on his own people.

I readily accept that the picture on the ground in Iraq today is not satisfactory.  Security is a serious concern, and the challenges of helping to heal the scars of a country battered by decades of repression and dictatorship are substantial.

The uncovering of dozens upon dozens of mass graves tells its own terrible story – as do the reports from the Red Cross and the United Nations of 300,000 Iraqi men, women and children dead or missing and I quote: “from internal repression”.

The horrific torture, the persecution of religious groups and the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs paint a vivid picture of a systematic brutalisation of a people.

That this was allowed to go on for twenty years or more must shame us all.

I am in no doubt that the fall of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime was a just cause.

The state-sponsored repression of the Iraqi people is now over.

An administration for the first time representative of all Iraq’s faiths and peoples is slowly taking charge.

A free press is emerging.

Students have returned to schools and universities.

People are free to pray and worship as they wish; read what they like; and say and sing what they want.

Hospitals and schools are back up and running, and medicines and food are now getting to those most in need.

And slowly, if too slowly, the reconstruction work is starting to create a future for the people of Iraq they have dreamed of for so long.

Conference, we have helped to liberate the people of Iraq from Saddam, but I accept that liberating them from his brutal legacy will be longer and harder.

On August 19, those who seek to emulate his legacy of murder, rape and fear struck with characteristic depravity by detonating a bomb at the office of the United Nations in Baghdad.

They killed 24 people including the UN’s special representative, Sergio Vieira De Mello, and a senior British official, Fiona Watson.

Days later they murdered more than a hundred worshipers and the Shia cleric, Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, a man who had been working to help rebuild his shattered country.

And two weeks ago they murdered Dr Akili Al Hachimi of the Iraqi Governing Council.

Such acts against both the international community and civilians in Iraq strengthen our resolve to complete our task – to hand over sovereignty to where it belongs, the Iraqi people.

And all of us committed to democracy, freedom and the rule of law can and should join in this higher purpose.

So I hope that soon, in New York, the Security Council will come together again and give the United Nations a wider and stronger role in Iraq, better to help build a free, democratic and prosperous society, which can deliver for its people and take its rightful place in the community of nations.

Conference, we came into government six and a half years ago, committed to an active foreign policy to help put our ideals, and those of the United Nations into full effect.

And our party’s commitment to internationalism means we are best placed to confront the challenges of our complex, interdependent world.

Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, regional conflict, global poverty and inequality, hunger and disease – all pose fundamental questions.

But helping to build security, prosperity and justice in the world are not alternatives: they are essential parts of a single coherent whole.

And they require a range of tools and resources which this Government has deployed with greater effectiveness and purpose than ever before.

– the best armed forces in the world, uniquely equipped both to fight for and to keep the peace;

– an aid programme on a scale and imagination light years from that which existed under the Conservatives;

– and deeper, stronger relationships with the world’s international organisations to make multilateralism an effective reality.

With each of these constituent parts working for common goals we have made, and are making, a difference.

In Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Afghanistan we took decisive action to end tyranny – and we are there to help the people of these lands build a better future for themselves.

In doing so, we work hand-in-hand with our partners.

As an independent sovereign state, we will always have control over our own foreign and defence policy. But where, in particular, we in the UK can develop common policies in the EU we will, because we can do so much more together than we can apart.

Take the Middle East.

No dispute has more profound consequences for our world today than that between Israel and the Palestinians.

Over two thousand Palestinians and nearly 1,000 Israelis have lost their lives in the three years since the current Intifada began, and the hopes that were there three months ago are much diminished.

But the Roadmap remains the only blueprint for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

This Roadmap is a collective initiative of the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations working in partnership towards the common goal we all seek: a secure state of Israel living side by side with a viable state of Palestine.

And on issues like global trade, Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma and human rights, we pursue a multilateral agenda within the European Union and we are stronger for it.

But if the European Union has an increasing role to help deliver security, prosperity and justice in the wider world, its greatest contribution has been to do just that within Europe itself.

Even in the 1970’s, Greece, Spain and Portugal were all run by military dictatorships, and still by the end of the 1980’s the countries of Eastern and Central Europe laboured under the yoke of Soviet tyranny.

It has been the values of the European Union more even than its economic success that has helped these countries towards stable democracy.

Next May we will see a unification of Europe undreamed of by our parents and grandparents with the admission of ten countries.

Proud and established nations like Poland and Hungary, and newer nations like Latvia and Slovenia regard their membership of the EU as the very expression of their national sovereignty and independence.

This is the context of the draft constitutional treaty for the union.  Far from some superstate of Conservative fantasy, it reflects the reality of 25 sovereign nation states working together to make the EU work better for all its citizens.

Now, the EU is not perfect.  But our membership is vital for our economic prosperity and influence in the world – and whilst the Conservatives seek to undermine that future, we will continue to work for Britain and British interests as a full and leading partner in the European Union.

Conference, we are a party of profound values and high ideals.  Without these we are nothing.

But ideals are nothing unless we commit them to action.

Sometimes, abroad as at home, the decisions are difficult and controversial.

But to govern is to choose.

And we can not allow this country to turn its face away from the victims of injustice and tyranny, or to pass by on the other side.

For there lies retreat, inaction and an abdication of our responsibility.

That would not only be a betrayal of British national interests, but of our internationalist values and beliefs too.

We are active in the world, not out of any sense of conceit, nor inflated sense of our history, but because of a strong sense of responsibility born of the values of our party and out of a confidence in what this country stands for.

Conference, it was an honour to hear President Karzai address us today.

I was reminded of the time, three months ago in the Afghan city of Kandahar, when I met a group of women who were training to be midwives. I asked them how their lives had been improved since the fall of the Taliban. They looked at me with incredulity and asked if I had any idea what it was like under that evil regime when women were denied almost the right to exist.

In Afghanistan, as elsewhere, we’ve done right.

And we are making a difference – now, today – to the lives of millions  across the world.

Slowly, yes. But surely and determinedly we, the Labour Party, are making people’s lives better.

That is what we came into this party to do.

Geoff Hoon – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, to the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 1st October 2003.

Conference, we have heard today from an outstanding president of Afghanistan. I would like to tell you now about one man from Iraq.

Muff Sourani was born in Northern Iraq in 1942. His father was in the army, and as a result, as a child, he moved to Southern Iraq, where he went to Secondary School in Basra.

Mr Sourani first came to Britain in 1962 to complete his education. In the 1970s he returned to Iraq as an engineer. Saddam Hussein’s regime falsely accused him of being a British collaborator. They imprisoned and tortured him for eight weeks.

It was only after urgent petitioning by the then Member of Parliament for Workington, the late Fred Peart, that Mr Sourani was released.

Mr Sourani has lived in Britain ever since – with his wife Ahlam, who is also an Iraqi.

The Souranis have experienced at first hand the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime.  Yet they also know of Iraq’s enormous potential, not least its educated, sophisticated people.

Mr Sourani’s determination therefore, at the age of 60, is to see a better Iraq.  He has worked for over thirty years for the engineering unions.  He is currently a Regional Officer for AMICUS and sits on the Board of the West Midlands Labour Party.

I am delighted that with the help of AMICUS, the TUC and the Ministry of Defence, Mr Sourani will soon be returning to Iraq to help organise free trade unions, beginning in the south of the country where he was brought up.

Trade Unions were banned by Saddam Hussein in 1977. With the help of Mr Sourani, and others like him, trade unions will have the opportunity, once again, to recruit and to organise.  Free trade unions are a fundamental part of the civilised democratic society that we are determined to develop in Iraq.

Conference, I am delighted to introduce you to Muff and Ahlam Sourani.

Conference, we all know that there are different and passionately held views about the military intervention in Iraq.  There was a vigorous debate in Blackpool last year.  We have heard strong speeches today.

But I do want to emphasise that no-one takes a decision to use military force lightly. Whether and when to intervene militarily is always the most difficult decision to take. I have spoken to bereaved family members too often lately. I will never take their loss lightly. The decision to commit Britain’s armed forces is never one that I, or anyone else in Government, takes without carefully considering all of the arguments.

But whatever differences exist on the question of military intervention – now is the time to agree on a shared vision of the way forward for Iraq.

Muff Sourani is determined to help rebuild the country of his birth.

We want to work with him, and others like him, to help build that better Iraq.

All of us should share that determination.  Whatever our sincerely held differences about the military intervention

surely all of us want to see:

– an Iraq that respects human rights.

– an Iraq that respects democracy.

– an Iraq, free and prosperous restored to its rightful place in the international community.

Our Armed Forces are just as determined to go on playing their part.

I want to pay tribute to the fifty-one British service personnel who have died since the conflict began.

They died to remove Saddam Hussein’s regime – and in doing so, to disarm Iraq of its illegal weapons of mass destruction.

They died to provide the opportunity we now have to build a better Iraq.

We, and the people of Iraq, are indebted to them. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Nor should we forget the hard work and professionalism of all those people, both military and civilian, who have helped to support operations in Iraq.

There are many unsung heroes – from planners to logisitics experts, from TA drivers to theatre nurses.  All have worked long hours, often in the most difficult and demanding conditions.  Proving once again that Britain’s armed forces are amongst the best, if not the best, in the world.

Over 10,000 British service men and women are in and around Iraq today, working hard to secure that better future for the people of Iraq.  Demonstrating, now, their excellence at peacekeeping and their skill in the demanding and sensitive task of reconstruction.

British service personnel are helping to stabilise the security situation.  The number of security incidents in the south has been declining.  Our work with local councils, schools and religious leaders is increasing public support – assisting the operations against those terrorists and criminals that remain.

British service personnel are helping to train the Iraqi police. Some 45,000 police have been recruited across Iraq, with thousands now operating alongside coalition forces.  Together with over 2,000 Iraqi border guards they are providing vital improvements to the security of the country.  Every day enabling Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own country.

And British service personnel are providing practical assistance to the international development efforts to rebuild Iraq. Too often those efforts have been thwarted by criminals and looters – literally stealing copper cable from power lines. That is why we still need a military presence. That military expertise is helping to deliver a more stable power supply and to significantly improve the delivery of fuel and water – securing the everyday necessities of life for the Iraqi people.

Legitimate concerns remain. About security. About infrastructure. About the political process.

But real progress is being made. Thanks to the determined efforts being made right across Government.

Surely no-one would want us to fail.

The fact that Britain’s armed forces are amongst the best in the world – able to make such a difference in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere – does not happen by chance. Their excellence is the result not only of the inherent qualities of service personnel, but also of the decisions taken by Government on how they are trained, organised, equipped and supported.

This Labour Government is providing our armed forces with the investment they deserve. The Tories cut the defence budget by nearly a third between 1985 and 1997. In contrast, last year’s spending review settlement produced an extra £3.5 billion for defence. Thanks to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the defence budget is rising.

And a growing defence budget means that we will be able to invest more money in the people that serve in the forces and in the modern technologies they need. For it is those people that ultimately define our armed forces.

The extra money will be invested in better, more integrated training.

The extra money will be invested to improve accommodation.

And the extra money will be invested to provide better pay and fairer pension entitlements, where there will no longer be discrimination against unmarried partners.

The extra money is also being invested to improve the quality of the armed forces’ equipment – equipping our forces to be the best.

Thanks to the excellence and competitiveness of British manufacturing industry, and all those who work in manufacturing, our forces are equipped to succeed.

We are helping the revival in shipbuilding by building over 30 ships and submarines in the next 20 years. This has given new hope to proud shipbuilding communities on the Tyne and Tees, on the Clyde, at Rosyth and at Barrow.

And two weeks ago I was delighted to open Vosper Thorneycroft’s new shipyard in Portsmouth – the first new shipyard in Britain for 100 years.

And this Government’s decision to choose Hawk as the next Advanced Jet Trainer for the Royal Air Force – securing over 2000 jobs on Humberside – is a further example of our commitment.

When I visited BAE Systems at Brough last week, I was able to offer my thanks to the workforce.

Hawk is an example of where we in government listened and where we in government have delivered.

Talking to the shop-stewards, I was able to congratulate them on  their consistently constructive support and the support of the trade union leaders of AMICUS, the GMB and the T and G.

They, like me, are committed to British manufacturing excellence.

A commitment that delivers the best equipment for our armed forces when they need it.

This is the real difference a Labour Government makes.

With extra money for defence, there is renewed pride in local manufacturing communities, working together to build the best equipment for our armed forces.

There is renewed pride in our armed forces, recognising the sacrifice they make on our behalf.

And there is renewed pride in our Party’s internationalist tradition.  A tradition that ensures that the United Kingdom makes a real difference in the world.

This debate is called “Britain in the World”. It is about Britain’s place in that world.

This Labour Government is taking difficult decisions. Decisions that make a difference to real people’s lives.

Providing medical and practical help to the orphans of Sierra Leone who lost limbs at the hands of vicious rebels.

Rebuilding schools in Afghanistan to give girls – some for the first time – an education.

And freeing the people of Iraq from a murderous and oppressive regime to give them back their rights as citizens of what is once again a free country.

Conference, Ernest Bevin, said a generation ago:

“We regard ourselves as one of the powers most vital to the peace of the world.” It was true then and it’s true now.

That is Labour’s role in the world – contributing to peace, a force for good, upholding our values at home and around the world.

John Prescott – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Prescott to the 2003 Labour Party Conference.

Conference, after six years in government I’ve picked up a few titles.

Civil servants call me “DPM”. I’m JP to my friends. To the press I’m “Two Jags” or “Four pads”. But the title that makes me the proudest is “DL”. DL? Deputy Leader. Deputy leader of the greatest party there is. The Labour party. A great party. A great conference.

We confounded the doom and gloom merchants in the press didn’t we? They predicted disaster, a return to the 70s and 80s. The media saw blood on my collar during Monday’s speech. That’s progress. A few years ago, in the bad old days, they ‘d have been reporting the blood all over the conference floor.

Last weekend the headlines predicted a week of reversals. We’ve only had a couple. And now we know why, don’t we? We haven’t got a reverse gear. But as one delegate said yesterday, “if you go in the right direction you don’t really need one, do you?”

Yesterday we honoured two comrades. Jack Jones and Michael Foot who symbolise the two wings of our great movement: the industrial and the political. Never forget that. They did so much to make the party what it is today.

We didn’t hear them speak, but then we didn’t need to. Their life’s work spoke volumes for them.

But we did hear two powerful speeches this week: one from Gordon, one from Tony. Weren’t they magnificent? And you showed it, in the reception you gave them.

The press were shocked that a Labour MP, a Labour chancellor in a Labour government used the word “Labour” in a speech to Labour conference. And that a Labour prime minister, used the word “Labour” as well. Mind you, as many times as he said “New Labour”, actually. It’s funny, I’ve been using the word “Labour” for years and no one’s ever given me stick for it.

Two great speeches. Packed full of Labour values and Labour government achievements. That’s the real story.

We heard Gordon’s passionate words:

“… Labour policies have achieved the longest period of continuous and sustained economic growth in the last 50 years… and “there are today in Britain more people in work – 28 million – than at any time in our history.”

And we heard Tony’s powerful reminder that:

“… we can be proud of the new money in our schools and health service, proud that this year, last year and next year, spending on health and education is rising faster here than in any other major country.”

That’s economic competence and full employment, giving us – at long, long last – economic prosperity and social justice.

Wasn’t that what we’ve always wanted? Wasn’t it why we fought through all those bitter Tory years? Why we worked so hard together?

So, two powerful speeches from Tony and Gordon.

And this conference knows, this party knows, the whole country knows, that these two achieve more by their common endeavour than they do alone.

Conference, this is where we sort out our differences, within the party. I’m pleased our debates have been open and constructive. That makes for better decisions. Progress means change, yes. And change is often controversial. But the most controversial issues are sometimes those that are least discussed.

So this week we’ve debated foundation hospitals, tuition fees, PPPs, and pensions. All of them controversial. We all agree on what we want. Better hospitals, more investment in public services, more of our people going to university, dignity if retirement. But, of course, we have differences about how to achieve them.

I remember the huge row over the national minimum wage. Not about how much it should be. The other row. Many years ago. About whether to have one at all.

A few of us battled hard against massed ranks of those claiming that a national minimum wage would destroy the principle of free collective bargaining.

So it was controversial. But we worked it through.

And so this week the trade unions were able to place full-page newspaper advert calling, amongst other things, for a higher minimum wage. A call made possible only because we’ve now got a national minimum wage to raise.

It is a reality. And it’s already lifted millions out of poverty pay.

So, it’s important to have the debates, no matter how controversial.

Unfortunately too many people, in all parts of the party and on all sides of arguments, say, “listen” when they really mean “listen and then do as I say”.

Now Tony and I have our discussions. In private. And we have our ups and downs. But when we do disagree I don’t rush out and issue a press release. Or brief the newspapers.

I do my job as the deputy leader. I do what you expect of me. I do my best to put the views of the party. Sometimes when we disagree he turns out to be wrong. It’s good to know Tony’s human. I was beginning to wonder.

But sometimes I turn out to be wrong. Take our clause 4.

Just after the two of us were elected, he told me he wanted to change the party’s constitution. I said “Oh no”, or words to that effect.

So I told him if we’re going to do it, do it properly. Consult the wider party. Engage with members. Persuade them.

And we did. And it was a success. We adopted a more relevant statement of our values. Traditional values in a modern setting.

I especially like the first line, don’t you? How does it go? “We are a democratic socialist party”

So I welcome participation and debate. I always have done.

And now we need to start a new debate, having the confidence to listen to the party and listen to the country.

As Tony said on Tuesday: “This must not be a discussion just between us. Because if we want a government in touch with the party, we must have a party in touch with the people.”

But conference, I believe that any debate with the country must start within the party itself.

Every section of the party – all of us – must have a part in that process:

· trade unionists – the legitimate voice of working people;

· socialist societies, bringing so many new ideas to our debates;

· MPs, assembly members and MEPs – working hard to represent their constituents;

· Labour councillors – doing a difficult job with little thanks;

· and party members – the lifeblood of our movement in local communities.

Let’s remember though, that we must – all of us – be prepared to think it possible that we are mistaken. We must be prepared to be persuaded in the argument by the force of the argument. We must be prepared to change our minds.

But the right to be consulted brings with it an obligation to participate responsibly. But, I have to tell you, I have more chance of hearing the views of few of our more critical MPs on the TV, than in the place where we are supposed to air our differences: at the weekly meeting of the parliamentary Labour party.

And when I go to party events around the country, hard-working party activists ask me “why do Labour MPs write articles, especially in the Tory Daily Mail, attacking a Labour government?” Even during the critical Brent byelection.

I have to tell them, “I don’t know”, “I can’t understand it myself”.

Mind you, chair, I should declare an interest. I’ve had an offer myself. Don’t laugh – it’s good money. All I have to do is write my memoirs.

The Daily Mail say they’ll serialise it. And another newspaper wants a weekly column. All for six-figure sums apparently.

But I looked at the small print. First, it said I have to resign from the cabinet. Second, no articles supporting Labour. To earn that kind of money I’ve got to do something else: I’ve got to slag off the government and my former colleagues.

Then it says: “don’t worry if you take a different position now to the one you took in cabinet – we’ll just say that shows what an independent thinker you are”.

Well conference, I haven’t been an MP for 33 years just to use the Daily Mail to attack any Labour government, let alone this one.

So let me say to those in our party who claim that the government has betrayed Labour’s values.

Our achievements would have been celebrated by our party at any time in its history.

Keir Hardie would have rejoiced at our implementation of his minimum wage. Nye Bevan could only dream of the level of investment we are making in his health service.

Any Labour leader, at any time in history, would be proud that we are lifting millions of our children out of absolute poverty, and cutting the debt burden of the poorest nations in the world.

That’s not betrayal. I call it democratic socialism.

So listening is important. Proper debate is important and respect for other people’s opinions is important too

But so is leadership. And we’ve been reminded of that this week, haven’t we?

Seeing Tony in action underlines just what a great leader we have.

On Sierra Leone, on Kosovo, on Afghanistan and, yes, on Iraq, when he saw the need to act, he acted. As a leader. He couldn’t walk by on the other side.

And what was the result? Small children no longer have their arms and legs hacked off in a vicious civil war in Sierra Leone. Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo stopped. A million Muslims back home, rebuilding their country. And the brutal yoke of the Taliban lifted in Afghanistan.

Yesterday President Karzai gave us a powerful account of the emerging democracy in his country. One and a half million girls now back at school and two million refugees returned home.

And on Iraq, I know there are strongly held views on both sides. And the debate will continue, especially over weapons of mass destruction.

Today a statement on the Interim Report of the Iraq Survey Group will be published. The media are already carrying what they claim to be leaks from the report. All I have to say to those who doubted our action against Saddam is: wait until the report is published.

And, as Ann Clwyd reminded us so powerfully yesterday, surely, there can be no remaining doubt that the Iraqi people live in a better country today without Saddam Hussein.

Conference, that’s our leader. Providing serious leadership. Facing tough choices. Taking monumental decisions.

But let’s look at the competition. When the voters face a choice let’s look at the alternative leadership on offer.

The Liberals. Charlie Kennedy.

He’s made a momentous decision recently. With lasting implications for his party and the whole nation.

Conference, Charles Kennedy has ended Liberal co-operation with Labour.

I am devastated. I never quite managed to make it to Lib/Lab liaison meetings and now I never will.

Charlie’s leadership: Talking left and acting right, or vice versa, depending on the audience.

Charlie’s economic policy: more government spending all round and no way to fund it.

It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: as many sweeties as you like and you don’t have to pay for any of them.

And now there’s Charlie’s cunning plan to replace the Tories. His message to his troops: “go back to your constituencies and prepare for opposition” Another 80 years of it. That’s fine by us, isn’t it?

And the Tories. Iain Duncan Smith.

He made a momentous decision too.

He wants to change the face of the Conservative party. Literally.

He’s spent £100,000 on a makeover. I’m not kidding. A personal image consultant. So he can, I quote, “walk, talk, and look the part”.

He’s learning how to shake hands properly. Well, it’s a lot of money and it might well buy him a different handshake. But I tell you, it won’t give him a firmer grip on reality. Or his party. Or his job.

He’s also been taught “new hand gestures” for when he’s speaking. Hand gestures? I’ll give him a hand gesture. And I’ll give him it for free.

It’s old. It’s traditional. And it’s the same gesture the British people will give him – and the rest of his gang – at the next general election.

Now, while I’m on the subject of elections, there’s a few coming up.

Next year we’ll have them for: the European parliament, the London assembly and thousands of local council seats up and down the country.

And, conference, there’ll be an opportunity for people across the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire & Humberside to vote in referendums to establish, for the first time ever, their own directly elected regional assemblies.

At the last two general elections we had pledge cards. Do you remember them?

I toured the constituencies signing them.

I have to tell you I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t achieve all 10 pledges in 10 years. Well did it. Not in 10 years. We did it in six years!

Here’s just 4 of those achievements:

· A stable economy; smaller class sizes; youth unemployment down; shorter hospital waiting lists.

That’s not distorted press perception. It’s crystal clear Labour reality.

Have you ever wondered what a Tory pledge card for the next election would look like? We have.

And we’ve had a stab at producing one ourselves.

Have a look at this. Five Tory pledges.

Privatise the NHS; cuts of 20% to public services; sack thousands of nurses; scrap the child tax credit and the pension credit, slash student numbers.

That’s enough of that. Get rid of it.

They might look down and out at the moment.

But, I tell you, come the next election, the choice will be clear.

And when that election does come around. Never, ever forget that they are the lowest, the meanest and the most dangerous opponents we could have.

Never, ever forget that the Tories are the real enemy.

Never ever forget, either, that Tory legacy. People’s memories have faded.

You can’t blame them for blocking out just how bad it was under the Tories. But we have to remind people about:

· Families struggling on our worst run-down estates; parents on the dole. Children with no hope.; sky-high truancy, overcrowded classrooms; communities consumed by drugs and crime.

But it’s all changing. The shackles of those long Tory years are being prized open. Slowly and surely people are starting to see real improvement.

It was our most deprived estates that suffered Thatcher’s worst blows. So we believe they deserved to be top of the list. To be Labour’s top priority.

A better life for all, yes, but more help for those who need it most.

A baby born in Britain on that same estate today has better life chances than ever.

She might be born in a new maternity hospital, funded by the private finance initiative.

Returning home to a home modernised to a decent standard.

Thanks to Sure Start, she will receive a better start in life, while her mum can study for NVQs with a better chance of finding work.

Huge capital investment has improved her primary and secondary school.

Year on year, with exam results improving, truancy rates dropping and smaller classes, she and her classmates experience the joys of learning.

If she leaves school early she is more likely to be employed than a few years ago.

If she stays on she has a better chance of going into further or higher education.

Her parents are using the working family tax credit and the national minimum wage to help them out of poverty and regain their self-respect.

And her grandparents, from tomorrow, receiving a great boost to their pensions.

That’s Labour. Still caring from cradle to the grave.

Conference, we, in this party, hold power, not by virtue of birth or wealth.

We are all of equal worth.

We belong to the party that civilised the 20th century. And now history has placed in our hands the future of this country as we begin the 21st century.

We hold in trust the memory of past generations whose pain, sacrifice and hard work built this party.

We protect and promote the interests of today’s citizens: young and old, men and women, black and white. Not just those who voted Labour but all the people of this country.

And with us we carry hopes and dreams to pass on to future generations.

If we fail now. If we tear ourselves apart as we’ve in the past,

Then that would truly be a betrayal. A betrayal of all those people who depend on a Labour government to make their lives better.

So, yes, we will debate policy among ourselves.

But let us remember this.

The party in government, the party in the country, Britain as a whole, “we achieve more by our common endeavour than we achieve alone.’

So go out there and speak to the people. Let’s tell them. Tell them what we’ve done

Let’s explain what we’re doing. Let’s engage with them on what we intend to do.

And let’s do that with a sense of purpose, a sense of unity, and a sense of pride.

Proud of all we stand for. Proud of our Labour party.

Tessa Jowell – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, at the 2003 Labour Conference in Bournemouth on 29th September 2003.

When I ask my South London constituents what would improve the quality of their lives their list is long and varied.

They talk to me about jobs and pensions, freedom from fear, safer streets, more for young people to do.

But perhaps most touching of all is the young mum I know who is just starting a college access course so that her young daughter could have greater ambitions than she had ever had for herself.

So that her dreams can be within her reach, as they have never been for her mother.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to those who dream is the confidence and the means to have a go.

Achieving your best is intensely personal, but you cannot achieve it on your own.

Each of us, according to our own tastes, enriches our own life, with music, drama, art, books and sport.

And we do that with our families, teachers, coaches, friends, the community around us, to help us learn and understand.

So, when we talk about the importance of culture, we must also accept the responsibility to give everyone the opportunities that the few take for granted.

And when we talk of achievement, when we think of dreams coming true, nothing beats the Olympic Games.

Earlier this year we decided to bid for the Olympics and Para-Olympics to come to London in 2012, so let’s just pause to look at a few of the reasons why……

And one of those stars Steve Cram, is with us today and will address Conference in a few minutes.

We are bidding for the Olympics because they will showcase Britain as a can-do nation.

They will galvanise the regeneration of London’s East End.

They will give sport in Britain its biggest ever boost.

That’s why our Labour Government – with the support of the other political parties – has joined with the Mayor of London and the British Olympic Association to make this Bid.

Barbara Cassani, the Chair of the Bid, now has her team assembled and things are really moving.

This will be a bid to rival the best.  And we are backing it 100%.

Young people starting in secondary school now can aspire to be champions in 2012.

But we want everyone to feel that sport can be a vital part of their lives, regardless of their talent.

To enjoy sport for its own sake.

To compete and to excel.

And because a good sport policy is also a good education policy, a good health policy and good anti-crime policy.

This is not just talk.

We are putting in place the foundations in schools and communities, and building the ladder of opportunity to take the talented, whatever their background, as high as they can go:

– Reviving school sport, with 400 specialist sport colleges, and 3,000 sport co-ordinators, bringing competitive sport back into our schools.

– Boosting grassroots sport, first with £750 million of Lottery money for school and community facilities announced by Tony Blair three years ago, then with a further £100m for community sport halls announced this summer, and just three weeks ago the decision to give community amateur sports clubs mandatory rate relief.

– Bringing the best artists and creative talents into some of the most deprived schools in the country in our Creative Partnerships.

– Developing summer play schemes, with sport, music, dance and theatre helping our young people feel the pride that comes from learning new skills.

I’m proud that we brought back free entry to our museums, that the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House have brought in new audiences by cutting their ticket prices.

The Baltic Gallery in Gateshead packs in local people and tourists alike, free to all.

But as we know, equality of opportunity is a fine phrase for those who already have the will to succeed.

But for many, success in any field remains just a dream.

Our mission is to enable those who today can only dream, to have the chance to achieve their very best tomorrow.

To feel they were given a chance and the means to grab it.

Of course our Party exists to deliver prosperity, education, and good health for the many and not just the few, but we also exist to feed the imagination of the many as well.

It’s only fair that everyone gets the chance to enjoy the finest of music, of theatre, of dance, of film.

It’s only fair that everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy the sports of their choice.

Throughout Britain our towns and cities are increasingly recognising just what the arts and sport can do for their people, for their environments and for their economies.

Great cities, like Newcastle, Glasgow, Gateshead, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff, Leeds.

Wonderful cities, finding the vigour of their 19th Century boom years in the 21st Century’s creative industries.

Liverpool will buzz with excitement and its economy will get a terrific lift as European Capital of Culture.

Because cities that embrace the arts, sports, fine buildings, libraries and galleries, and yes, bars and clubs and sports venues, are cities worth living in.

And worth businesses moving to.

And in every part of Britain the Lottery is the cultural and sporting venture capital of our communities.

– The Eden Centre, transforming the Cornish economy.

– The Commonwealth Games legacy transforming East Manchester.

– The Laban Centre in Deptford.

– The Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

Every constituency has received at least 50 Lottery awards.

From Village Halls to the Deep in Hull.

From play for children to plays at the National Theatre, the Lottery touches every community, every age group, every culture in the country.

This work goes on.

Take just one example, I’ve asked the New Opportunities Fund to talk to War Veterans groups about how their members might want to mark the 60th Anniversary of the most remarkable 12 months in our history, from D-Day to the Fall of Berlin.

I want to ask them how they would like their history remembered.

Projects that make their memories available to today’s young people.

That help us understand how today’s world was created by the sacrifices of a generation now in their 80s.

This is the Lottery people love.  They know that Lottery money is the people’s money, not politicians’ money.

That investment is building communities, changing lives, respecting differences, opening new doors.

There are many dividing lines between this Labour Government and the Tory alternative.

Under the Tories the Lottery neglected the most deprived areas and the most desperate communities.  We changed that.

The Tories cut investment in sport and the arts.  We changed that.

The Tories forced the sale of school playing fields.  We changed that too.

Because markets fulfil the demand of those who can pay, not the needs of those who can only dream.

Because equality of opportunity without a place for those who have never dared to aspire, is just a highway for the privileged.

Opening that highway to all is the task before us: it’s not only in health, education, transport and welfare that we must rise to the challenge of change, but in bringing real opportunity to those with talent wherever they may be.

And finally there is another message from the Olympic debate.

When we asked people whether they wanted us to bid, they made one thing very clear, they wanted us to give it a go.

They would forgive us for trying even if we didn’t win.

They understand the challenge.

But people want the best for Britain, and the best for their families.

They expect us to set the toughest targets and do our damndest to reach them.

But they won’t forgive us if we won’t even try.

Lord Falconer – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, to the 2003 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 2nd October 2003.

There have been Lord Chancellors for over a thousand years of British history.

But in more than 100 years of Labour history, no serving Lord Chancellor has ever addressed our Party Conference. So I am the first. And – as this Labour government is abolishing the office of Lord Chancellor – I am also going to be the last.

The abolition of that role marks real change – change for a purpose: change to make the justice system serve all of the people – particularly those  who need it most; the kind of change Labour governments are elected to achieve.

I joined the Labour Party 25 years ago to make changes – spurred on by Tory cuts in Wandsworth, by the values of this party and by the desire we all have to make things better.  And I remember all too vividly the long years of Labour in opposition – where, for all the leaflets, all the canvassing and all the radical ideas, we were unable to make any real changes to benefit local communities.  Now this New Labour government is making some of the most radical and far-reaching reforms to the justice system. Not undermining its independence.  But making it fairer: not just to defendants – but to all those who depend on it.

The post-war Atlee government wanted to see education and health available to all. That vision is still what New Labour wants today. But Atlee wanted as well to see justice for all.   We share that ambition: but if we are to honour that legacy, then our system of justice urgently needs reform.

Because people and communities hit hard by deprivation and by crime look to a Labour government: to fight on their side; to renew their neighbourhoods; to protect them against crime; and to give their children a future.

But there is no hope of renewal if the community is dominated by the fear of crime and drugs. Many people living on run-down estates say that, whatever their housing problems, what’s even worse is the impact of crime and anti-social behaviour, and the fear that their children will fall prey to drugs. So to help our communities, we must fight crime and drugs effectively.

A proper criminal justice system is essential for that.  But the battle begins well before the criminal justice system: with education, economic opportunity, identifying children at risk and providing alternatives to drugs.  We know we can’t stop every crime.  But the well-being of our communities depends upon a criminal justice system in which people have faith.

We’ve all heard people say it: what’s the point?  What’s the point of reporting a crime?  What’s the point of calling the police?  What’s the point in coming forward as a witness?  We’ve heard too many stories of offenders bailed for an offence who go out and do it again while they’re still on bail – and nothing happens to them. Or of the defendant who’s fined – and just doesn’t bother to pay it.  Or of the offender who gets off drugs in prison – and then on the day they’re released goes straight back to the dealer.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have already put the fight against crime at the heart of this government’s agenda. And we are making good progress. Crime was lower at the end of our first term than when we came to office. Police numbers are at their highest ever. Persistent young offenders are now dealt with in half the time they were when we came to power.

David Blunkett and I are working closely together in tackling crime.  But to make a real difference, to provide the real drive that our communities so long to see, we must press ahead with reforming the criminal justice system.  Radically.  Radical reform to benefit the public.  Because for too long the system has focused too much on the people working in it.  And too little on the people it’s supposed to be there for: the victims, the witnesses, the community – people harmed by drugs and crime, not people doing the harm of drugs and crime.

So we need to shift the balance. When defendants are summoned to court, they’ve got to come.  When people are fined, those fines must be paid.  When custodial sentences are appropriate, then the courts should apply them. But we need as well to make sure that we can break the cycle of crime, that we can make a difference to an offender’s behaviour – getting them out of crime and back into civil society. When offenders are clearly driven by drug abuse, we need to ensure that drug treatment is available – and that it works.

So we must make sure that the system serves the public – not the other way round.

Let me give you an example. On 15th August 1998, on a normal, quiet Saturday in Omagh, Northern Ireland, 29 people were murdered in an appalling act of terrorism. A terrorist attack on a scale unprecedented in the UK. Of course anyone accused of the Omagh bombing must have a fair trial. They must have the opportunity to challenge any charge. They are entitled to the presumption of innocence. They would be entitled to legal aid. That’s right. And it’s fair.

But what about the victims? The victims’ families can’t afford all the legal costs to bring civil proceedings to court to seek to establish who committed the atrocity. Under the way things are now, they can’t get the support of legal aid. This isn’t right. It isn’t fairness. And it isn’t justice. The victims of the Omagh bombing deserve exceptional support. We will make sure that the victims can get legal aid, that they can bring their case to court, and that they can seek justice.

We need a simpler justice system. A more straightforward justice system. A justice system which is more open, and more transparent. And that change has got to start at the top.

Lord Chancellors in Britain have, throughout their history, performed complicated balancing acts: being head of the judiciary, speaker of the House of Lords and a Cabinet minister, all at the same time. That isn’t right. Tackling crime, making sure the justice system works as we want it to work, requires me, as the Secretary of State in charge of the courts and legal aid, to be working full time on the problem : working with others to deliver results on the ground, driving through radical reform. So we are going to abolish the role of Lord Chancellor. We are going to move the highest court of appeal from the House of Lords to a Supreme Court. We are going to ensure that judges are appointed through an independent appointments commission.

To restore faith and trust in our institutions we must set decent standards which the public expect to see enforced.  We must make our institutions open, transparent, and relevant.  So it isn’t acceptable any longer, for this party or for this country, to have people in our legislative system, in the House of Lords, who are there only by birth.  We want to go further in reforming the House of Lords.  But we are clear: we can no longer support an arrangement where there are members of the Lords able to vote on the legislation of this country wholly and solely by birth.

And on our other reforms: we need to see our human rights legislation fully effect a whole range of social and equality issues – not just about the rights of the defendant, but about achieving dignity for those in need. We have to be open in government, too: we have to see freedom of information working, and working properly.

Our reforms are radical; they are real reforms; they are Labour reforms. They are there for a purpose: to restore faith in our institutions; to protect our communities, and our people; to help people fight terror, to fight drugs, to fight crime.

That means a fair justice system. A system which understands the needs of the public, and a legal aid system which delivers for the needy.

When people are dealing with housing problems, debt problems, family problems, we have to have advice available for those who need it most. I want to redouble our efforts to secure access to justice. A justice system is not effective unless there is access for all.

Without a reformed justice system, and without real and renewed efforts to fight crime, then there’s precious little hope for so many of the communities who look to this New Labour Government for renewal and regeneration.

We cannot allow that to happen. We will not allow that to happen. So Labour must deliver for all the people. A future fair for all. Justice for all.

David Blunkett – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Home Secretary, to the 2003 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 2nd October 2003.

Thanks to all of you, thanks to those who are here and those who have worked across the country over the last year to make it possible for us to be where we are and thanks to my Parliamentary colleagues and of course to my own advisers and hard working officials. Thanks most of all to my own ministers, 5 women and one gallant man, Paul Goggins, who holds his own very well, and 2 of whom are on government business today, Fiona Mactaggart and Caroline Flint.

I thought I’d start off today by saying I’d give you a few well chosen thoughts – things that have occurred to me over the last year – but my advisers have managed to persuade me not to, and to make a normal speech instead. So, here goes.

20 years ago to the day, today I was elected to the National Executive of this party. It was in Brighton. We had 209 labour MPs, just half the number that were elected under Tony’s leadership in 1997. We had fire in our bellies and Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street. We had made self indulgence an art form.

I was so proud to have been elected to the NEC. It was like being in an inner world; it was almost like having won the election. I was walking down the sea front and I heard some people coming towards me, and they were saying “It can’t be. It is! It must be!…. it’s a curly coat retriever! “.  I have played second fiddle to the dog ever since.

This week’s also a bit special this year for me because I’ve been in the party for 40 years,  – not a year too long –  and I have been reflecting that when I joined the party at 16 all those of my age had spent the whole of their schooling under a Tory government.

I had been reflecting that so many of our young people voting for the first time at the last election had spent the whole of their schooling under a Tory government.

But now, thanks to the leadership of the Prime Minister, many many more children in the future will have the benefit of having been educated under a Labour Government.

And yes they will have had the advantage of hundreds of millions of pounds poured into the Connexions service, yes they will have had the advantage of 370 million pounds through the youth justice board, yes they will have had the diversionary summer programmes started across government – led this year by Tessa Jowell – in order to ensure that youngsters weren’t on the street causing a nuisance but were engaged positively often helping with their community.

But I also reflected that 40 years ago we had similar challenges to today , a time of enormous change, of technological advancement, of the beginnings of globalisation.

There was questioning of Britain’s place in the world, the role of government, and today we have even greater challenges. More rapid change, bigger uncertainties for people around us.

Providing greater security at home and abroad, linking with that that trust and confidence needed so that the progressive agenda that Tony talked about on Tuesday can be espoused by everyone, rather than just the committed.

Stability through economic policy and competence, by choice and not by accident. Led by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown – I nearly called him Lord Gordon Brown!

And I was not trying to predict the decision on the new leader of the House of Lords!

Security in having a job and for the family is a crucial, absolutely crucial foundation, as has been Sure Start. As has been universal nursery education. As has been children being able to read and write at 11 rather than written off. And of course security and stability through our internationalism is crucial to our success.

And doubters, please listen today to what is actually going to be said about what has been found in Iraq.

But conference, security and freedom from fear in our neighbourhoods and communities is vital to winning people over to the progressive cause that we espouse.

Removing the blight on the lives of our people, giving men and women their space back, their parks back, their children’s play grounds back. That’s about equality, that’s about our values.

So is facing unknown threats from new forms of non-negotiable terror, that brings new challenges and it also demands new solutions.  For the most fundamental responsibility of government any government is to protect its people. To give them the understanding that we will be working for them on their side . And where throughout history they have failed to provide that certainty, governments of the left and centre have been swept aside.

So today I just want to say a word of thanks to our security services, to thank the men and women in and out of uniform of our policing services, including those who have worked here at conference, for going the extra mile and doing the job for us.

For as Tony said on Tuesday in the post cold war era the challenges are very different to the past, but no less worrying. I know and you knew that we cannot win the support for the drive for equality and fairness if people cannot hear our message because what is happening in their own lives is so frightening,  is so uncertain that they turn away from the more progressive messages .

Today conference our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marion Bates, gunned down in her shop in Nottinghamshire.

The community of Arnold has been and must be again a peaceful place in which to work and live and communities across the country must be restored to their people, protected from the organised gangs and the gun runners. That is why as delegates have said this morning we are legislating now.

Yes, perhaps years too late, but it is this Labour Government to provide the sentences, the signal, to exclude the replica and adapted weaponry, to ensure that people aren’t frightened by replica guns .

That is why we are funding the disarm trust, working with communities that are determined to rid themselves of the threat that comes from the gun pushers and the gun runners.

That is why we are spreading the message of what works from the trident project in London and in greater Manchester to other police forces, that is why we’re getting communities to link together as I saw in Haringey in north London last week when I visited the peace  forum, a community that has worked with the police to dramatically reduce gun crime and deaths from guns by 30 per cent over the last year.

That is why we will give support to the police, to be able to do the job better and that is why I’ve recruited the head of the Boston police in the United States, Paul Evans, whose force reduced gun crime by 40 per cent over 6 years to head our standards unit in the Home Office.

To bring experience,  to spread best practice, to ensure that we get the message across that the reality of the moment may well be the challenge of guns, but it will not be the reality of tomorrow if this Labour Government succeeds in getting a third term in office to carry forward our agenda.

And yes there are new and not so new giants, disease, ignorance, want – some of the 5 giants that we tackled after the second world war have not gone away across the world or even in some parts of our country.

But new giants have taken their place.

And that is why we cannot afford to consolidate, that is why we have to take the lead, that is why we have to be ahead of the game in thinking what the issue of tomorrow will be.

There is no equality, there is no true freedom, there is no self fulfilment .

If you can’t live or walk safely down your street, if you live next door to the family from hell if your child is face with infected needles in the playground, those are the realities for too many of our communities.

If you can’t use the park or playground freely, if Mums can’t walk safely to the shops.

That is what our Labour Government are seeking to tackle.

Yes, to empower the police, to empower environmental health officers, to empower housing officers to take action on anti social behaviour.

Because there are rogue landlords who take our money, your money, with no responsibility whatsoever for what their tenants do.

There are gangs led by opinion formers, who at the moment cannot be dispersed.

There are parents who despite enormous support, and we will give more support through parenting orders, still will not take responsibility for the actions of their children.

And if they need help we will give it them.

But I promise you this, if parents couldn’t give a damn about what their children are doing we can.

Not because we own our brother or sister but because their actions will destroy our lives and our communities.

And that is why transforming as Charlie says the criminal justice system is not about knocking judges, it is not an attack on civil liberties, it is about the civil liberties of those who’s lives are ruined and blighted by what goes on round them.

And the actions of those who live next door to them.

I want human rights, I want to help rebuild respect within the family and outwards into the community, I want rights and duties to go hand in hand.

I don’t want anybody to believe that under this government enhancing the rights of victims actually diminishes the rights of the accused because it doesn’t.

New approaches to everything we’re doing will balance what we need to do to get tough with those who abuse the system, who treat the criminal justice system and those in it with contempt whilst providing the necessary support and understanding.

We’re doing so with new sentencing policies, intensive community sir supervision, reducing reoffending through prolific offender programmes , tough community action, but balanced by common sense in terms of those crimes which warrant the kind of response which I think men and women across the country are crying out for.

Is there anybody in this room that seriously believes that someone who has committed multiple child murder and rape – and I’ve seen the cases over the 2 and a half years I have been Home Secretary – should not get the sentence that is being challenged in the House of Lords in the next 2 weeks?

A sentence that really does mean that if you committed that crime life should mean life. So putting victims and witnesses first, putting the needs of victims and communities first is at the heart of our agenda it is just good common sense.

New community justice centres, mentioned already this morning which will actually ensure that the prosecutors, the judges, and the probation service.  Funny what you pick up at party conference.

The community justice centre will engage the community with justice and justice with the community, and believe me I have seen it work.

This is about civil renewal and citizenship.

The balance we can see in what we’ve done, updating the outdated,  the arcane sex offences laws has taken almost a century, strengthening the sex offender’s laws including protecting children from the Internet has also taken far too long.

That is the balanced approach of this Labour Government, of this Home Office team, protecting women and yes girls against gross abuse through trafficing for sexual exploitation with a new 14 year sentence.

That is a common sense agenda, that is at the heart of a Labour Government. Radical action to prevent and stamp out domestic violence, that is our agenda, a labour agenda for a Labour Government. and just fancy, all this from a Home Secretary who is supposed to be authoritarian.

But conference, one of the greatest challenges, and it’s been mentioned today, one of the greatest challenges not for government but for our nation is the scourge of hard drugs. It destroys families, it kills individuals, it debilitates communities.

I met a father of a 19 year old earlier this year from south Wales, a young man who had been involved in sport, who been fun loving, whose family didn’t believe there was a problem, until one day they found that he’d been hooked because people are hooked by other human beings on to heroin.

He died in squalor in the toilets of the bus station.

Died without anyone near him to care for him and love him.

I want us in the resources that we’re putting in, the powers we’re giving in the clamp down we’re making, in the reallocation of priorities to get a grip of the organised criminals who kill those young men and women, who destroy our communities, who undermine family life and of course who engineer the committing of further crime to feed the habit.

And that is why I challenge the Conservative and Liberal party in the House of Commons over their stance in relation to organised jury intimidation and jury fixing.

Many of these gangs across the country, and we know it, are organising now to ensure that they go free.

By frightening to death the men and women who come forward for jury service.

And if those intimidated juries have to be replaced by a judge sitting alone it will not be an act of sabotage on civil liberties it will be providing liberty and freedom for all of the rest of us who have to put up with the actions of those gangs day in and day out.

And yes gradually we’re succeeding. The reality is that crime has fallen, fallen by a quarter since 1997.

Not enough, not yet felt to be enough, but progress.

Fewer victims, fewer victims are because of the street crime initiative over the last 18 months, 17,000 fewer men, women and youngsters robbed and mugged over the last year alone.

And yet again the matter of fairness and equality comes in.

You are less likely now under this Labour Government to be burgled. 39 per cent less likely.

But you are still more likely to be burgled in our most disadvantaged areas than in the leafy suburbs, that’s just a simple fact.

And yes as it’s been said this morning, too often in the past we gave up this agenda to our opponents.

Now it is our opponents who are giving up the agenda to us. Look at the less than dynamic duo, Ollie and Simon.

Oliver follows his name sake from Dickens, wherever Simon leads he goes.

Both of them say one thing and do another. Every step we take they try to under mine.

But how do you dislike someone who is so nice to you? So much the anxious friend on the Today programme to give me a helping hand.

It is a bit like Paul Keating the former Prime Minister of Australia who described an attack on him like being flogged by a warm lettuce.

In my case it is more like a brussel sprout. But Oliver has a little army, Oliver’s army. Not elected, many of them hereditary, for the time being.

Campaigning against the powers we want to give to the police.

Against the powers we want to give to environmental health officers, to local authorities to be able to do the job.

Against the powers to tackle those organised criminals I was talking about. Trying to water down everything that we do in the House of Lords. Against, against, against, but on the doorstep, for, for, for.

Actions denounced as centralist, seeking consistency denounced as interference.

But when things go wrong, when blame is to be apportioned who do they seek to blame? Us of course. Total hypocrites.

For, conference, it is not the carrying through of responsibility by us but the question we need to ask them : if you don’t believe in carrying the responsibility of government , should you really be standing for election at all?

If you don’t believe in what you are doing, why follow it through?

And of course Oliver is a bit like Dickens in the sense he cries for more, more, he bangs his spoon on the table, you give him gruel, he wants cake, he’s a properly little Marie Antoinette, but when he comes to finding the a money he will do another of those disappearing acts like he did in the last General Election.

They want fewer ministers and they want a home land Tsar. Less government but more demands on government.

And if I were Oliver I’d disappear and spend more time on how difficult it is to be a shadow Home Secretary, struggling with the burdens of finding something to criticise.

But regrettably Simon Hughes never disappears. Ever present, ever speaking, ever so boring.

As Churchill once said of Montgomery: ‘in defeat unbeatable, in victory unbearable.’

But even by their standards of duplicity the stance on anti-social behaviour is breath taking.

When they know they will be held to account and will lose their seats they are in favour of it as they are in Scotland signing up to exactly the legislation that the hypocrites have voted against in the House of Commons and will vote against in the House of Lords.

These are the people on the streets of Brent who told people they wanted to clamp down on crime, they were in favour of greater powers, and ten when they get in the commons they vote against it.

Do you know the jungle book has got absolutely nothing on them. You remember Ka, the snake, “Trust in me”. Well, in the political jungle they take some beating, but beating we will give them.

We did it in Sheffield and in Oldham and elsewhere and we’ll do it. And on crime they know just where they stand. For square behind the human rights of the perpetrater.

On criminal justice they know just where they stand, full square behind the nearest lawyer.

On nationality and asylum they know where they stand, facing in every direction at once depending on which audience they happen to be talking to. What a bunch.

And, yes, one of the delegates said they under mine confidence in democratic politics and they do, because it takes time, the reality is it takes time to turn an oil tanker, to put in place the powers, to change the operation of policing to spread best practice.

It takes time to get community support officers, street and neighbourhood wardens to expand the civilian support service, to make more use of technology and of forensic science.

Yes, and to reform as Charlie was spelling out this morning the criminal justice system.

That is the reality. It is the reality we have to face in government and it’s the reality that we will carry forward.

For at last year’s conference I promised more policing. I promised actually a target of 132 and a half thousand policemen and women by next March. March of 2004. Conference, that promise has not only been kept it has been massively exceeded.

Three years ago we had 124,000 policemen and women, 53,000 police support staff. No CSOs, no national programme of street and neighbourhood wardens.

The investment we have made is now on our streets, not paved with gold but paced more and more by crime fighters, more than ever before.

Because today I can announce that the new figures to the end of August since the beginning of this year we have recruited a staggering record total of an additional 4,118 policemen and women. A total since 2000 of 12,200, and we have got now a total across the country of 136,000 , 386 the largest number this country has ever known.

With just under an extra 10,000 support staff and with the new community support officers coming on to our streets we now have over 200,000 crime fighters for the first time in British history.

And with John Prescott’s neighbourhood renewal fund and the investment in street more dens and the work that’s going on for local authorities we’re building new partnerships.

With community safety partnerships, through local government, with local people.

We’re making it happen on the ground and in cutting bureaucracy.

We are freeing people up to leave the station.

With increased visibility and availability and accessibility people will feel and understand that it is happening, that we’re fighting crime and at the same time we’re not making crime pay, because our proceeds of crime act is now gaining us a million pounds a week from those who have robbed and distorted other people’s lives.

Today we’re announcing the first tranche of that money, 15 and a half million into front line experience to make the most of the new powers, 7 million into the community projects including the adventure capital fund, all of it going back into fight crime and to enable civilian as well as uniform staff do their job.

And it is all about civil renewal, it’s all about citizenship, it’s all about an agenda of engaging with and mobilising people in their own lives to change the criminal justice system, to change what’s happening on the ground in their communities, to be part of the solution, to feel that they identify and they belong , pride in community, pride in being part of what is taking place, and at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the 20th century municipal enterprise rose to the challenge about bringing about change in the twentieth century the great strides of the Welfare State.

And now in the twenty-first state mobilising people in a very different world, a future world where their aspiration, their needs, their wants will have to be met in new ways.

A future with fairness, reducing fear and fear of crime but also refuting and putting aside fear of difference and fear of change.

Conference, the British people have always been warm and welcoming to others across the world, our history is full as has been said this morning of embracing those at greatest risk, of ensuring that people could seek sanctuary, and under this Labour Government that will continue, must continue, to be the case.

But where there is misunderstanding, there will be fear. Where there is uncertainty there will inevitably be doubt. And that is why we seek to reassure, that is why we seek to put in place confidence, that is why we ensure that the voices of racists can be drowned by telling the truth, that is why I’ve had to put border controls into France for the first time, that is why we closed the Sangatte centre, that is why we secured the freight depots and the channel tunnel.

That is why we have also opened up new asylum routes with the United Nations so that no longer will people have to pay if they can afford to pay the traffickers, the organised criminals, to smuggle them across the world.

So from next month we will begin the programme of United Nations nominated victims of torture and threat of death across the world to be able to come to our country and we will set that alongside the development of our work permit system, the largest now in the world, 200,000 this year alone to allow people to come and work openly, legally, legitimately in our country, to make a contribution, economically and culturally to our country, to dramatically change the balance and to change the balance in the message we send, because I believe that men and women of this country will welcome those from across the the world if they know that what we’re doing is trusted, they can be confident in its administration, they know that we’re seeing off organised criminals and on that basis we can demand of them that they join with us in seeing off the BNP and the racist who destroy our community.

So this balanced policy is simply about getting it right .

It is about the confidence we need , and it is about the values we espouse.

Values that I have held since I entered the party all those years ago, and a part of the values I believed in was that rights and responsibilities had to go hand in hand.

Our party grew from the community and from the trade unions, to come together, all of us together, in common cause .

Today we must take people with us as never before, working with people alongside people, speaking to and acting with people in their own communities.

Hope rests not just on legislation but on changing the culture of society round us .

Its what drew me into the party, I suspect it is what drew you into the party. Embracing those for whom a change of government would make little if no difference . But also inspiring those and winning those for whom a change of government would spell disaster.

That is what we’re about at this conference today, 2 terms in office is not enough, not enough to prepare Britain for the century ahead. Not enough to devolve power to people and influence into communities.

Conference, yes, we are best when we’re bold, we’re best when we’re united , we’re best, truly best when we’re labour but we’re best of all when we’re in touch with providing aspiration to , speaking the language of the people we seek to serve , their views, their voice, our voice in unison, our voice, their voice is in the challenge of the years ahead and from this conference our voice and their voice will be united in common cause to ensure that that third term is ours.

Margaret Beckett – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, to the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 29th September 2003.

By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone”

Those words from the Party’s membership card have been coming into my head all week since I saw in a recent newspaper article the reported comments of a pensioner. Asked what she wanted from this Labour Government – what kind of future she sought, she called for a better quality of life – greater security, good healthcare, safer streets, less vandalism.

It’s what she wanted for herself. It’s what we want for every citizen because that is only fair – fair and right and just.

As that pensioners comments revealed, the public face of public services for the great majority of Britons starts at their front door. That public face may not be of our schools, unless there are school age children in the family. For the majority it may not immediately be healthcare unless there is a current experience of ill-health. But for each and all of us it is the condition of our streets, and open spaces. It’s litter, graffiti, abandoned cars or even discarded chewing gum. It’s vandalism experienced or even just feared.

These are the things that blight all of our daily lives, which make us feel more insecure. Yet we know that all of these things are beyond the reach of any of us as an individual. They require that common endeavour.

Government’s role is to provide local authorities and others with powers and funding to help address these problems in the communities where they occur, working with those closest to them, community groups, the police, youth services and local businesses.

We cannot just will this change from Whitehall but the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, for example, will give local authorities new powers to tackle fly-tipping, graffiti and noise.

If we are to meet the challenge set for us not only by that pensioner but by the millions of our fellow citizens at home and across the world who share her ambitions for their own lives, we must strive to overcome the divisions which beset our communities.

Above all, we must achieve this in international climate change negotiations. I believe this to be the predominant challenge of our time – the challenge that dominates our future, no matter what else may befall. And though that challenge will affect us all, it will affect first and most the most poor and the most vulnerable. Even if we act now, with as much boldness and effectiveness as we can summon, the science tells us that, for example, by the end of this century 20 million more people are likely to be affected by flooding every year- most of them in developing countries. If we do not act that figure will be at least 90 million.

We and other developed countries accept that while everybody has a part to play and must find ways of playing that part, we the developed countries have a duty to act earlier, to make a greater contribution, to shoulder a larger part of the responsibility – because we can. That is fairness. It is also international solidarity in practice.

The contribution of Britain’s scientists and the lead taken by our government as well as personally by the Prime Minister has brought us huge international respect.

But none of us have taken more than the very first steps on a long long road. Agreeing the Kyoto Protocol and its legal framework laid the foundation but there is much much more to do to match the scale of the challenge we face.

President Putin acknowledged that challenge today. We are in no doubt that it is in the interests of the whole world, Russia included, for the Kyoto Protocol to come into force with Russian ratification. It is also strongly in Russia’s economic interest.

But as I say we must do more. That is why in our Energy White Paper this year we set out on a long-term path for Britain – we set the goal of reducing our carbon emissions – the main source of climate change – by around 60% by the year 2050 – the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. It is at the heart of our pursuit of a low carbon economy. In Britain we have already shown that economic growth and emission reduction can be achieved side by side. We do not need to choose between them. Carbon emissions fell 13% between 1990 and 1999, while the economy grew by 28%. In fact in many cases environmental gain can bring economic benefits. Companies and individuals saving carbon are companies and individuals saving money.

There is one other area I want to raise, which people do not often mention when you ask them about their quality of life, perhaps because wrongly we take it too much for granted. That is the way Britain looks and is. Our landscape. Our forests. Our rural environment. And what that means to all of us in terms of leisure opportunities and tourism.

The creation of DEFRA strengthens the link, between the quality of our landscape and our quality of life. We are developing agri-environment schemes for farmers which reward them for improving landscape and biodiversity. We’re considering the creation of two new National Parks in the New Forest and South Downs. River water quality is at an all-time high. Wild bird populations are at their highest level since 1990. And there are more trees in England than there have been for 100 years.

And this is just the beginning. For decades the structure of the Common Agriculture Policy with its powerful and direct links between levels of production and subsidy was providing a perverse incentive to undermine much of what we most value, about what is after all a managed landscape – 70% of it farmed.

Incidentally it was the perverse incentive to overproduction which also led to us dumping our surpluses on world markets, undermining the prosperity of farmers in many developing countries.

The dramatic changes which we can make as a result of the recent historic agreement on CAP reform stem from breaking that fundamental link between production and subsidy levels. They offer us an opportunity to work towards the goals set for us by the Curry Commission at the beginning of this Parliament – a more sustainable agriculture which is better for consumers, taxpayers and farmers – as well as being better for our environment.

That reform deal formed the basis for our approach to the recent WTO talks in Mexico, where for the first time the world community as a whole sought trade deals whose over-riding purpose was to improve the long-term prospects for developing countries.

At those talks there was the opportunity to maintain the momentum created by the Millennium Development goals, the Monterrey finance agreement the Johannesburg Summit and the many practical partnerships for development that it launched.

Sadly, in Mexico that opportunity was not seized. I am well aware that many who passionately support the cause of development believe that this is for the best. I hope more than I can say that their tactics and their optimism prove to be justified. What I profoundly fear is that we are in danger of irrevocably damaging the prospects for sustainable development which will be of most worth to those who need it most. There is a terrible risk that major players in many different parts of the world will judge that country to country deals could serve them almost as well. Yet it is only through multilateral processes that we stand any chance of protecting the interests of the smallest and the most weak.

So it is internationally as well as at home that we must all strive for real improvement in the quality of life for all.

The issues brought to mind by that phrase are fundamental to our well-being. Few of them are easy to tackle or to overcome. But real benefit to human health and happiness follow from addressing them successfully. And as I said at the outset that can only be a common endeavour. Perhaps after all it’s not “the economy stupid”. It is the quality of life.