Boris Johnson – 2008 Speech on the Fourth Plinth

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the then Mayor of London, at the Royal Academy on 3 June 2008.

I rise with the terror of someone who barely passed Art A-level after working for two weeks on a drawing of a decomposing lobster and yet who is now called upon not only to address this famous academy that has done so much to help make London the cultural and artistic capital of the world, but who is also asked to make judgements, as Mayor, about some of the most bitterly contested battlegrounds of our national Kulturkampf.

And I mean in particular the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, where I am told I must choose.

I can go for a dead white male war hero, gloved, goggled, moustached, forged in traditional bronze and thereby – so I am warned – earn the odium of the entire liberal funkapolitan art world, or else I can continue to support the rotation of strange and wonderful works of contemporary art and enrage those who think these conversation pieces are out of keeping with Nelson’s square and that a failure to install Sir Keith Park is a disservice to the memory of those who saved our country from tyranny in 1940.

As I have wrestled with this problem, I have seen how elegantly I appear to be politically and intellectually skewered.

If we go for Keith Park, we seem to be saying snooks to modern art, remember the war, and on with the great western European tradition 2500 years old of casting military heroes in bronze. Though he is not a Vitruvian model of anatomical perfection, the Keith Park statue is recognisably a human being, and of course there is a large part of me that yearns to memorialise this amazingly brave New Zealand fighter ace.

Yes, I do worry that we have lost interest in our history and in traditional artistic skills and I mourn the loss of so much music teaching in schools and as Mayor I want to help restore it and I grieve that kids have so little time to learn to draw properly. I get pretty steamed up about the general mushy-minded cultural relativism of our age and I assert the total superiority of Homer over the epic of Gilgamesh and I think the artistic output of 15th century Italy was much better than the artistic output of 15th century meso-America and I congratulate Neil McGregor on getting the Terracotta army to London but when you compare those universal imperial henchmen with the Panathenaic frieze you can see why democracy and individualism got going in western Europe rather than in East Asia.

And yet before there is some kind of international incident I want to reassure you that the moment I hear myself arguing in this vein I realise that it does not reflect all that is in my heart because I love Chinese art and I admire those Aztec skulls and I like Damien Hirst’s flagrant rip-off of Aztec skulls and I nod with pleasure and agreement at Richard Dorment’s elucidations of the YBAs. When I was editing the Spectator I was thrilled to print an exclusive original Jake and Dinos Chapman showing one of their dildo-rich Hieronymus Bosch scenes, and I cannot help noticing that large numbers of Londoners are with me in liking the art on the Fourth Plinth and I trust in the sublime instincts of an ancient people.

And that is why I hope we can find a compromise that reflects the division in my heart and that Keith Park will be allowed temporarily to occupy the plinth in the run-up to the anniversary in 2010 while we look for another site. I say to the Keith Park campaigners ‘some day your plinth will come’. Frankly I am prepared to go so far as to rename Hyde Park Keith Park. Of course there will be people on both sides who object to my solution and as the battle rages on we should realise that the row itself is as old as art.

The Keith Park campaigners and the modern art campaigners have the joy of a cultural foe and in their passion they illuminate themselves and they illuminate the other side and they illuminate art, because neither proposition would be half so interesting without the other.

So it has hit me that my function as mayor is not to presume to arbitrate – I leave that to you, the Jedi of the artistic world. My function is to promote this eternal argument, to let a hundred flowers bloom, to be a kind of Don King of the debate between tradition and revolution, to build on the achievements of the previous mayor, to end the tick-box culture, to support and encourage the creative and cultural sectors in any way I can and to make absolutely no distinction between heritage London and the dynamic contemporary scene because, as I have made clear, the two depend on their juxtaposition – incarnated in Trafalgar Square – to make this the most artistically exciting city on the planet.

Michael Gove – 2008 Speech on Libel Laws


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Gove, the Conservative MP for Surrey Heath, in Westminster Hall on 17 December 2008.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) on securing the debate and the hon. Members for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) and for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on their speeches, both of which contained much good sense.

I draw attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Interests. As a journalist, I write for The Times and have been an executive of that newspaper as news editor. I am committed to the principle of free expression and the freedom of the press. That is not only a consequence of my professional career and vocation, but because I believe that it is only through an effective free press that the exercise and abuse of power can be monitored effectively.

While this country has the police, the courts and a system designed to track down and punish those who do wrong, the press has historically played an invaluable role in bringing such people to the attention of the courts and the police. Sometimes the press is needed to draw our attention to the failure of the authorities in the pursuit of wrongdoing, extremism or other activities that threaten the public interest. Only this week, The Times pointed out that someone who has connections to Islamist extremism that might concern us all has been employed as an adviser to the Metropolitan police’s Muslim contact unit.

Not just newspapers, but other institutions that exercise a journalistic or quasi-journalistic function have exposed extremism in public life. Think-tanks such as Policy Exchange, which I used to chair, and the Centre for Social Cohesion have pointed out the extent of extremist influence—particularly but not exclusively Islamist extremist influence—in British public life. Because of the international nature of the extremist threat, there are examples of the press being more effective than states or international institutions in exposing such dangers. An example is the work of Claudia Rosett at The Wall Street Journal in exposing the failure of the UN effectively to police sanctions against Saddam Hussein. In all those areas, free expression and a free press have been vital in exposing abuses.

The right hon. Member for Rotherham pointed out that it is of particular concern to all of us who are attached to the freedom of the press that individuals who have been alleged to have links to extremism have used British courts to close down the investigation or publication of allegations that are in the public interest. He mentioned the examples of Khalid bin Mahfouz and Mohammed Sawalha, a British resident who tries to close down legitimate investigation into extremism on the internet.

As the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for North Norfolk pointed out, there is in effect a public interest defence in law for the sort of investigative journalism that I am sure we would all applaud. The Reynolds defence offers journalists and newspapers a form of qualified privilege. That is qualitatively different from the sort of privilege enjoyed in courts and by Members of Parliament because it allows newspapers the comfort that it is legitimate for them to publish allegations provided that the process followed demonstrates that the journalism they are engaged in is of high seriousness, that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that the allegations are in the public interest and that they are being properly investigated. They do not subsequently have to prove justification to the same threshold required in other cases.

A problem with the Reynolds defence is that instead of being an aid to free expression, according to some it has become an obstacle to free expression. The guidance that the courts originally gave newspapers to help them publish material in the public interest has become another set of hurdles that they have to clear. The hon. Member for North Norfolk pointed out that Jameel and others v. Wall Street Journal Europe Sprl made it perfectly clear that the Reynolds defence should help, not hinder, free expression.

There has been only sporadic implementation of that defence and a misunderstanding of it in many courts. That is why at the very least it is worth exploring whether we can enshrine the principles of the Reynolds defence in statute. That would send a clear signal from Parliament to the courts that the Reynolds defence is in effect as a public interest defence that allows the publication of material that should be part of public debate, particularly when serious issues such as extremism and terrorism need to be investigated.

Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD): The hon. Gentleman has set out some components of the Reynolds defence. I believe that part of that approach of responsible journalism is to report the denial of the allegations by the accused. That is not a requirement, but I am interested to hear his view on the matter.

Michael Gove: The hon. Gentleman is right that broadly 10 principles are outlined in the Reynolds defence, one of which is the strong suggestion that an effort should be made to secure the response of the individual against whom allegations are made. It is a basic principle of good journalism that the other person’s case should be heard.

I would not wish to erect those 10 principles into 10 absolute hurdles. Discretion should be exercised in the courts and any change to the law should acknowledge that. The important points are whether the material that is published is in the public interest, whether the case is urgent and important enough to justify publication and whether overall the journalists, the newspaper or the blog can demonstrate that they have done everything in their power to ascertain the truth and importance of the allegations that are published.

On costs, the point has been made that conditional fee agreements can raise profound questions of a chilling effect on publication. Indeed, Lord Hoffman has pointed out that freedom of expression may be seriously inhibited by conditional fee agreements. The hon. Member for Croydon, Central has pointed out that they can be helpful to individuals without resources who have been defamed. I do not wish to see the end of them, but it is important that an effort is made not to perpetuate the chilling effect on publication in the ongoing review into the costs of civil judgment. In particular, small and independent newspapers, think-tanks, research groups and other organisations that are vital components of a free and rigorous culture of debate and accountability must be protected in any structure that we create.

Finally, it has been pointed out that internet publication can lead to links being created to articles that were published and brought into the public domain four or five years previously because they remain on an internet archive. That may be done to substantiate a point that is being made afresh. An individual who creates such a link to material that is already in the public domain can be sued. At the very least, it is questionable whether we should allow the courts to pursue an individual who in all innocence creates a link to an article that has not been the subject of a defamation action. That individual may be sued because of the desire of another to pick off a weak link who he considers to be rich pickings and a suitably unprotected victim. In those circumstances, it would be appropriate for the court to ask, “Why did you not go for the big boys first?”

Jacqui Smith – 2008 Speech at the Philip Lawrence Awards

Below is the text of the speech made by Jacqui Smith, the then Home Secretary, on 2 December 2008.

I am very pleased to be here today to meet the Philip Lawrence Award winners.

The Awards recognise the tremendous achievements of the many young people spending their own time to make a positive change in their communities.

Not only that, but they stand as a tremendous tribute to the memory Philip Lawrence and as a testament to the determination of Frances to honour that memory in a very meaningful way.

Continued support for the Awards

It is my privilege to be here today to show our continued support for the Awards that were first set up by Michael Howard in 1996 with the full approval of Frances.

She has been a great example to us all over the years and the Awards have provided an important platform for recognising the many people who work so hard to combat violence, vandalism, bullying and racism wherever they find it.

Far too often in the media, young people are portrayed as criminal or yobs. But these youngsters represent a tiny minority of the youth of this country.

I share Frances’ view that every child is capable of greatness. I also believe that the vast majority want to play a role in making our society a better place to live for everyone.

Celebrating outstanding contributions

That’s why we are here today. To celebrate the outstanding contribution that young people make to our society. To redress the balance and to show that young people can – and do – make a positive contribution to our communities.

The fact that we received so many nominations from all around the country clearly demonstrates the positive impact that young people are having across our towns and cities every day.

I met the initial panel in September when they were sifting through the mountain of entries and I have to say they had their work cut out for them. But the effort was well worth it and what fantastic winners we have.

We have ‘Reclaim’ from Manchester who have been working hard to challenge negative stereotypes and behaviour, as well as tackling youth violence in their area.

Giving young people a voice on social issues

We are also recognising the work of the ‘Young Muslim Voices Listen Up’ Project in London.

This particular group gives young people a voice on social issues through film, music, discussion, and even sports – as we saw with the ‘Kick Islamaphobia’ football tournament.

That particular scheme involved two local Mosques, Arsenal Football Club, Connexions and the Police.

Other winners hail from Ayrshire and Yorkshire and from the Midlands to Merseyside. Each group has shown how young people can work together to deal with some really challenging issues like strengthening links across the generations; sexual health; drug abuse and knife crime.

The commitment, enthusiasm and energy of these young people stands as an example to us all of how we can work together to tackle these issues head-on.

At the same time, they are building new skills, forging new friendships and setting the foundations for the stronger communities we all want to see.

I know that many previous winners have gone on to be involved with the Philip Lawrence Awards through joining the judging panel or taking part in interviews or other events. This is also something that I’m sure this year’s winners will want to do as well.

Positive about the future

Before I finish, I want to make one more point.

What’s very clear from today is that we don’t live in a ‘broken Britain’. In fact, seeing the energy and commitment of the groups represented here today, I believe we can be quite positive about the future.

You only need to meet some of the young people here to know that there are all sorts of people up and down our country giving up their own time for others.

So I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to be here and I want to congratulate you all again on your achievements.

Thank you.

Jacqui Smith – 2008 Speech on Preventing Violent Extremism

Below is the text of the speech made by Jacqui Smith, the then Home Secretary, at the Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism on 10 December 2008.

Good morning.

It may only be the second Prevent Conference, but we have come a long way over the past year and for that I want to thank you for all your hard work.

The importance of our work has been brought into stark relief by recent events.

The horrific and savage attacks on innocent people across Mumbai demonstrate all too clearly that terrorists do not care who they kill.

The victims were Muslim… they were Sikh… they were Hindu… they were Jewish… they were Christian… indeed, whatever faith they were, it’s clear that the terrorists made no distinction.

In September, we saw an attack at the Marriott in Islamabad. Again, innocent people were killed and maimed indiscriminately – taking no account of age, colour or religion.

And going back through all the terrorist attacks in recent years, we have seen the same tale of horror and misery repeated, including here in the UK – in London, in Glasgow and in Exeter.

Our sympathy goes out to the families of all those killed and injured – not just in India or Pakistan or Britain, but in every country that has had the misfortune to suffer from such attacks.

But again we are left asking “Why?”

There are extremists out there who suggest that these attacks can somehow be justified by some twisted interpretation of Islam. They cannot. Indeed, many of the victims of these attacks were themselves Muslim.

That’s why so many groups around the world have utterly condemned these terrorist acts.

Influential religious bodies in both India and Pakistan have this year proclaimed suicide bombing to be forbidden by Islam. Former high-profile terrorist supporters have denounced the use of violence.

And here in the UK – The Hindu Forum of Britain, the British Muslim Forum, and the Muslim Council of Britain have all come out to condemn the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai, to name just three from a long list.

It is clear that violent extremists do not truly represent any religion or community. They are simply criminals and terrorists.

Rapidly evolving terror threat

It is also clear we are facing a rapidly evolving terror threat that spans the globe, as well as being relevant at local level.

As such, we all have a duty to be even more prepared, more vigilant and more determined than ever to prevent further terrorist attacks taking place – no matter where that threat arises.

As you know, the threat level in the UK remains severe. In other words, an attack is highly likely.

The police and the security services are working all-out to disrupt and negate that threat. But we also need the public to remain vigilant – to trust their instincts; to pass information to the police; and to keep our shared responsibility to help keep each other safe.

In addition, we have to make sure the infrastructure is in place at national level and international level – whether that means getting the right legislation on the books or enhancing coordination across the various agencies.

However, even that will not be enough. We cannot simply arrest our way out of the threat.

That’s why our long term strategy is ultimately about stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism in the first place.

That is why we have to work particularly hard at local level to make sure that we are tackling violent extremism before it can take root – before the ideologies of fear and hatred can infiltrate and poison our society.

And that is why your work with Prevent is so important.

More funding for Prevent

You are key in delivering this – and as we will hear from Hazel in a moment – it’s already working.

I know that Hazel will want to talk about the success of the Pathfinders scheme, so I won’t go into any detail myself. However, I do want to commend the police for the way they have responded to the challenges of Prevent.

The Police have recognised that the community needs to be at the heart of their strategy in tackling this threat. They have prioritised a partnership approach that includes working closely with schools, colleges, universities, and across communities.

This marks real progress and to support these activities even further, we are funding more than 300 new Prevent police posts over three years.

£16 million will be spent this year creating new posts across 24 priority forces, as well as funding several other initiatives such as the Channel programme, which is currently up and running in 6 forces.

I’ll just say a little bit about Channel since it is an excellent example of partnership in practice.

This scheme identifies individuals that may be vulnerable to getting swept up in violent extremism and refers them toward multi-agency support.

Since it started in April 2007, the two pilot sites in London and the North West have received over 100 referrals. We are going to expand this further and the aim is that by the end of the financial year, we will bring the total number of sites up to approximately 25 operating across 12 police forces.

Prevent is still a relatively new strategic programme and I think the successes we’ve seen to date show that it is effective. But as always, there is more to do.

I am determined to make sure that we continue to support your efforts and, to that end, I am delighted to announce we have just granted a further £5.8 million to Prevent.

This funding comes in addition to the £12.5 million we announced in June this year and the extra money will be used at local level to fund a wide range of projects to disrupt radicalisers, strengthen institutions and support vulnerable individuals.

Future projects

One project we have in mind is a scheme to develop a Pan-London Somali Youth forum that will operate across 16 boroughs and work with Somali youths who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.

Another programme we’ve identified involves boosting the Prevent capacity and capability in universities.

We are not stopping there though. A further £5 million will be made available this financial year for local authorities, government offices and the police in support of our work in schools and colleges.

Focusing on younger age groups is important and these funds will help local schools and colleges put into practice the advice in the DCSF toolkit that Ed Balls published in October.

We are constantly analysing our performance and trying to find out how we can do more. We are also listening to you.

That’s why, for example, Hazel and I will be setting out simply and clearly how all these different funding streams will sit together ahead of the next financial year.

Some of you have also raised the point that your would like more information about the threats and vulnerabilities in your area.

So from the New Year we are introducing a process for sharing information that will enable all local authority chief executives and police borough commanders to see a ‘CT local profile’.

This includes an assessment of the vulnerabilities in a particular area, as well as an analysis of the factors that can contribute to radicalisation. It will also detail further research on extremist groups active in the UK and the ideologies they try to promote.

Again, this is part of our commitment to ensure that you have all the tools and information you need to target activities and resources as effectively as possible.

Where necessary, we will support you with changes that can only be delivered by national government. As such, we have introduced legislation to tackle those who incite violence.

Not only that, but just in the past few weeks we made it easier to exclude from the UK any foreign national who promotes hate.

More than legal solutions

But tackling extremism cannot just be about legal solutions. It is about supporting those who have real knowledge within Muslim communities, who can point authoritatively to how violence and separateness are not part of our shared values.

A great example of how we are doing this is the work we are doing on the Internet.

We know that radicalisers use the internet to prey on vulnerable individuals. As a result, we recently worked with companies that provide internet filtering products to strengthen the protection they offer against online material that can promote violent extremism.

And for the first time tomorrow we will host a core network of people who will put forward positive messages from the British Muslim community on the internet, directly challenging the extremists that set out to groom vulnerable individuals.

This readiness to make a civil challenge to extremists wherever they are is important and I can illustrate that with another recent example.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Luton and see at first hand the ‘ambassadors for Islam’ scheme funded by the local authority and supported by the police and other partners.

This initiative is doing a great job working with young Muslims in the community. It aims to build understanding and equip them with the tools they need to counter extremist ideologies and develop them into role models of the future.

What is even more important than the skills they are learning, though, are the values that underpin the mentoring scheme.

There was a strong sense of pride in being Muslim AND being British. A recognition of what they could contribute and a determination to make the most of the opportunities this country has to offer.

These young people – like the ones I met recently at a similar project in Waltham Forest – are our future, just as much as any other group of confident, articulate, challenging young adults. So it is vital we get them engaged and the project is doing a good job on that.

But I have noticed something else during my visits around the country.

As we have rolled out the Prevent strategy and become more effective in challenging extremist ideologies, we have seen a greater challenge from extremist groups who are careful to avoid promoting violence.

Instead they cynically skirt the fringes of laws that rightly defend free speech to promote hate-filled ideologies.

They may not explicitly promote violence, but they can create a climate of fear and distrust where violence becomes more likely.

These are the groups that fail to speak out and condemn violence when any reasonable person would be outraged.

In many cases, mosques, community centres and other institutions are being targeted by the Far Right, as well as by those peddling their particular brand of antidemocratic ideology in the guise of religion.

On both sides, these extremists are trying to create the idea that being Muslim and being British are incompatible.

Clearly, they are not. But the lesson here is that we need to respond to the extremists out there who are working to undermine the democratic and inclusive values that these young Muslims exemplify.

Confident as they are, these young people are having to put up with threats, intimidation and general abuse and that is something we all need to make a stand on.

This is not the only example. Take the case of Derby where an extremist group sought to take over a community centre by worming its way into the management structure.

The community banded together and drove this outside pressure away.

We applaud that and want to support it.

That’s why we have to work even harder to ensure that we are supporting the positive individuals in our communities, especially when it sometimes takes real bravery to make a stand.

That is why we are getting money and support into the grassroots of all our communities so they can respond.

Emphasising all that we share

Tackling extremists cannot just be about legal solutions. That is why we are giving a strong governmental lead by supporting and funding those who promote shared values. And this is why we are calling for a civic, as well as a legal challenge, against those who seek to undermine us. All of these elements are central to the Prevent strategy.

Hazel has made this case strongly and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, has been up and down the country in the last few months setting out our position on key foreign policy issues.

He is responding to the legitimate concerns of Muslim and other communities, but he has also been very ready to challenge those who want to twist their concerns into a general critique of our inclusive and liberal democracy.

We won’t win the argument by running scared. And we certainly will not be intimidated.

The message is loud and clear – we have the intellectual, moral and emotional confidence to take on the extremists and we will defeat them using every democratic means at our disposal.

We must all challenge the extremists, racists, and apologists for both, and not define any community by its extreme elements.

For despite what the extremists may want, our country is not built on hatred. It is built on shared values – tolerance, compassion and a respect for democracy and the rule of law. At heart, it is about fair rules and a fair say for everyone.

The threat we face is significant. But our most profound response is to have the confidence in people of all faiths and backgrounds to stand up for our shared values.

The appetite to fight for these shared values is there and that’s why – despite what the extremists may try – I’m confident that we will succeed.

Britain has always been stronger and more united because of its rich mix of people and cultures and the values they share.

That is who we are, and that is why we will face down this challenge together.

Jacqui Smith – 2008 Speech at the Intellect Trade Association

Below is the text of the speech made by Jacqui Smith, the then Home Secretary, on 16 December 2008.

Today I’d like to address one of the most pressing questions we face as a modern society – how we secure our rights and liberties as individuals, at the same time as ensuring the wider protection of all in our society against terrorism, crime and disorder.

Balancing these individual and collective rights has always been a key responsibility of government. And in an era of rapid technological change, it is right that we should constantly satisfy ourselves that we have got the balance right.

Looking back over the year, we’ve seen the question raised in some new – and it’s fair to say, peculiar – ways.

In June, the MP for Haltemprice and Howden booked himself a footnote in the history books by resigning from parliament and the Conservative front-bench, only to return to the Commons a month later.

And one night in April – less than a mile from here, just off Oxford Street – the artist Banksy left his calling card, with a piece of 30 foot high graffiti that proclaimed ‘ONE NATION UNDER CCTV’.

Eight months later, it’s still there – with a CCTV camera watching over it. And while it’s probably done wonders for the value of that gable wall, we’re entitled to ask how much this effort, and others like them, have hit the right target.

A nation under CCTV?

Are we, really, a nation under CCTV? Do we, today, live in what critics call a surveillance society?

I don’t believe so, not for one moment. But I welcome the debate. And while not condoning graffiti per se, I understand the need to keep revisiting these issues in an open and democratic society.

We are – all of us, as citizens, consumers, businesses and government – now presented with a host of new ways to capture, analyse and use data.

And there are clear benefits:

– retailers, banks, and insurance companies delivering more personalised and efficient services

– nurseries using online webcams to reassure parents that their children are in good hands

– sat nav technology making people’s everyday lives easier, whether it’s working out the route of a journey or accessing information from your mobile phone

– strengthening the frontline against crime, with handheld computers and mobile fingerprint devices meaning the police can spend more time out of the station

In the space of a century, we have moved from setting up the first fingerprint branch in Scotland Yard in 1901 to the regular use of DNA today to extend and backdate the ability to investigate crime.

To put it another way, we have seen elementary policing progress from the deductions of Sherlock Holmes and his dear sidekick right through to the forensic use of the discoveries of Francis Crick and Dr Watson’s namesake.

These developments have brought opportunities and challenges in their wake.

In some cases, like with DNA or the use of covert surveillance powers, it means rethinking our regulations and ensuring high standards of safeguards.

In other cases, as with the rapid growth of online communications, new technology demands that we find new ways to maintain the protections we currently rely on for the public good.

Early in the new year, we will consult on how to best continue tracking information relating to serious and organised crime and terrorism in this new environment.

As today’s verdict in the trial for the murder of Rhys Jones has shown, communications data can form an important part of prosecution evidence. And indeed this information – on the fact that communication has taken place, but not on its content – plays a role in some 95% of all really serious criminal cases, such as murder, drugs trafficking, and child sex abuse.

If this capability isn’t to be lost due to the growth of online communications, it’s clear that we need to respond and adapt to technological change.

As always, of course, new technology presents opportunity gaps for criminals as well – a set of early adopters if ever there was one, always on the look-out for new ways to exploit weaknesses.

Identity fraudsters, child pornographers, and international terrorists – all have made extensive use of the internet. And, our response – working with industry on the responsible use of social networking sites, for example, or to develop filtering software – has had to adapt constantly to stay ahead of the game.

One thing is clear. The eager take-up of innovation in the consumer sector does not mean that government itself can proceed without caution, or without robust safeguards in place.

Common sense guidelines

The public expect us to make use of technology to protect them – and that is a clear priority for me. We would be failing in our duty to do otherwise.

When we talk about fingerprints…CCTV cameras…DNA swabs…or scanning machines at airports…I think that people instinctively understand that these technologies, used properly, are vital tools against crime, terrorism and illegal immigration.

But I also recognise the absolute necessity of getting the balance on privacy right.

And so today I want to set out some basic tests, and set out the direction of travel for some of our key policies.

Are there appropriate safeguards in place – to keep data secure, for example, and to provide independent oversight where appropriate – as we have progressively built into how the National Identity Scheme operates?

Are we being as transparent as possible – and as with ID cards, how do we provide individual citizens with the right level of choice and control?

Where surveillance powers are used, are they kept in proportion to the damage and the threat they are seeking to prevent?

And perhaps the toughest question of all – does it stand up to the test of common sense?

Safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense.

For the public to have confidence that we will protect them and protect their rights, it is our responsibility as a government to ensure that these standards apply even as technology evolves.

RIPA consultation

Ten days ago, on a trip to Tower Hamlets, I saw how an entire neighbourhood had had their daily lives made a misery for months by the behaviour of people in one particular flat – until the local council and the police got a premises closure order and boarded it up. That order was only made possible because covert CCTV had helped capture the evidence of anti-social behaviour and crime.

There are literally hundreds of cases like this, where the police and local authorities access investigatory powers like covert surveillance and communications data under RIPA – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – and use these powers fairly and squarely to help law-abiding people to hit back against the yobs and bring criminals to book.

But even as we recognise the usefulness of RIPA, we have to be sure that it is being used properly. Even with the clear safeguards that RIPA requires for the use of communications data and covert surveillance, I am concerned at the level of misunderstanding there is about what these powers are, who has access to them, and what they can be used for.

Let’s be clear. RIPA is not anti-terror legislation, as is sometimes suggested. RIPA limits the use of investigatory powers, and makes sure they are used properly and proportionately. The legislation provides for oversight by independent commissioners and routes for individuals to complain if they feel the use of these powers has been unjustified.

While most of the investigations local authorities carry out are important – like protecting the public from dodgy traders, trapping fly tippers who dump tonnes of rubbish on an industrial scale across the countryside, or tackling the misery caused by noisy and disruptive neighbours – there are clearly cases where these powers should not be used.

I don’t want to see them being used to target people for putting their bins out on the wrong day, for dog fouling offences, or to check whether paper boys are carrying sacks that are too heavy.

Local council requests amount to a tiny proportion of the overall numbers – but nonetheless, it’s essential to make sure we’ve got the balance right. And it’s these tales of ‘dustbin Stasi’ and examples of excessive intrusion that give the responsible and respectable use of the powers a bad name.

Early next year, we will consult on a number of proposed changes to RIPA – and we will look at:

– revisions to the Codes of Practice that come under the Act;

– which public authorities can use RIPA powers; and

– raising the bar for how those powers are authorised, and who authorises their use.

One question I will be asking of local authorities is whether the powers are authorised at a high enough level. Would it reinforce public confidence, and avoid frivolous use of the powers, if they could only be done with the consent of a senior executive, and subject to a form of oversight from elected councillors?

I am determined to maintain robust powers to tackle crime and disorder. But to allay public fears of excessive intrusion, and to keep people’s trust and confidence in the wider necessity of these powers to tackle disorder, crime and terrorism, I am equally clear that we have to measure these efforts against our standards for safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense.


The same principles apply to DNA evidence. Having looked at this area particularly closely over the past year, I’ve found there are few areas where the balance between rights and protections comes into such stark relief as on DNA.

The recent European Court judgement in the S and Marper case has put the issue back in the spotlight.

Many of you will have seen the response of victims’ families to the recent ruling – notably the family of Sally Ann Bowman, whose killer was convicted as a result of DNA taken after he was arrested following a pub brawl and subsequently acquitted.

I have real sympathy for all those with concerns that any move could undermine a system that helped trap Sally Ann’s killer. And I want to reassure Sally Ann’s father that I will not let that happen.

In this and other cases, we’ve seen convictions for serious crimes of culprits who had had their DNA taken and retained for a previous crime where they were arrested, but not convicted.

In May 2002, Kensley Larrier was arrested for the possession of an offensive weapon. His DNA was taken and loaded to the DNA database, although the proceedings were then discontinued. Two years later, DNA from a rape investigation was speculatively searched against the database and matched his sample. This was the only evidence in the case, and when found guilty Larrier received a 5 year custodial sentence and was entered on the sex offenders register for life.

These cases and others tell me that the DNA database is crucial to public protection. It not only helps to lead to the guilty. It helps to prove innocence and to rule people out as suspects.

There is more we can do to strengthen the dividing line between guilt and innocence. For those who have committed a serious offence, our retention policies need to be as tough as possible.

But for others, including children, I am convinced that we need to be more flexible in our approach.

The DNA of children under 10 – the age of criminal responsibility – should no longer be held on the database. There are around 70 such cases, and we will take immediate steps to take them off.

For those under the age of 18, I think we need to strike the right balance between protecting the public and being fair to the individual.

There’s a big difference between a 12 year old having their DNA taken for a minor misdemeanour and a 17 year old convicted of a violent offence, and next year I will set out in a White Paper on Forensics how we ensure that that difference is captured in the arrangements for DNA retention.

We will consult on bringing greater flexibility and fairness into the system by stepping down some individuals over time – a differentiated approach, possibly based on age, or on risk, or on the nature of the offences involved.

That may mean letting the 12 year old I mentioned come off the database once they reach adulthood. And it could mean limiting how long the profiles of those who have been arrested but not convicted of an offence could be retained.

We are also re-examining retention arrangements for samples. Physical samples of hair and saliva swabs that represent people’s actual DNA are much more sensitive than the DNA profile that is kept on the database – which only uses a small part of non-coding DNA.

This was a key point flagged up when we set up the Ethics Group under the National DNA Database Strategy Board, and we will pursue improvements to the safeguards around the handling of samples.

These changes will see some people coming off the system. But as I said, we need to strengthen the dividing lines between innocence and guilt – and so I want to do more to ensure we get the right people onto the system as well.

No matter when they were convicted, I want to see the most serious offenders on the database. That’s why we are working with the police to increase the number of convicted offenders on it, starting with those now serving time in prison for rape and murder. And we will also look at whether we need to extend powers so that the police can take DNA samples for a longer period after conviction and from those convicted overseas when they return to the UK.

As I said at the beginning, the use of DNA in investigations is one of the breakthroughs for modern policing. And it’s an area where I’m proud to say that Britain is leading the world.

The strengths of the DNA database can only be safeguarded if they enjoy the confidence and trust of the public – and so the changes we will set out in the White Paper will deliver a more proportionate, fair and common sense approach.


It may disappoint Banksy to hear it, but one area where I am quite clear that we have the confidence and support of the public is on the use of CCTV cameras.

I mentioned the use of CCTV to help evict noisy neighbours. On a wider scale, CCTV has helped to reclaim our town centres and public spaces for the law-abiding majority. It’s playing a key role in crime prevention and in reducing the fear of crime – in turn bolstering the confidence of communities to stand up to vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

And it was footage from CCTV cameras, of course, that was crucial in the prosecution of the men who planned suicide bombings on public transport in London on 21 July 2005.

Up and down the country, MPs and local councillors are inundated with requests for more cameras on the streets.

And on the boulevards, too, perhaps – with President Sarkozy now arguing that France should follow our lead and increase the use of CCTV in public areas.

With the growing number of business-related CCTV cameras in operation, there are clear opportunities for closer working in the fight against crime.

I want to see more police forces follow the lead of Cheshire constabulary, who are now mapping out the location of CCTV cameras in shops and offices in their region, so that if they do need to access footage for a serious crime like murder or child abduction, they can get to the source quickly before the evidence is lost.


It’s by using new technologies and new resources in an innovative way – particularly when they’re combined with tried and tested approaches – that we can keep ahead in the fight against crime.

And where we can demonstrate that different arms of the state can tackle those who wilfully persist in crime or anti-social behaviour – like checking persistent offenders against TV Licensing and DVLA databases, and running checks for benefit fraud and council tax payments – I think there are few who would argue that it was not common sense, proportionate or public-spirited to do so.

At a time when technology is moving more quickly than ever before, and in an age where the public has never been better informed and more rigorous in their scrutiny of authority, it is fitting that the age-old question of how we get the balance right between individual and collective protections should continue to be asked.

This afternoon, I have outlined how we will continue to set the highest standards for ourselves in recalibrating that balance for today’s world, and how we will ensure that fair rules continue to be fairly applied.

Over the next few months, I want to engage the public in a discussion based on the protections and security we all derive from getting this balance right.

The public are our best defence against crime and terrorism. But I know they will not thank us if the systems we design to protect them are too intrusive. And so I will continue to put safeguards and openness, a sense of proportion and above all common sense, at the heart of everything we do.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2008 Speech on Economic Dynamism


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, on 6 May 2008.

Clearly Crewe & Nantwich is our top campaigning priority in the next couple of weeks. We’ve got fifteen days to go: fifteen days to overturn Labour’s majority of over 7,000.

Obviously it’s going to be a tall order but we will give it our best shot. We have a strong local candidate and a real focus from the entire organisation.

We’ve made a strong start, first out of the blocks, our message being delivered right across the constituency.

Our message will focus in particular on the 10p tax rate and how Gordon Brown is hurting the people of Crewe with tax increases just as their cost of living is going up. People in Crewe know.

Later this week, the Mayor of New York will be here, joining the Mayor of London.  I’m sure you will all agree Boris has made a strong start with appointments, announcements on crime and, today, on delivering value for money for London taxpayers.

In my meetings and discussions with Mayor Bloomberg I will be focusing in particular on education and his strong record in turning around failing schools in New York City.

After our excellent election results last week people are saying: what next from the Conservatives? How are you going to build on your success?

And how will you respond to the increased scrutiny you will now receive as the alternative government in waiting? I want to give a clear answer to that question today.

First let me explain something fundamental about how I see the job of Prime Minister. I don’t think you achieve very much as Prime Minister unless you have an incredibly clear idea about what you want to achieve and how you’ll go about it.

You’ve got to have a plan, and that plan has to have a sense of focus.
You can’t do everything at once – and you shouldn’t try.

You’ve got to focus on what you think is most important, and you’ve got to be pretty stubborn in going for it – and not letting yourself be blown about by events.

I think the lack of a clear plan, the lack of a proper sense of focus, is why first Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown failed to deliver much in the way of meaningful change. And having seen those failures, people are entitled to ask us: where’s your plan? What’s your focus?

So let me tell you.

As you know the NHS comes first, and we’ve set out sensible plans on independence of the NHS, and investment in public health. But the last thing that the NHS needs is another upheaval.

So, in terms of reform, those things that really need major change – the government I lead will have three areas of policy as its unremitting focus. I have chosen these areas because they are each fundamental to the broader objective I have set, to mend our broken society.

The three areas are: school reform, welfare reform, and strengthening families.

If we get those three things right, we will be helping to tackle the causes, and not just the symptoms, of the big social problems that people today really care about:

Crime, disorder and incivility on our streets.

Entrenched poverty and inequality.

The lack of social mobility in Britain. The fact that, for millions, opportunity is stalled.

The sense that people have that life, despite all the amazing opportunities of modern Britain – can be, frankly, a bit grim.

The sense that our country may be getting richer, but the quality of our lives is getting poorer. These are the big issues we have to tackle and our plans for radical school reform, welfare reform and strengthening families are the right way to do it.

But while those three areas of policy – schools, welfare, families – will be our focus for reform, there is no doubt that responsible stewardship of the economy will be the vital foundation of all we hope to achieve.

And so today I want to focus on the economy. As I said in my speech in the City of London in March, I think we need a new economic strategy in this country. Far from preparing us for tough economic circumstances, Gordon Brown has created an economy that is more vulnerable than most, in the three crucial ways I described in my speech in March:

First, the terrible state of our public finances. Instead of using the good years to prepare for a rainy day, Gordon Brown has left us with the worst deficit of any country in the developed world

Second, the narrow base of our recent economic growth. Under Labour, financial services have grown four times as fast as the economy as a whole, while manufacturing has hardly grown at all.

The size of government has increased a third more than the size of the economy. And rapid and uncontrolled immigration has flattered our growth statistics while disguising slower growth in what really matters: GDP per head.

The third reason why we need a new economic strategy is that Gordon Brown has presided over a fall in Britain’s competitiveness as a location for international investment.

And not only are we failing to attract new investment, the companies already here are being driven away.

Shire Pharmaceuticals and United Business Media have already left. And in the last few days alone there have been reports that WPP, AstraZeneca, Diageo and just today, Brit Insurance, are all looking to leave.

So we need to turn our economy round. I’ve set out many times what we would do to entrench monetary stability and fiscal responsibility.

Enhanced independence for the Bank of England. Independent judgement of fiscal rules. A measurable commitment to share the proceeds of growth over an economic cycle.

But there is another aspect to our plan.

We need to move away from Gordon Brown’s old-fashioned bureaucratic interventionism, towards a new economic dynamism. Not old-fashioned subsidies for hand picked favourites, but modern support for enterprise and wealth creation.

What does this mean?

Transport. Research and innovation. Education and skills.

These are the things which a modern economy needs to prosper.

They don’t just happen by magic.

They need government involvement.

But it has to be the right kind of involvement.

Our current Government is completely failing to get this right.

Where they should be getting out of the way they regulate and tax too much.

And where they should be intelligently engaged, such as on research and innovation, education and skills and transport infrastructure, they’re not doing nearly enough.

The next Conservative Government must get this right. Creating a strong economy will be the foundation of everything we hope to achieve.

So today I’m really delighted to announce that we will be working in the months ahead with one of Britain’s greatest business and export success stories, Rolls Royce.

We want to understand in detail the factors that contribute to successful science, technology, engineering and manufacturing in the twenty-first century – and what government can do to help put those factors in place for British industry as a whole.

Members of our policy teams will be embedded within Rolls Royce teams – both in the UK and internationally. We will hold a manufacturing summit later in the year to investigate how to engineer a modern manufacturing revival in this country. And I’m looking forward on a personal level to benefiting from the advice and expertise of this great British company.

Meg Munn – 2008 Speech on 20th Anniversary of Burma Uprising

Below is the text of a speech made by the then Foreign Office Minister, Meg Munn, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 11th August 2008.

I’d like to welcome you to the Foreign Office this evening.

We are here to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1988 uprising in Burma. We commemorate the tragic loss of so many lives, but we also celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit. We show our solidarity with the people of Burma who have endured a particularly tragic twelve months.

Tonight, we remember not only the victims of political oppression, but also the many tens of thousands who perished this year in the devastation of Cyclone Nargis, and the thousands more who are still struggling to survive and rebuild their lives in its wake. The Foreign Office and the Department for International Development have worked hard in responding to a political, as well as a humanitarian crisis.

With the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations and Western countries working together we have achieved much for the Burmese people since the cyclone. I hope that in the coming months we can build on this cooperation to break the political deadlock.

The 1988 uprising cost the lives of thousands of Burma’s young generation. They rose, unarmed, to call for the restoration of democracy and an end to misrule and the abuse of their human rights. Their lives were brutally cut short by the Burmese military, but their spirit endures.

I also pay tribute to those who continue to face intimidation, violence and imprisonment as they work for peaceful change. They make daily sacrifices to keep the flame of democracy alive.  Our thoughts rest particularly with the leaders of the protests twenty years ago who, after only two years of freedom, were detained again for their role in triggering last year’s ‘Saffron Revolution’.

I’d like to welcome tonight Lucinda and Adrian Phillips, sister-in-law and brother-in-law of Aung San Suu Kyi.  Since that famous speech at the Shwedagon Pagoda in 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi has been a symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of opposition and in the face of oppression.   She has shown an unwavering commitment to her country for the last twenty years.

The internet and other forms of communication inform people around the world about the shameful acts of the Burmese regime.  They are responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses; the deplorable treatment of ethnic groups and the detention of over 2,000 political prisoners.

Across the world there is support for the people of Burma. Support that has grown following the marches of last autumn: columns of monks leading people in peaceful protests against appalling and worsening economic and social conditions. As the UN Development Programme boldly reported from inside the country last November, Burma’s estimated per capita Gross Domestic Product is less than half of that of Cambodia or Bangladesh. The average household spends three quarters of its budget on food, and less than 50% of children are able to complete their primary education.

Even though they continue to deny her freedom, Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be silenced by the regime. Her messages of hope and moderation are accessed daily by people in their thousands from all corners of the world. As the Prime Minister has said, ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’s fortitude sends a message that reverberates around the world – that every human being has a right to live in freedom and democracy’.

Last October, the UK played a key role in securing the first ever Security Council action on Burma, with a Presidential Statement condemning the regime and stating clearly what the international community expected from it. Included is the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners; and the start of a credible process of reconciliation. We are determined to use the next few months and possible return of the UN Secretary General to Burma later this year, to make progress towards meeting these demands which are as relevant now as they were last October.

We have also helped galvanise the European Union into action. With our strong support, earlier this year the EU strengthened sanctions in key sectors – timber, gems and precious metals. We have also taken every opportunity to encourage the Association of South East Asian Nations, China and India to do more to promote political change in Burma.

The inherent instability of the current situation should be of deep concern to Burma’s neighbours and economic partners. Over the last year I have repeatedly discussed the situation with governments of the region, urging them to bring their influence to bear on Burma. The country acts as a brake on the successful development of the region as a whole.

While we work for international action, we also run projects on the ground in Burma to help boost the capacity of civil society groups. The free and active participation of all Burma’s communities in the debate on the country’s future, remains our goal.

The UK’s efforts are boosted enormously by our mission in Rangoon and I’d like to take this opportunity to commend Mark Canning and his team, who have worked tirelessly in very difficult circumstances in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.  They are indeed the best of the FCO and represent us incredibly well in Burma.

Burma will not be forgotten.  The UK will continue to work hard to support the Burmese people. They have shown their courage, and their determination to re-join the global community. Burma’s people, whatever their ethnicity or political beliefs, deserve the democratic civilian government that they have shown so many times they want.

David Miliband – 2008 Speech on the Future of the Middle East


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, at the United Nations Security Council held in New York on 16th December 2008.

Thank you Mr President.  The United Kingdom welcomes this debate and welcomes the prospect of a new UN Security Council resolution, the first since 2004.  The violence, intensity and grievances of the Israeli Palestinian conflict have global ramifications and their resolution is the proper business of this Council.

Mr President, the Security Council does not lack consistent policy on the Middle East.  Though our resolutions have been sporadic, they have gained significance and status from their scarcity.  The numbers 242, 338, 1397 and 1515 ring out as the rallying points for peace.  It is right that after a year of intensive activity we take stock, add a new number to the line of previous resolutions and most important resolve to use 2009 with determination to make progress within the framework of this resolution.

The starting point for the United Kingdom is the concerns of the people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  They are tired and fearful, tired of conflict, but also of false promises, fearful of each other, but more fearful of the future.

One year after Annapolis, the bilateral discussions have been detailed and serious and the Syrian track has been launched.  But cynicism and pessimism have grown.  Rockets from Gaza land further in to Israel.  The Israeli restrictions in particular on food and medicine causes acute suffering in Gaza.

Mr President, there are plenty of people ready to say that there can be no two state solution.  I applaud the determination of Secretary Rice not to join them.  The Annapolis process has not delivered a Palestinian state, but the absence of an Annapolis process would have left us much worse off.

Secretary Rice has spoken plainly and powerfully of the stakes, the vision and the necessary steps.  Now we have to follow her and help the parties to take these steps.

The resolution before us is significant for its espousal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.  It emphasises the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.  The United Kingdom welcomes this emphasis.

The responsibility for a resolution of the Middle East conflict does not just fall to Israel and the Palestinians, though they must lead the process.  It falls to every state in the region, for the only sustainable peace must be a twenty three state solution, not just a two state solution.  Twenty two Arab states and Israel living side by side in security.

We welcome the recent reiteration by the Arab League on behalf of its member states that the Arab world wants formally to end the conflict and establish normal relations with Israel.  We believe that the outlines of that peace are clear and can command consensus.  Recognition and respect from Arab states for Israel and a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with a just settlement for refugees and Jerusalem the capital of both states, Israel and Palestine.

Mr President, there will need to be brave decisions on all sides, above all by the bilateral partners in the negotiations.  For Israel, this means fulfilling its Road Map commitments, notably on illegal settlements and improving conditions for Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza.  For Palestinians, this means finding a way to reunite around negotiations and non violence.  And those who would torpedo the process must know that we are determined not to allow them to succeed.  Hamas must end their rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, abandon violence and demonstrate their commitment to the political process by moving towards the Quartet principles.

Mr President, the United Kingdom welcomes operating paragraph four on the development of Palestinian capacity and the development of the institutions of a Palestinian state.  We believe this is vital.  The political process and the solution on the ground are, and the situation on the ground, are inseparable.  They need to be mutually reinforcing.  Better security forces for the Palestinians does not just mean better lives for them, it means more security for Israel.  We applaud the efforts of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad to make this a reality and are determined to play our part in supporting them.

Mr President, our role here today is not just to pass a resolution.  It is to challenge all those with an interest in the region to join us in 2009.  The perils of inertia are clear.  Inactivity and confrontation are the recruiting sergeants for extremism from Mogadishu to Manchester.  The gains of effective action are the opposite, the reversal of four decades in which the Middle East has been destabilised and the world made less safe.  That is why the United Kingdom pledges to do all in its power not just to support this resolution, but to progress its implementation.

Thank you very much.

David Miliband – 2008 Speech on Somalia


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, on the UN resolution on Somalia. The speech was made at the United Nations Security Council on 16th December 2008 in New York.

Thank you Mr President.

I’d like to just start by setting out an Explanation of Vote in relation to the Resolution that we have just passed before moving on to my broader statement.

The United Kingdom has voted in favour of this Resolution because we support robust action to address the serious threat to international navigation posed by piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, including to deliveries of humanitarian aid to the people of Somalia.

The authorisation conferred by paragraph 6 of the Resolution to permit States cooperating with the transitional Federal Government to use “all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia for the purpose of suppressing acts of piracy ” enables States and regional organisations, with the consent of the TFG, to act using force if necessary against pirate activities on land in Somalia.

This is an important additional tool to combat those who plan, facilitate or undertake acts of piracy from the territory of Somalia.  The UK considers that any use of force must be both necessary and proportionate.  These concepts include an assessment that the measures taken must be appropriate for the circumstances to which they are directed.

That concludes my Explanation of Vote and I’d like now to make a statement on the wider issue of piracy and related issues.

I am obviously grateful to our colleague, Dr Rice, for her initiative in taking this Resolution through and for securing unanimous support for it.  I think this is an opportunity to discuss both the narrow issue of piracy and the wider situation in Somalia.  I shall try to do so briefly.

The seas off Somalia are a key economic artery for global trade and for many nations represented here, but they are also essential to the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies to the people of Somalia.

The UK, and many others, are working to address the issue of piracy at sea with the EU, NATO, and Combined Task Force 150 all playing their role in seeking to escort World Food Programme vessels, deterring pirate activity and, where possible, disrupting attacks.  Others are contributing naval assets to undertake similar tasks.  The cooperation at military level amongst those contributors is demonstrating how we can work together on this difficult issue.

However, it is important that we work, not just on the military front, but with the shipping industry, either on a government to industry basis or through the International Maritime Organisation.

To support these efforts, I welcome the practical measures that we will agree in the Security Council Resolution today, that we have agreed in the Security Council Resolution today.

But as my Russian colleague has intimated, we cannot look at the issue of piracy through the prism of international trade or shipping alone.  In Somalia itself, as people are understanding from watching television or reading the newspapers today, the political humanitarian and security situations carry real risk.  The Djibouti Process has for many people opened a potential new chapter for Somalia.

It is a Somali-owned process and must remain so.  But we have a responsibility as members of the Security Council to do what we can to support it.  It will not succeed in isolation from the political process.

I hope that all those engaged in the negotiation can do what is necessary to turn it into practical reality.

The clear and shared goal is to work for a credible commitment from the TFG, the ARS and other political forces to re-energise the Djibouti political process with the aim of producing a more representative political system.

There are, however, two major areas of uncertainty that raise questions for the United Kingdom.  One is about political uncertainty, the other is about uncertainty relating to the security situation.

In respect of the political uncertainty, there is a necessity for early concrete steps to deliver a viable way forward.  Sheikh Sharif’s recent visit to Mogadishu is an important example of this.  We also need to see an orderly transition to the proper Government of National Unity and clear appointment of key Cabinet figures.

This will be vital if Somalis are to be effective in developing an indigenous security sector.

At the same time, it is clear that there are major questions relating to the security situation as well.

I look forward to learning in this Debate of the views of a range of members here, including our Somalia Delegation, about their understanding of the intentions of Governments in the region, about the future of AMISOM and about the security needs in Somalia.

We understand that the history of intervention in Somalia is one that carries a great deal of important lessons for all of us.  We will be addressing these issues, consistent with our own commitments, not just to the humanitarian situation, but also to the political support that is going to be necessary to take this forward.

Thank you very much, Mr President.

David Miliband – 2008 Speech at the UK/Caribbean Ministerial Forum


Below is the text of the speech made by David Miliband on 15th July 2008 at the Foreign Office and the UK/Caribbean Ministerial Forum.

Well good evening everyone. A very, very warm welcome to you all to the Foreign Office. This is the Locarno room, where the Peace Treaty of Locarno was signed just after the First World War. So you are extremely welcome here.

I especially want to welcome obviously the leaders from 10 friends in the Caribbean, ten countries who are deep and long-standing allies, and who are here for the UK-Caribbean Forum.

I also want to introduce my friend and colleague Meg Munn, whose ministerial duties include the countries that are represented in the Caribbean forum, and also Gareth Thomas, who is Minister for Trade.

Though distinguished are all of those visitors, I hope all of you will understand if I single out a different group for mention tonight, because we have representatives here from the Windrush generation.

I think we all know that the word “Windrush” has entered the British lexicon, the British vocabulary, in a very, very profound way. The Windrush generation are an inspiration, an example, a set of leaders for values and commitments that I think are very important for the whole of British society, and it’s important the week after we have celebrated the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service to remember the contribution of the Windrush generation and their successors to the whole history of the National Health Service. Actually, I think you can make the case that the strength – and the enduring strength – of the National Health Service in part owes to what those generations did at all levels of the Health Service in the 1950s and 1960s and beyond.

And that is a symbol of a commitment right across British society. The 800,000 Britons of Caribbean origin, Caribbean heritage – some are ministers, some are lawyers, some are parents, and teachers in schools – they are all massive contributors to our society, and the enduring link that exists between our governments is only, in a way, possible because of the people-to-people links that join us together, so I hope you’ll excuse me if I give a special welcome to them here.

That generation I think helped to shape me. I went to a school in inner London where 64 different languages were spoken – people came from a whole range of backgrounds. And I’m proud that we’ve become a society that’s better not just at promoting “tolerance”, which is a very minimalist way of thinking about other human beings, but actually at promoting respect and welcome for the benefits that diversity brings. There’s still a way to go, but we’ve come a long way and I think it’s important to recognise that.

It’s also important to say I’m really delighted that the Secretary General of the Commonwealth is here – the new Secretary General of the Commonwealth – Kamalesh Sharma, formerly the very distinguished Indian High Commissioner in London, now taken off his post as High Commissioner, and so I hope you’ll all be lobbying him as well tonight.

We’ve got two days of really serious work ahead of us. And I think at the heart of our discussions – we’re going to have detailed discussions about a whole range of issues – but I think at the heart of our discussions is the question of how we take our relationship to a new dimension.

We know the relationship we used to have, we know the relationship we’ve got, I think our challenge over the next two days is to map out our relationship for the future that is based on shared values, and I do want to applaud the statement of CARICOM only in the last few days about the situation in Zimbabwe, because the situation in that country is a challenge to all of our values.

This has got to be a community of values but it can also be a community of interests, and we’re going to talking over the next few days about crime and security, which is a massive issue in your countries but also a massive issue in our country. We’re going to be talking about food security, and food affordability, which are issues in both of our countries.

We’ll also be talking about something which probably wouldn’t have appeared on our agenda five or ten years ago – certainly it wasn’t on the agenda at the first meeting in Nassau in 1998 – which is the issue of climate change.

Because some of you are able to talk about the challenge of climate change as a reality and not as a theory. And that I think is something that is very important in helping the world wake up to the challenges that it faces.

I think it’s important that we’re honest about the fact that our relationship is changing and it’s changing because circumstances are changing, but I think it can be as strong as ever, not just at a government-to-government level, but also at a business level, which is why the trade round is so important, and at a people-to-people level, because in a way the people-to-people links are growing – obviously tourism – but they are also growing through the contribution of people of Caribbean heritage to our country and the links that they have back to the Caribbean. And I hope that’s something that we can in the next couple of days build on.

One of my favourite poems is a poem with the title “Roots and Wings” and it’s about how community is really important to people . If you don’t have deep roots you don’t have security. But it’s also about the fact that on their own, roots are not enough. The purpose of a decent society is to help individuals grow wings to be able to see the world, to engage with all the challenges and opportunities that the world has got. And in a way I hope that that notion – strong roots, strong wings – will really inspire us over the next few days. The meetings that we’ll have with a range of ministers, and also with the prime minister, I think will give us a chance to map the way for a confident and strong future between Britain as a whole as well as the British government and the countries and people of the Caribbean.

And on that note, I can think of no better person to second this word of welcome and introduction than Baldwin Spencer, the Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister as well, of Antigua, a man whom I now know from having met him first of all in November in Uganda, a man who has links to the Miliband family that I didn’t know about.

This isn’t an unknown part of my heritage that I’m about to reveal, but Baldwin had – I would say the good fortune – but he had the fortune to be a student of my father’s while he was a student in the UK and that brought home to me that while our countries can seem a long way apart there are actually more meeting points than many of us realise.

Baldwin , you are co-chairing the forum over the next couple of days. You’re extremely welcome to the Foreign Office as a friend of Britain as well as a friend of the Milibands and I am merely the appetiser for your main speech tonight.

So on that note, welcome to the UK-Caribbean forum, thank you for coming tonight and please give a warm welcome to Baldwin Spencer. Thank you very much.