Gordon Brown – 2008 Northern Ireland Assembly Speech


Transcript of speech given by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Speaker, Members of the Assembly.

It is an honour and a privilege to be in Stormont to address the elected members of this fully-representative, power-sharing administration and Assembly. And to be the first Prime Minister to do so.

It is also a humbling experience, because for all the cynicism about politics today, you are living proof that politics can win through – and that public service can make a great difference.

So let me say at the outset that the reason the Northern Ireland of today commands respect from all round the world is because politicians – and that means all the elected representatives in this Assembly – have shown that the political path to peaceful change, while it can be difficult, is the only way from conflict to a stable and secure future.

That however great the divisions, dialogue can move us on from ancient battlegrounds to new common ground.

Because the measure of the strength of our new politics is that in difficult times, we renew our efforts, go back to the table and find a way through.

That is what you and this Assembly are showing to the world.

After decades of conflict you are on an entirely different path.

No longer the ever present threat of violence; the uncertainties of what might happen at the supermarket, at the petrol station or in the city centre.

Together you have transformed this society. And that is a momentous achievement.

And I acknowledge the historic contributions of Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern and Bill Clinton, the First and Deputy First Ministers, the Former First Minister here and so many others who have worked to make real the ideal of a new Northern Ireland. It’s invidious to select any one of you here. All of you have worked for your community. Our government and the governments of the Republic led by Brian Cowen and the United States led by George Bush continue to be pledged to this. For what you have done here – and what you are still doing and have still to do – is an inspiration for the whole world. Showing that the light can come to the darkest places when people are empowered to take control of their destiny and decide to change it for ever.

But for Northern Ireland – once more and now more than ever – the outcome is in your hands. But what the politics of Northern Ireland has proved is that hope can triumph over fear.

Northern Ireland. No longer the byword for endless, corrosive despair but a beacon of promise for the future.

Northern Ireland – increasingly at peace with itself

A Northern Ireland of rising prosperity and cohesion.

So what you have done here – and what you are still doing and have still to do – is an inspiration for the whole world. Showing that the light can come to the darkest places when people are empowered to take control of their destiny and decide to change it for ever.

All around there is a new sense of confidence and achievement.

Over the past decade Northern Ireland has delivered one of the highest rates of growth of any UK region outside London and the South East. We have seen businesses attracted by competitive operating costs, excellent transport links and world-class skills.

Now as we have seen in recent days, the instability in global financial markets is affecting every major economy in the world. Financial turbulence that started in the US sub-prime mortgage market has now spread to some of the biggest institutions in Wall Street. This is the first crisis of a truly globalised economy. And these twin shocks of the credit crunch and inflationary pressures that are hitting every country in the world will require new international as well as domestic solutions.

Of course, given the importance of financial services to the UK economy, neither the UK, nor any part of the UK can be insulated from these global financial shockwaves. And as we have seen again this morning, like all the major economies we are also being hit by the inflationary impact over the last couple of years of higher global commodity prices which have a direct effect on family budgets.

But because of the five fundamental strengths of our economy:

· low inflation and therefore low interest rates, · flexible labour markets · the financial strength of our industrial companies · public debt repayments over the last decade meaning we can prudently increase government borrowing at the right time · and the long-term decisions we are taking on planning, energy and our national infrastructure

we are better placed than we have been in the past to weather this global downturn.

At home we have taken action to help households through this difficult period including:

· tough decisions on public sector pay to keep inflation and interest rates down; · support through the New Deal and Job Centre Plus to help those affected by job losses; · £120 family tax cut for 22 million basic rate taxpayers this year;¼br /> · and targeted support for the housing market, including a stamp duty holiday, to help those affected.

And we will continue to use our credibility and experience to lead international work on those issues that can only be tackled at the global level. This summer we worked with Saudi Arabia to focus urgent global attention on the problems in the world oil market. Since their peak, oil prices are down more than a third though we continue to work with our international partners to improve the functioning of the market.

Global problems require global action. And in New York next week I will meet with world leaders and press for the reforms the UK has been proposing to the global financial architecture:

· more transparency of financial institutions to reduce the uncertainty in financial markets; · a better early warning system for global investors, including a stronger role for the IMF; · and better coordination between financial regulators, building on the reforms we made to create the Financial Stability Forum in response to the increasing global integration of financial markets.

To build more momentum for these reforms, the Government is sending senior representatives to visit all G7 countries in advance of the IMF meetings.

So will continue to do whatever is necessary to keep our economy moving forward and to maintain the integrity of our financial institutions.

And as the fundamentals of Northern Ireland’s economy remain strong – so I believe Northern Ireland has powerful reasons for optimism.

Last year you had one of lowest rates of unemployment of any UK region.

And today you have more people in work than ever before.

And because you have ensured that the politics of peace has prevailed over violence, you have also made possible a new era of international investment in Northern Ireland.

In the past, because of the violence, because of the conflict, investment here was too often seen as risky.

When investment did happen – it was despite the troubles.

But today you are able to reap real benefits from international investment.

The world’s service, financial and manufacturing companies see Northern Ireland as equal to – or even the best of places – to invest.

In May this year I spoke to the Investment Conference the Executive organized here in Belfast.

More than a hundred CEOs, Chairmen and Senior Executives from the United States were drawn here by the opportunity of Northern Ireland.

We saw companies like Bloomberg vote with their dollars and make their investments.

And we’re seeing existing investments grow rapidly from Marriot; the New York stock exchange; and most recently – Bombardier.

We know the immediate impact of that conference alone: over £80 million of new investment in Northern Ireland.

And Invest Northern Ireland has received over 40 expressions of interest from overseas which they are currently following up.

I remember meeting with the CEO of Bombardier at Hillsborough and talking through with him the work being done to attract huge resources for work on a new passenger jet here in Belfast.

And I watched with pride the deal being announced in July at Farnborough – in this, Shorts’ centenary year – with over 800 jobs secured – and the first orders being placed by Lufthansa.

Earlier this afternoon I visited Bombardier and met some of those whose skills will lead Northern Ireland into the future. Young and adult apprentices and those who had qualified through the Engineering Skills for Industry Programme, which has helped 130 people into sustainable employment in Belfast. And I met pupils from local schools being introduced to aerospace through Bombardier’s educational outreach programme.

Progress like this is possible only because of the skills and enterprise of the people of Northern Ireland. And the investment of business here in Northern Ireland.

So you are superbly placed to compete and lead in the new global economy – set to double in size over the next two decades.

You have a wealth of talent — and the capacity to build a strong knowledge-based private sector around your universities. You have a strong business climate and the will to win in the global economy.

The peace dividend in Northern Ireland grows day by day, year after year – every year of peace.

So now is not the time for Northern Ireland to rest on its laurels or retreat – but rather to redouble its efforts, to invest in what matters most for the future – world class education and skills.

That is a challenge that I know you will meet because I know what you have done already. And I am confident that with the strength of leadership we have all witnessed over the past year, the prosperity of Northern Ireland will endure and expand in the years ahead.

But of course the economic strength of Northern Ireland depends crucially on its political stability.

The IMC report two weeks ago made it crystal clear that the IRA is not the danger. That the army council is redundant. That the military structures have been disbanded and consciously allowed to fall into disuse. That PIRA as an organization does not pose a terrorist threat.

As all Northern Ireland knows, the end to violence marked the beginning of prosperity. And the continued success in preventing violence is the precondition of continued growth.

We have seen in the last nine months a series of attacks on police officers.

And there are criminal elements who must be confronted with the utmost determination. And that is exactly what will happen.

So let me say to all those brave men and women, the officers from both communities who form the police family – you have our gratitude for the sacrifices you make, for your strength in the face of danger and your determination to protect the people of Northern Ireland.

The criminals who have targeted you have done so, because they have much to fear from democracy backed by effective policing.

So let us send an unequivocal message to those who would defy the will of the people: the politics of peaceful change is winning in Northern Ireland. And will overcome whatever obstacles are put in its way.

And the clearest sign that democracy will triumph is this Assembly and Executive working together, meeting together, fulfilling all its functions, carrying out all its duties on behalf of the people who elected it and completing the process of devolution.

What you have achieved to date is historic. Not least in the unique joint and equal leadership of the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Some thought that power sharing between the parties would never happen. That the burden of shared government would be too heavy.

No-one assumed it would be easy.

The cynics – with their doubts and misgivings – have at every turn been proved wrong.

You have made history – but you have more history to make.

We can see in the research from the past week the extent of the support to complete the transfer of policing and justice powers.

Across the community the majority of people want to see this accomplished.

And fewer than one in ten say never.

I can only hope that even this small minority will eventually come to see that completing devolution is not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do.

I believe it would be wrong to allow this minority to exercise a veto on further progress now.

Yes, let’s understand their concerns, but let us also agree that they can not and will not call a halt to progress.

So I urge you to continue your crucial work in this Executive and Assembly, to finish the job – and complete a journey not just of a generation, but of centuries.

I believe we have gone beyond our crossroads in history. And this is no time to turn back, or to stall or delay.

Because the completion of devolution is much more than the final step in a process: it is the creation of a whole new permanent future for Northern Ireland.

To falter now – to lose the will that has defined your progress – would be worse than a setback; it would put at risk everything that has been achieved by the work and sacrifice of the past decade and more.

So my message to you today is to have confidence. To stay the course, to continue your work and reach that final settlement. To show the world the peace and prosperity you have achieved is here to stay.

And if you make this commitment, then we in the British government will match your resolve and do everything within our power to support you in it.

Because we have not only prepared the ground for the transfer, but we stand ready to help you through a smooth transition.

We pledged in the St Andrew’s Agreement that we would be ready to transfer powers one year after the assembly was elected. And we have kept that promise.

So now leaders here in Northern Ireland must reach agreement between themselves and set the date for the transfer of policing and justice from the Secretary of State to a Justice Minister, in and of Northern Ireland.

None of us should doubt the importance of this.

Because in the agreement you reach here among yourselves, in the transfer of these powers back from Westminster, the world will see you affirm that stability is here to stay.

Your affirmation that peace is here to stay.

Your affirmation that prosperity is here to stay.

When President Bush came to Northern Ireland earlier this year, he did so not only because he is a true friend to the people of this country, but because he wanted to see the huge inward investments from America continue to flow.

And when I spoke to him a few days ago and told him I was coming here again he talked movingly about his visit.

About his commitment to you. And all the people of Northern Ireland.

His message to everyone on every side was clear.

It’s time to complete devolution.

Not just for yourselves but because that’s the signal investors need to see.

Because it’s the best safeguard for the investment which has been made and will be made in the future from America.

This is a commitment shared by Senator McCain and Senator Obama.

So whoever becomes the next President of the United States is resolved to help.

And they are right to do so. But not just because of the economic impact.

And not just because of the political consequences – as important as they are for the future of your people.

For there is something more vital at stake for your entire society – that only the completion of devolution can deliver.

How can you, as an Assembly, address common criminality, low-level crime and youth disorder

· when you are responsible for only some of the levers for change · when you have responsibility for education and health and social development but have to rely on Westminster for policing and justice?

The people of Northern Ireland look to you to deal with these matters because to them they are important. Full devolution is the way to deliver better services, tailored to the needs of all communities, regardless of the politics. It is the best way for you to serve them.

And my mission – the British government’s mission – is to help you deliver for them and for future generations in Northern Ireland.

My job is to be there for you; to refuse to give in or give up; to reach with you your shared destiny and our shared hope.

And as we stand at this point – and as you take those decisions that will shape the future of your nation – I am reminded of the poem by Robert Frost, who wrote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference”

Today I say to you:

Have faith that if you take the road less travelled, it will make all the difference.

Have faith that your hopes will be rewarded; that while the arc of the moral universe may be long – and it has been so long here in Northern Ireland – it bends eternally towards peace and justice.

And have faith that the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed the people of the world – are with you, and always will be.

Let us show the people of Northern Ireland – and the people of all the world – that the astonishing transformation of Northern Ireland can be completed – that the future of Northern Ireland is in the right hands because it is in your hands.

Thank you.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech in Israel


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, to the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel, on 21st July 2008.

To be able to come here at the invitation of your Speaker and of your Prime Minister Olmert – and to applaud you and the citizens of Israel for the courage you have shown in the face of adversity, resolution in the face of conflict, resilience in the face of challenge – is, for me, a singular honour indeed.

Everyday you meet in this Knesset you live out the hopes – the promises – of centuries.

And I am especially pleased – as the first British Prime Minister to address the Knesset – to congratulate you at this sixtieth anniversary on the achievement of 1948: the centuries of exile ended, the age-long dream realised, the ancient promise redeemed – the promise that even amidst suffering, you will find your way home to the fields and shorelines where your ancestors walked.

And your sixty-year journey from independence is evidence for all to see that good can come out of the worst of times; and that the human spirit is indeed indomitable.

And let me tell the people of Israel today: Britain is your true friend. A friend in difficult times as well as in good times; a friend who will stand beside you whenever your peace, your stability and your existence are under threat; a friend who shares an unbreakable partnership based on shared values of liberty, democracy and justice. And to those who mistakenly and outrageously call for the end of Israel let the message be: Britain will always stand firmly by Israel’s side.

My hometown – where I grew up not long after your independence in 1948 – is the small industrial town of Kirkcaldy on the eastern coast of Scotland. Kirkcaldy is two thousand miles from Jerusalem — but for me they are closely linked. Not in their landscapes and certainly not their weather, but in the profound impact of your early statehood years on my childhood.

My father was a Minister of the Church who learned Hebrew and had a deep and life long affection for Israel. For three decades he was a member of – and again and again Chairman of – the Church of Scotland’s Israel Committee. And he travelled back and forth to Israel twice every year, often more.

After each trip, he would roll out the old film projector, plug it in and load the film. More often than not, the projector would break down – but he would always get it back up and running. And I will never forget those early images of your home in my home and the stories my father would tell.

So as I learned to listen and to read, I followed the fortunes of an age-old people in your new country. And there was never a time as I was growing up that I did not hear about, read about or was not surrounded by stories of the struggles, sacrifices, tribulation and triumphs as the Israeli people built their new state. And I am proud to say that for the whole of my life, I have counted myself a friend of Israel.

My sons are still young children – they are just two and four. They have not yet made that journey to Jerusalem made by their grandfather and then his sons. But one day soon I look forward to bringing them here to see what their grandfather first came to see in the early years of statehood.

I will walk with them here and tell them the story that for two thousand years, until 1948, the persistent call of the Jewish people was ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ Yet for two thousand years there was not one piece of land anywhere in all the world that you could call your own. For two thousand years, not one piece of land of your own to follow your faith without fear.

For two thousand years, you had history – but not a home. For two thousand years, you lifted the artistic and cultural life and the scientific and political development of every continent – but had no home. For two thousand years, you endured pogroms – and then the horror of the Holocaust – because you had no home.

Yet for two thousand years, nothing – no prison cell, no forced migration, no violence, no massacres, not even the horror of the Holocaust – could ever break the spirit of a people yearning to be free. And you proved that while repression can subjugate it can never silence; while hearts can be broken hope is unbreakable; while lives can be lost the dream could never die; that – in the words of the prophet Amos – ‘justice would roll down like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’.

Never free of trouble, always facing adversity, yet what remarkable success Israel has achieved during these last few years.

You have created modern Hebrew as the language of your daily life;

Eight of your citizens have been awarded Nobel prizes — and alongside Silicon Valley, you now have ‘Silicon Wadi’;

You have world famous hospitals, like Hadassah; and leading centres of learning and research, like the Weizmann Institute for Science;

With eight per cent of your national income spent on education, you have one of the highest skilled populations on earth;

From draining the swamps in the 20th Century to pioneering electric cars in the 21st, your history of ingenuity is a lesson in the boundless capacity of mind and spirit.

No nation has achieved so much in so short a period of time. And to have accomplished all this in the face of the war, the terror, the violence, the threats, the intimidation, and the insecurity is truly monumental.

To paraphrase what one poet once said:

You were born against the odds;

You survived against the odds;

You grew against the odds;

You have prevailed and flourished against all odds;

You have proved that men and women of idealism, bravery and perseverance can succeed whatever the odds.

And I am proud that the British Jewish community – and the British people – have had a distinguished place and a part in your great endeavour.

And today our partnership is strong and getting stronger.

From pharmaceuticals to telecommunications to electrical equipment, we are agreeing new cooperative ventures.

The best minds in our two countries are working together in academia and the arts, in sport and music, in science and technology — and Prime Minister Olmert and I were able to announce yesterday path-breaking academic and cultural partnerships. And I want to make clear that the British Government we will stand full-square against any boycotts of Israel or Israeli academics and their institutions.

Yesterday my wife Sarah and I visited Yad Vashem.

And even though I was familiar with the harsh and horrific facts – even though I have studied, indeed written, about the fight against the Holocaust and Jewish persecution by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, described the rescue of Jews by men like Raul Wallenberg, spoken about help given to Jews facing the death march by a young Scots prisoner of war Tommy Noble, given lectures on women who came to the aid of Jewish girls like Jane Haining, and visited the old Yad Vashem and indeed the memorials in Washington and Berlin – I can tell you that nothing fully prepared me for what I saw at Yad Vashem —- the full truth of the murders that no one prevented; the indignities that should have never happened; the truth which everyone who loves humanity needs to know.

The last of those who outlasted the Holocaust are now growing old. And this year Israel lost a distinguished member of this Knesset: Tommy Lapid. No-one who heard Tommy talk about his Bar Mitzvah in a Budapest cellar at the end of 1944 as the fascists hunted and murdered the Jewish population will ever forget his passion for history’s truth. As he said, ‘my whole life is a response to the Holocaust’.

And as the survivors leave us, let me tell you how vital it is that in every continent the next generation learn their story.

That is why in Britain – through funding the Holocaust Education Trust – each year and every year two teenagers from every secondary school travel to Auschwitz. And when they return home and share their experiences – raw and direct and powerful – I have seen the profound effect their message has on their classmates: that discrimination, persecution, anti-Semitism and racism should be banished forever.

And I can tell you that when young children in my home town of Kirkcaldy returned from Auschwitz they organised a memorial week in honour of those who had died in the Holocaust and raised funds to erect a lasting memorial in our town’s gardens. Two thousand miles away in distance – but a link between my home and your home, so close that it will never be broken.

And why? Because in the words of a Rabbi who having done a great deal for Holocaust education was asked why, when he himself wasn’t a survivor, he said: ‘but I am a survivor – we all are, not just all Jews, but all of humanity’.

You are the children of the sacrifices of your parents and grandparents.

And today and in the future, the people of Britain and Israel will continue to stand together in believing that history sides with those who fight for liberty —- and if the great conflict of ideas of the 21st century is between those who believe in closed societies who would turn back the clock of progress and those who believe in open societies, then we are together on the side of openness – moving the world forward to what Winston Churchill called the ‘sunlit uplands’ of prosperity, justice and democracy.

The British people see the threat your people encounter every day when they climb aboard a bus, have a cup of coffee at the café, or buy a sandwich. In our homeland – two thousand miles from your streets – we too have learned the grief when lives are lost through terror on a bus or at the airport or on a crowded underground train on the way to work.

So to those who question Israel’s very right to exist, and threaten the lives of its citizens through terror we say: the people of Israel have a right to live here, to live freely and to live in security.

To those who are enemies of progress we say: we condemn anti-Semitism and persecution in all its forms.

And to those who believe that threatening statements fall upon indifferent ears we say in one voice: that it is totally abhorrent for the President of Iran to call for Israel to be wiped from the map of the world.

And I promise that just as we have led the work on three mandatory sanctions resolutions of the UN, the UK will continue to lead – with the US and our EU partners – in our determination to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons programme. The EU has gone beyond each of these resolutions. Last month we took action against an Iranian bank involved in proliferation. We stand ready to lead in taking firmer sanctions and ask the whole international community to join us. Iran has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear programme and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response not of one nation but of many nations.

And we will do more than oppose what is wrong. We will show those who would give licence to terror the way home to what is right too – showing them that the path to a better future runs not through violence, not by murder, and never with the killing of civilians but by liberty’s torch, through justice’s mighty stream, and across tolerance’s foundation of equality.

And to build that peace, stability and prosperity – and to work as one world to eradicate the worst evils of poverty, environmental degradation, disease and instability – I believe that we should work together to summon up the best instincts and efforts of humanity in a cooperative endeavour to build new international rules and institutions for the new global era:

– A renewed United Nations that can deliver stability, peacekeeping and reconstruction;

– A new IAEA-led international system to help non-nuclear states who renounce nuclear weapons acquire through an enrichment bond or bank the new sources of energy their peoples need;

– A new World Bank that is a bank for environment as well as development;

To bring global financial stability, a new International Monetary Fund that is an early warning system for the world economy.

And I hope that together we can write a new chapter in history that will – for this new global age – honour our truest ideals.

But today there is one historic challenge you still have to resolve so that your sixty-year journey into the future is complete: peace with your neighbours and throughout the region.

Over sixty years I believe that you have shown the greatest of ingenuity in solving the greatest of problems:

I think of David Ben Gurion – who from humble beginnings in Poland built up the Jewish National Institutions — and in 1948 said it was not enough for the Jewish state simply to be Jewish, it had to be fully democratic offering equal citizenship to all residents: a democracy not just of one people but of all your peoples…

I think of Menachem Begin – who reached out to Anwar Sadat, an old adversary, and who stood by him in this Parliament when in 1977 he made his historic speech offering himself as a partner for peace…

I think of Yitzak Rabin – who having served Israel on the battlefield from the war of independence made peace with Jordan and who was cruelly struck down in his prime as he committed himself to the path of peace with the Palestinians…

Peace with Egypt in 1979. Peace with Jordan in 1994. Today talks with Syria underway. And now is the time to construct the last building block of peace – peace with the Palestinians.

My father taught me that loyalty is the test of a real friendship. Easy to maintain when things are going well, but only really tested in hard times. And as a constant friend of Israel, I want to offer the comfort of my support and the support of the British government — and also my honest analysis.

I believe that a historic hard-won and lasting peace that can bring security on the ground is within your grasp; that the Palestinian Authority under the courageous leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad offers Israel the best partner of a generation; that these men share with you a vision of peace and reconciliation – and that they understand that they can never achieve their goals for the Palestinian people at the expense of Israel’s security.

And I believe that a historic, hard won but lasting peace is within your grasp by seizing the opportunity opened up by Annapolis — now taken forward by Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas and built on fundamentals:

– a two-state solution based on 1967 borders;

– a democratic state of Israel, secure from attack, recognised by – and at peace with – all its neighbours;

– alongside a peaceful, democratic and territorially viable state of Palestine that accepts you as its friend and partner;

– with Jerusalem the capital for both, and a just and agreed settlement for refugees.

So because I believe that historic hard won and lasting peace is within your reach, I urge you to take it by the hand.

And to deliver this historic hard won and lasting peace, it is vital also that both sides now create the conditions for a final agreement:

– the Palestinians acting with persistence and perseverance against the terrorists who attack your country;

– Israel freezing, and withdrawing from, settlements —— and like many of your friends, I urge you to make these decisions.

And let me tell you today that to ensure this historic, hard won peace is lasting, Britain is also ready to lead the way in supporting an economic road map for peace. Not money for guns but money for jobs, for businesses, for small firms, for housing and for prosperity to underpin the political road map for peace and give all people in the region an economic stake in the future. As we did in Northern Ireland: to make the cost of returning to violence too high and too unacceptable a price to pay. And without compromising your needs for security, we need your help in easing the obstacles to Palestinian economic growth – including the reopening of the Chamber of Commerce in East Jerusalem. You – Israel – drawing upon your deep wells of hope and aspiration to give hope and aspiration to others.

No one people in history has more global reach and global connections for good than the Jewish people.

You are truly global citizens — often the first to offer help or medical aid or engineering assistance when there is a disaster.

106 years ago, Theodor Herzl – under whose portrait I am proud to stand as I speak today – set out his vision of the future in his book ‘Old-new land’. He said that he saw Jerusalem as the centre of a global educational, medical and scientific endeavour, with – at its heart – ‘a unique centre for all kinds of charitable and social ventures where work is done not only for Jewish land and Jewish people, but for other lands and other peoples too.’

And he went on to say: ‘Wherever in the world a catastrophe occurs – earthquakes, flood, famine, drought, epidemic – the stricken country telegraphs to this centre for help’

And if the 19th century was the century of industrialisation and the 20th century the century of war, the Holocaust and a world divided, then we should make the 21st century the century of the global community:

– a century where out of competing interests we find common interests;

– a time when – by moving from conflict to harmony – we make a reality of the vision of a global society in which we create global civic institutions that turn words of friendship into bonds of human solidarity stronger than any divisions between us.

And how do we champion this dream when so much seems to defy it? How do we ensure that the march of progress and justice is always toward those ‘sunlit uplands’? We engage those who will lead after us. We reach out to the generations to come.

Already around a thousand young people come from Britain to Israel on volunteering programmes ever year. I want hundreds more young people who do voluntary service in Britain to link up with the thousands who do voluntary service here in Israel — bringing young people together, increasing understanding and realising the potential for the greater good.

And what I want to propose today is in that spirit: a global citizenship corps — men and women from all nations coming together in a peaceful civilian force to offer help in conflict-ridden or disaster-ridden or disease-ridden homelands that need reconstruction, development and stability.

Britain will contribute one thousand experts and professionals to this global corps. And in this way we will be able to ensure that where homelands suffer from strife, conflict or natural disasters, there will be people ready to serve a neighbour or a even stranger in need of help and hope.

So some day in the not too distant future another boy will watch his father prepare to show pictures of his travels. This time they will be on a digital camera, not an old projector. But I hope the pictures of a distant land and of people working to build something worthy and proud will inspire another young person to feel a deep and abiding friendship with Israel – this most promised of lands.

And when – in these next sixty years – my sons follow in the steps that their grandfather and their father have taken, I also hope they will be able to see neighbours once enemies now friends. Then ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ will mean not only home at last but free from war at last; the greatest victory of all achieved – the victory of peace. And not only peace secured but prosperity achieved, so that in the words of the prophet Isaiah we turn swords into ploughshares so that there is never a need for swords again. The ancient dream given new life in a new age.

And the story of Israel’s beginning and perseverance will speak not just to Jews but to all who believe in the victory of hope over despair, home over wandering in the desert, peace over war and the everlasting promise and power of the human spirit.

If we work hard enough together we can achieve this. Or – in the words of Theodor Herzl – if you will it, it is no dream.

Thank you.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech with Angela Merkel


Transcript of press conference with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, 30th October 2008.

Prime Minister:

Thank you all very much. I am delighted to welcome to London Chancellor Merkel. She is a very good friend of our country, she has just met Her Majesty The Queen as well and we are delighted to have her with us and we have had talks on a number of issues today.

We meet today at a time of global financial crisis in each of the major economies facing the prospect of recession. We discussed the steps that must be taken to reform and stabilise the international financial system, prevent the spread of financial crisis, especially in eastern Europe, and the action we must take to support business and families in both our countries throughout this difficult period.

Our discussion of the reforms in the international financial system, which will be a subject at the November 15th meeting of international leaders, include reform of the International Monetary Fund, globally accepted standards of supervision and transparency where Chancellor Merkel has taken the lead, and cross-border cooperation at times of crisis. We discussed how we must prevent contagion over the next few days to middle income countries, including in eastern Europe. It is vital that the International Monetary Fund plays a central role in supporting these economies. We have both agreed to support a new facility for the International Monetary Fund which would draw on additional resources of countries with substantial reserves.

We also discussed how we can work together to support families and businesses at this difficult time in each of our countries. We must continue to encourage banks to lend. Having recapitalised the banks we must ensure that the money is used to sustain credit lines on normal terms to solvent businesses.

When we met in Paris on October 4th we discussed how the European Investment Bank should bring forward support for small businesses. I am delighted that today the President of the European Investment Bank has been in London to make available four billion over the next four years for small businesses in Britain. And today the Chancellor and I have discussed how we can do more to provide innovative means of finance for small businesses and medium sized businesses in our countries. I urge banks not to change the terms and charges for existing lending to small and medium sized enterprises.

The international approach that we are supporting is the only we can ensure that globalisation works, not just for some but for all our citizens. Hard pressed families and businesses in our communities depend on us working together. This is a global problem that requires a global solution. No country, no matter how big, can solve these problems on their own. People in both countries want to know that every possible course of action is being pursued to guide families and businesses through this difficult time. We are determined to continue the cooperation that we have had between our two countries in the preparation for the November 15 meeting of world leaders.

I will be going to the Gulf on Saturday, there will be further meetings with international leaders in the run-up to the 15th, and of course there is a special European Council in a few days time. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to prove that global action is necessary for a global solution to our problem.

Chancellor Merkel, welcome to London.


Chancellor Merkel:

I am delighted to be in London as your guest. Again thank you for the very gracious hospitality that has been extended to me. We continued our very intensive dialogue on financial market issues and we also found that we are in agreement. What we have to do now is to learn from this crisis and in parallel to also see that we cope with the immediate aftermath and the consequences of this crisis.

I think it was very good that we found a common toolbox to deal with this at the European level to cope with this crisis. We had an exchange of views of a number of issues that we feel ought still to be settled. We can only encourage our banks to really make use of what is on offer to them. Interbank lending is not as yet at a stage, at a level as we wish it to be and I can only underline what the Prime Minister: said. What we want to do after all is to see to it that the impact on the real economy is as small as possible and it is going to be necessary for us to have further exchanges on this, and on the 14th and 15th November.

In the period leading up to that we have to make very careful preparations for this financial summit meeting so that we can send a very clear message from this summit, a message that shows on the one hand we have learned from the experience of the past, more transparency, more international cooperation is needed, a strengthening of the IMF’s role is necessary also.

We also have to show that we show more responsibility on our behalf, but also on the side of the emerging economies. We need a stronger facility also that will lend support to countries that are in dire straits. If we want to strengthen the IMF as a whole and also as a supervising authority, we also need a future more global division of labour if you like. And the European Union shall prepare this summit meeting on 7th November, the summit of the 15th, but we are agreed that success is not only due to us, to us the Europeans, but it will also very much depend on the quality of our cooperation with the United States.

I welcome very much the Prime Minister: going to the Gulf states, I know that they are preparing very intensively, very consistently for this summit meeting. Last week I was in China, I had an opportunity to talk to the Indian Prime Minister: and it is going to be essential right now, and we are agreed on this, is that we see to it that there is a consistent approach, including all the players so that we may send as strong a signal, as strong a message as possible. International cooperation is necessary, the European Union needs to find a common set of measures, the [INDISTINCT] summit for example yesterday in Brussels showed that one does have certain possibilities at one’s disposal, together with the Investment and Development Bank, and that we need to clear the path again for free trade and for possible infrastructure programmes of the World Bank and that this is indeed a common global [INDISTINCT] by all of us.

Just like the Prime Minister: said previously, I completely agree with him by saying that this is a global problem and we can only solve this multilaterally. Together the United Kingdom and Germany are more than ready to do that.

Prime Minister: [INDISTINCT]


today but obviously there are some measures you can take and are taking here in this country. Having suspended your golden rules on borrowing, is there not now a case for suspending Bank of England independence so that the government can ensure that interest rates can be cut so you can get the economy back on track? And if I may, you said earlier this week that the action of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand was inappropriate and unacceptable, you called for appropriate action by the BBC. How satisfied are you that the BBC’s response has been appropriate?

Prime Minister:

Well it is for the BBC to take its own disciplinary action and it is not for me to comment on that, that is a matter for them. I simply wanted to express the views of the general public that this was inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour on the part of leading personalities to whom many people have looked to as role models, and I leave it at that.

As far as the economy is concerned, I think what both Chancellor Merkel: and I are saying is that you will need comprehensive action, not just nationally but internationally, to deal with our problems. Interest rate decisions are a matter for the Bank of England and in Angela’s case a matter for the European Central Bank and it is for them to make the decisions. But the comprehensive action that we are talking about includes action that can be taken by governments on their own to deal with the issues that they see about jobs, and housing, and about energy prices, and then international action where we come together to build confidence in the financial system. The central problem has started from irresponsible and sometimes undisclosed lending by institutions who have to take responsibility for their actions.

We have now to show that the financial system is being cleaned up in such a way that people can have confidence in it. So the action that we are talking about is comprehensive and it is global as well as it is local and national. We will continue to pursue this path of persuading other countries to join the coordinated action that we want to see over the next few days. That is why I am going to the Gulf, that is why there is a European Union meeting, that is why Angela is talking to other leaders, as she has done in the last few days, so that we can have a coordinated global response to what is clearly a global problem, while at the same time we do what we can to help individuals and families and businesses facing difficulty.


Today the relatively positive labour market figures were actually published. How long do you think it will take for this crisis to impact on the job market, and can you briefly tell us how it was with The Queen?

Chancellor Merkel:

Well I think that the labour market figures today were actually quite positive, as you say. They are a result of the reforms we embarked on many years ago and to which many contributed, they show that we are able to strengthen the economy to benefit the people and this is a good piece of news in these times that we are living these days where we are somewhat afraid of the possible impact on the real economy in this crisis and this is where the Federal government is going to work, just as other countries are doing, and to embark on the sort of national measures that are very targeted ones, courageous and bold ones, and then try to build on this success because that is the main thrust of our policies to try to create jobs and to bring about a boost to growth.

As to the visit to Her Majesty The Queen, I was delighted to be invited by her, it is a great honour and privilege to be invited by her, but it is I think absolutely clear that I will not give you any sort of longer statement about this. I was, as I said, very pleased and I said to her that the Federal Republic of Germany has every interest in seeing the United Kingdom as a close partner and friend at its side, and I said time and again also that we are so delighted that the United Kingdom is part and parcel of the European Union.


Interest rates are very low, those in the Eurozone are lower than they are here, why are our interest rates so relatively high as we apparently enter a recession? And does the Bank of England independence look like such a great idea right at this minute?

Prime Minister:

It is absolutely the right idea, it is stability and an anchor for our financial and economic system. The Bank of England has brought down interest rates twice recently, they continue to look at what they can do for the future. I think we have got to understand that the way to deal with this global problem that is impacting on households and families, making people insecure and making people worried about their future, is by a comprehensive set of measures that have included interest rate cuts. But also include what we have done in tax cuts for 22 million people, freezing petrol duty, more help for home owners, more help for small businesses. I think you will see in the next few days us in a position to do more to help people face what is a global problem that has started in America and is impacting on households here.


What sort of consequences do you think the measures will have that you have resorted to boost the economy, what sort of results do you hope for and when do you think they will actually become tangible?

Chancellor Merkel:

Well I just said that we have a very positive development on the labour market in Germany so right now we do not as yet thankfully see a sort of impact of this dark cloud looming on the horizon. So we now have to act quickly to ward off any further danger. I actually totally agree with Gordon Brown, we have to resort to national measures, European but also global measures. Germany for example has about 60 – 70% of its exports in the car industry in the wider sense of the word, and also in machine and mechanical engineering and machine tools. So we simply, without a well oiled machinery in the global economy will not be able to continue having this economic success.

So I think if we react quickly there can be very good and positive messages sent very quickly to our business community and I am very pleased that we are in agreement with the United Kingdom on this. And we should not forget other issues that are also important – the reduction of CO2, climate change – because these are all issues that are global in nature. For example a free non-protectionist trade, the Doha Round, WTO, a stable international financial system, it will be so important that these measures that we resort to, for example as regards people buying cars or not buying cars, that we do not lose sight of these kind of issues and only concentrate on what is on the [INDISTINCT]

Prime Minister:[INDISTINCT] all our economies is a remarkable achievement of Germany to have brought unemployment down from over 5 million to below 3 million and I think that is something that as a Finance Minister, now in the present position I am in, I have seen Germany progressively do by their labour market reforms and their determination to act. And today to be able to announce that unemployment is below three million is a great achievement.


Prime Minister: can you tell us have you yourself bought the X-Factor single, ‘Help for Heroes ‘ which is now on sale in the shops and your Chancellor announced is going to be VAT-free? And can you tell us what you think about that in the context of the BBC row, does it show that some celebrities are at least prepared to do the right thing for the country?

Prime Minister:

Well I think some of our best known British celebrities have been under attack this week for their behaviour within the BBC, but I think we have got to remember also that some of our celebrities are doing great work for charity and giving of their time to help other people. I thought it was really impressive that the first thing that these stars from the X-Factor have done with their fame is to make this record to help our injured soldiers and their families. That is the reason why we have taken action this week to remove VAT so that every penny that people are paying will be money that will go to help war heroes. I am really grateful to all those associated with the X-Factor for what they have done, I congratulate them and I hope that their disc sells well, and I think I might be buying a copy for my wife’s birthday tomorrow.


Mrs Merkel, you spoke about the next few weeks leading up to the financial summit meeting on the 14th and 15th and that there is a lot to be learned by way of lessons from the past. The future of regulation obviously is on the top of the agenda and you spoke a lot about transparency, it is something that you put at the top of the agenda so you have already taken it close to your heart at the time, the British government at the time was a bit more reluctant to follow you because London is as regards the financial community a much more prominent place probably than Frankfurt. Do you now think that the British government is now in the same boat with you, that the Germans and the British will march into the future in a more cohesive way?

Chancellor Merkel:

Well we don’t have to actually in this way say something derogative about Germany. We all know that the British are proud of the City of London, but we are also proud as Frankfurt. But I do know that we need one common position and a common approach here and I think the cooperation of the past few weeks and months has shown that we are aware of this, of the need of going step in step. And I think the voice of the United Kingdom is a very important voice in the concert of European Union members and is going to be a very important one when we talk about the future of international financial markets.

We need those financial markets, that too is a very important statement to make at this point in time, but we need to make the risks a bit more predictable and we need to link them closer in those financial markets that is to the real economy. And I think if for example you look at the rules that are in place already now for sensible business activities and implement them perhaps more to that very dynamically developing part of the business community that is the financial markets, that certain bonuses for example can only be paid out when the result of your activities are already there, when already the success is proven.

If the sort of sensible management that we have had in the real economy is translated to that part of the economy as well then we don’t need a new set of rules, we just need better management of chances and risks, and in global economies we need global institutions as well that go trans-border in their supervision. And I think that here we are on the right track together. So today was a very important and very helpful meeting in this respect and many others will follow.

Prime Minister:

More needs to be done when we get to Washington on November 15th. We need to have a transparency that has not existed in every area of the banking system. There has been a shadow banking system that requires the transparency and openness that is necessary for the public to be assured and for all investors to be assured that they have got confidence in the system. I think you will find when we go to the meeting on November 15th, not only will we be able to agree that there are necessary reforms to be made in global supervision and in cross-border cooperation to do so, but you will also find that we want to reopen the discussions on trade. We want the international institutions to be at the service of countries that are in distress, especially some of the poorest countries facing difficulties at the moment, and these will be major items, including what we do on regulation and monetary and fiscal policy that will be discussed on November 15th.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech on the Global Economy at Reuters


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, on the global economy on 14th October 2008. The speech was made at the Reuters Building in London.

Good Morning, and I am very grateful to Niall Fitzgerald and Reuters for inviting me to speak to you this morning, and I did notice, when he had the choice, Niall chose to read his own speech rather than refer to mine.

You know at this difficult time for the world economy I wanted to come here today, to the heart of our financial services industry, to discuss with you the steps that we are taking here in Britain and what I believe the international community must now do immediately together to secure the future of our financial system.

Britain, as you know, has two great financial traditions:  from the coffee houses of London and the establishment of the Royal Exchange we were the pioneers of a modern day banking system built on trust.  It was always said of the City, my word is my bond, and that is the trust that must underpin everything that we do in the future.  Our second tradition, represented by this company and many others, is our openness to the world.  We are internationalists, we have more global reach as a country than any other.  While some would use the world financial crisis to recommend policies that are protectionist, we know that the only way forward is to maintain, indeed extend, our tradition of openness, an open trading economy where as I will suggest accompanied to that is proper global coordination and supervision.

So we want strong banks succeeding in an open global economy.  We do that with national action to restore confidence and trust in the banking system, founded on our core values of fair reward for hard work, effort and enterprise, not unfair incentives for irresponsibility or excessive risk-taking for which the rest of us have to pay.  And we want, secondly, international action to build a global solution to global problems, by working with our international partners to reshape the global financial system to make it fit for purpose for the future so that we can avoid the problems of today recurring again.

Britain has many strong banks and many strong international banks in this country and they are essential for every family and every business in the country.  I don’t need to tell anyone here about the centrality of our banking system to everything that we do as a nation, you know better than anyone that banks aren’t just economic entities, they are woven into the fabric of all our lives, vital to savers, to mortgage holders, to businesses and to ordinary families everywhere.

And this isn’t abstract, this is about the conversations mothers and fathers will be having on their sofas tonight once they have put their children to bed.  For when problems in America can lead to people in Britain wondering if they can get a mortgage at all, then we know that we are in extraordinary times. And when in these times normal markets have ceased to work, we cannot just leave people defenceless and on their own. To leave everything to chance would be an abdication of responsibility at precisely the moment people are looking for governments to provide a lead.

And as I said a few days ago, we will not shirk from our responsibilities and are prepared to go beyond the conventional thinking by taking the decisive action that is necessary to support British families and business through difficult times.

So today Alistair Darling is implementing the restructuring plan that we announced last Wednesday, action that we are taking to deal with the impact and root causes of the current financial instability, taking what I believe is unprecedented action, but unprecedented action that is necessary for these unprecedented times.

So in addition to the extra liquidity the Bank of England is continuing to provide, British banks have been strengthened through the injection of nearly £50 billion of new capital, including a series of commercial investments amounting to £37 billion of public money in a number of UK banks.

Taking shares is a temporary measure, it is a common sense response to the difficulties we are facing.  We are investing to secure the future of our banking system and to stabilise the economy, money to let banks resume their proper functions on which our businesses and families so depend.

But let me repeat, we have no interest in running British banks, we do have an interest in strengthening their position.

And we have today also announced the terms of our guarantee for new lending across the banking system.  Each bank will be offered a guarantee at an individually determined risk-related price to allow the medium term funding markets to reopen, enabling banks to lend to each other and to support the banking system more generally while protecting the taxpayer.

Taken together these steps will  make British banks stronger.  And it is precisely because we, the government and City working together, are prepared to take this tough action now that I believe the City of London will be a stronger financial centre for the future.

As you would expect, the government will protect the taxpayers’ interest at all times.  So as part of this plan we are laying down clear conditions to ensure that the  taxpayer gets a fair deal:  no rewards in future for failure;  no cash bonuses this year for the boards of banks receiving public money;  no dividends paid until the government’s preference shares have been redeemed;  and future remuneration will be based on performance and long term value creation.

But this crisis has proved beyond doubt the virtues of the sound business practice of rewarding responsible risk taking, not irresponsibility.  We know, and I know all of you recognise, that businesses built on a solid long term foundation with the values of rewarding hard work and enterprise and merit and responsible risk-taking at their heart have the greatest long term success.  So all our emphasis must be on sound business practice and these are the real principles that lie behind successful wealth creation and are the best ways of creating value.

Most importantly as a result of today’s announcement there is an undertaking to restore immediately and maintain to at least last year’s levels the availability of loans for home buyers and small businesses at competitive business rates.  That I know is the job the banking system wants to expand, and let me assure you that this government will always work hard to advance London’s central role in the financial system and at all times seek to enhance its competitiveness.  And we will not make the mistake of taking reflex and ill-considered action that has often happened in other countries when facing crises, our actions will be careful and will benefit from the widest possible consultation.

And as we reform our financial system in the weeks and months ahead, we know that the decisions we take now will have an impact for years and decades to come.  As a government, as you would expect, we will continue to protect the most vulnerable in the tough times ahead.  We have a responsibility to do so.  And I know that we as a nation will all pull together to help each other, neighbours, families, businesses, for the character of our communities is also being tested.

And this has always been the way for Britain. The British people have always risen to the challenge of a crisis and we must do so again, and to pull together as a community and to show that spirit, resilience and determination which has defined Britain to the world as a nation for generations.  And by maintaining that British spirit, working in partnership with our friends across the globe, I believe we can come through these tough times together as a global community as well as a Britain that is stronger, not weaker.

For what the markets are telling us is that however comprehensive a national plan may be, no one country alone can resolve what is truly a global problem that requires a truly global solution. At one time this was seen not only as a problem that started in America, but as a problem that was almost primarily focused on America, and that is far from the case now.

Market estimates suggest that in recent years some 2 trillions of US loans were bought by European Union banks, and in this globalised 24/7 world when billions of pounds can be switched at the click of a mouse there is no future in countries going their own, or pursuing a beggar my neighbour approach.  Such actions may give one country temporary breathing space, but will not halt but rather accelerate the later decline.

So I welcome the fact that under the leadership of Presidents Sarkozy, Barroso and Jean Claude Trichet the Euro area countries have last night agreed to take action also on liquidity, capital and funding guarantees.

And it is important that Europe and America work more closely together, so I spoke to President Bush last night after returning from Paris and we agreed the common ground for action across our two continents.

But this financial crisis now affects the whole world and because we recognise the importance of Asia, so I am in touch with the Asian authorities too.

Later this week we will go further when we meet as a European Council in Brussels and we are proposing a world leaders meeting in which we must agree the principles and policies for restructuring the financial system across the globe.

For we cannot just stop at immediate measures to stabilise the system, we will also need measures to reshape that global financial system to make it fit for purpose for the future, and this work is important for building confidence and this work must start today.  We must start by recognising the reality that we are in a global financial system and that while we have already global flows of capital we have supervision only at a national level, and just as we need new global coordination to deal with the waves of change that are defining this new global age, from energy supply to climate change, so we need enhanced global cooperation to monitor and on occasion then supervise financial flows that know no borders.

The global financial system, let’s be honest, is too clouded with opacity, conflicts of interest, irresponsible risk-taking, and when problems occur countries have tended to look inwards and deal with them in isolation when it is clear that the only way forward is to look outwards and join in international cooperation.

A focus on short term rewards created risks for us all as money was lent that had almost no chance of being repaid and then was repackaged and sold on. Depositors and shareholders wrongly thought that banks would be protected by complicated but insufficiently understood financial engineering that would spread the risks across the deeper global capital markets.  In the end financial engineering will not work if people cannot see or do not understand the nature of the assets and the risks they are taking on.

And this was exacerbated by deep conflicts of interest:  credit rating agencies were paid by those they rated;  bonuses and remuneration rewarded excess risk-taking;  those who created complicated financial instruments often did so for the transaction fees that they could charge rather than the value created for those they were supposed to benefit – ordinary borrowers and savers.

So we must now put in place new structures and new rules for the future and so this cannot simply be a short term rescue that papers over the cracks, only a surgical approach that gets to the root of the problem will now work to ensure the problems do not return.

And we have to recognise that the action we need is not just national, but global.  Almost exactly 10 years ago in a speech at Harvard University I made detailed proposals to reshape the international financial system for the new world, but then found it hard to persuade other countries that this was the time to adopt these changes.  I said then that the institutions and initiatives of the post-war era had been shaped only to the conditions of their time, a world economy of protected national markets, limited capital flows and fixed exchange rates.  I said that as the world changed, we had to change and that our aim should be an international financial system for the 21st century that recognises all the new realities, that we are open, not sheltered economies, that we have international, not national capital markets, that we have global, not local competition, and we need an international financial system that captures the full benefit of global markets and capital flows, minimises the risk of disruption and maximises opportunities for all, lifting up the most vulnerable in different parts of the world.

The founders of Bretton Woods had devised in the 1940s rules for a world of limited capital flows and we must now devise rules for a world of global capital flows.

It is true that at a difficult time during the Second World War far-sighted leaders like Roosevelt and Churchill were already thinking about the framework that would be needed for the future, whilst in the heat of battle they were taking steps to forge the reconstruction and peace that was to come.  GATT, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, they were all devised by men and women of great vision, institutions profoundly of their time but designed to help people make the most of the times to come.

It is with the same courage and foresight of these founders that we must now reform and renew the international financial system and we should do it around the agreed principles that are shared by every country of transparency, integrity, responsibility, good housekeeping and cooperation across borders.

First, we need transparency.  We must now insist on openness and disclosure with an immediate adoption of the internationally agreed accounting standards, and for example the standards being brought forward for the valuation of assets. And transparency I think we all know now must extend to markets, including the trillion dollar credit insurance markets which now play a central role in shifting risk around the system.

Secondly, integrity.  We must tackle once and for all these conflicts of interest which have distorted behaviour and undermine trust and now lie at the heart of public concern.  This includes not just the work of credit agencies but the system of remuneration which should be founded on long term excess, not short term excessive risk-taking. And we must ensure that those who run our financial institutions have the right incentives for long term success.

And then third, responsibility.  We must ensure that all board members have the competence and expertise to manage the risks and understand the risks and so effectively supervise their own institutions and do not walk away from their obligations.

And then fourth, sound banking practice.  We must have supervision that looks at both solvency and liquidity and ensures adequate protection through the economic cycle to prevent speculative bubbles when markets are rising and to cushion the impact of shocks when markets are falling.

But fifth, around us we must build a new Bretton Woods, a new financial architecture for the years ahead.  Sometimes it does take a crisis for people to agree that what is obvious and should have been done years ago can no longer be postponed, but we must now create the right new international financial architecture for the global age.

This crisis demonstrates beyond doubt that a global capital market requires much stronger global cooperation and supervision and we need to ensure that we have an effective global early warning system to alert us across continents to economic and financial risks, we need globally accepted standards of supervision that apply equally in all countries, we need stronger arrangements for a cross-border supervision of global firms, and if we have learned anything, much stronger institutions for cooperation and concerted action in a crisis.

So the IMF and Financial Stability Forum should act as an early warning system, focused on crisis prevention rather than crisis resolution.  We need what global companies themselves have asked for – coordinated supervision to end the mis-match between global capital flows and only national supervision, and that is why by the end of the year I believe we should implement the proposals agreed by the companies themselves for colleges of supervisors to oversee cross-border financial institutions.

And action for financial stability should be accompanied by wider international cooperation on oil and energy policy and on macro-economic policy such as that which began last week with a coordinated European and American action on interest rates that should extend to Asia and to the rest of the world where it is necessary.

I think these are the principles that will bring alive our commitment to an open, flexible, free trading global economy that is inclusive and sustainable.

The coming days will in my view be a crucial time for the future of the international financial community and the world economy, and that in turn of course makes it a crucial time also for British families and businesses.  I think the stakes are higher than ever before.  It is a time for the right decisions, not just for good discussions. And the resolve of leaders and nations across the world will be put to the test over the coming days.

But if we can coordinate at a global level, national actions around the principles that I have set out today, then I believe that we can come through these difficult times and become stronger for the changes we make, both as individual nations and as a global community, securing the future of our banking system so that for generations to come London and Britain remains home to global finance.

Thank you very much.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech at a New York Interfaith Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown on Thursday 13th November 2008 in New York.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am delighted that so many leaders who have served the world with such distinction, and whom I admire for their statesmanship, have assembled from every faith and every continent for this very special conference on the culture of peace and the power of dialogue. I am grateful that this conference is being held under the auspices of the United Nations in this great hall where so many declarations and decisions that have changed history have been pronounced.

And let me pay tribute especially to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a man of great faith whose leadership has inspired this dialogue. It is in recognition of his work and that of the Secretary General, who I also applaud, that President Bush, the King of Jordan, the Emir of Kuwait, Presidents Peres, Zardari, Kasai and Halonen and Prime Minister Erdogan and many, many more, have addressed this forum yesterday and today.

Never has such a global dialogue been so critical. Never has this global leadership working for its success been so strong and so inspirational. And never have the global opportunities that might flow from this – an end to conflict, division, misunderstanding and poverty – been so profound and so necessary.

For if we believe that our future peace and security lies together rather than apart, lies in understanding – not isolation, lies in the differences that we acknowledge and enrich us – not the differences that divide us, then we must speak to people’s values and speak to their beliefs.

More than two-thirds of our fellow citizens are followers of the major faiths so we can be in no doubt about the power of faith to shape our world. And while it is not for politicians to lead that bringing together of faith – that can ultimately only be done by the leaders of faith communities themselves – we cannot successfully lead nations without it.

History tells us that the greatest of social movements have been built on the strongest of ethical foundations. Two hundred years ago, was it not men and women of faith and religious conviction who successfully campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade? They said that we could not be one world until slavery was ended.

Fifty years ago, was it not men and women of conscience and religious faith who inspired the civil rights movement here in this country by saying that we could not be one world until every single citizen, whatever their colour, their race or background, enjoyed equal rights?

And is it not men and women of conscience and religious conviction who say today, as we said here at this General Assembly only a few weeks ago, that we cannot be one world when 30,000 children die unnecessarily every day from diseases we know how to cure and that we must together respond to this poverty emergency by redoubling our efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals?

This is the power of faith: to force the greatest possible coalition for the common good. Not one which seeks to impose uniformity of doctrine or culture, but one that is enriched by diversity, united by shared values, and empowered by a common commitment to make our world a better place.

Too often throughout history people have seen the foreigner as at best a stranger, and sometimes at worst an enemy. And too often, cultures and faiths appear to change at national borders as dramatically as fashion and language.

But today we know we are not, and never can be, moral strangers to each other. Because we find that through each of our heritages, our traditions and faiths, runs a single powerful moral sense. A sense that we all share the pain of others. A sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves.

When Christians say do to others what you would have them do to you. When Judaism says love your neighbour as yourself. When Muslims say no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. When Buddhists say hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. When Sikhs say treat others as you would be treated yourself. when Hindus say the sum of duty is do not unto others which would cause pain if done to you.

Now call this the best angels of our nature, call it the light in man, call it the moral sense. Call it, as Adam Smith – the philosopher – did, the moral sentiment. Call it conscience or fostering compassion.

Call it the global ethic, the irrevocable unconditional norm for all areas of life for families, communities, races, nations and religions. Most of us accept that what you do not wish done to yourself you do not do to others. It is the same sacred ideal at the ethical heart of all true religions: our duty to others, our concern for the outsider. The sense that each of us is our brother and sisters’ keeper.

And so to those who say that religion, and especially that the misunderstanding and intolerance that has often existed between religions, is responsible for many of the problems we face today – I say we will address these problems if we act upon that moral sense that is shared at the heart of all the great faiths of the world.

Now we have a unique opportunity in this new global age, in what is an interdependent world, to act upon that interdependence and make a partnership by working together for the common good. And what is new in this global age is our enhanced ability to communicate with each other, to speak to each other across continents. It wasn’t so long ago that we used to say if only people could communicate across borders, if only people could hear what their opponents have to say, if only they could speak with each other and find that they have so much in common then the world would be different.

But today most of these barriers, these old barriers to communication, are being removed. We can now communicate with each other across frontiers almost instantaneously through the internet, through texting and through emailing. There are hundreds of thousands of social networks crossing the world. There are millions of people who may not inhabit the same street, but now inhabit the same internet site. And it is in the encounter of listening and being listened to that we discover that the beliefs we have in common are so much greater than what has in the past driven us apart. We discover what Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, calls the dignity of difference. People, he said, all made in the divine image find that they are possessed of a dignity and sanctity that transcends our differences.

And we must act upon our interdependence. Recently in Abuja in Nigeria I visited a run down and dilapidated school where children either were sitting on the floor without a desk, or were sitting three to the desk that had been built for one. Their parents told me that a few miles away a far better school, a far better equipped school, offered free education. But the great facilities and teachers came at a high price because they were funded by an extremist group, poisoning the children’s minds and attracting them to a life of terrorism.

I believe it falls upon us to ensure the right to a decent education, free of extremism, for every child in the world. And think of it, if the achievement of this generation could be that every child was able to go to school, to gain an education, to recognise what they had in common with other children. I believe we can do this, coming together, by spending $10 billion dollar a year – $100 for each child.

But let us agree that the first thing we should do is that we do everything to fight extremism wherever it exists, so that people understand the central tenets of their faith and the rich associations these faiths enjoy with each other. We in Britain will continue to step up our campaign, working with other countries, to separate decent minded young people from the pressures of divisive and extremist advocates of terrorism.

Secondly, the values of different faiths are already expressed in joint projects and common service. We in Britain have Muslim Aid, collaborating with the United Methodist Committee in America, to respond to the needs of disaster victims in Asia. British Muslims working with American Christians to support Asian neighbours of all faith traditions gives us a glimpse of the potential of faith across our world.¼br /> As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we should also seek shared values through a shared commitment to human rights and fundamental freedom.

And I have one other proposal about how shared values can bring us together. Forty years ago the United States created the Peace Corps for young people from America to help the world. And round the world many countries, including Britain, have their own voluntary service overseas organisations. But in this new global age should we not celebrate the shared moral sense that is common to all cultures, all religions and all faiths, by bringing young people together in a global corps?

Perhaps a global environmental corps. And a global community service corps, and a global peace corps, a global medical aid corps. Bringing young people of all nationalities and faiths together with each other in a global effort that will show the strength that comes from the world’s young people acting together?

And let me say, thirdly, that we should repeat the importance that everyone who has spoken here attaches to peace in the Middle East. The creation of a Palestinian state, side by side with an Israeli state that has its security guaranteed. We in Britain, with other countries, will continue to work for that objective that I believe can be achieved by goodwill in the Middle East.

Now at this unique point in our history, when the world is facing the first financial crisis and the first resources crisis of the global age, that ability to come together and build shared solutions has never been more important. Let me send out the strongest message that the road to economic ruin in the past has been following the path of protectionism.

The way forward is not countries working in isolation from or against each other, but countries cooperating together. I believe that as world leaders gather in Washington this weekend we must and we will see enhanced cooperation by governments to deal with economic problems that are now hitting every continent in the world.

But I also believe that what matters is the clear statement that is coming from this conference in New York, that far more than the cooperation of governments, the cooperation of people, whatever their faith, in each continent of the world will determine whether we can build a truly global society.

I believe that through our continuing dialogue, we can come to recognise our common ground. The common ground on which we stand, whatever our faith positions. A common commitment to peace, to freedom, to prosperity, to tolerance and respect. And if we can mobilise a global movement around these shared goals, then the achievements can be momentous.

We can become the first generation to abolish illiteracy and give every child the chance of education together. We can become the first generation to solve climate change together. We can become the first generation – and we need to be that, to eradicate tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, malaria and HIV-Aids from the face of the earth.

We can become the first generation to consign extreme poverty to the history books for all time. We can become the first generation to do so by demonstrating by our actions what this conference has been all about today. That the greatest of social changes are built from the strongest of ethical foundations.

Thank you very much.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech to CBI Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, to the 2008 CBI Conference.

The times we’re in make this one of the most important conferences the Confederation of British Industry has convened.

So let me first of all thank you for your contribution to British business and the British economy.

Your dynamism, your resolution and your resilience – the hallmarks of your success – have never been needed more.

Together we can take the British economy through difficult times and equip ourselves for our global future.

Let’s just remind ourselves of the scale and speed of what’s been happening. $25 trillion dollars erased from global share values, world oil prices, having peaked at nearly $150 dollars a barrel, sinking by two-thirds, and reflecting big forces at work – the rise of Asia, a global capital market, the global sourcing of goods and services.

Quite simply: we are making the transition from the old world of sheltered national economies to the new world of a fully open global economy.

And the challenge is for each of us, in the spheres of influence we have, to surmount the risks and insecurities – and manage the teething troubles – of this new global age, while not losing sight of the vastly increased opportunities it brings.

Let’s name one of the great challenges: the global financial system. Even if there had been no systemic banking crisis, we have come to a time when the global flows of capital need to be complemented by a global — not just a nationally-based — framework of supervision.

Challenge number two is that of finite global resources: even if there had been no oil spike, our over-dependence on oil, the problem of climate change and indeed global food shortages would have to be addressed by new policies.

Challenge number three is global restructuring and global inequalities: even if there had been no cyclical rise in unemployment, all of us would have to deal with the consequences of a more specialist international division of labour and the resulting restructuring of jobs, and for Britain that means investing in the new talents and skills required for the technological and creative industries.

Some might want to take a narrow and insular view of today’s global crisis – some would say that the best we can do is to let the recession take its course, and that there is no alternative but to muddle through.

But there is another way of looking at it:

– whatever the troubles of this year and next, we are in the midst of a transition to a truly global economy which in twenty years is likely to double in size.

– with 1 billion or so new skilled jobs being created, we want to attract our share of that flow of new jobs.

– together we must ensure that British companies will benefit from the new opportunities as Asia becomes a market not just of millions of producers — but of millions of consumers too.

Whatever else we do – as everyone here will know – we have to prepare and equip ourselves for what the world is becoming. investing in our talent and skills, in our technological infrastructure and in our capacity for innovation. the high value-added products and services – that are Britain’s best guarantee of a successful global future.

And yes, the transition is difficult, but the prize for Britain is great – provided we can meet and master the challenges we face as we adjust to these new worldwide forces.

And I believe we are well-placed:

– we are a free trade country

– we have the most open economy in the world

– we have a global reach greater than any other country on earth

We understand that protectionism does not work – for economies or for workers: that better than simply protecting people in their last job, is helping people into their next job.

And so to all those who try to prove, by pointing to this crisis, that globalisation and global markets do not work our answer is very clear:

– the route to prosperity is not protectionism but an open, free-trading,

– flexible globalisation which must also be inclusive and sustainable.

So I am here to speak up for open economies

Our task is not to reject global markets but to repair and strengthen them for the future.  Not to condone excessive and irresponsible behaviour, but to reward hard work, enterprise and responsible risk taking.

But extraordinary times require extraordinary action. If we have learnt anything in these last tumultuous and unprecedented months, it is that this is not the time to become prisoners of the old dogmas of the past. All over the world, policy makers are leaving behind the orthodoxies of yesterday so — just as we set aside conventional thinking to invest directly but temporarily in the banking system — we now face the same challenge in monetary and fiscal policy – and for two reasons.

Worldwide, the orthodoxy of the last few decades, has been that monetary policy is the only effective instrument for economic management. But the financial system that is a key channel of monetary policy has been damaged. So monetary policy cannot be our only tool. Monetary policy must play its essential role, but it would be a mistake to rely entirely upon it to pull the economy quickly out of this downturn.

And there is a second reason for the urgent action we propose. ever since the second world war, one of our greatest problems —and our greatest constraints on policy —–has been the risk or reality of high inflation.  every framework for British economic policy has had to be focussed on the containment of inflation.

But now after many years of inflationary pressures – this last year with sharp rises in global commodity prices – we face today the opposite threat: the prospect of rapidly declining inflation.

So, as the chancellor will set out later today – and indeed as the leaders of the g20 countries agreed last weekend in America – a new approach to macroeconomic management is now needed if we are to get through this unprecedented global financial recession with minimum damage to our long term economic prospects:

An approach which combines the use of monetary policy with proactive fiscal policy to support economic activity

An approach which because of our low public debt supports demand in the economy with all of the instruments at our disposal while maintaining – not cutting – our programme of investment and reform for long-term benefit.

Richard, in your letter you argue – rightly in my view – for a substantial time limited fiscal injection into the economy. And as you say in your pre budget report submission, it is right to promote action now that can prevent permanent damage tomorrow.

Simply letting the recession run its course, to say there is no alternative, is not an option.

We have seen in previous recessions how a failure to take action at the start of the downturn has increased both the length and depth of the recession.

That was the mistake made in the recessions of the 8os and early 90s. the mistake made by the Japanese and the mistake made in the Asian crisis.

To fail to act now would be not only a failure of economic policy but a failure of leadership.

Doing ‘too little too late’ would mean more damage, more deterioration – the loss of vital businesses – a weaker economy, lower growth, eventually greater fiscal problems and in that event, higher interest rates and higher taxes.

The best way for taxes to be low in the long-term is for us to ensure that the downturn is as limited in length and scope as possible. And that means help when help is needed. Not when it is too late. A boost to the economy to sustain growth that will help to keep businesses open and protect people’s jobs and homes.

And a temporary fiscal stimulus is just that – temporary.

But to act now means we also have a duty to set out what we will do later. by showing we will take the necessary decisions in the medium term to guarantee stability, we can act today in a strong, decisive and fair way.

And we must ensure that we get the greatest value for every pound we spend. I would like to thank four senior business leaders – Gerry Grimstone, Patrick Carter, Martin Read and Martin Jay – who have in the last five months used all their business expertise and experience to leave no stone in Whitehall unturned – as we demand further ambitious improvements in government efficiency. the chancellor said in the budget that we must go beyond the 30 billions of efficiency savings already budgeted and that is why we will be announcing further improvements in efficiency.

For it is a broadly based economic recovery, combined with prudent tax, spending, and asset sale plans over the medium term, that will help us bring the government borrowing back down over the coming years.

Other countries too have agreed or are preparing to agree a fiscal stimulus, including America where debt is already higher than ours and where the deficit is already rising to high levels.

And just as coordinated international action is necessary to address climate change, energy security and global poverty, so too it is essential to co-ordinate interest rate cuts and fiscal policy, magnifying their impact, as called for by the G20 leaders.

So coordinated action on economic recovery will benefit Britain. And a coordinated approach in Europe, our largest trading partner, would be of most benefit. That is why I have been discussing with other European leaders how we can best work together.

But I also believe that – while the downturn may be difficult and especially difficult for countries which have large financial sectors, like ourselves – our economy today is better equipped to weather any global economic storm than it was in the 1970s, 80s or early 90s:

Because – with your productivity growth, your resilience, and your success, British business has achieved the fastest growth in average productivity in the past decade across the whole of the G7.

And we will continue to make the changes in regulation and laws necessary to have the best environment to do business.

And we are better equipped today also:

Because of Bank of England independence and now falling interest rates;

Because of the most flexible labour market in Europe – and because we are now making further changes to make it a condition for people on benefits to seek not just work but the skills for work;

And because – vital to our ability to invest publicly now – our national debt is considerably lower than a decade ago; and lower than all the G7 countries except Canada – so there is scope for the government to increase borrowing at the right time to support the economy.

And I believe we are also making the right long term decisions for our economy- not shirking the difficult decisions in planning, skills, flexibility, infrastructure and transport.

For the way forward is not just one isolated initiative or one individual measure, not even a set of measures for a few months. It is a concerted and comprehensive plan that will give real help to businesses and families while at the same time preparing our economy for the future.

We now have a unique opportunity to do – in a twenty-first century way — what was done in the twentieth century by the new deal. As they built roads and bridges to create the infrastructure for the years ahead; we can use this period of adjustment to build both the technological base and human capital to equip us for the opportunities ahead.

So let me assure you that we will continue our programme of investment in the technological revolution ahead, in the talent revolution; and in the environmental revolution.

Now, at the very moment of an economic downturn is precisely when we need to step up our welfare reform and invest in our human capital – as many of you who recently put your names to the statement in the newspapers would agree.

Investment in intangible and knowledge assets – in ideas, brands, and research and development – all areas dependent on technology and innovation; all areas dependent on high value-added talent and skills. These will be a vital force in building Britain’s future high value-added competitiveness in the global economy.

And to ensure Britain can make the most of the opportunities in the environmental revolution, we will support investment in the low carbon economy. A worldwide market that could by 2050 be worth as much as $3 trillion per year. And which could employ more than 25 million people. Because I want Britain to benefit from these new jobs – with at least 1 million jobs in the green economy by 2030.

So we are taking action to respond to the immediate financial crisis; and we are putting in place reforms and investment to benefit from the longer term opportunities – so we are optimistic about the future of Britain.

For this is a time for resolution; and for solidity in responding to a unique financial crisis.

A time for powerful action to equip us for globalisation’s challenges – and in due course to reap its rewards

And a time for confidence that as real incomes pick up again next year and national and international  policies work through the economy, so we in Britain have the strength  — and everything it takes — to face the global storm — and emerge stronger.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech on Health


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown on the 6th November 2008 in London.

One of the greatest assemblies ever of men and women who are concerned about health inequalities, and I find it a privilege to be here to be able to address the first session of this conference.

We are here today at this international conference representing more than 80 countries, Health Ministers, doctors, scientists, researchers from every continent of the world, because all of us believe that the worst of human tragedies demand the most concerted of actions. But the most unacceptable of injustices require the most strenuous of our efforts, and the greatest of avoidable human suffering should summon up nothing less than the united endeavours of the whole global community.

We are here today because we believe that everyone, children, men and women, no matter their birth or background, no matter where they live, should have the best chance to enjoy a healthy life. And we are here today because we know that thousands of people are dying because they are simply too poor to live. We are here today also because so much of suffering is avoidable, so much of illness is preventable and because so many of the massive disparities in life expectancy across continents, communities and countries are not immutable, but they are man-made.

And we are here today because in so many different areas of medicine we have in the last few decades amassed the technology, the science, the research, the medicine to prevent avoidable suffering and what in many places we lack is the political will of a shared global determination to address it.

And I believe that in the next few years, coming together we can make the difference. Building on President Bush’s work in the United States of America, I now know that President-elect Obama is determined to play his part in addressing health inequalities round the world. If you had listened to John you might have thought that in the words of Shelley talking about his grandmother that politicians had lost the art of communication but not, alas, the gift of speech, and I accept that the reputation of politicians is not as good as we would want it to be. Someone said to me, when you see the state of the country do you pray for your politicians, and he said no, when you see the state of the politicians you pray for the country.

We will see in the next few months a great Presidential address at the Inauguration Ceremony from President-elect Obama. I am reminded of the 1960 inauguration when President Kennedy was inaugurated and the defeated candidate, Richard Nixon, was asked: would you not have loved to have said the words that Kennedy said: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country? He said No. Well what words would you have liked to have given, would you have liked to have said the torch is passed to a new generation? He said No. Would you have liked to have said never negotiate from fear, never fear to negotiate – another of the great words of the Kennedy speech? He said No. He said what words would you have liked to have said from that speech? And he said I hereby accept the nomination of President of the United States of America.

I believe that throughout the ages the fate of the sick and the infirm and the homeless and the hungry has been the test of our world’s compassion, it has been the crucible in which our morality is tested. And we cannot stand aside and have the audacity to say we are one world now, but every three seconds we allow a child to die from extreme poverty. We know the facts. Today a woman born in Zambia is likely to live half as long as a woman born in Japan; half a million mothers will die each year, one mother in eight dies in childbirth in some of the poorest countries like Sierra Leone, and one of the reasons is that of six million people in that country there are only 200 nurses, 100 doctors and 80 midwives. The birth of a child should be the happiest moment in any mother’s life, but in some countries pregnant women are so afraid that they will die in childbirth that before the end of the pregnancy they say goodbye to their friends.

We say this is one world, but yet in the first decade of this century there is such a gulf between continents that one child in seven dies in Africa before the age of five, life expectancy is less than 50, while here in Europe the majority of people born today will expect to live beyond 80.

And it is also, and this will be the theme of our Health Minister, Alan Johnson, whose idea it was to have this conference, is that there is such a gulf between neighbouring communities in the same country, that life expectancy here in London falls by one year for every underground station you stop at from Westminster to Canning Town. And this is the geography of inequality, the geography of injustice and we are here today to tackle it, government policy makers, academics, business leaders, voluntary organisations, civil society united in a shared commitment to reshape our world and to close these gaps within a generation.

And if these inequalities are to all of us a source of shame, they are equally a source for optimism and hope, for if progress has been made then with determination and unwavering resolve for the future, much more can be achieved.

So let me thank for their important and timely report the Commission on the Social Determinance of Health, the distinguished Chair, Sir Michael Marmot, who has done so much and is globally renowned for everything he has achieved, all of you here this morning represented from every continent of the world for your commitment to putting these recommendations in practice.

Now some say, and this is an argument you will hear widely, that this period of global financial turbulence is a time where we will have to put our wider ambitions on hold, that we will have to postpone our dream of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to retreat from the plans we have to build a fairer and better world.

But I believe there could be no worse time than this to turn back. We will now successfully address all the global problems that we face, whether it is financial problems, climate change, security or inequality, only if we work together for global solutions. And the health inequalities we are talking about are not only unjust, condemning millions of men, women and children to avoidable ill-health, they also limit the development and the prosperity of communities, whole nations and even continents. And so the challenge ahead is not to draw back from our ambitions, but to make them more urgent. And in today’s global society, when our understanding of ill-health and our ability to prevent and treat disease is greater than ever before, the defining challenge is of course to make the benefits of our collective expertise available to all.

Now already so many of you here have achieved so much: funding for global health as a result of your representations has more than doubled since 2000; thanks to so many of you here three million children are living who would otherwise have died; three million people are now getting treatment for Aids, even although there are millions still that we must and have to help; the International Immunisation Fund, the bond that we created with public and private sector money, together with the great work of GAVI, has already helped immunise almost 200 million children in more than 30 developing countries with life-saving measles vaccine, more than 100 million children against polio, and in total under this programme 500 million children will be vaccinated and many thousands of lives saved.

But with one child dying from malaria every second, with a mother dying in childbirth every minute, millions more around the world are still unable to enjoy the kind of healthy lives that so many of us take for granted.

At the United Nations in September Britain was proud to be part of a multinational delegation that pledged a total of $16 billion to restore progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, a $3 billion global malaria action plan was developed to stop all malaria deaths by 2015, and for the first time, listening to what people said, I believed that this could be done. A new task force on innovative financing, following our immunisation scheme, has been set up to help fund over a million health workers and with the view of saving 10 million lives by 2015.

But huge challenges, the challenges that you will discuss today, remain: improving daily living conditions; the environment in which people are born, grow, work and die, to ensure equity from the start and to sustain it across the life course; tackling the unequal distribution of power, money and resources to empower those who are disempowered and to give a voice to those who are all too often going unheard; expanding our international knowledge base on the social determinance of health, at the same time as developing the specialised workforce we need to address these factors on the ground.

For in our newly interdependent world, a world that is also characterised by the increasing movement of individuals and populations, and where disease respects no borders, health is now indisputably a global issue which is why we launched Health Is Global – the UK’s strategy for building better health for all.

Now here in Britain where our National Health Service has for 60 years tried to deliver healthcare on the basic principle that everyone should have healthcare regardless of ability to pay, we will try to build on what has been achieved to do more in addressing inequalities in care. There was an OECD report launched earlier their month which shows that our income gap is closing, the poverty rate falling from around the average to well below it today, so now we need to do everything possible to ensure we close the health gap too.

And to continue to address this I am pleased to announce that Sir Michael Marmot has agreed to undertake a new review of health inequalities in England, something I know Alan Johnson will say more about later this morning. And we will learn from other countries along the way, with our successful Sure Start programme addressing the health needs of infants, based on a programme from the United States, and our Health Trainers Scheme which reaches out to those people who are at the greatest risk of falling victim to ill-health, based on work done in Pakistan.

And today through this conference we have a further opportunity to learn from each other, to share best practice, to revitalise our efforts, to address health inequalities within nations, but perhaps even more significantly we have this opportunity to work together in this new global society alongside the World Health Organisation and other great organisations to tackle the inequalities between peoples.

And at this time the nations are now collaborating as never before to rebuild our international financial system, I know we will show the same kind of courage and visionary internationalism to advance the cause of healthcare for all, to end those inequalities, those injustices within a generation. This is the task we have set ourselves and we must not bend in our resolve to see it through.

I was with Nelson Mandela only a few months ago when he came to London to celebrate his 90th birthday. And Nelson Mandela spoke at a dinner where he challenged us to do more, and then there was a concert organised for Nelson Mandela and you may have seen the reports of it. And I have told this story before about Nelson Mandela speaking and then coming up to sit in the audience, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to him, and suddenly on to the stage came Amy Winehouse, and I had to explain to Nelson Mandela who Amy Winehouse, the singer, was – and it took some time to do so. And Amy Winehouse was telling her friends that Nelson Mandela and her husband had a great deal in common – that both had spent a great deal of time in prison. And when the end music was being played and the song was Free Nelson Mandela, she was actually singing Free Blakey, my Fella.

But the story has a point because Nelson Mandela at this great event was telling people that he had climbed one mountain in his life, he had climbed the mountain to fight the battle and to successfully end apartheid in his own country, but at 90 he was telling us there was still another even bigger mountain to climb, and the bigger mountain was to address the inequalities, injustices, poverty deprivation, ill-health and illiteracy that existed in so many different parts of the world, that we in the year 2008 had the means by which we could do so, what we needed to find was the cooperative spirit, the common international organisation, the coordinated effort of all good people to do so.

This is the theme of this conference, this is the mission of our generation, this is an opportunity for us to genuinely change the world.

Thank you very much.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech to the Health Service Journal


I am honoured and delighted to be here this evening — to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS with so many people who have done so much to make it what it is: Britain’s best-loved and most respected public service.

I was brought up to believe that the NHS reflected what Professor Richard Titmuss called the “gift relationship” — giving practical effect to people’s altruistic as well as self interested impulses. And for me, tonight is a welcome opportunity to do something we should do more often: to thank you and your many thousands of colleagues around the country for what you do for our nation:

The nurses and doctors who so often make the difference between life and death;

The clinical teams who work selflessly together for their patients – in surgery, intensive care and rehabilitation;

The staff the patients rarely see – working in laboratories, and in kitchens and offices – yet just as essential to the service and to patient care;

And of course the men and women on the boards and management teams that shape the NHS, lead it, hold it all together, all of whom are in public service because as they tell me they can make a difference.

And my own experiences have confirmed my instinct and belief that the uniqueness, indeed the greatness, of the NHS as a British institution is not just that it has cared for tens of millions of people and saved many hundreds of thousands of lives – and not only that it has been at the forefront of innovation, pioneering advances in medical treatment, in surgery and in imaging – but that with its unique guarantee of healthcare free for all at the point of need, it has liberated all of us from the fear of illness left untreated because the costs are beyond our means. A clear and enduring expression of the principle that healthcare is not a privilege to be purchased but a moral right secured for all.

There is scarcely a family in this country that does not owe either health or a life to the care of the NHS.

And I know I and my family owe it a great deal. When I was sixteen I was playing for my school rugby team against our former pupils; and sustained an injury that could have lead to blindness. Just as I was starting university, I spent many months in hospital as the NHS worked to save my sight. And it was the skills of a remarkable surgeon, the care of wonderful nurses, the attention and yes, the love and care of NHS staff that saved me from blindness. So when I say I am grateful to the NHS — for its existence, its principles, its staff, and the sometimes truly miraculous care it can deliver – I am speaking from the bottom of my heart.

And when I thank you and all your colleagues for what you do, I know I am speaking for millions of patients over the decades who are equally grateful for the care they have received.

Of course in its 60 years so far the NHS has had its ups and downs, but I like to think that – thanks largely to your efforts – the last decade has been one of the most lively, innovative and successful in its history.

And though as Chancellor for much of that time I had every confidence in you and in what you could deliver, it did occur to me that some extra funding might not go amiss.

So – as many of you will be aware – we managed to assist you in your endeavours. And together we have succeeded in reversing the effects of decades of underinvestment.

There are now 80,000 more nurses, 30,000 more hospital doctors, and 5,000 more GPs than in 1997.

Until 10 years ago the majority of NHS hospitals were built in pre NHS days. Now the NHS has 149 new hospitals and 90 new walk in centres either built or on the way.

The NHS now carries out a million more operations each year.

Its waiting lists are at their lowest level for a generation. Better NHS care for people with cancer and heart disease has saved 235,000 lives.

And just in the last year, we have increased GP opening times at weekends and in the evenings, put in place new measures to clean hospitals and tackle MRSA, moved the NHS from deficit to surplus and taken the first full steps towards a preventative health service with new rights to

And while a decade ago people wondered if the NHS at 50 had any future at all, it has not only survived; it has benefited enormously from a vivifying regime of more money, better management, and much patient-focused reform. And at 60 it is more firmly than ever part of the fabric of British national life.

But even as we celebrate, the challenges of the next decade are already upon us, and are utterly different from those the NHS faced 60 years ago.

In the early decades of the NHS people were just glad to have free health care when they needed it. Today, people want healthcare services which are tailored to their individual needs and their busy lifestyles.

Sixty years ago the main concerns were infectious diseases, acute medical and surgical illness, and the long struggle against cancer. Today, with the ageing population and a rise in so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’, the NHS finds itself having to support many more patients with long-term conditions – to provide the best of acute care when they need it and at the same time support their independence.

In the early decades, high-cost, high-technology interventions were rare or very rare. Today, costly but effective technology has opened up vast new areas of diagnosis and treatment: much of it – for example, heart transplantation – proven to be highly cost-effective. And new cutting edge science – from genetics to stem cell therapy – brings with it huge new potential for earlier diagnosis and dramatic new interventions.

But far from these challenges meaning we should abandon a universal health service free at the point of need, the NHS is today even more relevant. Because when the cost of some of the more effective health interventions is now far beyond ordinary family resources – and when there is a risk that genetic conditions will lead to people being excluded from private insurance – families more than ever need a system of funding like the NHS that insures everyone as comprehensively as possible against the risks of huge medical bills and ensures that the cost of that care will be absorbed not by us as individuals but by all of us together – pooling and sharing the risk in a comprehensive healthcare system publicly funded by taxation. The modern rational choice for healthcare: what I call the best insurance policy in the world.

But it is also right to acknowledge that for too long the NHS has been able to do too little about prevention; and has sometimes offered services that have been criticised as suiting the providers of care better than they suit the patients.

Now, the record levels of investment over its sixth decade have opened up the potential for us both to provide an excellent hospital and GP service and to fund new preventative programmes and care far better tailored to individual need.

In future, the NHS will identify your clinical needs earlier; the better targeted to keeping you healthy and fit, and will give you far more control of your own health and your own life.

And just as the formation of the NHS in 1948 was seen as a bold and daring leap forward, so the move to the preventative NHS will be another bold and daring leap forward.

It was to map out the next steps towards that vision of a personal, preventative health service that, almost a year ago this week, the Health Secretary Alan Johnson and I asked a clinician not a politician – Professor Ara Darzi – to carry out a fundamental review of the NHS. And let me thank him for his work which has involved engaging 2000 clinicians.

His vision is of an NHS of quality and excellence:

  • a world-class NHS with world-class services and worldclass care;
  • an NHS that provides personalized services that help people lead healthy and active lives;
  • an NHS where patients can take greater control over their own health and where professionals are empowered to become advocates for this new ‘patient

So building on our plans for check ups for over 40s and new rights to screening – for example for colon cancer and for breast cancer – and to preventive vaccines, our priority now is to develop much more comprehensive wellbeing services and to give patients much more control over the treatment and care they receive.

Everyone with a long-term condition will have their own personalised care plan; millions will be able to make the choice to become part of active patient programmes; all patients will now be guaranteed access to the most clinically and cost effective drugs and treatments – removing the last vestiges of the postcode lottery in the prescription of medicines in the NHS; and just as people can now choose which hospital they go to for their operation, so they will now have a right to choose which GP they register with for their day to day care.

And because we know that first class quality of care cannot be mandated from the centre but requires us instead to give NHS staff the opportunity to lead change themselves, Ara Darzi has also made recommendations for how we can empower and set free NHS staff.

Clinical advisory groups will be set up at every level of the NHS, and there will be new incentives to encourage and reward innovation at the front-line, greater freedoms for high performing GP practices and hospitals to develop new services for their patients, and a commitment from government that wherever staff and clinicians can show that changes will improve services for patients we will back you to the hilt. And all this will be supported by an NHS constitution setting out – for the first time – the rights and responsibilities of both patients and staff.

So if in the last generation progress in health care was seen simply in terms of the doctor administering antibiotics, in the coming generation it will be patients, doctors and NHS staff working together to improve health and manage conditions.

  • the doctor not just physician but adviser;
  • the nurse not just carer but trainer;
  • patients more than consumers — partners.

And I believe that the NHS is almost uniquely well placed to deliver this transformation: one of the most trusted organisations in British society, its doctors, nurses and staff recognised by everyone as a force for good in our country.

It is these strengths that we will build on for the future.

Our goal: to create for the next decade an NHS that is:

  • here for all of us but personal to each of us;
  • focused on prevention as much as cure;
  • fully prepared for the challenges of caring for an ageing population;
  • and strong and confident enough to put real control into the hands of individuals and their clinicians.

So with reform, modernisation and investment, our aim over the next six decades is to make the NHS not just the best insurance policy in the world but the best health service in the world.

This is a worthy mission for an institution as great and as significant in our lives as the National Health Service — and it is a transformation I ask you all to be a part of.

Gordon Brown – 2008 Speech to CBI Scotland


This speech was made in Glasgow by Gordon Brown to the CBI Scotland Conference.

Let me say first what a pleasure and a privilege it is to be with you this evening.

A pleasure to be back in Scotland, and to join you for dinner here in Glasgow

A privilege to be here as your guest; and I’m grateful to Iain McMillan and David Thorburn for this opportunity to thank you for your tremendous contribution to the Scottish economy and that of Great Britain

As CBI Scotland you represent more than 26 thousand businesses and a combined workforce of some two-thirds of a million people. Businesses proud to be based in Scotland – and prouder still to be doing business in every part of Britain, and throughout Europe, and all across the world.

And as the voice of those businesses the CBI continues to be an invaluable partner to Government. An honest partner – not afraid to tell us what we need to hear; and a trusted partner too – genuinely working with us to ensure the continued competitiveness of British business.

The breadth of the businesses you represent here tonight highlight the nature of the global economy in which we now operate. Your firms are active in:

  • oil and gas exploration in South Asia
  • data and intelligence management to fight crime and promote security in the USA and elsewhere
  • world-leading pensions and financial services provision
  • and large-scale naval construction here in Scotland

Firms all responding to the same challenges of globalisation, the changing demands of consumers, emerging technologies, and the greening of industry – establishing themselves as leading businesses in this, our now global economy.

And it is what you do, the challenges you face, and the current concerns we all share about world economic conditions that will be the focus of my remarks this evening.

As we all know, we face challenging times in the global economy. The first great financial crisis of the global age with a global credit crunch and global rises in commodity prices.

This unique set of events is affecting every major advanced economy. With growth in the euro area – our largest export market – falling by 0.2 per cent; by 0.5 per cent in Germany, 0.3 per cent in France and 0.3 per cent in Italy. Japan contracted by 0.6 per cent and the US and Canada both saw falling GDP in the course of last year.

But the trebling of oil prices and the credit crunch reflect deeper forces at work – the pressure on resources as four billion people enter the global economy; the rise of Asia as a manufacturing and services power, the restructuring of jobs, the scale, scope and speed of technological change and then the pressures on the living standards and expectations of communities and families as a result.

Britain cannot insulate itself from these unprecedented shocks because we are part of the global world – but just as surely we can benefit from the huge opportunities globalisation brings.

Undoubtedly we face a challenging period in the British economy – particularly given our position at the heart of the world’s financial markets – and both the Chancellor and I understand the difficulties you face.

But while never complacent about our economic prospects, I am also cautiously optimistic about the long-term resilience and underlying strengths of the British economy.

Because at root our economy today is better placed to weather any global economic storm than it was in the 1970s, 80s or early 90s.

First, Bank of England independence has given us low interest rates founded on sound macroeconomic management and so despite increases in the prices of food and fuel – and I understand the impact this is having on families and businesses – the sound framework for monetary policy which we have established means inflation remains far below the double-digit levels we saw in the earlier decades. And this will help ensure that interest rates remain similarly low by historical standards.

Second, the most flexible labour market in Europe means that even though unemployment has risen in recent months, employment remains close to record highs – and wage pressures are subdued, led by our own responsible decisions on public sector pay. And with the investment in the New Deal and our latest welfare reforms there is more support than ever before to help people back into work and to fill the 600,000 vacancies still in our economy. And a balanced approach to migration allows businesses to benefit from the specific skills that economic migrants can bring to our country and improves the responsiveness of our labour market to fluctuating demand.

Third – the underlying financial strength of British business reflects its improved efficiency – driven by your hard work in achieving the fastest growth in average productivity in the past decade across the whole of the G7. Britain remains a magnet for overseas investment and our export performance is improving, with our manufacturing productivity growth strong.

Fourth, low debt. The significant debt repayments we made since 1997 mean we have cut public debt as a share of national income from 43 per cent in 1997 to today’s 37.3 per cent. This means that, unlike in earlier economic slowdowns, we can sustain our ongoing commitment to investment in fixed capital infrastructure – up 58 per cent in real terms in the last decade. In 1997 we invested £144.5 billion. Today it is £229 billion. Even after inflation a 58 per cent rise.

And – while no government can hope to protect people from the full impact of the global credit crunch or the worldwide spike in commodity prices – I am determined that we should do what we reasonably can to help families and businesses through this difficult period of adjustment. So we will back up our investment commitments with careful interventions designed to provide targeted support for hard-pressed families – such as this week’s home-owners’ support package and the £120 a year tax cut for basic rate taxpayers that will start to feed into paypackets later this month.

Fifth – we are making all the long term decisions, difficult as they are, to boost our competitiveness; on energy, planning, transport, housing, digital technology, science and skills. And the 2002 Enterprise Act has given us one of the most robust, independent competition regimes anywhere in the world. The support for British enterprise – strengthened over the last decade with the launch of Enterprise Capital Funds, the Small Firms Loan Guarantee and administrative burden reduction targets. Britain today has four and a half million businesses – more than ever before. And the OECD says Britain has the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship of any OECD country.

Underpinned by the strength of these five fundamentals I believe we can help British families and businesses weather this global downturn and seize every opportunity for future economic success in the upturn. Because it is the actions that governments take and the policies they pursue in periods of economic slowdown that can determine their comparative success and competitiveness in the upswings.

Once we are through this global crisis, we will continue to enjoy the opportunities that the global economy offers to us. But that means making sure we are in a position to benefit fully, for example by reaping the rewards of the huge investment in Britain’s science base that the Government has undertaken, in our schools and universities and their partnership with the business sector.

These actions and other investment by the Government are precisely what have stood us in good stead for the long term. And they are what can give us confidence amid the inevitable anxieties people have in the current period.

So the challenge now is to share both the risks and riches of the new economy in a fair way.

Because the prize is the opportunity to benefit from a rapidly expanding world economy.

Whatever we choose to do in Britain, we know that in the coming decades the world economy is going to double in size and wealth. Companies will be able to compete for twice as much business as today. And there could be as many as a billion new skilled jobs.

So the choice for us is not whether we believe there will be opportunities in the new economy – but how we, the British, choose to seize them.

As a government we are enthusiasts for globalisation – because we are optimists about what British firms, British workers and British entrepreneurs will be able to achieve. But at the same time we recognise that rising oil, food and commodity prices represent the greatest threat to higher standards of living for British families today.

So some argue for an outdated protectionism – as though we could just pull up the drawbridge and turn back the clock. But we argue that it is precisely by maintaining our open, flexible and dynamic economy that we can best secure people’s jobs, homes, and standards of living in a global age.

But we are equally clear that this is not a time for government to adopt a laissez-faire, sink-or-swim, you’re on your own approach.

So we will respond with vision, courage and steadfastness to address the new insecurities that hard-pressed, hard-working British families face. Because while the changes happening all around us are complex, the feelings they evoke are not. In tough times, people are understandably anxious. And they want to know that they will have a fair chance to cope.

They know that no national government alone can intervene to put everything right that is creating hardship, but they do look to us to us to take action to help them.

And we will not let them down. We will do what it takes to bring security to families on modest and middle incomes. And we will ensure that no-one who is prepared to work hard and adapt to change will lose out as a result of global forces. We will act responsibly to prepare people for the inescapable challenges ahead – in the short, medium and long term.

That is why we introduced the housing measures this week – and why we are currently working up proposals with the utility companies to address the problems caused by the impact of world oil prices on gas and electricity bills.

Not short-term gimmicks or giveaways – but firm steps towards making every home in Britain more energy efficient, thus reducing bills not just temporarily, but permanently.

Because you cannot address a long term problem – the supply and demand for oil- with a short term gimmick like a fuel stabiliser.

As you know in your businesses real leadership is about addressing, explaining and tackling the realities we face – not the realities we would prefer to face.

The oil and food price shocks have revealed that a growing scramble for resources is underway. We need a new kind of response – with better ways to co-ordinate globally the supply and demand for these vital resources.

At the heart of our approach must be a revolution in the way we think about and use resources; reducing our dependence on oil and by creating a low carbon economy achieving both greater security of energy supply and greater efficiency of energy use.

Oil has powered phenomenal economic growth over the last century – and North Sea oil in particular has offered Scotland thousands of jobs and contributed billions to our economy. And it will continue to play a vital role for decades to come.

But at its peak in 1999 the North Sea produced 2.9 million barrels a day. This year 1.5 million barrels a day – the largest reduction of any oil producing nation – making Britain a net importer of oil.

And five years ago oil was less than 40 dollars a barrel – in July it was 147 dollars a barrel and today 107.

It is our exposure to such volatility in the price of a commodity so vital to our economy that is the essence of what has been called the dictatorship of oil.

But it is important that we recognise and value the historical contribution of countries that have provided the oil and gas that has fuelled the rise in living standards we have all enjoyed. And equally to applaud those oil producers who are now leading the way in working with us to meet the global energy challenges we all now face.

For it is only by:

  • investing in more nuclear and renewable sources
  • increasing the efficiency with which we use energy in all its forms
  • making more efficient use of our existing oil reserves; and
  • acting to stabilise world energy markets

that can we achieve a more diverse, secure and sustainable energy mix that will ease the pain for Britain’s families, its businesses and ultimately also our environment. So today I set a new ambition to free Britain from the dictatorship of oil.

The policies we are putting in place will mean that by 2020 our economy will consume 20 per cent less oil for each unit of output than it consumes today – and only a quarter of the oil we used in 1970.

First – investing in more nuclear and renewable sources – with increased support for nuclear supply chain companies and the best and most cost-effective possible arrangements for safety, security, and eventual decommissioning.

Already today Westinghouse Electric Company has signed agreements with BAE systems, Rolls Royce and Doosan Babcock to collaborate on work associated with bringing the AP 1000 nuclear power plant to the UK – and may eventually lead to between 70 and 80 per cent of the work and services required to construct the AP 1000 being provided by the UK supply chain, securing valuable jobs in Britain.

And our 100 billion pounds investment to increase the proportion of our energy coming from renewable sources to 15 per cent by 2020 – a tenfold increase, is one of the largest increases anywhere in Europe.

So British companies must grasp the new opportunities to invest in green technologies and continue to back our planning reforms, because willing the ends also requires willing the means. The question must be not whether to invest in more renewables, but where.

Today I can announce the approval of a new offshore windfarm, near Walney Island – off the coast of Barrow-in-Furness. At up to 139 turbines, it will be one of the UK’s largest, providing the equivalent of all the homes in Glasgow and Dundee with clean, green electricity – and helping to give the UK the highest operating offshore wind capacity in the world.

And Scotland too is playing a leading role in this green technological revolution – already providing almost half of the UK’s renewable generation capacity.

Just south of here, at Whitelee, is the largest onshore wind farm operating in the UK. When complete next year it will be the largest operating in Europe.

By 2050 the overall added value of the low carbon energy sector could be as high as three trillion dollars per year worldwide. And it could employ more than 25 million people. I want Britain to benefit from these new jobs – with at least one million jobs in the green economy by 2030.

In Fife alone – there are some 50 companies investing or planning to invest in renewable energy. With projects such as:

  • manufacturing sub-structures for deep water off-shore wind farms;
  • developing large capacity batteries to store off peak generated power;
  • introducing biomass plants to cut CO2 emissions and increase efficiency in brewing and cereal processing.

Second – we must make far better use of existing oil.

We need major improvements in the fuel efficiency of vehicles – so we are issuing a challenge to the car industry that we will match their investment in new technology with a commitment to a new infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles.

And I can announce today a major new pilot programme for electric cars – including plug-in hybrids which can be fuelled by electricity from the grid or petrol. Working with the Energy Technologies Institute, Cenex, the UK Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies, and the industry to explore the role of electric cars in a sustainable transport system.

But making better use of existing oil also means, third, taking all practical measures to draw on the reserves still in the North Sea.

So I have asked Malcolm Wicks to convene a joint industry-government working group to ensure we can make full use of enhanced oil recovery. And we will also re-examine the wider fiscal and regulatory frameworks to ensure the right incentives to maximise economic recovery of our oil and gas reserves.

Fourth – there is a clear and urgent need to bring stability to global markets. Here too, I am committed to ensuring Great Britain leads from the front.

Earlier this summer I went to Jeddah to press for a global new deal between oil producing and consuming nations.

We agreed action to reduce oil prices and secure global energy needs, through more oil supply – and more investment to achieve it.

This included:

  • ensuring sufficient access to capital and technology to bring new oil supplies on-stream, often in increasingly difficult physical conditions around the world;
  • a new emphasis on the reduction in future demand for oil, by promoting energy efficiency, and reducing market distortions caused by fuel subsidies, taxes and tariffs;
  • and providing help for oil producing countries to adjust as the world inevitably moves to low carbon sources of energy, including the progressive opening up of our markets to encourage their broader and deeper integration into the global economy.

At the end of the year we will be hosting a global energy summit to agree key areas for further action and so maintain the momentum generated in Jeddah.

A low carbon society will not emerge from business as usual. It will require new thinking and new technologies, new forms of economic activity and social organisation, new forms of consumer behaviour and lifestyles and your creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship to unlock the talents and skills of UK companies.

So if the British economy, British firms and the people of Britain are to reap the benefits of a new low carbon future, then every one of us – in every part of Britain – will need to act together.

We all know that sharing these islands places common obligations upon us all – obligations that current world economic conditions and the imperatives of transforming our energy economy can only increase.

But I believe there is a real risk of waking up one day to find that the many benefits of the union had been too long taken for granted and thoughtlessly thrown away.

In energy – as we have seen – the arguments that point to our interdependence grow in strength; to you in business they are already clear. There are very few major Scotland-only companies. Most are active throughout the UK, and more and more are global.

I ask you – are our firms in shipbuilding held back by being part of the UK? No – the aircraft carrier orders at Rosyth and the destroyers being built only a mile away supply the British Ministry of Defence.

And consider financial services – our biggest industry by value, and now Scotland’s biggest employer.

Scotland generates more money through trade with England, in financial services, than from its trade in all sectors in all areas across the whole of the European Union.

That is the simple arithmetic of the union. And it adds up.

So do the sums for jobs.

In the mid-1980s, Scotland’s employment rate was six percentage points below that of the UK.

Now Scotland has the highest employment rate of any nation in the UK and one of the very best in the whole of Europe.

If since 1997, the employment rate had instead increased only in line with the average for the UK as a whole, there would be around 200,000 fewer people in work.

That is Scotland’s employment dividend – the result of this Government’s record investment in the New Deal and Jobcentre Plus and its partnership with a devolved Scotland and local initiatives helping to deliver welfare on the ground. Scotland has benefited from this partnership – a source of strength not weakness.

No-one should be in any doubt about my commitment to the United Kingdom. It is founded not in ideology but on the evidence of history and the starkest of current reality.

Set against the global challenges facing us today, the bleak separatist obsession of the nationalists to split Scotland from the rest of the UK looks at best like self indulgent posturing. At worst like a wilful denial of the realities of the world we live in.

It is the duty of every government to strive to create the conditions in which business can flourish.

But there are some tests which should be applied before any party or any government can claim to be the party of business.

I would suggest that any party which said its core policy is to make business’s biggest market a foreign country fails that test. To make England a foreign country with all the increased cross border costs, all the regulatory and legislative fragmentation and duplication that would involve.

Nor, I believe, can a party be called the party of business when it fails to address our dependence on oil ruling out nuclear power.

Nor is it business friendly to propose a tax on jobs, to refuse to invest in infrastructure or to simplify the planning system.

Engagement and dialogue are vital but they are no substitute for having the right policies and the right relationships in place to build Scotland’s economy.

The reality is that we are stronger together than we ever could be apart. And what matters is where our talents can take us, not where Scotland ends and the rest of the world begins.

And you and your members recognise that. Our economic union benefits all the UK’s citizens – it’s in the interests of your members, their employees and your customers.

That is as true in 2008 as it was in 1708, and I will do nothing to put it at risk.

But do not confuse that resolve with unthinking opposition to change and development in how our union governs itself.

The constitution of the union has always evolved to meet the changing needs and rising hopes of our people as it did most notably when we created the Scottish Parliament – within the United Kingdom – 10 years ago.

And it is because the union’s flexibility is a source of its strength that, together with the Scottish Parliament, I set up the Calman Commission to review devolution. And I particularly welcome the contribution of the CBI to its work – and that your director Iain McMillan is one of its members.

I am not going to pre-judge the Commission’s work – but I do want to say two things about it. First of all, devolution has worked, but I do see one problem: while there have been good reasons why this is so the Scottish Parliament is wholly accountable for the budget it spends but not for the size of its budget. And that budget is not linked to the success of the Scottish economy. That is why we asked the Calman Commission to look carefully at the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament. And this is a critical part of Calman’s remit.

And the second thing is more important still. Be under no illusion about my purpose. Devolution is intended to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom – and developing devolution is intended to strengthen Scotland’s place within it.

There is a modern case for the union and it must be heard. It is not about partnership at the expense of pride; nor about pride that can satisfied only by sacrificing partnership.

As our triple gold medallist Chris Hoy said: “Scotland is part of Britain – they are not mutually exclusive. I wouldn’t have three gold medals hanging round my neck if I wasn’t part of the British team”.

I believe that your world-beating companies are champions for the same reason.

So as businesses and as people in Scotland — and in England and Wales and Northern Ireland — we can go forward with our partners in the United Kingdom:

  • confident in our partnership, in its history and in its future.
  • stronger within it to face the challenges – and reap the rewards – of globalisation.
  • stronger and more prosperous – because we are together.

Tony Blair – 2008 Atlantic Conference Speech


Below is the speech of the text made by Tony Blair in Washington DC, USA, on 21 April 2008.

The transatlantic alliance is, of course, a product of historical connection, culture, language and tradition. But most of all it is an alliance of belief, of shared values, of a common outlook not just about nations and their common interest but about humanity and its common destiny. Out of the travails of the twentieth century, the alliance drew its history and its strength. In the fight against fascism, and communism, it confronted and defeated totalitarian ideology. Millions of our citizens died for the victory. Through their sacrifice, we gained our freedom.

More than that, we came to a profound understanding about what it is to be free. We realised through the pain and suffering, the difference between deferring to those in power and deciding who they are; between the rule of law and the caprice of dictatorship; between the right to speak out and the silence of the fearful.

Now with those twentieth century battles over, it is tempting to think that this alliance has served its purpose. But here is the important point about it. It was never, and is not now, an alliance only of interests. It was and is an alliance of conviction. We, in the West, don’t own the idea of freedom. We didn’t fight for it because of the happenstance of birth in Europe or America. It is there, in the DNA of humankind. It is universal in nature and appeal. We developed it but we didn’t invent it.

Now is the time to stand up for it. If we want our values to govern the twenty first century, we must combine hard and soft power. We must show unhesitating resolution in the face of threats to our security; and we must show that our values are indeed universal, that they encompass not only freedom but justice, and not for us alone but for the world as a whole. We must show these values are global. And build alliances accordingly, starting with the renewal of our own. And we need to do it with energy and urgency. In the Middle East this is time critical. We must act now.

Two things I now perceive more clearly than in office. The first is: the fundamental shift of the centre of gravity, politically and economically, to the East; to China and of course India, but more broadly to the Middle and Far Eastern nations.

This evening I will focus elsewhere, but suffice it to say that we are still, in the West, not in the state of comprehension or analysis we need to be, fully to grasp this shift. China and India together will over the coming decades industrialise on a scale, and at a pace, the world has never seen before. In China especially, the implications are huge. Whatever the present controversies, a strong strategic relationship with it is vital; as it is with India. We are so much better able to fashion the terms of such a relationship if we do it in unison. That alone would justify and re-justify our alliance.

This is a challenge of diplomacy and statesmanship of one kind.

The other challenge arises from the security threat that occupied so much of the last years of my premiership. Today, as we meet, our armed forces face the prospect of a continuing campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq. I hope one thing unites us all. Whatever the debate about the decisions that brought us to these countries, there should be no debate about the magnificent and sustained heroism of our armed forces. British and American troops and the forces of other allied nations deserve our full support and our gratitude.

But this struggle is not limited to those fields of conflict. Out in the Middle East, it is there in the activities of Hezbollah in Lebanon, of Hamas in Palestine; it is played out in the street of Arab opinion every day. It has spread across the world. More than a score of nations have suffered terror attacks in the last year, still more have foiled them. They do not include only the usual list, but Thailand, Nigeria, China itself.

In the Middle East, the ideology that drives the extremism is not abating. The Annual Arab Public Opinion survey published last week was not striking simply for its specific findings – but for its overall picture. The basic ideological thrust of the extremists has an impact way beyond the small number of those prepared to engage in terror. In sum, it shows an alarming number of people who buy the view that Islam is under attack from the West; the leaders to support are those like Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad who are perceived to take on the West; and there is a contrast between Governments and their people that is stark.

The extremism is a tiny minority activity; the ideas, prejudices and sentiments that drive it, are not. The truth is that the roots of this global ideology are deep, far deeper than I first thought in the aftermath of September 11.

I believe the eventual outcome is not in doubt. But it is possible, dangerously, to underestimate the size of this challenge. And it is possible completely to misunderstand its origins.

This global ideology is based on a total perversion of the true faith of Islam. Its revolutionary rhetoric and attachment to so-called liberation movements is a sham designed to hide its profoundly reactionary and regressive character. It is totalitarian in nature and compromising with it will lead not to peace but to a ratcheting up of demands, none of which are remotely tolerable.

But it plays cleverly on the insecurities and uncertainty deep within Islam. It speaks to a sense that the reason for its problems is not to be found within, but as victims of outside aggression.

So today the issue hangs in the balance. The Middle East is without doubt a region in transition; but in which direction will it travel?

Like it or not, we are part of the struggle. Drawn into it, Europe and America must hold together and hold firm. Not simply for our own sake, but for that of our allies within Islam. If we do not show heart, why should they?

If they don’t see our resolve, how much more fragile is theirs?

So how is this battle won?

We have to recognise that though the circumstances and conflicts of the twentieth century are very different from ours, nonetheless, one thing remains true in any time and for all time: that if under attack, there is no choice but to defend, with a vigour, determination and will, superior to those attacking us. Our opponents today think we lack this will. Indeed they are counting on it. They think that if they make the struggle long enough and savage enough, we will eventually lose heart, and our will fade. They are fanatics but they have, unfortunately, the dedication that accompanies fanaticism.

We cannot permit this to happen. Where we are confronted, we confront. We stand up. And we do so for as long as it takes. This ideology now has a nation, Iran, that seeks to put itself at the head of extreme Islam. They need to know what we say, we mean and, if necessary, will do.

If we exhibit this attitude, peace is more likely; because they will not miscalculate or misread our character. But if they think us weak, they will fight all the harder and risk all the more.

They need to see our belief. We should not apologise for our values, but wear them with pride, proclaim their virtues loudly; show confidence; ridicule the notion that when people choose freedom this is somehow provocation to terror; and do so together, one alliance.

This struggle did not begin on September 11th 2001. It isn’t the fault of President Bush, of Israel, or of Western policy. The idea that we suppress Muslims in the West is utterly absurd. There is more religious freedom for Islam in London than in many Muslim countries.

You can argue about the rights and wrongs of the military invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan, but to allow for a single instant that this action justifies not simply terrorism but the idea that the West is innately hostile to Islam, only has to be contemplated, rationally, momentarily, for its nonsense to be manifest. We get rid of two brutal dictatorships; put in place a UN led democratic process; plus billions of dollars in aid: Where exactly is the hostility to Islam? And the only reason our troops are forced to stay is because of terror attacks carried out by this ideology in defiance of the democratically expressed wishes of the Muslim people of both countries.

And if it is hard and bloody, how bizarre to blame the allied forces, there under a UN mandate and who are trying to keep the peace, rather than those using terror to disturb it.

Yet this paradigm that it is ‘our’ fault that this terror threat is with us, has infiltrated a large part of Middle Eastern public opinion and actually influences significantly a large part of our own. It has to be taken on.

And here is the good news. The same poll shows most Muslims want peace. Most support a two state solution in Israel and Palestine. The modern minded rulers of the successful Arab economies are also admired. People in Iran don’t hate America even if its leader does. Go beneath the surface and there are allies out in the region and within Islam; people who believe strongly in their faith, but know that the twenty first century is not about civilisations in combat but in alliance. In other words people are open to persuasion.

And here is the point. To win this struggle, we must be prepared to confront; but we must also be prepared to persuade.

This is a battle that can take a military or security form. But it can’t be won by military or security means alone. It is a battle of ideas. To win, we must persuade people of what we stand for and why; and we must do so in a way that answers their concerns as well as our own.

We believe in freedom and democracy. We also believe in justice. We believe in equality. We believe in a fair chance for all, in opportunity that goes beyond an elite and stretches down into the core of society. That, after all, is the American dream; free not just in politics but free to achieve, to fulfil your ambition by your own efforts and hard work, to make something of yourself, to give your children a better start than you had.

To win this battle, we must demonstrate these values too. That is why the Middle East peace process matters. It is the litmus test of our sincerity. We should not in any way dilute our commitment to Israel’s security. We simply have to show equal commitment to justice for the Palestinians.

In the coming months, we have a chance to put it on a path to peace. It will require Israel to do more to lift the burden of occupation and give the Palestinians a sense that a state is possible. It will require the Palestinians to do more to get the robust capability on security to give the Israelis a sense that a state is permissible. It will require a different and better strategy for Gaza. And it will require a relentless, insistent focus on the issues, from the U.S. and the international community, macro and micro managing it as necessary, to get the job done. President Bush and Secretary Rice have made that commitment. This can be done. It has to be done. It is not optional. It is mandatory for success.

The origin of this extremism does not lie in this dispute; but a major part of defeating it, lies in its resolution.

Then, wider than this, we have to work with the modern and moderate voices within Islam to help them counter the extremism and show how faith in Islam is supremely consistent with engagement in the twenty first century, economically, politically, and culturally. There is a vast amount of toil and time and energy to be expended in building bridges, educating each other about the other, creating the civic and social networks of reconciliation.

I would go further still.

In Africa, we have a cause of justice which cries out to be pursued; one that is, at the same time, a moral imperative and a strategic investment; one that needs the attention of East and West. In climate change, we have an issue that demonstrates that justice is also part of the compact of responsibility between this generation and those of the future.

My argument is therefore this. The struggle can be won. But it can only be won by a strategy big enough and comprehensive enough to remove the roots as well as the branches. The battle will, in the end, be won within Islam. But only if we show that our values are theirs also.

The problem with so much of Western politics is that the argument is posed as one between the advocates of hard power and soft power, when the reality is, we need both.

This is where America and Europe, united, should act. America has to reach out. Europe has to stand up. Not a single one of the global challenges facing us today is more easily capable of solution, if we are apart; if we let the small irritants obscure the fundamental verities; if we allow ourselves to be assailed by doubt about the value of our partnership, rather than affirm, albeit self-critically, its strengths.

We need now a powerful revival of our alliance. In the world so rapidly changing around us, we cannot take a narrow view of our interests or a short-sighted view of our destiny. We can’t afford to take fright at these changes and go back into isolationism. We can’t avoid the challenges. But we can master them. Together.

The transatlantic partnership was never just the foundation of our security. It was the foundation of our way of life. It was forged in experience of the most bitter and anguished kind.

Out of it came a new Europe, a new world order, a new consensus as to how life should be lived.

Today times are different. Every era is different. What is necessary is to distinguish between what endures for one time and what endures for all time.

In our history, we discovered the values that endure. We learnt what really matters and what is worth fighting for.

And we learnt it together.

Today, the challenge to those values is different. But it is no less real. Our propensity to avow those values will shape the way the twenty first century is governed. Will these values become, as they should be, universal values, open over time to all human beings everywhere; or will they be falsely seen as the product of a bygone age? That is the question. It is fundamental. It is urgent. It is our duty to answer it.