Andrew Mitchell – 2011 Conservative Party Conference Speech

Below is the text of the speech made by the then International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, to the 2011 Conservative Party Conference on 2nd October 2011.

Conference, it is 50 years since a Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, set up what is now the Department for International Development.

Since then, we have made huge progress. But still today:

Every hour 180 children die needlessly from diarrhoea.

Tonight, millions of families will spend the hours after sunset in the dark, with no electricity, no running water, no healthcare.

And in South Sudan this girl is more likely to die during childbirth than she is to finish primary school. Let me just repeat that. This girl is more likely to die during childbirth than she is to finish primary school.

Even now, in Government, when I go to these places, I still feel overwhelmed by the scale of human suffering. But I am uplifted by the work being done to help and the progress Britain is leading.

So now, please join me in thanking Britain’s development team Alan Duncan, Stephen O’Brien, Lady Verma and Mark Lancaster for the role they are playing.

All of us in this team feel personally accountable for the way that taxpayers’ money is spent.

We know that every pound wasted is a pound not saving lives. So in our first few days in office, we cancelled over £100m of ineffective spending.

Let me say what else we’ve done to get our house in order.

We stopped Labour’s practice of sending DFID’s own glossy magazine around the world by airmail at a cost of nearly half a million pounds a year.

We stopped first-class travel. Just in Labour’s last year in office, they spent a staggering £75,000 on first-class rail tickets.  In our first year, it was just £197 – a reduction of over 99%. Why should British taxpayers pay over the odds to fund complementary cups of tea, when the people we are supposed to be helping don’t have running water?

And we stopped Labour’s quarter-of-a-million-pound funding for a Brazilian dance troupe in North London which specialises in percussion. At least that’s one Labour fandango which was easy to clear up.

Conference, this kind of loose spending is not just incompetent. It is an insult to British taxpayers.

Let us resolve together here today: no more Labour waste.

We’ve also fundamentally changed the way we direct our aid.

Look at the map.  Here’s where Labour thought it fit to spend aid while they were in office.

It doesn’t look like that any more.

No more aid to China, which spent billions hosting the Olympics. We closed it down.

Or Russia, a member of the G8.

As a result of our detailed review we’re closing DFID aid programmes in 16 countries. That, after all, is the whole aim of aid – do it well and then get out when it’s done.

So as you can see: we’re giving aid to the people who really need it, from the Ghurkha villages of Nepal, to the dignified people of Zimbabwe who have suffered so long under the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe.

And we were just as tough with the international organisations which get British taxpayers’ money. We’ve assessed them and ranked them.

Now some of these agencies are absolutely brilliant. Let me give you just one example.  We found that GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, was achieving amazing results.  So, along with Bill Gates, the private sector and other countries, we backed them. I can now tell you that for the next five years the British taxpayer will help to vaccinate a child every two seconds. Ladies and Gentleman, something as small and as simple as this will protect a life every two seconds for the next five years. Lives as important as those of our own children. I’m proud that Britain is leading the way in making that happen.

But some international organisations are doing less well.  We’ve put four of them into special measures. They need to make serious improvements. No improvements, no more cash from the British taxpayer.

And we’ve shown some organisations the red card. The International Labour Organisation was not delivering value for the core funding it received. So it’s not getting any more. Conference, I make no apology for saying: we have to be tough when lives are at stake.

This tough approach means that during the next 4 years we will achieve incredible results.

– We will get 11 million children into school in the poorest parts of the world

– 15 million people who don’t have it today will have safe drinking water

– And 10 million women who have never had access to family planning will have it for the first time.

And at this time when money is really tight, and the responsibility to spend it well has never been greater, we never forget: these results are paid for by the British taxpayer. When I visit these countries, people come up to me with a simple message. A message I pass on to you today: thank you, Britain, for standing by us in our hour of need.

Conference, this is Britain at its best.

And this government is focusing on two key areas: tackling conflict and promoting the private sector.

To deliver real value for money, we have to tackle the root causes of poverty. And chief among these is conflict.

And these problems affect us here. Terrorism, the drugs trade, infectious diseases, illegal migration – if we want to tackle these problems at home, we have to understand and address their root causes abroad.

Some say we can’t afford to engage in development. But Conference, we cannot afford not to.

So what does this mean in practice?

In Pakistan, we’re going to get 4 million children into school for the first time over the next 4 years. It is hard to think of a better way to tackle the poverty and illiteracy upon which the terrorist recruiters pray. This is good development and good politics.

In Somaliland we’re helping to build the police force to promote law and order.

In Afghanistan, right across the country our work to improve the business environment is paying off.

Don’t just take my word for it.

In July, General Sir David Richards, the head of Britain’s armed forces, said this:

“Alternative livelihoods and development assistance are as important as the determination and courage of our forces. Together they are a powerful combination that will leave an enduring legacy for the Afghan people, the region and international community.”

I completely agree with him.

And let us pay tribute today to every single one of the brave men and women of our armed forces, who are working night and day to keep our country safe.

Our forces’ action helped stop a bloody massacre in Benghazi, and helped create the conditions for the people of Libya to take control of their own destiny.

And long-term planning was part of the story from the beginning, the lessons of Iraq uppermost in our minds.  Today, working closely with William and Liam, we’re helping Libyans rebuild their country’s police and security forces.

The Arab Spring has inspired us all, as we see yet again that a yearning for freedom is deeply rooted in the human spirit.

So let us celebrate the spirit of the Arab Spring, and the millions of ordinary men and women who have made change happen. They are an inspiration to the world.

Just as conflict causes poverty, so it is the private sector – jobs, property rights, investment – that lifts a country out of poverty.

By the end of the last government, even Labour Ministers started to mouth words about the importance of the private sector in development. But somehow I always felt that, under the bedclothes late at night, they didn’t really believe it.

We do believe it.  It’s hard-wired into our Conservative DNA.

And we now for the first time have a private sector division within DFID, dedicated to promoting that age old Tory principle and truth: that no matter where in our world, private enterprise is the engine of growth and development.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, under your Government:

Britain’s development policies transformed.

Value for money demanded

Every day, lives saved.

All thanks to the determination, support and generosity of the people of Britain.

I want to leave you today with a thought and a photograph.

I met these children in July. They’re smiling here, but just a few days earlier they’d arrived from Somalia at the largest refugee camp in the world.

Many of them had shredded feet from walking through miles of desert for up to 30 days. Some of them had brothers or sisters who had died along the way.

Here on the outskirts of this vast camp they don’t have much, but at least they’re safe and have access to food.

And looking at these kids – I think of all the suffering they have faced, and the contrast with the lives of our own children.

And I also think that ours is a world where borders aren’t what they used to be…

…where threats to our security aren’t defined simply by national armies declaring war on each other…

…where our own prosperity depends upon poor countries becoming prosperous economies and trading partners.

One of these children could be the next Bill Gates or the person who discovers the cure for cancer.

I can’t think of any picture that better sums up the purpose of Britain’s development budget: a better life for millions of the world’s poorest, and a safer, more prosperous world for us all. Thank you.

Theresa May – 2011 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to the  Conservative Party Conference held in October 2011.

Thank you, Damian, for that excellent presentation. Everybody in this room who spends time knocking on doors knows just how strongly the public feel about clearing up the mess Labour made of our immigration system – and that is exactly what we will do.

Damian is part of an incredibly strong team of ministers we have in the Home Office. Earlier today, you heard from Nick Herbert, the Policing and Criminal Justice Minister. James Brokenshire is the Crime and Security Minister. Lynne Featherstone is the Minister for Criminal Information. And our newest recruit – Lord Henley – is our Minister in the House of Lords. Please join me in thanking them for their work to reform the police, cut crime, protect national security and cut immigration.

Three weeks ago, Lord Henley replaced Baroness Angela Browning, who had to stand down for health reasons. Many of you will know what a formidable politician Angela is, and her last act as a minister was to steer with great skill the Police Reform Act through the House of Lords.

This Act means that next year, across England and Wales, the public will vote for police and crime commissioners – one commissioner for each police force in the country, responsible for setting police budgets, deciding police priorities, holding the police to account, and hiring and firing chief constables.

They will be powerful public figures, and they will, for the first time, make the police truly accountable to the people.

The candidates who run to become police and crime commissioners will need to be of the highest calibre. They’ll need to inspire their electorate. They’ll need to be tough enough to work with police chiefs. They’ll need to be single-minded about keeping their communities safe and cutting crime.

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the first person to declare their intention to run as a Conservative candidate to become a police and crime commissioner. Decorated for his bravery, honoured for his public service, and remembered for his inspirational speech to British troops in Kuwait, please welcome to our conference, Colonel Tim Collins.

[speech by Tim Collins]

I wouldn’t want to be a criminal if he gets elected. Thank you, Tim, for that great speech.

Reforming the police to fight crime

Some people question why we’re reforming the police. For me, the reason is simple. We need them to be the tough, no-nonsense crime-fighters they signed up to become. But right now – despite what police officers want – too many of them are not. Stuck too often in the station instead of on the streets, filling in forms instead of catching criminals, thanks to Labour the police became a bureaucratic service instead of an operational force.

It’s easy to hear politicians like me talking about red tape and political correctness. So let me give you one simple fact to prove my point. Although we have a record number of police officers, just twelve per cent are visible and available to the public, on the streets, at any one time.

As Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, says, police officers aren’t social workers, they’re there to stop crime, catch criminals and help victims.

I couldn’t agree more. That’s why the first thing I did as Home Secretary was abolish all police targets and set chief constables one clear objective: cut crime. I haven’t asked the police to be social workers, I haven’t set them any performance indicators, and I haven’t given them a thirty point plan, I’ve told them to cut crime.

It’s amazing that, for the Labour Party, this seems to be a revolutionary idea. When Ed Balls was Shadow Home Secretary, he said policing isn’t “only about tackling crime”. It’s not “simply about catching and convicting criminals.”

Well, we know that the police are there to cut crime, and we’re going to help them by taking the axe to Labour’s bureaucracy. The steps we’ve already taken will save up to 3.3 million police hours every year – the equivalent of more than 1,500 officers, out there policing your streets. And there will be more to come.

We’re also going to help them by making sure that as we reduce budgets, we cut waste, not frontline services.

But before I explain how, let me explain what’s happening to police budgets. When you factor in the council tax precept, the police will face a six per cent cash reduction in total over four years.

Through better procurement, improved efficiency and a likely pay freeze, there is no reason at all why frontline police services should not be maintained and improved.

Our police reform agenda might be made more urgent by spending cuts, but it’s not just about managing smaller budgets. Overdue action to cut out inefficiency and waste, a ruthless assault on targets and bureaucracy, a restoration of police discretion and independence, a National Crime Agency to get tough on organised crime, the most transparent crime data in the world, and a new model of accountability that puts the people in charge of policing.

It all amounts to a comprehensive plan to change policing for the better and take the fight to the criminals.

That’s what the public want, it’s what criminals fear, and it’s what police officers deserve.

They do incredible work patrolling the streets, going into dangerous situations unarmed, doing the sort of things that we hope we never need to do. We’ve seen them do a brilliant job this week, policing our conference. So let’s give a big thank you to Greater Manchester Police for everything they’ve done this week. We see it every day in every village, town and city across the country. We see it when our country is at its best, like during the Royal Wedding, and at its worst, like during the riots in August.

A lot has been said about the riots and their causes. But let me get one thing straight: in the end, the only cause of a crime is a criminal. Whatever their circumstances, everybody gets to choose between right and wrong and everybody has to take responsibility for what they’ve done.

The disorder this summer wasn’t about poverty or politics. It was about greed and criminality, fuelled by a culture of irresponsibility and entitlement. To those who say the judges were too tough, I say the guilty should get what they deserve.

But there are lessons we need to learn. Police tactics need to keep pace with new technologies and criminal tactics. Police powers need to be strengthened. Justice needs to be visible, swift and tough, not just as a one-off but all the time.

And now we know more about the culprits. Three quarters already had a criminal record. A quarter had committed more than ten criminal offences before. In London, a fifth were known members of gangs. And that should be a wake-up call for all of us.

Ending gang violence

Gang violence is endemic in many of our cities. Across the country gang members are involved with the use and supply of drugs, firearms and knives.

It’s a deep-rooted problem bound up with family breakdown, poor schooling and intergenerational worklessness, as well as policing and the criminal justice system. We won’t be able to bring it to an end until we fix some of those complex problems. That’s why Iain Duncan Smith and I are leading a cross-government team focusing on what we can do in the NHS, in schools and in communities. But the police still have a crucial role in taking on gang violence.

There are several success stories we can learn from. In Liverpool, Operation Matrix went after gang members and halved the number of gun incidents in four years.

In Glasgow, Strathclyde Police achieved an 85 per cent reduction in gun possession by the gang members they worked with.

Here in Manchester, Operation X-Calibre cut firearms incidents by a third. What these successful operations have in common is the police working well with other agencies, an aggressive enforcement campaign targeted at the whole gang, and strong support for gang members looking for a way out.

So by the end of the month I will publish the Government’s new gangs strategy.

That strategy will need to address the 120,000 problem families who are responsible for so much crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour across the country. It will need to tackle drug abuse and addiction. And it will need to deal with the prevalence of knives and guns in our towns and cities. It will have at its heart a relentless drive against the violence that wrecks communities and ruins lives.

As Conservatives, we understand instinctively the importance of law and order. There can be no sense of community without clear rules and strong enforcement. No prosperity without stability. No liberty without security.

This is not some abstract concept. When a neighbourhood is under siege by yobs committing regular acts of crime and anti-social behaviour, there can be no community. When we see riots on our streets, hundreds of small businesses are forced to close. When a terrorist cannot be deported on human rights grounds, all our rights are threatened.

Cutting immigration

And as Conservatives, we understand too the need to reduce and control immigration. Of course, limited immigration can bring benefits to Britain, and we’ll always welcome those who genuinely seek refuge from persecution.

But we know what damage uncontrolled immigration can do. To our society, as communities struggle to cope with rapid change. To our infrastructure, as our housing stock and transport system become overloaded. And to our public services, as schools and hospitals have to cope with a sudden increase in demand.

Yet that is exactly what Labour let happen. As Damian explained earlier, under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, net migration to Britain was never any higher than the tens of thousands. But under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, net migration to Britain was in the hundreds of thousands. In total, net migration to Britain under Labour was 2.2 million – more than four times the size of Manchester.

That’s why we’ve made it our aim to get net migration back down to the tens of thousands. Cutting immigration is not as simple as turning off a tap – it’s a complex and litigious system – and so it will take time. But we’re taking action on every route to the UK – and the numbers will soon start to come down.

Under Labour, economic migration was so out of control that almost a third of the people who came here as highly-skilled workers did unskilled jobs. So we’ve cut out that abuse and we’ve capped economic migration from outside the EU.

Under Labour, the student visa system was so badly abused that it became the main way to get to Britain. So we’re closing down bogus colleges, regulating the remainder, restricting the right to work here and bring dependants, and making sure that all but the very best go home at the end of their studies.

Under Labour, temporary immigration led to an automatic right to settle here. So we’re breaking that link, making sure that immigrants who come here to work go home at the end of their visa.

And under Labour, the family visa system failed to promote integration, curb abuse and protect public services. So we’ve made it compulsory to speak English and we’ll soon publish tough new proposals on family visas.

So we’re taking action to reduce immigration across every route to Britain. But these tough new rules need to be enforced, and we need to make sure that we’re not constrained from removing foreign nationals who, in all sanity, should have no right to be here.

We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter – for whom he pays no maintenance – lives here. The robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend. The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat.

This is why I remain of the view that the Human Rights Act needs to go. The Government’s Commission is looking at a British Bill of Rights. And I can today announce that we will change the immigration rules to ensure that the misinterpretation of Article Eight of the ECHR – the right to a family life – no longer prevents the deportation of people who shouldn’t be here.

I expect not many people have actually read Article Eight, so let me tell you what it says:

“Article 8.1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” You can imagine, in post-war Europe, what the draftsmen intended. But now our courts – and the problem lies mainly in British courts – interpret the right to a family life as an almost absolute right.

Let me read to you the rest of what Article Eight says: “Article 8.2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

The right to a family life is not an absolute right, and it must not be used to drive a coach and horses through our immigration system.

The meaning of Article Eight should no longer be perverted. So I will write it into our immigration rules that when foreign nationals are convicted of a criminal offence or breach our immigration laws: when they should be removed, they will be removed.

Our opponents will say it can’t be done, that they will fight us every step of the way. But they said that about the cap on economic migration, and we did it. They said that about our student visa reforms, and we’re doing them. As Home Secretary, I will do everything I can to restore sanity to our immigration system and get the numbers down.

Economic migration – capped.

Abuse of student visas – stopped.

Automatic settlement – scrapped.

Compulsory English language tests, tough new rules for family visas, ending the abuse of Article Eight.

A clear plan to get net migration down to the tens of thousands.

Conservative values to fight crime and cut immigration

You know, the Labour Party still claim they had immigration under control. That their points-based system had sorted everything out. That all they should have done was introduce it earlier. They still don’t get it.

We know now that they denounced anybody worried about immigration as a bigot. And they say we can’t trust the public to vote for police and crime commissioners, because they might elect extremists. They have total contempt for what the people think.

When government fails to protect the public from crime and when it fails to control immigration, it might not bother the left-wing elites, because they’re not the ones who pay the price. But the people who do are the very people I’m in politics to serve – the men and women who work hard for a living, make sacrifices for their family, and care about their community. It should be our moral mission to help working people build a better future for themselves and their families.

So I will never be ashamed to say that we should do everything we can to reward those who do the right thing, and I will never hesitate to say we should punish those who do the wrong thing.

That’s why we must trust the people, by giving them their say about policing their communities. And it’s why we must respect the people, by doing what they want and getting to grips with immigration. That is what I am determined to do.

Thank you very much.

Ken Clarke – 2011 Conservative Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Justice Minister, Ken Clarke, at the 2011 Conservative Party Conference on 4th October 2011.

I don’t know whether you remember, but at last year’s party conference, I called for regime change – regime change in our prisons.

To turn them from places of idleness, Into places of hard work and reform. Prisons with a purpose – straight from the manifesto.

The idea is to provide hard work in prison so that prisoners would be…

Doing something productive,

Instead of doing nothing.

Plotting a more honest future,

Instead of plotting their next crime.

Earning money to pay back to victims,

Instead of creating new victims.

It’s not rocket science and it can be done.

At Altcourse Prison near Liverpool, prisoners do forty hours of hard work every week in a metal workshop.

Part of their earnings goes to fund services for victims of crime.

And because these prisoners have got some skills, they are less likely – a lot less likely – to return to prison.

So the burden on the taxpayer, on you and me, is less.

I intend to expand this Working Prisons programme quite dramatically.

But this is not something Government can do alone.

No: We need the private sector on board.

And they are coming on board.

This morning, eight companies – including Virgin, National Grid, Marks and Spencer give the idea their support, in the FT.

They – along with the CBI – are helping us to ensure that companies can make the most of this..

..Are not disadvantaged or undercut.

I want to see hard work flourishing in every single jail in the UK.

More criminals doing an honest day’s work, instead of sitting idle in their cells.

That will make us safer.

Provide more money for victims.

Help us break the cycle of crime.


I believe if we want prison to work,

Then our prisoners have got to be working.


A brief note to my Labour opponent, Sadiq Khan:

That’s what you call a policy.

You probably won’t be able to remember any policy proposals he has put forward.

Because Labour hasn’t got any significant ones.

His proudest boast last week, was that he does not fall asleep during his Party Leader’s speeches –

That is an achievement, Sadiq.

Many people do go to sleep during Ed Miliband’s speeches.

But just remember this – he, like the rest of them, was a loyal supporter of Gordon Brown’s Government – the most disastrous Government, that left the most disastrous legacy since Labour in 1931.

They bequeathed us not just a broken economy, but a broken society and an unreformed Justice system that failed to break the cycle of crime.

They wasted billions of pounds on justice and prisons.

They were hyperactive:

21 Criminal Justice Acts in 13 years.


Headline chasing.

And you know what?

It was all a con.

They made prison sentences appear longer and longer,

Whilst devising all sorts of ways to let people out earlier and earlier.

…80,000 let out on early release…

I have legislation before Parliament

– being carried through by Crispin Blunt and Jonathan Djanogly – which aims to reform, simplify, scrap failed gimmicks and give us a system which works better to contribute to a safer, sounder and more honest society.


That’s how we are facing up to – and delivering – the great challenge we have as a Government…

…how to save taxpayers’ money whilst striving to repair our broken society.

Because Labour left us failed policies, a broken society..

And no money.

When it comes to public spending,

We’ve got to show leadership.

We’ve got to show purpose.

We’ve got to stick to our guns.

Frankly, if you look across the western world, most democratic politicians are out of their depth.

They cannot cope with the consequences of this dreadful crisis.

We are just about the only government in the Western world where people really think we are going to tackle the deficit.

People look at this coalition, they look at the spending plans and say – they’re going to deliver.

George and David are going to ensure that we do not waver in our commitment to reduce public spending and debt and they have my total support.

When you look at the scale of the economic crisis, I don’t believe we can possibly say…

… we’re not going to save money on criminals…

… but we are going to have reductions in spending on Police and Defence, on Transport and Local Government.

You can’t say that like the health sector, criminals are exempt from the cuts.

Every criminal we have in jail costs you and me about

£40,000 a year…

…and there are more than 80,000 of them in prison right now.

And I just do not believe that we can follow the old brain-free policy of throwing money at the problem.

That’s what Labour did.

And look where it got them. And all of us.


The most shocking reminder of how broken a society ours is.

In this summer’s riots, more than 75 per cent of the adults charged were repeat offenders.

1 in 4 of them had been convicted of ten crimes or more.

Re-offenders.  Career criminals.

…I had a few other choice words for them at the time…

Our feral underclass is too big, has been growing, and needs to be diminished.

Less crime, fewer criminals

The question for me and my ministry now, is how do we reform the Criminal Justice System so that these unreformed, recidivist criminals, are dealt with more effectively and at  less cost to the taxpayer.

That’s why we need prisons that work.

And prisons that are drug free.

Where problems like addiction and mental health are tackled properly.

Where the treatment doesn’t suddenly stop when prisoners leave jail, which usually happens with those on short sentences.

But continues in the outside world.

So that we are better protected.

If we want less crime, we need fewer criminals.

Policy & Ideas

This year, we have been carefully but quite rapidly developing the concept of Payment by Results –

A system which concentrates on only paying for what works.

And the first group of pilots is now underway.

One of them is at Doncaster Prison, a new contract run by Serco and a charity called Catch 22, which started on Saturday.

If they deliver law-abiding people back onto the streets, we will pay them. If they fail, and the ex-prisoners they take on reoffend, we will not pay.

There are twelve of these projects around the country.

Private or public, businesses and charities, paid for resolving the drugs, the lack of skills, the rootlessness which lies behind much of the reoffending.

Saving money and protecting the public;

Paying for what works.

British Justice

I believe that at its heart our British justice system is still one of the best in the world despite all Labour’s efforts.

…when people think of Britain, they think of British justice.

That is why so much of my last year has been spent returning common sense and proportion to a system which was badly let down by Labour…

We have policies under way to

– Resolve public doubts on the law of self defence by victims of crime

– Criminalise squatting

– Make community sentences more punitive and more effective

– Bring competition into the management of prisons

– Speed up the process of the courts and make them more witness, litigant and victim friendly

– Curtail the compensation culture and cut excessive spending on Legal Aid

– Scrap referral fees to end the culture of those ambulance-chasing claims advisors.


I have spent my entire political life being a vigorous, controversial reformer of public services – but this time it is different.

Now, I am in a coalition Government which is dealing with the worst economic crisis since the war.

People are insecure and sometimes a bit frightened.

We must give strong, confident and principled government.

How do you set about public reform in a difficult area like mine?

I’m reminded of Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly and carry a big stick.

New Labour did the opposite.

They spoke toughly and carried a pea-shooter.

I never have mastered the speak softly bit, but the big stick has always appealed.

It’s no good politicians just sounding off and making tough gestures.

In office you’ve actually got to make a worthwhile difference.

That’s what you’re in office for.

Justice needs to be swift, firm and fair.

Prisons need to be places of retribution and places of reform.

Sounds obvious when you think about it.

Delivering the obvious is what the public want.

And most Governments do not deliver.

I remember Iain MacLeod thrilling me when I was a delegate here many years ago.

Others may dream their dreams, others may scheme their schemes but we have work to do.

Those appalling riots brought home to me again that in our broken society, we certainly have work to do at the Ministry of Justice.

And my team and I are proud to be getting on and doing it.

Give us your support.

Eric Pickles – 2011 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, to the 2011 Conservative Party conference.

It’s now almost 18 months since David Cameron entered the doors of Number 10 together with our coalition chums to clean up Labour’s mess.

Getting our nation’s finances back on the right track has been challenging.

I’ve seen first hand the inefficiency and incompetence of Labour.

Take FireControl – John Prescott’s plan to regionalise England’s fire service.

His vanity project spiralled out of control, wasting half a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money.

You won’t hear about that on money supermarket dot com

And there’s nothing to show for it – apart from a series of empty bunkers, each kitted out with deluxe chrome coffee machines costing six grand a piece.

Now that’s Labour’s idea of national resilience.

Come hell or high water, Labour Ministers could still demand a Venti Skinny cappuccino.

What a waste! You can get a big pack of Yorkshire Tea for a fiver…

Now if my Coalition Mucker Chris Huhne tunes in today – that’s what I call a proper Tea Party, Chris.

Or take the example of Labour blowing £5,000 on my department’s officials having a staff away day at a club.

Not a working men’s club.

Not a Pall Mall Gentlemen’s Club.

No, a different kind of gentlemen’s club –

A club which features Showgirl Sensation Amber Topaz and her exotic chum, Lady Beau Peep.

I’ve never thought of the civil service as lost sheep,

And I’m not sure why they flocked to that establishment.

No more – I’ve cancelled these plush away days.

Labour Ministers were at it too.

With their corporate credit card – the so-called “Government Procurement Card” –

Labour and their staff wined and dined at the finest restaurants at your expense.


The Cinammon Club.

The Wolseley.

And in the very heart of Prezza-land, close to the mouth of the Humber… Mr Chu’s China Palace.

Unlike Labour, I pay for my own Chicken Chow Mein.

We are clamping down on the abuse of government credit cards and opening their spending up to public scrutiny.

Transparency will help councils save billions through better procurement, joint working, and driving out waste.

In comparison to Whitehall, local government has been the most efficient part of the public sector – especially Conservative councils.

By dismantling Labour’s interfering, intrusive laws and regulations, we can do even more for less.

In a radical extension of localism, we are giving councils a new general power of competence to champion their local communities.

We’ve shredded Labour red tape.

And I’m tackling the gold-plating of equality rules.

Did you know… if you want to take out a copy of Mills and Boon from your local library…….In some places you’re asked to fill out a sex survey on your private life.

No more. Councils won’t need to undertake these expensive and intrusive questionnaires.

Use some common sense and respect people’s privacy.

But in the game of Town Hall Top Trumps, there’s a non-job which beats even the Civic Sex Snooper.

Taxpayer-funded full-time trade union officials.

They cost the public sector – that’s taxpayers to you and me – a quarter of a billion pounds a year.

That’s money taken away from frontline services.

Guess what… You won’t find Labour criticising them.

Silence from Ed Miliband. His Labour councillors voted to close libraries, but keep bankrolling union officials on the rates.

And surprise, surprise.

Not a dicky bird from Labour’s local government spokesperson, Jack Dromey.

No wonder.

Because that former union baron knows Labour is in hock to the unions.

In my book, that’s not All Right Jack.

If unions want to raise money for Labour do it in your own time, not on the rates.

We’re going to call time on this last closed shop.

As night follows day, Labour waste your money and put up taxes.

Take council tax.

They doubled it.

We are freezing it.

Not just for one year, but two years – as we promised in Opposition.

And Labour councils charge higher council tax.

Conservative councils charge less – and deliver even better.

Had they remained in power, Labour would have hiked council taxes even more on middle England.

Labour were actively planning a council tax revaluation –

– to spy on your gardens,

– your patios,

– counting your bedrooms,

– your conservatories,

– your parking spaces,

– even a room with a view.

We’ve cancelled Labour’s expensive council tax revaluation.

We’ve stopped soaring council tax bills for millions of homes.

It’s not just about protecting middle England from higher taxes.

I want to stop clipboard-wielding inspectors peering into your children’s bedroom or nosing about your bathroom.

We will protect families’ civil liberties and privacy.

It wasn’t just council tax hikes that Labour threatened.

Labour would impose new bin taxes on your home too.

Yet another tax for the privilege of your town hall collecting your bin.

Labour love fining for minor breaches of petty bin rules.

Handing out bigger fines than those given to convicted shoplifters.

State officials secretly going through and filming your bins.

Did you put a yoghurt pot in the wrong recycling bin?

Did you put your bin out at the wrong hour?

Watch out!

Because nobody expects the Town Hall Binquisition.

Well, it’s time to place Labour’s bin taxes and bin fines in the dustbin of history.

But there’s more to do.

In Opposition, we also made clear promises on the frequency of rubbish collections.

Promises first announced to you at our Party Conference.

Well, as you know – Conservatives keep our promises.

The public deserve proper, decent frontline services for their council tax.

So I can announce my department will be introducing a new fund to support weekly rubbish collections.

Reversing Labour’s Whitehall policy of bin cuts.

This will support those who want to improve their existing weekly collections.

And it will support switching from fortnightly to better weekly collections.

Helping councils work with families to go green and provide a comprehensive service every week.

Labour oppose this scheme. No wonder, in Government they were drawing up plans to impose monthly bin collections.

The choice is clear:

– Conservatives standing up for families and frontline services.

– Or Labour and their rubbish policies.

Just as we are standing up for local families, so we will support local firms.

I grew up living above a greengrocers, helping out every week.

I know that business rates are the third biggest outgoing for local shops after rent and staff.

So we have doubled small business rate relief for two years. And we’re making it easier to claim.

We have scuppered Labour’s ports tax.

And we are giving councils new powers to cut business rates, to support community pubs, post offices and local shops.

We understand that local high streets are the lifeblood of the local economy, and the centre of what we call home.

So are changing Tony Blair’s reckless all-you-can-drink licensing laws.

We are giving councils more powers to tackle the anti-social behaviour that blights so many of our town centres late at night.

And to help those affected by the disgraceful riots get back to business, we have created a twenty million pound High Street Support Scheme.

Over their 13 years, Labour failed business.

Their Regional Development Agencies were too distant from local firms, and squandered their budgets.

In their place, our new Local Enterprise Partnerships now have councils working hand in hand with local business.

We will allow councils to keep the money from business rates, giving them a direct stake in local enterprise.

Helping them to help business grow.

But this is also a radical devolution of local government finance, meaning councils raise the money they spend

rather than being so dependent on Whitehall handouts.

And in targeted growth areas, we have over twenty new Enterprise Zones.

They will boost regeneration through simplified planning, tax breaks and super-fast broadband.

We can help the economy by building more homes too.

But under Labour, house building hit the lowest rate since the 1920s.

For those who aren’t lucky enough to have the Bank of Mum and Dad, the first time buyer is now aged 37.

So we are selling off the Government’s disused land and empty offices, and use it to build one hundred thousand more homes.

And we’re bringing back Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy,

And we’ll use the receipts to build more affordable homes.

The planning system also has its role to play in building more homes and boosting local growth

But it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the countryside or local democracy.

Last week, Labour pledged to keep regional planning and regional quangos.

They’re still wedded to regional government and Whitehall knows best.

Labour’s Regional Spatial Strategies planned to bulldoze the Green Belt.

Well, we will protect it.

In the Localism Bill, we are abolishing Labour’s top-down targets and putting local people in charge.

We have also given councils stronger powers to tackle ‘garden grabbing’.

And we’re creating a brand new local protection for green spaces.

This can safeguard the likes of playing fields, bowling greens and village greens.

Now… You won’t be surprised to learn that me and Mrs Pickles are partial to the odd scone and a warm beverage in a National Trust Tea Room.

But, the planning system needs to be improved.

Labour churned out over 1,000 pages of central planning guidance.

They made the planning regime the preserve of inspectors, pressure groups and planning lawyers.

So we’re simplifying this guidance to 52 pages.

We need a system which is quicker, and provides greater certainty for local firms and local residents.

But it’s not a choice between countryside or concrete.

Our countryside is one of the best things that makes Britain great, and we will protect it

Our planning system must also have integrity.

It must be seen to be fair to all.

Labour undermined this.

They created a system where special treatment was given to travellers.

Whatever their intentions, this fuelled resentment and undermined community cohesion.

We should support those who play by the rules.

So we’re providing sixty million pounds to support councils build and improve official traveller pitches.

We have given travellers on official sites stronger tenancy rights – the same as council tenants.

Treating law-abiding people equally and fairly.

But it’s not right to have planning rules which gave a green light to traveller camps being dumped in the Green Belt and open countryside.

The Green Belt should be applied evenly and fairly.

So we’re changing planning rules to give it more protection.

We are also giving councils stronger enforcement powers to prevent unauthorised sites like Dale Farm from ever being established in the first place.

You hear a lot about human rights these days.

But rights and responsibilities cut both ways.

It’s time to respect the family life of those who have to live next door to these illegal sites.

It’s time to respect the property rights of law-abiding homeowners.

We should take no lectures from far-left activists

or penpushers parachuted in from some obscure United Nations agency.

The Dale Farm saga has now spent 10 years before the courts.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

It’s time that planning law was enforced.

It’s time to uphold the British rule of law.

Conference, after 18 months, we’ve started to put our country back on track.

In government, we are following the example of so many good Conservative councils:

Doing more for less and delivering frontline services at value for money prices.

But there is still more to be do.

Our country does best when led by Conservatives.

We do best for our country

when we are true to our Conservative convictions.

Respect the law, the right to private property and personal liberty.

Scale back the waste of the state which forces up taxes and crowds out enterprise and innovation.

And above all, a basic trust in the people.

My friends, you can feel that power is shifting – back to you, back to your communities, back in the right direction.

From the forces of officialdom to families.

From Whitehall to councils.

From quangos to neighbourhoods.

The opportunity is yours.

Together, we will shake off the shackles of Labour.

And Britain will be great again.