Michael Ancram – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Michael Ancram, the then Conservative MP for Berwick and East Lothian, in the House of Commons on 14 March 1974.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech at such an early stage in this Parliament. It is with a great respect and awe for the traditions and history of this House that I do so. I am grateful, also, for the opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. John P. Mackintosh. He is a man of great ability, with a great knowledge of the democratic institutions of this country. He will long be remembered in the constituency which I now represent for the hard, diligent and conscientious way in which he attended to his constituents for the eight years that he represented them. He is also well-remembered and well-liked by hon. Members. I hope that they will all join me in wishing him well in the future.

I have the honour to represent a constituency which could well be described as a microcosm of the country. It contains 56,000 electors and comprises a majority of the facets of Scottish life. Although it has no coal mines, it contains several mining communities, which reflect well the problems and aspirations of the coal mining industry. It has a thriving fishing industry, but one very conscious of and sensitive to rising costs, especially the rising costs of fuel. As a vital part of our food industry it rightly looks to the Government for assistance.

Berwickshire and East Lothian has also a growing tourist industry with a great potential for increasing the prosperity of the area, consisting as it does of some of the most beautiful countryside and coastline in the Scottish Lowlands and the borders. I sincerely hope that the commercial value of the environment in my constituency will be kept firmly in mind by the Secretary of State for Scotland when he has to decide upon detailed planning applications for the construction of nuclear power stations within the constituency.

Over the past few years Berwickshire and East Lothian has developed industrially, mainly in terms of light and specialised industries, which have been successful in reversing the previous trends of depopulation and unemployment. There has been created over the past few years—I say this without complacency—the basis for a stable local economy but, at a time of economic difficulty as there is at present, such industries are the most vulnerable, and I hope that the Government will make strenuous efforts to cushion them from any stringent policies that they may adopt.

The constituency is also a rural and agricultural one, and it is on that subject that, with the House’s indulgence, I shall speak. Before I do so there is one matter on which I hope to receive an assurance from the Minister. On Tuesday the Prime Minister while speaking on the Government’s plans for oil referred to assisting passenger transport services within rural areas through adjusted selling prices for petrol and diesel oils. Be that as it may, having recognised the particular needs for such areas and the disadvantages under which they exist in terms of transport, would it be possible for the Government immediately to give financial support towards improving the public transport system in such areas, at least to meet the present needs?

I come now to the question of agriculture. It appears that hon. Members on both sides of the House are concerned about the position of low-wage groups, among whom farm workers must be a comparative example. Their position needs to be improved, and I had hoped—and still hope—that they might be assisted by the relativities machinery of the Pay Board. But farm workers work in a fractionalised industry, where each man ultimately depends on the viability of the farm on which he works. Their relatively low position is now threatening a shortage of such labour, which in turn could severely threaten home food production unless the relative position of farm workers is recognised immediately. Of one thing we can be certain: the betterment of a farm worker’s income ultimately depends on the economic viability of the farm on which he works, and many sectors of the farming industry, certainly in Scotland, are facing severe economic difficulties.

We have heard in the debate that horticulturists, and especially those in the glasshouse sector of the industry, are threatened and are already suffering from unpredictable rises in the price of fuel. I was grateful to hear from the Minister that the Government intend to take speedy action on this matter, and I hope that action will indeed be speedy, for the situation is urgent.

Pig producers, too, are facing an impossible position. During the election campaign the previous Government announced that they had placed the problem of pig farmers under urgent review. I urge the new Government to complete this review with all possible speed before this sector of the industry severely cuts back on production. Pig farmers simply cannot go on producing at a loss. In my area that loss is recognised to be about £5 per pig. No producer can carry on in this way. If pig producers are driven to cut production that must inevitably increase our national import bill.

Urgent measures are also needed to assist beef producers. They are getting between £2 and £3 per cwt. less than the suggested price last year. Apart from any question of end price support, there are more immediate ways in which help can be given to mitigate some of the producers’ costs.

Despite any difficulties arising from our membership of the EEC, I hope that the Government will review the position of subsidies on fertilisers and lime, as suggested by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells). Retention of these subsidies—in particular, the subsidy on lime—would be of general assistance to most of the farmers in Scotland. It would help them to restrict their costs to a level at which they could hope to see a reasonable return on their farming operations.

I also urge the Government to consider the possibility of making cheap money available to farmers for expansion projects. It appears to be generally agreed by hon. Members that expansion in the agricultural industry is necessary and, indeed, that is made clear in the Gracious Speech. But that can be achieved only by providing incentives to farmers to expand their production. Although it involves an apparently debased word, that can be done only by encouraging farmers’ profits. I hope that the Government, in the national interest, will now determine to ensure the profitability and the security of the agriculture industry as a whole.

Michael Ancram – 2001 Speech at South Bank

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ancram, the then Conservative Party Chairman, on 6 June 2001.

So three very distinctive reasons why we are all here today on this platform. Not because of ideology, but because of ideals – individually expressed but actually shared.

Michael’s passionate belief in the responsibilities of the individual. Ann’s deep sense of vocation and duty. Francis’s dedication to the bonds of mutual obligation. All fundamental to the complex tapestry which is the Conservative Party. We have always been a party of diversity and breadth – and we still are.

Each of us has come a different path but we are all pursuing a common destination. I am a Conservative for all the reasons my colleagues have given, but there are some other reasons too.

I believe in that old concept of public service, of working for one’s community or one’s country not for what one can get out of it but for what one can contribute to it. It is a very Conservative concept, the concept of caring not because you’re told to but because it is an instinctively Conservative thing to do. The concept of undertaking public office not because it gives something to you but because you can repay something to the community which nurtured you. And into all this is naturally tied the whole concept of integrity in public life.

But these concepts are under threat today. Under threat from a new culture which seems to believe that public office is simply the reward for services rendered not to your country but to the party of government in whose hands lies the patronage.

Under threat from a political philosophy which believes that the state always knows best, and that we should be caring because we are told by the state to be caring – and how.

And under threat from the new political culture in which spin is more important than truth and where as long as you are not caught out – anything goes.

I genuinely believe that this new culture is a cancer which will eat away at the foundations of our democracy. I believe we must fight it and that is why I am a Conservative here today.

And I am a Conservative too because I love my country. I believe passionately in the United Kingdom. I am totally with Francis in his determination to defend it from the dangers of further integration into Europe.

But I am also determined to fight the threat that seeks to unravel it from within – the creeping growth of nationalism and of regional and cultural division which New Labour have set in train.

For me the United Kingdom is a most remarkable phenomenon, an extraordinary amalgam of different cultures and different traditions and indeed different nations. And these have come together through history with a common purpose and a common flag to create a sovereign nation which is far stronger than the sum of its various parts. This United Kingdom stands as an example to the world and to ourselves of how different, often very different, traditions and beliefs can – while retaining their distinctiveness – be voluntarily brought together into One Nation with all that that implies. It is that which we as Conservatives must fight to preserve.

We have always been and will remain the Party of and for the United Kingdom. Our unionism is real. And when that United Kingdom is under threat as it is today, then as a party we will fight with all the strength available to us to defend our country and all that it stands for. I will never be told that it is politically incorrect to love my country and to be proud of it. And that too is why I am a Conservative.

But there is one other reason which brings us all here together today. It is someone who throughout these last four years has never lost his sense of purpose and his clarity of vision. It is someone who in the face of political adversity and partisan hostility has never lost his determination or his sense of mission. He is a leader we are all prou d to serve.

Our leader – William Hague.

Michael Ancram – 2003 Statement on Iraq

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Below is the text of the statement made by Michael Ancram, the then Shadow Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 17 March 2003.

May I thank the Foreign Secretary for his statement and for giving me early sight of it? His statement is indeed a sombre one. Put bluntly, the talking is over, diplomacy is at an end and tonight we face the grim prospect of war. We are where we are tonight because Saddam Hussein has contemptuously failed to take the final opportunity that resolution 1441 offered him. Hopes that he might accept the inevitable this time and disarm have been dashed. Instead, he has chosen to take the international community to the wire.

There was a chance that a clear, unequivocal and united voice from the international community might yet have persuaded him to disarm or to go. France put paid to that. I hope that in Paris they will reflect tonight on what they have achieved.

There will be many different and deeply held feelings in the House tonight and during the debate tomorrow. It would be very strange if there were not. But while we may not agree with each other, I hope and believe that none of us will do other than totally respect the sincerity with which these views are held.

Saddam Hussein, in possession of weapons of mass destruction, is a threat to international peace and security. No one, not even France, denies that. It is not just a threat within the middle east but to the international community at large, including ourselves. That is why we believe that action to disarm him can no longer be delayed. We will, of course, debate all this tomorrow, and we will vote on it. I do not intend to pre-empt that debate or that vote tonight, but there are questions that I must ask.

What discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with his Turkish counterpart to ensure that action in Iraq will not provoke unrest between northern Iraq and Turkey?

What preparations are in place to ensure a swift delivery of humanitarian aid and relief to the people of Iraq, who have suffered for so long under the heel of Saddam Hussein?

What discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with the Secretary-General of the United Nations in accordance with the motion proposed for tomorrow to ensure that a representative Administration can swiftly be set up in Iraq under United Nations auspices to ensure the speedy rehabilitation of that country?

Again, in accordance with the motion proposed for tomorrow, what steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to follow up President Bush’s statements on Israel-Palestine and, in particular, to ensure that there is a genuine and sustained momentum towards the two-state solution? What talks has the Foreign Secretary had with other members of the Quartet, including Russia, to make real progress on that front? And what other steps will he take to reassure the Islamic community that military action in Iraq is not an attack on Islam but can bring long-term benefit and stability to the Muslim world?

Our thoughts tonight must be with our armed forces as they face the prospect of conflict. We ask much on their behalf, and our prayers must be with them and their families. They must know that from these Benches they have our unqualified support. We will offer the Government our support in the decisions that must now be made. We will do so because they have reached the same conclusions as us on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and the legality of taking action. We believe that they are acting in the national interest, and as long as that is the case we will continue to support them. Her Majesty’s Opposition will do what in our hearts we know for our country is right.

Michael Ancram – 2004 Speech to Conservative Spring Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Foreign Secretary, Michael Ancram, to the Conservative Spring Conference in Harrogate on 7th March 2004.

 

Here at Harrogate today we begin the long march to political victory.

The main battle may still be some way off. But in June already there are battles to be fought, not least the European elections, and they are battles we must win.

At the heart of them will be the burning issues of integrity and trust, so cynically eroded by Tony Blair over these last seven years.

He has undermined them with spin.

He has dishonoured them by the casual ruthlessness with which those who dare to criticize him have been smeared and broken.

It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. Here truth is the inexorable casualty of Blair.

He promised that he would ‘listen’. But his Government ignores the wishes of the British people.

He promised ‘no more lies…no more broken promises’. But these are the common currency of his Government.

He promised to restore ‘the bond of trust between the British people and their government’. No Prime Minister in history has done more to destroy that bond.

He doesn’t trust the British people. And the British people no longer trust him.

As the taxi driver who brought me here on Friday said, “We don’t like him any more. We don’t trust him any more. It’s time he was gone.”

The breakdown of trust has been damaging enough here at home. In terms of our standing in the wider world it has cost us dear.

Britain’s word in the world used to be respected. What we said we meant.

Not any more. The years of spin and deception have put paid to that.

Seven years ago we were promised an ‘ethical’ foreign policy.

Tell that to Gibraltar. There was nothing ‘ethical’ nor honourable about the furtive negotiations to sell out their British sovereignty to Spain.

And two years ago Tony Blair preached of ‘a moral duty to act’.

Ask the suffering Zimbabweans about that moral duty. They have been abandoned and betrayed by Blair in the face of Mugabe’s reign of terror.

In the run-up to the Iraq war Tony Blair asked us to trust him.

I don’t resile from my belief that the action we took in Iraq was justified and right.

It was not an easy decision, but had we walked away from it I am convinced that we would have had to return to it again when the challenge would have been much more dangerous and the risks infinitely more great.

But there are now growing suspicions about the case that Tony Blair made for war.

Too many unsubstantiated claims of personal knowledge of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Too many unanswered questions about what Blair knew and didn’t know.

Too many arrogant dismissals of doubts.

Why Mr Blair? The case for war was sound. You didn’t have to distort it.

He spoke loftily on Friday about the need to reform international law to justify future actions.

Well he must tell us what he meant and whether he can take his party with him.

Because if trust is to be restored, the Government and the Prime Minister must now come clean.

And then there is Europe.

In 1994 Blair proclaimed that “under my leadership Britain will never be isolated or left behind in Europe”.

Well, now we know what he meant.

Going along with the crowd, rather than fighting Britain’s corner. Following rather than leading. Surrendering our sovereignty, abandoning our interests rather than making a stand.

And all so that Tony Blair is never isolated or left behind. Never can one man’s neurosis have cost his country so much for so little.

All humiliatingly illustrated in Berlin three weeks ago. The Prime Minister of our great country scuttling shamelessly around the skirts of France and Germany.

‘Euro-creep’ in every sense of the word.

Spin, deceit, betrayal, sellout. These are the true elements of Blair’s foreign and security policy.

No strategic approach. No proper correlation between objectives and resources. The result – military overstretch, shortage of equipment and failure of direction.

We, on the other hand, will come into government with a coherent foreign and security policy.

It will be based on our national interest, on our sense of duty and of national pride. It will match our resources and our capabilities.

We will rebuild respect for Britain in the world, not least because what we promise we will deliver.

We won’t turn our backs on the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

We will ask the UN to send in observers to monitor fair distribution of food. We will freeze the assets of all those who bankroll Mugabe.

And, much as I love cricket, I would never – unlike Jack Straw – leave England’s captain in the intolerable position of having to shake the bloodied hand of Zimbabwe’s cricket patron, Robert Mugabe.

I would make clear my view that the coming tour should not go ahead.

In Gibraltar we will disown this government’s dishonourable agreement in principle to share sovereignty with Spain. Sovereignty shared is sovereignty surrendered.

And we will never agree to a settlement that has not received the freely given consent of the people of Gibraltar.

And unlike Blair and Straw, we will join the people of Gibraltar in celebrating their proud three hundred years of being British.

Our historic experiences in the Middle East should allow us evenhandedly to promote dialogue towards a settlement.

A settlement based on a secure Israel within acceptable boundaries and a viable Palestinian state.

And we believe that prize is within reach.

We will reassert the primacy of Nato as the cornerstone of our security policy.

We will disown Mr Blair’s proposals to create a separate European military planning capability. We will support the widening role of Nato, and we will encourage continuing American commitment to it.

Our relationship to the United States will be one of genuine partnership, not of subservience.

Where we disagree we will say so. Where we can persuade we will do so.

But always in the spirit of close allies bound together by shared values and shared traditions, where loyalty to each other benefits both nations.

And we will continue to play our part in the fight against international terrorism.

We must never give the terrorist the victory of creating an environment of fear in which we have to restrict our freedoms and change our lives.

Three weeks ago I stood in the ruins of our consulate in Istanbul, where our consul Roger Short and other innocent people were cut down by a suicide bomb.

We owe it to them never to give up and never to give in.

So we must maintain our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq until real stability has been achieved.

I am proud of the way that our soldiers have responded to the challenges that they face there.

I visited them near Kabul recently. Their professionalism remains outstanding.

I honour those who have lost their lives.

I pay tribute to those who carry out their difficult tasks with such distinction.

But there must never again be a situation where our soldiers are put at risk because the likes of Geoff Hoon have delayed crucial military planning for party political reasons.

Never again should any of our soldiers be sent into combat without the right kit.

And never again should a British soldier find himself in the frontline with only five bullets to fight a whole war.

The first priority of a government is the defence of the realm and the protection of its citizens.

We will ensure that our armed forces, that invaluable national asset, are equipped to meet their commitments.

We will ensure that the excellence of our front line troops is maintained, and improved.

We will ensure that their ethos is fully respected and that they are properly resourced for their agreed tasks.

And of course at the same time we will see that every pound that the taxpayer spends on defence is both efficiently and effectively used.

And then the European Union, that partnership of sovereign nations of which we are, and are determined to remain, an important part.

That is why we oppose a Constitution which opens the door to a single European state in which we would be smothered and submerged.

In the Euro-elections in June this will be a major issue. Jonathan Evans will shortly explain why.

Let me here pay tribute to Jonathan and his colleagues for the enormously effective work they do on our behalf.

We want to see their numbers increased.

We want to see that to show Mr Blair that the British people want a forward looking Europe of Nations, not a backward looking Nation of Europe.

We will fight the Euro tooth and nail. And we will fight the proposed Constitution with equal ferocity and strength.

And above all we fight to let the British people decide in a referendum

Because we at last have the opportunity to build a flexible Europe.

A Europe within which those members who wish to integrate more closely may do so as long as they do not require others to do the same. As Michael Howard said recently in Berlin, ‘live and let live’.

A Europe in which the authority and primacy of national parliaments is reasserted, where there is proper accountability, where a genuinely enterprising and competitive Europe is created.

A Europe where national identities still matter.

And we will work with our fellow atlanticists in Europe to strengthen the vital partnership between Europe and America.

We can take the lead in creating a Europe which works for the people and not for Brussels.

We will reinvigorate the Commonwealth around its most influential members in every continent.

Because our historic role must be to bring together the Commonwealth, Europe and the US as a force for stability in an increasingly unstable world. But above all we will rebuild pride in our country.

Michael Howard in January reminded us ” that by good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity, these islands are home to a great people with a noble past and an exciting future”.

I am proud of that past, of those British characteristics which are our strength.

And the greatest of these is our love of freedom, a freedom which as Michael Howard also said should be defended “at any time, against all comers, however mighty”.

And in looking at that exciting future we owe it to the people of this country to stand up for Britain, to have confidence in ourselves and to restore the confidence of others in us.

And under Michael Howard’s clear and determined leadership we can do it.

And we can do more. We can start to set about this wretched government, to show them up for what they really are.

Our task is great.

To sweep this seedy, spin-ridden, self-seeking, self-serving, values-free bunch of second-raters out of the doors of Downing Street and onto the scrap heap of history where they belong.

Michael Ancram – 2003 Speech to Conservative Welsh Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ancram to the 2003 Welsh Conservative Conference on 7th March 2003.

 

It is an enormous pleasure to be back in Cardiff, once more in Wales again.

Although I only had one year here some years ago as the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales I gained an enormous affection for this country.

I love coming back to Wales, and seeing so many friends. I remember the great devolution battles, the nail-biting referendum campaign. It may be a little politically incorrect to say so now – but then political correctness was never my strongest suit – but we so nearly did it.

That campaign brought out all that was best in Wales on both sides of the argument. I forged friendships across the political spectrum which remain with me today. We fought on all sides for what we believed in.

The only sadness was that so few people bothered to vote.

I believe that here in Wales we are on the brink of a Tory revival.

That hope is down mainly to all of you, who kept faith with our party through the hard and difficult times, never giving up, never ceasing to campaign and always determined to win. You are the beating heart of the Conservative Party in Wales and we owe you a great debt of gratitude for it.

But a revival is not yours to claim credit for alone.

There is our stalwart band of Assembly members under the clear and effective leadership of Nick Bourne, constantly a thorn in Labours side and always ensuring that the Conservative voice is heard loud and clear in Cardiff.

It is the Conservative AM’s who are really making the Assembly work, providing a real opposition and raising the issues that really matter to the people of Wales.

We owe them a great tribute for their fortitude and determination.

And also to Nigel Evans, our Shadow Secretary of State for Wales who makes certain that the voice of conservative Wales reverberates around Westminster and that the interests of Wales are never ignored by the Shadow Cabinet. He is a tower of strength and I thank him too.

We live in troubled times.

Of course we are all troubled by the continuing Iraq crisis. It would be extraordinary if we were not. None of us want war. Some of us have spent significant parts of our lives working for peace, and we must always regard war as a last resort – when there is no better way.

We now face that terrible reality. I still hope and pray that Saddam Hussein will see that he has run out of road and that even at this late date he will fully and proactively comply.

Reluctant or partial compliance of the sort at which he is a past master cannot be enough. Allowing him to buy time is not an option. His attitude must change. If it does not, then I believe the international community must act.

I know there are many questions and many doubts. I understand them and I take them very seriously indeed. I believe the Government should have done much more to answer the questions and to meet the doubts.

Let me share with you my understanding.

The first question is whether Saddam does really pose a risk to international peace and security.

The UN certainly thinks so and has thought so for over 10 years. Under the UN Charter there is one chapter, Chapter VII, which specifically and exclusively deals with threats to international peace and security and which in Article 42 specifically permits the use of military force if necessary to deal with it.

All the 17 UNSC resolutions passed over the last 12 years against Iraq deliberately fall under Chapter VII. Indeed 1441 deliberately replicates the language of Article 42.

Nobody who signed up for it, including France, can be in any doubt as to what it means.

The next question is as to whether the threat is real, present and a danger to us. This is enormously difficult. I am not privy to intelligence information, and there is little direct evidence of such a threat.

I learned however in my time in Northern Ireland the value and importance of intelligence. They are our eyes where we cannot see and our ears where we cannot hear. They evidently have told the PM that the threat is real, present and endangers us.

And even if the smoking gun is not there, the smoke is.

Leave aside the nuclear threat which by all accounts is some way off. Lethal quantities of anthrax and the nerve agent VX were present four years ago. They are easily transported and easily hidden. There has been no convincing explanation as to what has happened to them.

They are relatively simple to deliver either in Iraqi hands or in the hands of terrorists particularly those who are careless of their own lives. And they can be easily developed into even more lethal agents such as pandemic viruses with no antidotes. These are real risks and real threats we cannot ignore.

The third question is why now?

There can never be an absolutely right time. But history teaches us that action delayed or postponed is rarely action avoided; that procrastination, putting off what needs to be done almost always leads to worse challenges later on.

I do believe that if we leave Saddam Hussein armed with WMD now, he will still have to be dealt with later when the risks will almost inevitably be much higher.

He is dangerous now with his weapons only partially developed. How much more dangerous will he be when in due course they are completely developed and deliverable over great distances.

I do not believe we have a right to pass this lethal buck to those who will come after us.

None of us underestimate the importance of the UN in this matter. While a second or more accurately eighteenth resolution may not strictly be necessary, there is no doubt in my mind that the credibility and acceptability of any action will be strengthened by the maximum international support.

We watch with concern and interest Hans Blix’s report to the UNSC today.

One thing is certain. The daft concept of a unified European foreign policy, the abiding dream of those who would build a politically united Europe, has been clearly shown up on the Iraq issue for the banality it is and has always been.

I only hope the lesson has come early enough for us to learn.

There will almost inevitably be feelings of destabilisation throughout the Gulf. We would be naive not to understand how much of a running sore the unresolved problem of Israel/Palestine is.

If we are to demonstrate that this is not a war against Islam we would do well to emulate President Bush’s recent speech when he called for progress on the achieving of two states west of the Jordan, a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state, the ending of settlement activity, the establishment of a genuine ceasefire, and a return to talks.

We must urge both sides to seize this opportunity.

Let me make one thing abundantly clear. We do not give the PM our support in this matter of Iraq lightly.

It does not come easily to me to support him. How much easier it would be to play the cynical Liberal game of facing in all directions at the same time. Tempting. But wrong, and we will not be drawn down that less than honourable path.

The Liberal Democrats behaviour has been despicable. They have even outdone their own usual low standards in the way they have responded.

Hostile to Saddam, sympathetic to Saddam. For firm action, against firm action. For the UN route, against the UN route. Claiming to be consistent when their only consistency has been their inconsistency. Charles Kennedy has made the Grand Old Duke of York look like a paragon of decisiveness.

We will support Tony Blair on Iraq as long as he does what is right because it is right to do so. We will not play the political game at the expense of the national interest and doing what is right.

But that is as far as we will support him.

Where he’s plum wrong and behaving dishonourably as he has on Gibraltar we will oppose him. And not only will we tell him he is wrong as he seeks to sell out the British sovereignty of the people of Gibraltar. We will continue to make it clear that we will not be bound by any agreement with Spain that does not have the wholehearted and freely given consent of the people of Gibraltar. And as we saw in November that is about as likely as the survival of a snowball in hell.

We will stand by the people of Gibraltar and their rights to remain British. We will not betray them.

And then there is Zimbabwe. I can hardly mention that country without feeling a profound sense of shame in how Britain under the lily-livered leadership of a government transfixed by its post-colonial guilt has abandoned that once great land.

I got into Zimbabwe for a day last summer. What I saw was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.

Millions of people facing starvation alongside productive farmland, which had once been the breadbasket of Southern Africa lying, unfarmed with last year’s harvest lying rotting in the fields.

I found farmers illegally evicted from the land which many of them had bought with Mugabe’s assurances after independence. I found displaced black farm workers harassed by ethnic cleansing every bit as nasty as Kosovo starving and frightened in the woods. I was told of the state organised violence, the torture, the rape, the murder.

I met representatives of the proud Matabele tribe who feared genocide by starvation at the hands of Mugabe. I saw democracy and the rule of law being destroyed, and all this at the hands of the vile despot Mugabe.

President Chirac of France may not mind embracing this bloodstained figure. I would not give him the time of day. I along with millions of Zimbabweans just want to see him gone.

As I left Zimbabwe one hollow eyed displaced black farm worker grasped my hand and said simply “Don’t let the world forget us”.

I won’t, but our government has shown every intention of doing so.

They resisted our calls for targeted sanctions until they were too little too late. They have now even connived in the manipulation of those sanctions to allow Mugabe into Paris three weeks ago.

They have failed to enlist the UN into monitoring food distribution in Zimbabwe. They twisted and turned on the cricket world cup issue desperately seeking to walk by on the other side.

Tony Blair who told the world that it was his moral duty to act in Zimbabwe has visited everywhere in Africa but Zimbabwe and has deliberately ducked mentioning Zimbabwe at world summits where to do so might have made a difference.

That is why I am ashamed. Tony Blair’s abandonment of the people of Zimbabwe who look to us in their hour of need shames us all. I will fight for Zimbabwe on behalf of our party until something is done.

We will not walk by on the other side. And we will continue to harry this government at every opportunity and in every possible way to live up to their responsibilities and act.

And we will oppose them on Europe. How many of you here are aware of what is happening in Europe at this time?

How many of you know that despite their promises to the contrary this wretched government of ours is about to raise the white flag of surrender on crucial areas which will decide whether we become a European superstate or not?

How many of you know that the firm intention of those charged with recommending the future shape of Europe is a legal personality which is the first prerequisite of a European state, a fully fledged constitution complete with legally enforceable fundamental rights which is the second prerequisite, and the subjugation of our foreign and defence policy to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which is the final prerequisite.

These together form the Rubicon between the original and acceptable concept of a Europe of Nations, a partnership of sovereign states, and a European political union which ultimately must sound the death knell of the bottom-up Europe which alone in practical terms makes sense.

I am both horrified at the speed in which this alternative Europe is being developed. And this government who originally told us that they would resist such moves to the death are now busy preparing the ground for the shameful volte-face and the despicable surrender.

Parliament with its overwhelming government majority probably can’t stop it. But it must be totally against the spirit of the unwritten British constitution that basic sovereignty can in this way be surrendered without the democratically expressed consent of the British people.

That is why I have demanded a referendum before any treaty embodying such surrender is ratified.

I cannot see how a government which allowed 26% only of the people of Wales in a referendum radically to alter the constitution could now refuse a referendum which will decide whether we accept the surrender of our basic sovereignty or not.

We will campaign vigorously for a referendum before surrender.

Failure to grant one would be the final demonstration of the contempt in which this government hold the democratic wishes of the British people.

Let me make this clear. We are not anti-Europe. Nor have we ever been. We believe in a Europe built from the bottom up – as was always originally intended.

We believe in a partnership of sovereign nations within which the single market is completed, directives are framework rather than specific, there is far greater parliamentary accountability over Euro-decisions, where we cooperate on matters of mutual interest, but where we accept and indeed value our differences and retain our basic rights of self-determination.

This is the theme for the constructive bottom-up Europe which we believe not only offers a constructive and viable Europe for the 21st century but also provides an urgent anti-dote to the government’s surreptitious policy of imposing an integrated Europe upon us.

We have a constructive position. We must make sure it is understood.

My foreign affairs portfolio covers much of what I have wanted to say today. But as an old political warhorse with nostrils flaring at the first whiff of cordite, with elections in the air I cannot fail to mention the open goal with which we are currently faced and of which we must take advantage.

New Labour has failed. Their much-vaunted pledges are in tatters. They have failed on health, they have failed on education, they have failed on pensions, on law and order, on asylum, on tax and on the economy.

They set their own targets and they have failed, not only themselves but us as well. They are suddenly a derelict government, a government with no purpose, no honour and no answers.

I am sick and tired of living in a Britain that is being inexorably undermined by a Government that has lost its way. I am sick and tired of a government that has lost all sense of pride and which has settled for the second rate.

I am sick and tired of a government that can no longer – if it ever could – distinguish truth from spin.

I am sick and tired of a government to whom people don’t matter, to whom the family doesn’t matter, of a government that seeks to make us ashamed of our history, our traditions, our culture, our currency and now of our very Britishness.

I unashamedly, unequivocally, and unchangeably believe in Britain and all within that concept which has in the past made is great and can make us great again. I long for a Britain where people matter again.

I long for a Britain where the family matters again as a symbol of stability in an ever-changing world. I long for a Britain where values matter again, where standards once more count for something, and where personal responsibility is once again a goal to be aimed at.

I long for a Britain where it is worth doing the right thing again; worth working hard, worth saving, worth playing a part in one’s community, worth supporting those less able to fend for themselves, and worth respecting the law.

I long for a Britain where I can be proud of my country without being called extremist, proud of our history without being labelled anachronistic, and proud of our national character without being branded a bigot.

I long for a Britain where truth matters again.

I long for a Britain where freedom means what it says rather than what political correctness tells it to mean. I long for a Britain in which quite simply I can believe again.

We have begun the great march back to power. The door to victory stands gaping before us. Whether we go through depends on us alone.

We will need self-confidence. We will need courage and determination. Above all we will need self-belief. We will need to work together as one, loyal to each other, true to our leader Iain Duncan Smith, and committed to victory.

Such an opportunity may not come easily again. We owe it to our country to send this rotten, duplicitous, venal, self-seeking and self-promoting lot packing.

Your chance will come earlier than ours, in a few weeks time, and there is not a minute to waste. Remember what they have done to Wales – the broken promises, the betrayed trust, and the dashed expectations.

It is time for us to say be gone, to take them head on and show them up for what they are. And then to sweep them into the rubbish tip were they belong. Have strength, have conviction, have hope. Go out and win.

Michael Ancram – 2003 Speech to Conservative Spring Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ancram to the 2003 Conservative Spring Conference on 15th March 2003.

 

This session has inevitably centred on Iraq. It has been a serious debate. Iain Duncan Smith set the scene for us. Bernard Jenkin and Caroline Spelman have enlarged upon it.

It has also rightly ranged wider.

We must never forget the war against international terrorism. The Chairman reminded us of the horrors of September 11 last year. We must continue to work with the international community to hunt down the terrorists and to ensure that they have nowhere to hide.

We welcome the recent arrests in Pakistan even if they are only the tip of the iceberg.

We have seen from recent alerts in Britain that the threat to us is real.

The first responsibility of government is the protection of its citizens. We will ensure that the Government does not take their eye off this ball.

Iraq however is the immediate priority. I make no excuse for returning to it again.

Of course we are concerned.

None of us want war. Some of us have spent significant parts of our lives working for peace. War must always be the last resort – when there is no better way of achieving what must be done.

That sad reality now stares us in the face. I still pray that Saddam Hussein will finally see that he has run out of road, and that even at this late date he will disarm.

His attitude has to change. If it does not, then the international community must act.

There are many questions and doubts. I take them very seriously. I believe the Government should have done much more to answer the questions and to meet the doubts from the outset.

They have not. So let me share with you our view.

Does Saddam really pose a risk to international peace and security?

The UN certainly thinks so – and has done so for the last 12 years.

All 17 resolutions passed against Iraq fall under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which specifically and exclusively deals with threats to international peace and security and in Article 42 specifically permits the use of military force if necessary to deal with it.. Indeed Resolution 1441 deliberately replicates the language of Article 42.

Nobody who signed up for it, including France, can be in any doubt as to what it means. They knew at the time they signed, and they still know it now.

So is that the threat a danger to us? There may be no obvious smoking gun yet. But I learned in Northern Ireland the value and importance of intelligence advice. They are our eyes where we cannot see and our ears where we cannot hear. They have told the PM that the threat is real, present and endangers us. We would be unwise to seek to second-guess them.

And even if the smoking gun is not there, there is certainly smoke is.

There is the further evidence produced in written form by Dr Hans Blix a week ago. It lists a blood-chilling number of unaccounted for weapons and biological and chemical stockpiles. Tonnes of anthrax and the nerve agent VX were present four years ago. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we can only assume that they are still there. Today’s Iraqi letter at first sight seems once again a propaganda device, too little and too late.

These weapons are simple to use either in Iraqi hands or in the hands of terrorists, particularly those who are careless of their own lives. They can be easily developed into even more lethal agents. They are easily transported and easily hidden.

These are the real risks and real threats we cannot ignore.

So why now?

There can never be an absolutely right time. But history teaches us that action delayed or postponed is rarely action avoided; that putting off what needs to be done almost always leads to worse challenges later on.

If we leave Saddam Hussein armed with WMD now, he will still have to be dealt with later when the risks will almost inevitably be much higher and the dangers infinitely greater.

I do not believe we have a right to pass this lethal buck on to those who will come after us. It would be contemptible, and as Conservatives must never tread that dishonourable path.

We support efforts to achieve a Second Resolution to implement Resolution 1441 within a given timetable. But a second resolution is not, and has never been, a legal prerequisite for military action.

We therefore will support whatever action – in conformity with international law – is necessary to remove Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

There is another aspect we should not ignore.

There are inevitably feelings of destabilisation throughout the Gulf. We should not underestimate how much of a running sore the unresolved problem of Israel/Palestine remains.

If we are to demonstrate that this is not a war against Islam we must support President Bush in his call for real progress on achieving two states west of the Jordan, a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state, and the ending of settlement activity.

We must applaud his decision yesterday to publish the long-awaited ‘road-map’ to achieve this. We must add our weight, and press an ending of violence and a resumption of talks.

And as Caroline Spelman has said we must not lose sight of our obligations to help Iraq get back on its feet once this is all over.

We support the Prime Minister on Iraq. That support is not unconditional. Nor does it come easily. How politically tempting it would be to ride public opinion and oppose. It would also be dishonourable, irresponsible and wrong.

As have been the Liberal Democrats throughout this crisis, facing in all directions at the same time. Their behaviour has been despicable. It has even outdone their own usual low standards.

Hostile to Saddam at one moment, sympathetic at another. For the UN route last September, against the UN route in February, back in favour of it now. Against military action yesterday, apparently morally supporting it to day. What will his position be tomorrow?

He claims to have been consistent, when their only consistency has been their inconsistency. Kennedy makes the Grand Old Duke of York look like a paragon of decisiveness.

The Liberal Democrats are the ‘weather-vaners’, swinging with every shift of the popular wind.

Well we will not take that easy and dishonourable path. We will support Tony Blair on Iraq as long as he is acting in the national interest and is doing what is right.

But that is as far as we will support him.

Where he’s wrong as he has been on Gibraltar we will oppose him. We will stand by the people of Gibraltar and their rights to remain British. We will not betray them. And nor should the Prime Minister even for a moment think that he can trade Gibraltar’s sovereignty tomorrow for Spain’s support today

And then there is the government’s desertion of Zimbabwe. I cannot help feeling a profound sense of shame at how Britain under the lily-livered leadership of a government transfixed by its post-colonial guilt has abandoned that once great land.

Tony Blair told us that it was his moral duty to act in Zimbabwe. In practice he has done nothing.

On the cricket world cup he disgracefully tried to walk by on the other side. I hope he felt ashamed in the face of the courage of the Zimbabwean cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olongo in their black arm-banded protest on the field against what is being done to their land. I salute those two brave cricketers.

Tony Blair may have abandoned the people of Zimbabwe in their hour of need. These two brave men did not. And nor shall we.

And we will oppose this Government on the future shape of Europe.

How many of us here are really aware of what is happening in Europe at this time?

How many of you know that the firm recommendations emanating from those charged with recommending the future shape of Europe are:

– a legal personality which is the first prerequisite of a European state,

– a fully fledged constitution complete with legally enforceable fundamental rights which is the second prerequisite,

– and the subjugation of our foreign and defence policy to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which is the final prerequisite?

These together form a Rubicon between the original and acceptable concept of a Europe of Nations – the Europe we joined – and a European political union which ultimately will sound the death knell of our rights of self-determination.

I am horrified at the speed in which this Europe is being developed. Ministers who originally told us that they would resist such moves are now busy preparing the ground for a shameful volte-face and a despicable surrender.

Sadly Parliament with its overwhelming government majority can’t stop it. But it must be totally against the spirit of the unwritten British constitution that basic sovereignty can in this way be surrendered without the democratically expressed consent of the British people .

That is why I have demanded, and demand again today, a referendum before any treaty embodying such surrender is ratified.

Let me make this clear. We are not anti-Europe. We believe in a Europe built from the bottom up, with power flowing from the nation states – as was always originally intended.

We believe in a partnership of sovereign nations within which the single market is completed, where directives are framework rather than specific,

– where there is far greater parliamentary accountability over Euro-decisions, where we retain our own currency,

– where we cooperate on matters of mutual interest, but where we accept and indeed value our differences

And where we retain our basic rights of self-determination not least on Foreign policy and defence.

We must now go out and fight for this Europe as a genuine option.

Indeed when this current crisis is over there will be much restructuring to be done, much weakness to be repaired – on Europe, on Nato and on the UN. We will have a crucial role to play in all of these exercises. We must be ready.

And while Iraq inevitably preoccupies us, we must make sure that it does not allow this wretched government to get away with it on other international or European fronts.

And we will do so as part of that wider campaign to see this discredited bunch on their way.

New Labour has failed. Their much-vaunted pledges of standing up for Britain and their ethical foreign policy are now in tatters. They have not only failed domestically. They have failed in the international arena as well.

They are a derelict government, a government with no purpose. A government that should go.

I am sick and tired of living in a Britain that is being inexorably undermined by a Government that has lost its way.

I am sick and tired of a government that has lost all sense of national pride and which settles for the second rate.

I am sick and tired of a government that seeks to make us ashamed of our history, our traditions, our culture, our currency and our very Britishness.

As Conservatives we believe in Britain. We long for a country where people matter again, where values and standards once more count for something.

We want to be proud of our country without being called extremist, proud of our history without being labelled anachronistic.

We long for a country where freedom, nationally and internationally, means what it says rather than what political correctness tells us it means.

We are starting the march back to power.

We will need self-confidence. We will need self-belief. Above all we will need to work together as one, loyal to each other, and true to our leader Iain Duncan Smith.

We owe it to our country to send this rotten Government packing.

It is time for us to take them head on. The surrenderers in Europe, the betrayers of trust in Zimbabwe and of loyalty in Gibraltar. And the destroyers of national pride here at home. It is time they were gone.

Our resolution must be clear. To have strength, to have conviction, to have hope. To stand firm in defence of our national interests. And when this crisis is over, to go out and win.