Angela Eagle – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Angela Eagle to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on 27th September 2011.

It’s fantastic to be here at Labour Party Conference in Labour run Liverpool.

We have a great venue here at the Echo arena and it’s just across the river from the centre of the universe – my own constituency of Wallasey.

You know the first time I came to this great new place I was down there in the front row and one of my heroines Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders was up here performing. Well I won’t be attempting anything as brilliant or as loud as the Pretenders produced then because I’ve forgotten to bring my guitar. And anyway there might be a few sore heads in the hall after ‘Scouse night’.

You know we are in a great city with a proud history of Labour representation.

Those of you who came up on the train might have seen the statue of ‘Battling Bessie Braddock’ when you arrived at Lime Street. Bessie was the MP for Liverpool Exchange for 24 years and the first woman to represent Liverpool in Parliament. She was a passionate campaigner who did much to rid Liverpool of its slums. She fought poverty, hunger and unemployment all her life and she would have been delighted that our Conference was taking place in her city.

A city Labour-led: revitalised under our Government after years of Tory neglect.

And now I worry that those days are returning.


As Ed Balls, our Shadow Chancellor said yesterday, we are living through the darkest and most dangerous times in the global economy for many generations. And we need a serious response from this Government.

But do you know what really makes me angry? It’s the Tories and their crude partisan propaganda about the economic challenges we face.

This crisis wasn’t caused by Labour investing in schools and hospitals. It wasn’t caused by Labour deciding to regenerate cities like Liverpool either.

It was caused by greed in the banking industry and a global failure to rein in the excesses. And every developed Western economy is now grappling with the consequences of those mistakes. And don’t let the Tories tell you any different.

Because they argued for less regulation and now by making the wrong economic judgements, they’re making a bad situation worse.


Do you remember Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg posing for the cameras outside Number 10 after the election? Well 16 months later we are beginning to see the consequences of the values they both share and the political choices they have made together.

And it’s not a pretty sight.

Everyone agreed that the deficit had to be tackled but ferocious Tory austerity wasn’t the solution to the crisis, it was the price of Lib Dem seats in the Cabinet.

Together both parties made a political choice to cut the deficit further and faster than was economically necessary and to start cutting before the recovery was secure.

Last year they introduced spending cuts and tax rises that go further and faster than any other advanced economy except Iceland and Ireland. That has made us much more vulnerable as the global situation has worsened.

And they also made a political choice to put women and children in the front line of those cuts. From closed Sure Start centres, cuts to child tax credits, and job losses, women are bearing the brunt of this Tory-led Government’s reckless economic experiment.

What are the results so far?

They have delivered the biggest squeeze in living standards since the 1920s.

And up and down the country people are feeling the pain.

Like the dinner lady I met in south London who has to work 1 ½ hours before she can even cover the cost of her bus fare to the job. Now she’s worried about this Government’s cuts to her tax credits.

Or the security officer I met here in Liverpool. Barely paid the minimum wage but expected to remain on call through the night for no extra pay and be back in at work by 9.30 the following morning.

The Daily Telegraph have just calculated that a middle income family of four living Kent will be £3,252 worse off this year alone!

I’m told that this is almost the cost of a full uniform for the Bullingdon club. Loose change for the Prime Minister and Chancellor maybe but a hammer blow to already stretched household budgets.

It is people and communities up and down this land that are suffering but the Tories just don’t get it. Their policies are making things worse.

The economy flat-lining.

Growth at a standstill.

Unemployment on the rise.

One in five of our young people abandoned to the misery of the dole queue.

And the IMF see even greater dangers ahead.

The warning signs are flashing red and yet the Chancellor just sits on his hands, the embodiment of preening complacency.

This is the man who claimed last year that Britain was “out of the danger zone”.

Only last month he announced that the UK was a “safe haven” in the economic storm.

Now the Prime Minister warns of the global economy “staring down the barrel” but like a medieval physician bleeding an already weak patient, his only prescription is more austerity.

They are addicted to austerity and their only response to the crisis is to try and export it.

Ed Balls yesterday unveiled Labour’s five point plan for growth and repeated our commitment to sticking to a tough fiscal strategy to get the deficit down. But almost immediately the Tories dismissed it. Again showing they just don’t understand the urgent need to get our economy growing.

But what of the Liberal Democrats?

Well in Birmingham last week they were falling over themselves to criticise their Tory friends. The Coalition was even described by the Liberal Democrat President as a ‘marriage that would inevitably end in divorce’.

Well, if only Nick Clegg had thought to include his promise on tuition fees in the pre-nuptial agreement.

Some say it’s a marriage of convenience. To me it is more of a sleazy affair. Exciting while it lasts, but destructive and likely to end in total embarrassment.

In Birmingham last week nobody was fooled by the Liberal Democrat’s cynically choreographed attacks on their own Government policy or their reheated announcements on tax evasion and executive pay.

And however much they masquerade as the conscience in this rather peculiar ‘relationship’ they’ve got as much chance of surviving at the next election as Sarah Teather has of starting a career as a stand up comedian. And don’t just take my word for it, have a look on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

John Denham – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Denham to the Labour Party Conference on 26th September 2011.


Last week, in Birmingham, Vince Cable gave the Lib Dems what’s been described as the most depressing speech by a Cabinet minister in modern political history.

I haven’t come to Liverpool to spread doom and gloom.

You’re not Lib Dems. You haven’t come here to wallow in it.

There’s no easy way forward.

The deficit must be dealt with.

World markets are in turmoil.

The world we face is so fiercely competitive it will be harder than ever before to pay our way and build a better future for young people.

But we know there is a way forward for Britain and its families.

But first I have got a message for Vince Cable and the rest of the Tory-led Government.

If you’re depressed, stop making things worse.

Stop saying you will tax the banks and get them lending.

When you know you’re cutting their taxes and they’re cutting their lending.

You tripled university fees, scrapped the RDAs, slashed support for business. And you haven’t even paid out a penny from the Regional Growth Fund, 14 months since you launched it.

You cut too far and too fast.

Turned the entire department of growth into the department of stagnation.

No wonder you’re depressed.

Last week you said that 50 companies are going to get a hot line to ministers.

It’s not 50 companies who need a hot line to ministers.

It’s the entire British economy!

I went to Bombardier in Derby. I asked three young apprentices about their future.

One said “I want to go as far as I can. Mr Walton” – that’s Colin Walton the MD – “Mr Walton used to be an apprentice once.”

That was the promise of Britain.

Hard work taking you as far as your talent would allow.

Each generation doing better than their parents.

But Philip Hammond gave the Thameslink contract to Germany.

Those young ambitions hang by a thread.

You may be wondering why ministers won’t reopen the contract?

It’s not because of the finer points of EU competition law.

It’s because, in their heart of hearts, they think government should just stand by and watch.

Stand by and watch while wages fall, jobs go, and companies suffer.

But I tell you, Conference, in difficult times governments can’t just stand by and watch.

Governments can shape the choices companies make; they can encourage investment in critical parts of the economy; they can use procurement to foster skills, innovation and new markets; they can create the transparency that brings fair pay.

Governments can shape markets by the competition rules they set, the institutions they create for finance research and technology – and by their vision for the future.

Conference, we can make the changes Britain needs; to build a different and stronger economy; in which good companies grow; and rewards are fairly shared.

We say:

If you’ve got a business idea; you work all hours; you make a go of it; make a million; we’ll cheer you all the way.

But we won’t if you’re the director of a failing company who takes a million you don’t deserve.

It’s not our job to run companies, but what Government does makes a difference to the way business leaders run their companies.

In the economy we want, we will say the company that invests long-term is better for Britain than the one that just wants a quick buck.

We will say the company with fair pay at every level is better for Britain than one with obscene rewards at the top and poverty pay at the bottom

We will say the company that innovates is better for Britain than the company that sits back and exploits its monopoly.

We will say the company that trains is better for Britain than one that just says someone else could do your job for less.

These are the choices the best companies in Britain are already making.

But some are not.

Look at all the scams – from payment protection insurance to fuel bills no one understands, from hidden credit card charges to insurance referrals.

They’ve all got one thing in common.

There are people at the top who knew it was wrong.

But they didn’t think it was their responsibility to stop it.

But when prices are rising and wages are falling people can’t afford to be ripped off. It’s got to stop.

So I’ve asked former Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council, Ed Mayo, to lead our investigation into how we can end the corporate cultures that con consumers.

Conference, business has real concern about regulation. And the worst is regulation that holds good companies back, but doesn’t hinder the bad.

So be very clear.

We’ll tackle the bad.

We’ll back the good.

Griffon Hoverworks in my Southampton constituency sells the world’s best hovercraft – a British invention – to 40 countries around the world.

There are thousands of British companies like that.

In engineering, and in film, theatre and the arts;

In life sciences and in architecture;

In advanced manufacturing and in computer games;

In fashion and in law and in IT;

In finance yes, and green technologies.

Companies run by people as bright and as inventive as any British people have ever been.

But there are not enough of them.

They aren’t big enough.

And too often they get taken over before they grow.

We will only pay our way in the world if those companies grow and prosper.

And we will only pay our way if the world’s biggest companies also want to have a stake in Britain’s future.

They don’t want government telling them how to run their business. But they don’t want government just to stand by and watch either.

Ministers wasted a year on a growth plan so useless it’s already being re-written.

So I’ll tell you what they should do now.

Back Ed Balls’ five point plan for economic growth.

Cut VAT and get the economy moving.

Tax bank bonuses to build houses, create jobs for young people and back fast growing small business.

Don’t stand by and watch.

Do it now.

Small businesses are hurting. If you can’t get banks lending, don’t just stand by and watch. Get the Green Investment Bank going now, reform the banks the public owns, and like Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and me, look at the case for a national investment bank.

Listen to the CBI and unlock investment in greening and renewing the infrastructure for a new economy.

Don’t just stand by and watch.

Do it now.

Get business round the table and agree where Britain will take on the world. Show how we will deliver the technologies, the capabilities, the skills to do it. Give them the confidence to invest.

Don’t just stand by and watch.

Do it now.

Back Labour’s plans to cap fees and then tell every university in every region to concentrate on getting skills, technology and research to British business.

And Vince – one more thing, when you celebrated the one bit of really good news all year – the investments in Nissan, BMW and JLR – didn’t you notice that in every one trade unions were full partners in that success; why not say that instead of just union bashing?

Conference, when Ed Miliband asked me and the Shadow Business Team – Gareth, Gordon, Nia, Ian, Chi, Chuka, Tony and Wilf – he said get out and listen to thousands of businesses across Britain.

Everything I’ve said today comes from things British business has said to us.

From oil in Aberdeen to renewables in Wrexham.

Chambers of Commerce in Norwich to car makers in Sunderland.

Manufacturers in Leeds to bioscience in London.

Hi-tech start-ups in Cambridge to banks in Birmingham.

And it’s because of what they told us, not what we told them, that I can tell you that British business, working with Labour, can build a better future for Britain, can build a country where the promise of Britain is honoured once more.

John Denham – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Denham, the Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, to the 2010 Labour Party conference.


John Denham,

New Generation. SAGA section.

I want to thank all the Labour Councillors.

Labour changed Britain for the better, and every one of you was part of that story.

Labour councillors aren’t supporters on the touchline of a Labour Government.

You’re real players; you’ve got real passion, real commitment, real power and real responsibility.

And you’re going to be challenged like never before.

There are 4500 Labour councillors today.

We can make sure there will be a lot more soon.

Actually there can’t be many more here in Manchester.

Manchester would be a Conservative free zone already – if their only Lib Dem hadn’t just joined the Tories

Nothing new there then.

The Lib Dems wanted a conference in a Lib Dem City.

By the time they got there Liverpool was Labour.

But look; it’s going to be tough. Being a Labour councillor won’t be a job for the faint-hearted.

The Coalition is going to slash spending far faster, far harder – and far more unfairly – than this country needs or can stand.

People are going to be asking us to look after their interests in the worst possible circumstances; against all the odds.

We’re no use to anyone if we hang our heads in despair or defeat.

Our campaign – supported by – will bring us all together – the people who use public services with the people who provide them…

From village to village, town to town, city to city.

We’ll make Labour’s case in every election from next May to the General Election.

But we also know that marching round the town hall saying ‘no cuts’ – it isn’t going to be enough when we run the Town Hall.

What I know;

What you know;

Is that we’ve always found a way to show that Labour values make a difference even in the hardest times.

We won’t be able to protect everything we care about; but we’ll defend the most important things.

We won’t be able keep everything the way it is; so we’ll find better ways of doing things.

We all know we’d have had to face some tough decisions.

But we wouldn’t be doing what they are doing.

I mean, look at Eric Pickles.

Alright, don’t look at Eric Pickles.

There’s no excuse, Eric, for putting the biggest cuts on the communities that are hardest pressed.

It’s no good telling people they’ve got more say, when you’re telling them how often bins should be emptied o r street parties organised.

It’s no good telling people they’ve got more say, when you’re letting Michael Gove waste £200m of their money on cancelled schools.

It’s no good telling people they’ve got more say, when you’re wasting a fortune on a top down reorganisation of the NHS.

We don’t want elected sheriffs riding off into the sunset with police budgets in their saddlebags, when it’s working closely with councils that brought down anti-social behaviour.

It’s not good telling local people they’ve got more say when, instead of bringing local services together, you are pulling them apart.

You’re not just cutting too fast and too deep; you’re throwing people’s money down the drain.

And when every penny of local taxpayers’ money has to work harder than ever before, there’s no excuse for that.

Frankly, Conference, it’s a dog’s breakfast of muddle and waste.

And this is the mess they call the Big Society.

Conference, when David Cameron talks about people relying too much on the state and not doing enough for themselves, you’d think we were all sat at home waiting for the council to come round and do the dishes.

I’m sure, that like me, you live in a community of extraordinary generosity, where thousands of people help their neighbours and their communities with countless acts of thoughtfulness every day.

We don’t have to choose between state and society.

I know a group in Southampton who befriend lonely older people.

They don’t bathe them, they don’t clothe them or give them medication.

It’s the public services – the carers, the nurses, the financial support which make it possible for them to live at home in comfort.

But it’s the volunteer friends who shop with them, go to the theatre with them, have cup of tea and a conversation with them.

Who give time that, frankly, no state could ever give – who make their lives not just comfortable but rich.

The best of public service; the best of personal giving.

But take the public service away, and personal giving can’t fill the gap.

Conference, we claim no monopoly on generosity, but our party and our members have given birth to countless organisations of change – environmental groups and neighbourhood watches, coops and housing associations, residents’ organisations and community centres.

Our party and our members know the difference between a really big society, a good society; and a narrow and mean society.

And that’s why we will make a difference over the next few years.

Despite the challenges, despite the Coalition cuts, despite the Coalition chaos, we will win the argument that the deficit is no excuse to destroy a good society.

Despite the challenges, despite the coalition cuts, despite the coalition c haos we will win local elections up and down this country.

And despite the challenges, despite the coalition cuts, despite the coalition chaos, this new generation: our members, our councillors are ready to show that being Labour, thinking Labour, voting Labour makes a difference that really counts.

John Denham – 2009 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Denham, the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to the 2009 Labour Party conference.

You can’t say you weren’t warned.

When David Cameron said Tory Councils show what a Tory Government would look like he meant it.

They are hard to get rid of’ the Tory Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham moans about his council tenants

Put up charges until people can’t afford to pay, says the Leader of Wandsworth.

Oppose ‘free swimming, free buses’, says the Leader of Southampton

Make people pay taxes – and then make them pay again just to get a decent service, says Barnet Council.

Privatise for dogma. Block new homes, block new jobs and block green power.

Look at Cameron’s Councils to see what a Cameron government would be like.

People like that would never have created SureStart, free swimming, pensioner bus passes, decent homes, apprenticeships, better schools.

These people are different to us. They have different values, different priorities, a different view of what makes the world tick.

Of course, every Labour Council leapt at the chance of free swimming for kids and pensioners. And of course over 60 Tory councils did not.

I’m proud of Labour’s record – your record – serving local people. You fought for decent public services under a Conservative Government; you’ve delivered them under a Labour Government.

More than this when times are tight, it’s Labour in Government – national and local – that makes every taxpayers pound work as hard as it can.

George Osborne says Tory councils save money.

They do.

Just not as much as Labour councils.

Last year all councils made value for money savings of a staggering £1.7bn. And Labour Councils saved twice as much as Tory Councils, putting the money back into frontline services and £100 off the Band D Council Tax.

Councils like Labour Hackney who haven’t increased Council Tax for the last four years but have improved the services they provide.

We couldn’t improve services and save money if local public servants weren’t prepared to work hard, to accept change and be realistic about pay. So thank you.

It’s not always easy.

And I know you do this because you care about the people you serve

And you deserve a fair deal.

The average pay of local government workers has gone up by £6,000 in seven years. The average pay of the chief execs has gone up by £40,000.

And nine chief execs get paid an average of £212,00 a year.

Don’t get me wrong. These are not bad people. Most have given their own lifetime of public service.

But we all know.

It’s just all got out of hand.

And it’s just got to stop.

I don’t want to see the pay or the pensions of local public servants dragged down by public anger at the excess of a few.

I’m not joining the clamour of Clegg and Cameron to slash your pensions. The average local government pension is less than £4,500 a year.

But, I do want to limit the pension entitlements of the very highest earners.

With every council publishing details of high paid posts, their pay, pensions, bonuses and allowances.

I will tackle the boomerang bosses who walk away with huge payouts, straight into their next job.

At the same time I’m giving the go ahead today for another £500m of equal pay awards.

And asking pension providers how we can keep more low paid members in the scheme.

And I can do all this while capping the burden of new costs falling on Council Taxpayers.

And do this because, if I didn’t, it wouldn’t be fair.

Common sense fairness is in the DNA of the British people.

And in hard times fairness matters more than ever.

Let’s acknowledge.

There are people,

People who have voted for us in the past.

Who are asking whether Britain’s fair today…

They’ve seen a lot a change.

Communities have changed.

The world of work has changed.

In the last year everything – life, work, homes, incomes – have changed.

And become more difficult.

For all we have done – to build up the health service, improve schools, raise incomes with tax credits, invest in building and construction – they want to know that we are still on their side.

And for a fair deal.

And if this party does not speak for them – in every street, in every community – then we have no purpose.

That’s why they wanted to hear Alistair’s promise on bankers bonuses.

Why I will make sure Yvette Cooper’s Future Jobs Fund makes a difference every  community.

Why I’ll work with Alan Johnson make sure the public can question how the police tackle anti-social behaviour.

It’s why John Healey is insisting that every single new public housing development employs apprenticeships.

And why I’m investing more money, from the levy on migration, to stop unscrupulous employers of foreign workers undercutting the minimum wage; or putting lives at risk at work.

If people know we are dealing with these issues, they’ll know we are speaking up for them.

And I want to make sure, in every community, in every corner of this country, people know we are on their side. No favours. No privileges. No special interest groups. Just fairness.

And together, we will reject the extremists, the separatists, the people – wherever they come from – who would pull this country apart; not build it up.

Conference, there will be challenges in the coming years.

Money will be tight. But people still have a right to decent services they rely on.

How do we do it? The answer is local leadership, strong leadership, Labour leadership.

I’ve proposed the biggest shift in power to local people and local communities in 30 years.

Labour believes people have the right to a personal service. The right to shape where you live. The right to elect a councillor who can come back to you on every public service in your area.

Councils being able to challenge how every pound is spent whether by the council the health service or the police.

Driving out any waste and duplication. Making every taxpayers pound work as hard as it can.

Not like Cameron’s Councils. Which won’t check standards because there will be no standards.

Where you live, not what you need, matters most. With their prejudice, their dogma, the unfairness, their opposition to jobs and homes and their rush to cut services and make people pay twice.

And I’ll tell you something.

This Labour government funds communities in every part of the country. Whatever the shade of the local council. Of course we do.

But I’m getting sick and tired of Cameron’s Councils who take Labour investment, claim the credit, for the new home, the new schools and the new play areas and have the cheeck to say it isn’t enough – and all the time they are working for a Tory Government that will take it all away.

It’s about time they were honest with the people about their real plans.

But that may be too much to ask so we’ll do it for them.

We’ll tell the truth about Cameron’s councils on every doorstep, in every street and in every community.

They’ve said one thing and done another for too long.

Donald Dewar – 2000 Speech to TUC Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Donald Dewar to the 2000 TUC Conference.

Thank you very much indeed. I am certainly feeling very well but I perhaps should just say to you that I have never claimed to be fit in my life and if I did, no one would believe me! I am just delighted to be here. I am delighted to welcome you to this great City of Glasgow. I feel very much among friends. You may remember that Ernie Bevin said that the Labour Party emerged from the bowels of the TUC and the trade union Movement. It is an interesting and eloquent vision, not one I necessarily endorse in all its particulars, but what I do know is that we have in this hall, and within the wider Movement and Party outside, a great deal in common for which we campaign and work.

Glasgow was a great Victorian City, built upon skills, built upon talent, trade, industry and plain hard work. It is now transforming itself into a successful modern city and we are honoured to have the TUC here in Glasgow. There will be the warmest of welcomes, not just from the politicians but from the people.

Your last visit, as you have just been reminded, was in 1991. Then we had high hopes which were to be cruelly disappointed, indeed shattered, in the 1992 elections. We all worked very hard in 1991 and 1992 but the record in the intervening years gave a special edge, a particular energy, to the big push in 1997.

Let me recall very briefly some of the figures from 1991, the reforms we sought, the hopes we had. Glasgow in 1991 had over 42,000 people out of work and in the dole queues. Today the comparable claimant count is just over 20,000. In Scotland as a whole the figure is 113,000, the lowest for 24 years.

There was a lady on the BBC this morning who told me that we were squeezing the life out of manufacturing industry, and I would be the first to recognise the problems of the euro and the pound, but can I just perhaps, as a corrective, remind you that when the Bank of Scotland’s monthly report came out recently for August they were recording the 18th month consecutively in which manufacturing output in Scotland had risen, and they recorded also that the pace was accelerating. In the service sector it was 22 months in a row.

In 1991 we were hoping for and working for what we saw as essential – a statutory minimum wage, a right to recognition in the workplace, strengthened maternity rights, parental rights, the Social Chapter signed and honoured. Because of the disappointment of that 1992 election we had to wait six long years, but every one of these hopes has been realised.

Argument will continue, argument about how we implement, how we build, but let us not forget the very real progress that has been made. We wanted a Government then that would create steady growth, control inflation and fight for ordinary working families, and that is why we now have the Working Families Tax Credit, the 10p tax band, the New Deal which has reduced youth unemployment in this City by nearly 70%, giving hope, creating opportunity for those who were forgotten in the Tory years.

We wanted a Government determined to invest in the industries that reached out to the future and sustained those who have been traditionally with us. That is why, six years later, there are 300 software firms in this City of Glasgow. We needed, above all, a Government that was committed to public services and prepared to build the economic base which allowed progress that could be sustained.

In the next three years the Scottish Executive will have, in broad terms, £ 1 billion, £ 2 billion and £ 3 billion added cumulatively to this year’s baseline. That will make a difference: it will make a difference to the unions, it will make a difference to their members and to those who depend on that vital service.

I do not hide from you that there will be difficult choices even in that situation. I notice that over the last day or two the City Council here, very understandably, has been pressing for a very important extension of the motorway box in Glasgow – seven miles, £ 300 million. At the same time they are asking for a general lift in services; at the same time they are pointing understandably to the concern about pay. We understand these problems. We will have to take those hard choices but I can tell you that we will do it always with the interests of those who depend upon services, those who provide those services, very much in mind.

We are not parties, for example, to pay negotiations but we are interested in the future. We want to look carefully at how we can help in the future and, of course, this expenditure round starts in the year 2001/2. We want to encourage stability. We want, in fact, to encourage it if we can, by introducing 3-year budgets, opportunities for planning ahead to the advantage of both the workforce who deliver the services and the Council who finance and plan them, and we want help with the modernisation of local government and its methods.

Our wish will be to help support and expand essential services, choices again I say to be made, opportunities for children, working families. We have obviously to pay attention and to remember the pensioners. The minimum income guarantee has helped some of the poorest pensioners in this land, it has perhaps been undervalued, but there is a great deal more to be done. We need to support people in the community. We must give them the ability to keep in touch with family and friends, but I say to you that when we look at expenditure the test will be how we can raise the standard of service for those in care, how we can help across the range those in need of that help as a result of the advancing years.

In 1991 we wanted, above all, a Scottish Parliament. Now it is in place, playing its part and strengthening democracy in this country. The unions here in Scotland, but also in the rest of the United Kingdom, argued and fought for that. I am grateful for that support. I am very conscious of the price that would be paid if we in any way distanced ourselves from the market that matters to the working people of Scotland, and that market is the rest of the United Kingdom where we sell more of our goods and services than we do to the rest of the world.

Probably not all of you will be aware of the fact that the Nationalists, the SNP, are holding a leadership contest at the moment. There was an opinion poll this week which suggested a clear majority of Scots had no opinion, no view, as to who should win that particular contest. A majority of SNP voters expressed the view that they would not see an independent Scotland in their lifetime. It is, I tell you, a Party that is now based on opportunism, which will promise anything to anyone.

In a short time – and I do not need to remind anyone in this hall – we will face another Westminster election, another challenge. I look forward to it. There will be fundamental issues, great questions to settle. The Tories, in a sense, have been honest. They have made it absolutely clear that they will cut back dramatically, given a chance, the programme announced by Gordon Brown for the next three years of public spending. You can argue on the edges over the figures, but it is certain now that the cuts outlined by Mr Hague would be deep, painful, damaging, job-destroying. Fortunately, I do not believe for a moment that he will have a chance to implement these. Some of you may remember, or have read at some point, of Austin Chamberlain. Austin Chamberlain is the only person to have led the Conservative Party in the House of Commons and never been Prime Minister. I can predict, I think with some confidence, that Mr Hague will deprive him of that particular distinction.

Under the Tories, unemployment and interest rates were high, job creation and business confidence were at all-time lows, and our country was viewed around the world as facing a future of economic decline – pensioners and lone parents struggling and failing to keep pace with ever-mounting inflation, ever-rising prices, working families doing their best to make ends meet and finding it difficult, youngsters unable to secure work and trade unions under seige and treated as the enemy within Government. All of that is now changing and we must make sure that it continues to change as we build for a tolerant and successful community.

There is still much to be done, the Party knows it – and so I suspect does everyone in this hall – but we must not forget what has been achieved, and achieved by standing together, working together in a common cause.

As the Labour First Minister in a Labour-led administration, I welcome you to the City. I wish you every success this week and, equally important, every success in the future. As a Glaswegian I hope, and indeed know, that you will enjoy your time in this great City. Thank you.

Donald Dewar – 1999 Speech at Opening of the Scottish Parliament


Below is the text of the speech made by Donald Dewar on the Opening of the new Scottish Parliament on 1st July 1999.

Your Majesty, on behalf of the people of Scotland, I thank you for the gift of the Mace.

This is a symbol of the great democratic tradition from which we draw our inspiration and our strength. At its head are inscribed the opening words of our founding statute: `There shall be a Scottish Parliament’.

Through long years, those words were first a hope, then a belief, then a promise. Now they are a reality.

This is indeed a moment anchored in our history. Today, we reach back through the long haul to win this Parliament, to the struggles of those who brought democracy to Scotland, to that other Parliament dissolved in controversy over 300 years ago.

Today, we look forward to the time when this moment will be seen as a turning point: the day when democracy was renewed in Scotland, when we revitalised our place in this our United Kingdom.

This is about more than our politics and our laws. This is about who we are, how we carry ourselves.

In the quiet moments today, we might hear some echoes from the past: the shouts of the welder in the din of the great Clyde shipyard; the speak of the Mearns, rooted in the land; the discourse of the Enlightenment, when Edinburgh and Glasgow were a light held to the intellectual light of Europe; the wild cry of the Great Pipe; and back to the distant noise of the battles of the days of Bruce and Wallace.

The past is part of us, part of every one of us and we respect that, but today there is a new voice in the land, the voice of a democratic Parliament. A voice to shape Scotland, a voice above all for the future.

Walter Scott wrote that only a man with soul so dead could have no sense, no feel for his native land. For me, and I suspect also for every Scot, today is a proud moment: a new stage of the journey begun long ago and which has no end. This is a proud day for all of us.

A Scottish Parliament, not an end: a means to greater ends. And those, too, are part of our Mace. Woven into its symbolic thistles are these four words: `Wisdom. Justice. Compassion. Integrity’.

Burns would have understood that. We have just heard – beautifully sung – one of his most enduring works. And that half of the song is a very Scottish conviction: that honesty and simple dignity are priceless virtues, not imparted by rank or birth or privilege but part of the soul.

Burns believed that sense and worth ultimately prevail. He believed that was the core of politics and that without it, our profession is inevitably impoverished.

Wisdom, justice, compassion, integrity; timeless values. Honourable aspirations for this new forum of democracy born on the cusp of a new century.

We are fallible, we all know that. We will make mistakes. But I hope and I believe we will never lose sight of what brought us here: the striving to do right by the people of Scotland; to respect their priorities; to better their lot; and to contribute to the common weal.

I look forward to the days ahead and I know there will be many of them when this chamber will sound with debate, argument and passion. When men and women from all over Scotland will meet to work together for a future built on the first principles of social justice.

But today, we pause and reflect. It is a rare privilege in an old nation to open a new Parliament. Today is and must be a celebration of the principles, the traditions, the democratic imperative which has brought us to this point and will sustain us in the future.

Donald Dewar – 1999 Speech after Winning Glasgow Anniesland


Below is the text of the speech made by Donald Dewar after winning the seat of Glasgow Anniesland in the Scottish Parliament on 6th May 1999.

I wish to thank the Returning Officer, members of his staff, stewards, police and the emergency services. I want to thank them for the long hours put in tonight, for the smoothness and efficiency of the count.

It’s been a long night, an historic night in many ways, but this important stage in our country’s story also depends on the work that these services do, and I thank them.

Counting not one but two ballots seems to me, perhaps, to be a cruel and unnatural punishment but I, of course, also recognise there is more in store tomorrow, so I do thank them for their good temper, and for their skill and expertise.

I also want to thank my opponents who fought a very – I was going to say tolerant, but they might resent that – but very civilised contest in the Anniesland seat.

But especially I want to thank my constituents in Anniesland, they have given me great support over the years, they have become friends in that period and I’m very, very grateful.

I also want to thank my election agent John Robertson and his team, and all the Labour party workers. It’s always difficult conducting a campaign, maintaining momentum, maintaining enthusiasm when the candidate inevitably is away for very lengthy periods of time in other parts of Scotland. They did it magnificently, and I must say from all accounts from all the people who have spoken to me, they did an absolutely first class job.

We are starting to see the emergence, ladies and gentleman, a picture of the new Scotland. But it would be premature for me to speculate about its final form – we will need to wait a bit longer and into the morning.

The first six words of the Scotland Act read simply: There shall be a Scottish Parliament – and with those six simple words, Scottish politics are forever changed.

I am proud that my party – and I am proud personally – to be associated with that change. Because of those six simple words voted for tonight, Scotland is a very different place.

Let’s look at this night and see it as a key point in the democratic renewal of the British constitution and its civil institutions, that began with the election of a Labour government in May 1997.

I want to pay tribute to Tony Blair, whose unstinting support was an enormously important part of the process of achieving that Parliament and delivering that Parliament.

I also want to remember my friend, the late John Smith. I think he would have been very proud to see this happening now, see this Parliament elected safely tonight and he would have realised that indeed the central will of the Scottish people was being achieved.

We are on our way to building the sort of new Scotland we have always wanted, for the sort of new Britain we have also wanted.

So let all of us in Scotland begin this morning, after a time for rest and perhaps a time for calculation, and maybe even a time for counting, let us start building the new Scotland – remembering on all sides that civility is not a sign of weakness.

Let us together work for those who have placed their trust in us, the Scottish people.

This is our first democratic Parliament in Scotland for some 300 years, our people have waited for it, our people deserve it, we must give them what they want, we must struggle to deliver their legitimate ambitions, their hopes

I pledge myself to do so and I look forward immensely to the period that lies ahead. Thank you very much for your support, thank you the people of Anniesland.

Donald Dewar – 1966 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons


Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Donald Dewar in the House of Commons on 4th May 1966.

It is with some trepidation that I find myself on my feet at this early stage. Many of my hon. Friends counselled a longer wait, but a maiden speech is an ordeal which does not improve with contemplation and I decided to take my courage in both hands and rely on the traditional tolerance of the Committee.

I am the first Member of the Labour Party to be returned for South Aberdeen, and I suppose it is fair to ask why the people in that area have decided to turn their backs on a well-entrenched Conservative tradition which has been energetically represented for 20 years by my distinguished and in some ways rather formidable predecessor, Lady Tweedsmuir.

I think that the answer is fairly clear. It is that in South Aberdeen, as in many other parts of the country, they were impressed by the priorities and programmes of the last Labour Administration, and particularly in my area by an Administration which could deal energetically with a serious financial crisis and at the same time manage to reduce unemployment and so eliminate that endemic plague, the unemployment spiral dictated by external balance of payments difficulties. It is that in particular which ensured the return to Parliament of myself and many of my hon. Friends with increased majorities. It is because I think that the Budget will continue these sensible and flexible policies which have brought about this increase in prosperity and stability in my part of the world that I welcome the Budget.

I think it is only fair and right that the basis of the taxation system should be broadened. I think it is right that the imbalance which allowed the non-manufacturing sections of the economy to escape their fair share of the burden of taxation should be put right. It is equally right and convenient that the Chancellor’s catchment area should be increased. It is difficult to quarrel with any of these things.

I am impressed with the general engineering of the tax which will bring about a desirable switch in the deployment of labour in this country. I do not think that it will be dramatic, but it will be a trend which we can all welcome. I am very clear in my own mind that the objections coming fierce and fast from the Opposition benches on the subject of hoarding of labour are misplaced and wildly exaggerated. We know that in British industry there are many firms with old-fashioned ideas. We know that there are people who are not interested in the desirable movement towards capital-intensive as distinct from labour-intensive firms, and we all accept that there are people with the old-fashioned idea that one cannot install a machine until the plant it replaces has been written off at a rate of depreciation which is often arbitrary and ill-advised. All these things we accept, but it is a long step from saying this to saying that a marginal supplement for the employment of labour in manufacturing industry will radically encourage this state of affairs. Taking the tax overall, and looking at the employment picture, and the Government’s policy on, say, investment incentives, there is no doubt that the merits of the measure far outweigh what is a very marginal argument against it.

I enjoyed my first Budget, because when I arrived at the House I got the impression that many hon. Members opposite were coming to gloat. They were looking forward to hearing a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer having the unfortunate experience of having once more to flog the old pack horses of the economy, to increase direct taxation, to “have a go” at tobacco, beer, and so on. I got the impression that their smugness—I think that that is a fair term to use—began to turn to dismay as the proceedings wore on and they realised that that was not happening, and their minds were being asked to grapple with something which was new, something which was modern, and which they began dimly to realise was tailor-made to meet the requirements of the British economy.

At the end they were bemused, and some of them have not recovered from the attack and are using the same arguments and the same slogans which they have shouted against every Labour Budget for many years, and the tragedy is that as the ground has shifted, and as the arguments are different, their old slogans are even less appropriate than in the past.

Having said that I welcome the Budget, I must make it clear that as the Member for South Aberdeen I have certain reservations about specific facets of it which it is only fair openly to express. Some of the reservations have been mentioned by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I accept them to some extent, but only to some extent. I am one of the representatives of a city of 180,000 people which is almost entirely dependent on administration and service industries connected with a considerable agricultural hinterland, and although we have two important, though small, shipyards—important in the local sense—whose future we watch over anxiously, and certain pockets of machine tools and paper manufacturing industries in the area, it is basically true that the number of employers who will get the premium can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and it is therefore fair to concede that this tax will be initially unpopular and much misunderstood in my constituency.

The second great pillar and prop of South Aberdeen is tourism, and already we have heard sounds of grumbling discontent from the tourist industry which has been excluded from the Government’s incentives, and I have no doubt that in the near future the discontent and grumbling will increase and will be a considerable embarrassment to Members like myself.

With this I sympathise and must say that I am worried about the tourist industry. In a city like Aberdeen, there will be a temptation to pass on to the customer the increases due to this taxation. If that is done this tourist trade which basically depends on internal tourism with people coming from other parts of Britain to Aberdeen, will become even more vulnerable to the ever-increasing plethora of cheap Continental holidays. I hope that the people in the industry will realise that it is in their interests to try to absorb most of these costs. But, on the other hand, I hope that the Chancellor will be receptive to what I know will be a great deal of pressure from both sides of the House to try to do something to help the tourist trade, particularly in areas like this.

Again, the service industries may also be tempted to pass on the increased costs. I hope that they will not do so, because thanks to the efforts of a Labour Government, the real problem in Aberdeen is not unemployment. The real problem is uncompetitive rewards, and a man in the North-East knows that he can get half as much again for the same job, and the same hours, by going to the Midlands or to the prosperous south of England. The result is that we are an open society in the sense that we can be raided, and are being raided by foraging parties for labour which drain off on enormous amount of the skilled manpower in our part of the country. I.C.I. and Stewarts and Lloyds are two recent examples, and I am worried that people, by unthinkingly passing on these increases in the service industries, will raise costs, even if nothing like as spectacularly as people say, but still significantly so, with the result that the level of wages will be even more uncompetitive.

There is a further danger that employers will use this as an excuse for keeping down the level of wages. If there is one section of the Aberdeen community which deserves criticism it is the industrial and commercial community, which has for too long been willing to accept comfortably low labour costs at the price of continuing local stagnation and emigration. I hope that local employers who will be affected by this tax will carefully examine their profit margins and the situation in which they find themselves before they glibly victimise their customers and ultimately themselves by just raising prices.

It has been said that the answer is to attract manufacturing industries to areas like Aberdeen. This is easily said, and I pay tribute to the great success of the Labour Administration in this field. The fact that I am here is a tribute to that success. The First Secretary reeled off a very lengthy list of such measures this afternoon, and I do not wish to repeat it, because it is familiar to us all. But I feel this will inevitably be a long-term business. It is by no means hopeless to talk about diversifying industry in Aberdeen. We can do it ultimately, but the basic shape of our economy will remain unmodified for a considerable time. Because of that we cannot look for a quick change, and we must face the possibility that this tax will have some unfortunate repercussions in the short term.

This will sound like special pleading, and so it is, but it will be heard not only from people in the north-east of Scotland but in the Highlands, in the Scottish Borders and probably in many parts of England from areas with similar problems. I hope that these pleas will be listened to carefully by the Chancellor. There are the real difficulties for the tourist and also the fishing industry, the status of which I believe is still a matter of discussion in relation to the new tax. I hope that the Chancellor will look at the whole problem of regional development. This new and imaginative tax—this novel weapon in the Chancellor’s armoury—is a great improvement on the old rigid deflationary machinery in terms of flexibility, and it is used at the moment to favour manufacturing as against service industries. It could be used to encourage regional development as against the over-eager growth in more geographically favoured parts of Britain.

The point to grasp is that these two objectives are not incompatible, and it is wrong to try to pretend that we cannot achieve both. I hope that in the near future the Chancellor will listen with sympathy to the plea of the development areas, and see whether he cannot make this kind of concession. We have made enormous progress in areas where there has been traditionally little Labour support, because we have been able to convince the electorate that we stand for a controlled steady and all embracing growth which will benefit all sections of the population. We have an enormous record of achievement in this respect.

While I welcome this enlightened and important tax, which will do something to increase mobility of labour, stimulate productivity and bring economic sanity to this country, I hope that my right hon. Friend will slant it in such a way that it will not interfere with the general trend of Labour policy, which has been to help regions like mine. My right hon. Friend has an enormous amount to his credit. He can increase this by a few minor adjustments in this Budget. I hope he will make the effort and continue to aid, encourage and inspire growth and effort in areas for which he has so rightly done so much in the last two years.

David Davis – 2005 Speech on Crime

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Home Affairs Spokesman, David Davis, at Conservative Central Office on 22nd April 2005.

Yesterday the Home Office announced that violent crime rose by 9 per cent. That’s not just a statistic, as everyone can see from today’s newspapers.

Mr Blair’s complacent response to the rise in violent crime is to say crime is falling and his Home Secretary even believes violent crime is falling.

That attitude is absolutely typical of Mr Blair’s behaviour over the last eight years. Try and manage the issue off the front pages with a blizzard of misleading denials.

Imagine five more years of it. Five more years of a prime minister who says crime is a figment of people’s imaginations, whose answer in his manifesto is to create a national victim network and dream up ‘eye catching initiatives.’

Imagine what our streets will be like five years time, with violent crime rising year after year.

The violence and lawlessness of some of Britain’s inner cities is already spreading to suburbs and market towns across the country. Bookham, Surrey. Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Yorkshire.

Let me tell Mr Blair straight. Life in Britain today is very different outside your security bubble.

Don’t let Mr Blair mislead you with his use of statistics. Burglaries have fallen as more people take steps to protect their property.

But people can’t physically protect themselves in the way they can protect their property and their cars with burglar alarms and immobilisers. A person cannot be immobilised except by locking themselves in their home – and turning the streets over to yobs, drugs dealers and muggers.

Violent crime is rising and Mr Blair has had eight years to stop it.

I would like to hang a placard around his neck with those words that everyone remembers and which propelled him to the leadership of the Labour party – ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.’ Because for Mr Blair, it’s all about what he says, not what he delivers.

Yesterday Mr Blair brushed aside the views of a policeman who asked him, ‘Why do you continually make my job harder by telling the general public that there are more police officers than there has ever been, when for every police officer you have put in the rank and file on the street, you have probably put another four in offices.’

No wonder the figures we are announcing today show the number of police resignations has more than doubled.

It was Charles Clarke who said that ‘the number of people leaving [the police service] may be taken as an indicator of morale’. I agree,

I’ve heard first-hand from police officers whose squads have had their ‘morale sapped’ by the burden of paperwork and who feel that they are ‘tied up in paperwork’.

But then, it is no wonder that they feel like that when you consider that the Home Office is second guessing them at every step, and flooding their working day with paperwork.

The seven minute stop form will take up, if the Home Office’s figures are correct, the equivalent of an astonishing 3,000 man years per annum.

To people who fear walking down their own streets, this is absurd.

They want police on the beat catching criminals, not filling out forms.

Local communities will have control of how their policing works, so that the police pursue the priorities of the local community.

The police need to be accountable to their local communities, not a bureaucracy in Whitehall.

The decline of individual responsibility, the proliferation of so-called “human rights” and this Government’s failure to draw a clear distinction between right and wrong have left Britain powerless in the face of rising crime and disorder.

Drink and drugs are fuelling crime. What has Mr Blair done?

Over the last eight years consumption of alcohol has climbed by 16 per cent, much of that increase driven by the heavy drinking culture.

The number of people cautioned or found guilty for drunkenness has fallen by more than 15 per cent under Labour – down by 10,000 a year.

Labour have failed to deal with binge drinking, and now they want to make it even easier to get drunk 24 hours day.

They have already effectively decriminalised underage drinking.

Over 80 per cent fewer people are dealt with by the police for buying alcohol under the age of 18.

So after eight years, what grand new plans have did they announce yesterday to deal with this problem?

None. Earlier this week we launched our action plan to deal with binge drinking, setting out clearly what I think the solutions are.

They did not include CSOs, although I do think that they have a role to play, they are not the solution.

And they did not include Anti Social Behaviour Orders, which whilst they play a role, are not the solution.

As Theresa has explained drugs are at the root of most crime, and that is something that must be dealt with effectively.

Mr Blair has lost the war on drugs because he doesn’t believe drugs cause crime.

I will fight the war on drugs. That will actually mean something, compared to a Home Secretary who has managed to pledge that he has five top priorities in just five short months in the job.

We have a plan to tackle these problems head on.

First, the key to cutting crime is more police. And that is why when I become Home Secretary I will recruit an extra 5,000 police officers each year.

And once I’ve done that, instead of telling the police how to do their jobs, I’ll let them get on with it.

Second, we’ll cut paperwork. The stop form will go. Police need to be on the streets, not filling forms. That means we can put 3,000 more police on the streets at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Third, we will make police accountable to their local communities and free them from central government bureaucracy, plans and targets.

Fourth, I will end the system that sees criminals being let out of prison before they have served even half of their sentence, criminals that have committed a further 4,500 crimes whilst on the scheme.

A Conservative Government will send a powerful signal that crime does not pay and criminals will be punished.

When people do commit crime then they need to be given a sentence that fits their crime.

Judges will set out minimum and maximum sentences, so that victims know where they stand and criminals will serve their proper sentences.

Fifth, we will build 20,000 more prison places, so that we can take 20,000 more criminals off the streets and stop them committing crime.

All of these measures are tough, but I don’t want to just talk tough.

I will be tough. I won’t forget about the victims of crime as soon as the headlines go away and the dust has settled.

Instead of pursuing headlines, I will relentlessly pursue those members of society who make peoples lives a misery.

A million violent crimes a year is a million too many.

Mr Blair has had eight years. As people watch the news today, they’re entitled to ask: ‘Isn’t that enough time to get a grip on crime?’

If you’ve had enough of Mr Blair’s undelivered promises, his gimmicks and talk, and you are sick of the number of crimes in our communities, then the time has come to say, enough is enough.

On May the 5th you have the chance to send Mr Blair a clear message. You can vote for a Conservative Party that will strike hard at the roots of violent crime and will beat it.

David Davis – 2004 Speech to ACPO

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the then Shadow Home Secretary, to the ACPO Conference held in Birmingham on 12th May 2004.

It gives me great pleasure to address your conference today. May I thank Carol Gustafson for her warm introduction, and ACPO for inviting me to be here today.

I have enjoyed meeting a number of you over the last few months and look forward to our regular dialogue continuing.

Labour’s approach fails to tackle crime and disorder

Conservatives have for many decades been identified instinctively as the party of law and order in Britain.

We are the party that automatically backs the police and the law-abiding majority.

Tony Blair tried to claim that mantle for the Labour Party with his pledge to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.

But after seven years of Labour Government the facts speak for themselves.

Yesterday, David Blunkett admitted that the public ‘remain unconvinced’ that crime is actually falling.

According to the British Crime Survey, most people believe crime is rising.

According to the Recorded Crime Survey, crime is rising.

We all know that neither the British Crime Survey nor the Recorded Crime Survey are 100% reliable. But whilst confidence in the police remains high people feel less safe than ever before.

As a mathematician, a scientist and a manager, numbers have always been my business but you’ll be pleased to know I don’t intend to spend all day debating statistics.

Whatever statistics say about the level of crime, people simply don’t feel safe or secure.

Much of this is caused by an epidemic of anti-social behaviour. Most of you deal with this on a daily basis.

– The mindless vandalism or graffiti caused by teenagers with nothing better do.

– The burnt-out cars abandoned on estates.

– The bins set on fire in city centres.

– The bricks thrown through shop windows.

– The drunkenness and thuggery now commonplace in town centres up and down Britain every weekend of the year.

The number of people reporting these issues as a problem is higher than ever before.

What all these have in common is a breakdown in respect.

Respect for authority, for self-discipline, for self-control and self-restraint.

These problems aren’t confined to people from certain economic, social or cultural backgrounds.

The breakdown in law and order runs wider and deeper than that. Collectively, they are some of the biggest problems facing Britain today.

I believe we should fight back against this breakdown in order. I believe that through concerted effort, the decline can be reversed.

Restoring respect for the authority and the law is not a pipe-dream. It’s not nostalgia.

Unless we believe that the forces of disorder and criminality can be fought back and beaten, what hope is there for civilised society?

Some of you may have seen in the papers earlier this week a story about one of my front bench team, the Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve. His story was not one of heroism, it is not one of bravery or courage. In a way it is a telling sign that it is a story at all because it is simply a story about active citizenship.

For those of who haven’t read about it, let me tell you the story. Dominic was leaving an official dinner and saw a young man vandalising a bus shelter. He went over to tell the youth to stop. He refused. So Dominic made a citizen’s arrest and asked him to wait for the police.

Instead, and unsurprisingly, the man ran off and Dominic gave chase giving the police a running commentary on his mobile phone of their route.

The man was caught, arrested and has served his sentence. Lets hope next time he wants to bash down a bus stop he thinks twice.

But it doesn’t always work out like this.

There’s the story of a train driver who made a citizen’s arrest on a teenager playing chicken on the tracks. The driver made an emergency stop, caught the boy, put him in the train cab and handed him over to the police at the next station. The next thing the train driver knows is that he is being charged with assault because the boy complained that the train driver had been too rough with him.

The court took five minutes to throw the case out.

There’s the story of an actor who made a citizen’s arrest on a youth trespassing in his allotment. The man frog-marched the youth, who was armed with a hammer, down to the police station. He was subsequently hauled through the courts on an assault charge but the jury threw the case out.

And finally there’s the story of a teacher who rescued a colleague from being beaten up by a pupil. He was accused of assault, suspended, then dismissed but subsequently cleared by a tribunal.

Engaging the public in the fight against crime is crucial.

I’m not talking about vigilante-ism or actions on the scale of Tony Martin.

And I don’t expect the public to deal with violent drug dealers.

I am talking about the need to rebalance justice on our streets.

About a culture where people don’t walk on by when a bus shelter is being vandalised;

– where people don’t turn a blind eye towards those who endanger the safety of others;

– or where people don’t step in to help a colleague, friend or stranger from being beaten up.

The police can’t be everywhere all the time.

It shouldn’t be left solely to the police to maintain the standards of behaviour that underpin civilised society – and whose collapse creates the conditions for more serious crime to grow.

There is a role for parents, for families, for schools, and for society at large, to teach and enforce respect for the law.

But we have to ensure that people who actively demand proper behaviour on the streets or in the classroom don’t end up facing the full force of the law themselves.

The public demand that the Crown Prosecution Service behave with a little more common sense and proportion than these cases demonstrate.

It shouldn’t be necessary for me as Home Secretary to legislate to protect those who seek to maintain the peace, but I will if that is the only way to resolve the problem.

Public spaces are not the property of the criminals – they are the property of the community. And while the community must play their part, I will now outline what I believe to be the right approach to give you the maximum freedom to play your part in the fight against crime.

The Conservative Approach

I trust the police.

I believe that the custodians of law and order are NOT politicians.

I believe that the guarantors of peace and tranquillity are NOT civil servants.

We don’t sleep safely at night because of the [police] standards board, or the countless Home Office agencies, or ministerial taskforces.

Criminals aren’t intimidated by the 63 ‘units’, 10 ‘teams’, 6 ‘directorates’, 5 ‘groups’ or 25 other miscellaneous bodies that make up the full panoply of Home Office bureaucracy.

The frontline defences against criminal and anti-social behaviour are the police. The police, backed up by the community.

Jack Straw cut police numbers.

David Blunkett has raised them.

I welcome that.

But there is a long way to go before there are enough police to reclaim the streets for the honest citizen.

I believe we have to give power back to the police. Genuine power. And that demands radical solutions.

40,000 Extra Police

My first commitment to the police is our commitment to resources.

In 2002, my predecessor Oliver Letwin promised to increase police numbers by 40,000, funded out of savings through reform of the asylum system. I repeat that promise to you today.

It’s an honourable promise; it’s an achievable promise; and it is a promise which has caused a row between the Home Secretary who wants to match our pledge and a Chancellor who won’t let him.

Extra police are indispensable to the fight against crime.

In order to achieve real neighbourhood policing, in order to confront and reverse the decline in order, in order to restore respect for authority and the law we need the police to become true custodians of their neighbourhoods.

This will never happen unless there are police on the streets in sufficient numbers.

Local Policing

My second commitment is to get central Government off the back of local policing.

It’s not enough simply to talk about increasing police numbers as if that is the answer. Police officers need real freedom.

A Conservative Government will remove central Government interference in local policing, and put local policing on a sustainable financial footing.

Under our plans, the powers of the Home Secretary to intervene in the day to day running of local policing, other than in a real emergency, or upon the advice of HMI, would come to an end.

We need a different type of Government.

A smaller and a tougher one.

A quieter and a stronger one.

And a more honest government: a better government.

And the way we handle policing will be an example of that.

The police can’t be expected to catch criminals if they are caught in a web of bureaucratic control.

I want a country where criminals are looking over their shoulders, not where police officers worry about civil servants breathing down their neck.

As Home Secretary, I would remove my right to tell Chief Constables what to do.

I would tear up the National Policing Plan.

And I would scrap the litany of pointless, interfering, time-wasting, unfair, and damaging targets that distort your priorities and prevent you from getting on with your job.

But there’s more.

I believe there is a financial aspect to genuine freedom.

A future Conservative Government will not hold local police to ransom by keeping control of the purse strings.

Money from central Government will come in a block grant. The days of ring-fenced funding will come to an end. Police need to be flexible to respond to changing circumstances.

Priorities should be decided at a local level, and funding allocated at a local level.

We will not force police forces to choose between the latest gimmick handed down from Whitehall or increasing the number of bobbies on the beat.

The funding settlement will be transparent and the funding formula will be simpler. The Home Secretary will still decide the overall level of grant, but he will have to be entirely open about the level of grant each police force is receiving. Under our system, there’ll be no fiddled funding for the pet projects of politicians in Westminster.

And finally I can announce today that we will move local funding to a more sustainable basis by ending the current system of annual grants, and moving to a system of three-year budgets.

This will enable police authorities to make strategic planning more effective. And it will end the farcical routine of short-term initiatives that only last a year or two before the funding dries up.

Local accountability

My vision for policing is genuine local accountability.

Police accountability is crucial to the effectiveness of local policing.

Either police are accountable upwards – to Whitehall. Or they are accountable downwards – to the people they serve. David Blunkett wants the police to look upwards to Whitehall. I want the police to look towards the people they serve and protect.

This is the most radical part of our proposals.

To ensure the police and the public share the same priorities, to create a genuine partnership between the police and the public, we intend to establish directly elected police boards for each and every police force in England and Wales.

Powers currently exercised by the Home Office over local policing will be transferred to these police boards.

At the moment, we envisage people being elected to serve four-year terms, with fifty per cent being elected every two years.

We also foresee a role for magistrates on the board.

By giving people greater control over the policing of their neighbourhoods, we can begin to restore the spirit of active citizenship to modern Britain. It will also encourage a stronger interest in, and support for, local police forces.


One of the first duties of any Government is to uphold the rule of law. The final arbitrator of success in this is not the Office for National Statistics. It is not the British Crime Survey. It is certainly not the Home Office. It is the British public and they believe the Government is failing.

Unfairly, the police bear the brunt of the public’s frustration at the rise in crime, the failure to catch criminals, and the failure of the courts to hand down appropriate sentences.

It is unfair, because the police are fighting crime with their hands tied behind their back. Not only are centrally imposed bureaucracy and paperwork a continued problem for the police – despite David Blunkett’s much vaunted bureaucracy busters. The real problem is that police are accountable to civil servants rather than people on the ground.

The programme I have set before you today – 40,000 extra police, freedom from Whitehall, longer-term financial stability, and real local accountability – will set in place the most radical change in policing for a generation.

These changes are crucial and controversial – as the most radical changes often are.

The alternative is more of the same – the same, endless struggle against crime and anti-social behaviour, and the same endless suffocating bureaucracy.

The choice is clear – professional and operational freedom to tackle crime – or micro-management from the man in Whitehall.

One will tackle crime. One will not. It is a choice whose importance for the future of the ordinary citizen of our country cannot be over-estimated. It is a choice which the people in this Hall will play the crucial, the pivotal, role.