Tessa Jowell – 2003 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, at the 2003 Labour Conference in Bournemouth on 29th September 2003.

When I ask my South London constituents what would improve the quality of their lives their list is long and varied.

They talk to me about jobs and pensions, freedom from fear, safer streets, more for young people to do.

But perhaps most touching of all is the young mum I know who is just starting a college access course so that her young daughter could have greater ambitions than she had ever had for herself.

So that her dreams can be within her reach, as they have never been for her mother.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to those who dream is the confidence and the means to have a go.

Achieving your best is intensely personal, but you cannot achieve it on your own.

Each of us, according to our own tastes, enriches our own life, with music, drama, art, books and sport.

And we do that with our families, teachers, coaches, friends, the community around us, to help us learn and understand.

So, when we talk about the importance of culture, we must also accept the responsibility to give everyone the opportunities that the few take for granted.

And when we talk of achievement, when we think of dreams coming true, nothing beats the Olympic Games.

Earlier this year we decided to bid for the Olympics and Para-Olympics to come to London in 2012, so let’s just pause to look at a few of the reasons why……

And one of those stars Steve Cram, is with us today and will address Conference in a few minutes.

We are bidding for the Olympics because they will showcase Britain as a can-do nation.

They will galvanise the regeneration of London’s East End.

They will give sport in Britain its biggest ever boost.

That’s why our Labour Government – with the support of the other political parties – has joined with the Mayor of London and the British Olympic Association to make this Bid.

Barbara Cassani, the Chair of the Bid, now has her team assembled and things are really moving.

This will be a bid to rival the best.  And we are backing it 100%.

Young people starting in secondary school now can aspire to be champions in 2012.

But we want everyone to feel that sport can be a vital part of their lives, regardless of their talent.

To enjoy sport for its own sake.

To compete and to excel.

And because a good sport policy is also a good education policy, a good health policy and good anti-crime policy.

This is not just talk.

We are putting in place the foundations in schools and communities, and building the ladder of opportunity to take the talented, whatever their background, as high as they can go:

– Reviving school sport, with 400 specialist sport colleges, and 3,000 sport co-ordinators, bringing competitive sport back into our schools.

– Boosting grassroots sport, first with £750 million of Lottery money for school and community facilities announced by Tony Blair three years ago, then with a further £100m for community sport halls announced this summer, and just three weeks ago the decision to give community amateur sports clubs mandatory rate relief.

– Bringing the best artists and creative talents into some of the most deprived schools in the country in our Creative Partnerships.

– Developing summer play schemes, with sport, music, dance and theatre helping our young people feel the pride that comes from learning new skills.

I’m proud that we brought back free entry to our museums, that the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House have brought in new audiences by cutting their ticket prices.

The Baltic Gallery in Gateshead packs in local people and tourists alike, free to all.

But as we know, equality of opportunity is a fine phrase for those who already have the will to succeed.

But for many, success in any field remains just a dream.

Our mission is to enable those who today can only dream, to have the chance to achieve their very best tomorrow.

To feel they were given a chance and the means to grab it.

Of course our Party exists to deliver prosperity, education, and good health for the many and not just the few, but we also exist to feed the imagination of the many as well.

It’s only fair that everyone gets the chance to enjoy the finest of music, of theatre, of dance, of film.

It’s only fair that everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy the sports of their choice.

Throughout Britain our towns and cities are increasingly recognising just what the arts and sport can do for their people, for their environments and for their economies.

Great cities, like Newcastle, Glasgow, Gateshead, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff, Leeds.

Wonderful cities, finding the vigour of their 19th Century boom years in the 21st Century’s creative industries.

Liverpool will buzz with excitement and its economy will get a terrific lift as European Capital of Culture.

Because cities that embrace the arts, sports, fine buildings, libraries and galleries, and yes, bars and clubs and sports venues, are cities worth living in.

And worth businesses moving to.

And in every part of Britain the Lottery is the cultural and sporting venture capital of our communities.

– The Eden Centre, transforming the Cornish economy.

– The Commonwealth Games legacy transforming East Manchester.

– The Laban Centre in Deptford.

– The Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

Every constituency has received at least 50 Lottery awards.

From Village Halls to the Deep in Hull.

From play for children to plays at the National Theatre, the Lottery touches every community, every age group, every culture in the country.

This work goes on.

Take just one example, I’ve asked the New Opportunities Fund to talk to War Veterans groups about how their members might want to mark the 60th Anniversary of the most remarkable 12 months in our history, from D-Day to the Fall of Berlin.

I want to ask them how they would like their history remembered.

Projects that make their memories available to today’s young people.

That help us understand how today’s world was created by the sacrifices of a generation now in their 80s.

This is the Lottery people love.  They know that Lottery money is the people’s money, not politicians’ money.

That investment is building communities, changing lives, respecting differences, opening new doors.

There are many dividing lines between this Labour Government and the Tory alternative.

Under the Tories the Lottery neglected the most deprived areas and the most desperate communities.  We changed that.

The Tories cut investment in sport and the arts.  We changed that.

The Tories forced the sale of school playing fields.  We changed that too.

Because markets fulfil the demand of those who can pay, not the needs of those who can only dream.

Because equality of opportunity without a place for those who have never dared to aspire, is just a highway for the privileged.

Opening that highway to all is the task before us: it’s not only in health, education, transport and welfare that we must rise to the challenge of change, but in bringing real opportunity to those with talent wherever they may be.

And finally there is another message from the Olympic debate.

When we asked people whether they wanted us to bid, they made one thing very clear, they wanted us to give it a go.

They would forgive us for trying even if we didn’t win.

They understand the challenge.

But people want the best for Britain, and the best for their families.

They expect us to set the toughest targets and do our damndest to reach them.

But they won’t forgive us if we won’t even try.