Bernard Jenkin – 2000 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Bernard Jenkin to the 2000 Conservative Party Conference on 3 October 2000.

The demonstrations last month proved that Labour is out of touch.

The frustration has been building up for years.

You think that your car is to get you to work, or to visit the family, or to do the shopping.

But it’s not.

Under Labour, the most important job your car does is to siphon money out of your bank account and over to the Chancellor.

Labour’s taxes are such an injustice.

Petrol tax is a regressive tax.

It hits the poor the hardest.

For example, a disabled pensioner in my constituency needs her car to get to the shops and to see her friends.

She used to spend £10 per week on petrol.

Now it costs £20.

This is just one rural pensioner who is worse off under Labour – one of millions.

And as the pressure has mounted, Labour has simply become more devious.

In the last Budget, Gordon Brown said he was putting petrol tax and pensions up by the rate of inflation.

What he didn’t tell you was that he was using two different rates of inflation.

So he put pensions up by just 1.1% – but hiked fuel tax by three times that.

He said, he could only give pensioners an extra 75p a week, but he took away all of that and more with his fuel taxes.

Labour gives with one hand and takes away with another.

And another, and another.

People have been driven to distraction by this stealth taxing government.

Driven to do things they never imagined they would do.

The government calls the protests ‘blockades’.

But there were no blockades.

The people who protested against the government last month were not the trotskyites, communists, militants and anarchists that Jack Straw marched with in his youth.

They were decent, hardworking people.

People with responsibilities, businesses, customers, overdrafts, employees and families to support.

They were supported by a spontaneous groundswell of public feeling.

What an indictment of British democracy under Labour!

Three years of Labour has pushed the British people to breaking point.

Labour had no right to raise taxes.

They have no mandate.

Mr Blair promised no new taxes.

Democracy should be about government by consent.

But Labour is about taxation without representation.

That’s why the protests were so popular.

These protests rumbled Labour’s tax scam.

These protests showed that the British people will not stand for it.

These protests exposed Mr Blair, in the face of a real crisis, as weak and vacillating.

Labour cannot face the truth.

Oh, he could apologise for the Dome.

He could apologise for the Ecclestone affair.

But he can’t apologise for this.

Because his stealth tax deceit goes to the heart of his whole political strategy.

And I say now to everyone who is angry about fuel tax.

William Hague and the Conservative Party are the champions of your cause.

We will cut fuel tax.

So, put your faith in the ballot box and not the barricades!

Don’t get angry. Get even!

Labour failures: the missed opportunity

So what has John Prescott actually done in the last three years?

He put a bus lane on the M4 so that the New Labour elite could whizz past the queues.

He took an environmentally friendly car for a spin, and then crashed it.

At last year’s Labour conference here in Bournemouth, he was driven 200 yards from the Highcliff to here, so that he could tell us to use our cars less.

And so it goes on.

But while Prescott gaffes, everyone else must suffer.

As rural post offices and banks close, more and more people who cannot afford cars are being left stranded.

Everyday misery. That’s Labour’s record.

Last month in London, 2000 Central Line passengers were stuck, stifling in dark tunnels for more than two hours.

Everyday misery. That’s Labour’s record.

Pity the millions stuck in traffic jams every day!

Pity the towns and villages, choked with traffic, still waiting for a bypass.

Pity the haulage firms going bust.

Everyday misery. That’s Labour’s record.

The 10 year plan

And after three years of misery, John Prescott now has the nerve to stand up and say ‘I’ve got a ten year transport plan’.

Suddenly he is promising billions but do you believe him?

And hardly anything would happen until after the next TWO general elections.

Talk about post-dated cheques!

What does he take us for?

The words, ‘ten year transport plan’ should enter the same lexicon as ‘the dog ate my homework’, and ‘the Dome will be a great success’.

This is a ten year plan from a one term government that can’t see further than tomorrow’s headlines.

A broken policy that follows broken promises proposed by a broken-backed Secretary of State.

Last year he was asked whether the job might be a bit too big for one person.

Plucky John replied: ‘No, because I’m Superman’.


Superman didn’t need two Jags and a helicopter to get from A to B.

Mind you, he’s the only comic strip minister who breaks his promises, faster than a speeding bullet.

In 1997, he promised there would be far fewer journeys by car.

Well, John, if you don’t know already, short of a fuel crisis, you’ve failed.

Socialists always think they can change human nature.

Well there’s only one way they have succeeded.

Today, every nine seconds, the average healthy man now thinks about petrol tax.

How much it costs. Where will it end?

Under Labour, we’ll soon all have to take our driving tests on foot.

The sad reality is that by the end of this Parliament, John Prescott will have precisely nothing to show for his four years in office.

And over the next ten years, Labour plans to raise at least £423 billion in taxes from the motorist.

That’s over £18,000 per household.

You could buy one of John Prescott’s Jags for that, but you couldn’t afford to run it!

The Conservatives made the car a privilege for the many and not just the few.

The car and public transport are not enemies or opposites.

We need them both.

We need more of them both.

There’s no point in investing billions more in the railways if you miss your train because you’re stuck in a traffic jam.

Few of us have train stations or bus stops outside our front door.

So let’s get rid of Labour’s anti-car ideology.

Conservative Transport Policy

The next Conservative government will dump all the dogma.

We will ditch the jargon.

We believe in Britain.

So, we will simply get on with the job.

On day one of the next Conservative government, we will abolish Labour’s Integrated Transport Commission.

That will save millions by reducing bureaucracy and waste.

We believe in a prosperous Britain.

So we want Britain’s lifeblood arteries – our roads – to flow.

We will immediately bring forward the vital road improvements to get unsuitable traffic off unsuitable roads.

We believe in a cleaner and greener Britain.

So we want to remove through traffic from towns and villages.

You use less fuel if you don’t have to sit in traffic jams.

We will also reduce congestion by charging companies who dig up the road.

We believe road users deserve better.

So over all of this we shall set up a new Roads Inspectorate.

This will set standards for local councils and the Highways Agency to meet.

It will demand action on poor roads, dangerous roads or where roads cause environmental problems.

Conservatives also believe in Britain’s railways.

Labour inherited the start of our railway renaissance – liberated from state control.

But we are still waiting for stage two.

We propose measures to cut standing on cramped trains;

And to cut queuing for your ticket.

And to increase trains on Sundays.

And we believe in freight on rail.

The rail freight renaissance was started by privatisation.

Believing in Britain means putting the passenger and the freight customer first.

Not just on rail, but across all our transport networks.

And, of course, our commitment to cut 14 pence off a gallon of petrol is just a first step.

Because we are ambitious for Britain we will not treat motorists as some sort of revenue tap.

We believe in honesty in taxation.

So we want petrol stations to display just how much of what you are paying is tax.

We also believe in British business, and we need the haulage industry.

So we will introduce the BRIT disc.

So that foreign trucks will have to pay for using Britain’s roads.

We will use that money to cut the punitive tax on British trucks so they can compete with Europe.

But I give you one supreme pledge.

Our first day in government – and every day – will be about safety.

This week is the anniversary of the terrible Paddington rail crash.

The shock of that tragedy hangs heavy in the memory.

I pledge eternal vigilance on safety.

We have proposed to the Paddington Inquiry a new rail safety regime.

For the first time, there should be specific rail safety legislation – like there is in aviation.

There should be a new National Rail Regulator, with responsibility for performance and safety;

And a new independent rail accident investigation branch of the DETR.

There is no reason why privatised railways should not be every bit as safe as our privatised airlines and airports.

And would that our roads were as safe as the railways.

We will establish a Road Casualty Investigation body, to look into the causes of road accidents.

If you lose someone you love in a road accident, you want to know why it happened and what will be done to stop it happening again.

More than 3,000 people die each year on our roads.

That must change.

There is far more to road safety than just speed humps and cameras.

The government needs a proper, factual and statistical basis for road safety policy.

That will enable us to set the right road safety priorities, to reduce death and injury as effectively as possible.

It can be done without demonising the car, because we believe in the good sense and humanity of the vast majority of the British people.

That’s believing in Britain.


Mr Chairman, conference.

Millions of people every day make millions of transport choices.

People want choice.

Conservative governments increase choice.

That’s why people are beginning to feel they want a new Conservative government.

That’s why a new Conservative government, under William Hague, will get the best for Britain, because we believe in the full potential of what British people can achieve.

Last, week we saw the Labour party on the run.

Mr Blair was blustering like a magician whose tricks have failed to deceive.

We are making Labour sweat!

And look at Mr Prescott’s contorted face!

Conservatives believe in Britain, because we are ambitious for our country.

We believe in a Britain, whose transport networks should be the envy of the world.

A Britain where the opportunity to travel is for the many and not the few.

A Britain where the passenger and the road user come first.

A Britain where everyone shares in the benefits of prosperity.

A Britain strong, independent and free.

A Britain, whose government believes in Britain.

And the Conservatives, under William Hague, are ready to be that government.