We believe that wealth creation is not the exclusive preserve of a privileged few but requires – indeed it depends upon – the active involvement of the whole community. We reject the absurd double standard which encourages massive rewards for those at the top whilst everyone else has to suffer pay cuts, longer hours, and fewer and fewer employment rights.
John Smith Full Speech
Leader’s speech, Brighton 1993
John Smith (Labour)
Unusually for a post-imperial speech this one begins by addressing – at some length – international issues. But then, a lot had been going on in international politics. Two weeks before the conference – on 13 September – the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, had agreed a peace deal in Washington. In South Africa, apartheid was finally over and the nation looked forward to its first democratic election in April 1994. Meanwhile, in Europe, the war in Bosnia continued to rage, and the fallout from the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe was spreading.
Smith uses a discussion of these to remind the audience of the internationalist dimensions of the Labour Party but also to suggest (in a way that his successor, Tony Blair, would do more explicitly) that change abroad heralds change at home. Nevertheless the choice is slightly odd. Having been elected as the party of economic stability and competence in April of 1992, the Conservative government had presided, in the autumn of that year, over a chaotic exchange-rate crisis of its own making, that would tarnish its image for over a decade to come.
Smith does concentrate to an unusual degree on economic and industrial policy (he had been Shadow Chancellor prior to his election as leader) and employs a rhetorical division between, as it were, appearance and reality, Tories aligned to the former and Labour to the latter. Here he was helped by instability within the Conservative Party, and by an unfortunate mistake on the part of John Major. In July of that year, unaware that cameras and tapes were still rolling, Major had been recorded referring to his cabinet colleagues as ‘bastards’, and making other remarks critical of his party.
In pursuing the opposition between the appearance and the reality Smith finds some neat antitheses:
“Today I offer the British people a better way and a clear choice: a choice between Labour’s high skill, high tech, high wage economy, and John Major’s dead-beat, sweatshop, bargain basement Britain; a choice between Labour’s opportunity society which invests, which educates and which cares, and the sad reality of neglect, division, and rising crime that is Tory Britain today; a choice between Labour’s commitment to democratic renewal, rights, and citizenship, and John Major’s centralised, secretive and shabby Government”.
Note here the symmetrical use of three part lists. There also interesting passages expressing clear rejection of the free-market emphasis of the Tories and making the case for public service, themes that would fade from Labour Party conferences speeches in the subsequent fifteen years. However the speech as a whole seems lacking in unity, perhaps reflecting the fact that, early on in the election cycle Labour is still adapting and reforming. This speech was Smith’s last to his party’s conference. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack on May 11th the following year, shortly after delivering a speech that included the memorable line: "The opportunity to serve our country - that is all we ask".
Tony, comrades and friends, there can surely be no one at our Conference today who was not profoundly moved – and indeed inspired – by the historic event which occurred in Washington earlier this month. The Labour Prime Minister of Israel and the leader of the PLO shook hands – a gesture of peace and reconciliation which few would have dared to hope for even a short time ago.
Let us today salute the courage and vision of two men who dared to take risks for peace – Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. And let us also acknowledge the patient and dedicated mediation – so vital to the success of these negotiations – of our colleagues in the Labour Government of Norway.
And, as at long last, we witness the end of the inhuman system of apartheid in South Africa, we applaud all those in that country who are striving for peace and democracy. To Nelson Mandela and the ANC we send from this Labour Conference our warmest good wishes. And more than that, in preparation for next April’s historic elections, the Labour Party pledges every help we can give to ensure that those elections will be democratic, will be free, and will be fair.
We are truly living at a time of momentous change: a time of great opportunity; a time when it is surely right to hope for a new world of peace and of progress. But here in our own continent of Europe, the optimism generated by the end of the Cold War has been overtaken by new uncertainties. The transition to democracy was bound to be risky, long and hard – as recent events in Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union show only too clearly.
And of course, we have witnessed the tragedy and the despair of the war in Bosnia. The horrors of so-called ethnic cleansing are a terrible reminder of the darkest period in Europe’s history. And who can doubt that both Europe and the world community should have acted far more decisively to prevent the escalation of the conflict and to secure a peaceful solution?
But instead, governments have held back, and no one has been prepared to take risks for peace. Sanctions against Serbia were too little and too late. The international community has given the UN an almost impossible task, with neither the resources nor the commitment necessary for effective peacekeeping or humanitarian relief. Surely, there has never been a time when an effective UN mattered so much: a time when clear vision and bold leadership were so sorely needed to shape our future.
The momentous events in the Middle East and in South Africa have shown us what can be achieved if we are prepared to take risks for the things we believe in.
The Labour Party has a proud history of international action. The post-war Labour Government was a key architect of the institutions of the United Nations. Now, in a new era, it falls to our generation to provide new leadership and to strive for a new vision of peace, democracy, and economic justice. In this new world of movement and change, our commitment to a strong United Nations must be the foundation stone of our foreign policy. We must maintain the momentum of disarmament, both nuclear and conventional. We must work to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and agree a comprehensive test ban treaty.
And, having seen the divisions between East and West start to fade into history, it must now be our purpose to end the cruel division between North and South. We must set a new agenda of international economic justice that can release millions of people in the developing world from their lives of debt, disease and poverty. And we must also face the new challenge to the security of our planet, protecting and enhancing the world environment, in the recognition that we are the sole guardians of a world we have borrowed from future generations.
The values that propel the Labour Party’s international ambition – our determined commitment to build a better world – are needed today as never before. And these same values are needed as never before in Britain, too. Because there can be no doubt that this country has been damaged and diminished by fourteen years of Conservative rule: years in which the extraordinary bounty of North Sea Oil offered us an unprecedented opportunity. We had the opportunity to rebuild, to re-equip and to restore the strength and vitality of a country that once was famed as the workshop of the world. But instead of seizing that opportunity, it has been thrown away. These have been fourteen years of waste, years of neglect, years of decline. Fourteen years of casino economics – a speculators’ paradise – have plunged British industry into two record-breaking recessions with an inflationary boom in between.
And what has been the result? Economic growth lower than in the 1960s and the 1970s; investment in manufacturing – the vital wealth creator of our economy lower than in 1979; a multi-billion pound deficit in both our public finances and our overseas trade; record levels of homelessness; record levels of crime; a gap between rich and poor wider than in Victorian times and, the most tragic relic of all of these fourteen Tory years, officially nearly three million people in this country without work.
These are the facts of fourteen years of Conservative rule. These are the facts that nobody can contest: the facts that mock the Tory hype and propaganda. These are the facts that explode their so-called economic miracle: the so-called Thatcher revolution of which John Major claimed to be so proud when he was her Chief Secretary and then her Chancellor. ‘An astonishing economic transformation,’ were the very words he used to describe those fourteen years.
But I doubt whether we shall hear very much more about that from the lips of Mr Major. For what did he say in a revealing interlude between TV, interviews a few weeks ago? What confidence did he share with Michael Brunson of ITN, unaware that his words were being recorded? What was it he said about his own Party? How did he describe them? ‘A Party,’ he said, ‘Still harking back to a golden age that never was.’
They, the poor fools, still believed their own propaganda. But now we know that he, John Major, never ever believed it. ‘A golden age that never was’: six words that crystallise the Prime Minister’s view of the Conservative Government’s dismal record in office.
But I do not think. I. should be too hard on John Major. He is beginning to understand what his Party is made of. He has discovered that members of his Cabinet – let me put this more delicately than he does himself – are of doubtful parentage. And at long last he has realised that many of his back-benchers are barmy. I really do not know why it took him so long – we have been trying to tell him that for years.
Still, sorting out the barmies on the back benches is really a matter for internal Tory debate. It is the bunglers that the rest of us have to worry about. But I gather John Major has decided to take a fresh look at employment rights. He is finding out what it is like to be at the mercy of a particularly ruthless employer – the Conservative Party. Perhaps even at this late stage he may decide that the Social Charter is a good thing after all, because we can all see the Tory vultures circling above Downing Street. The threat of another unseemly dismissal is hanging in the air.
Mr Major’s Cabinet colleagues – you know the ones I mean, let us call them the B-team – are busy behind the scenes sharpening the knives and jostling for position. Only the other weekend the new Chancellor, Mr Clarke, cheerfully swinging his six pack, tells the BBC that the Government is still in a hole. What a helpful remark that was. With Cabinet friends like him, who needs barmies?
And then, Norman Fowler – apparently a friend of the Prime Minister – sends the poor man on a Central Office suicide mission; a morale-boosting tour of the Tory constituencies. Mental cruelty on this scale tells you all you need to know about the modern Conservative Party.
But let me say this to the Tory Party and to the men in grey suits who are even now preparing to hand Mr Major his P45: it is the people who should decide who runs this country. No change of personnel at the top will alter the views of the British people. No night, of the long knives will stem the tide of disgust that has swept through this country. It makes no difference who leads this clapped out Government: the people will never trust the Conservatives again.
Faced with the chronic failure of this discredited Government, people in Britain today are angry: not just disappointed, not just disillusioned, but angry. They are angry at the state of Britain; angry at the total absence of leadership; angry at the absence of vision; angry at the hypocrisy and double standards; and they are angry at the incessant incompetence of a Government they no longer respect and increasingly despise. And are they not – and are we not – entitled to be angry: angry at the misery of mass unemployment; angry at the cruel denial of opportunity to our young people; angry at the callous acceptance of injustice; angry at Government without purpose, and politics without principle?
Today I offer the British people a better way and a clear choice: a choice between Labour’s high skill, high tech, high wage economy, and John Major’s dead-beat, sweatshop, bargain basement Britain; a choice between Labour’s opportunity society which invests, which educates and which cares, and the sad reality of neglect, division, and rising crime that is Tory Britain today; a choice between Labour’s commitment to democratic renewal, rights, and citizenship, and John Major’s centralised, secretive and shabby Government.
If proof were needed of the nature of the choices, let me remind you of the advertisement placed in the German press by our own Government earlier this year. It was designed, apparently, to attract foreign investment to Britain. It had one selling point – cheap labour. There was no mention of the skills and talents of our workforce; no reference to our history of innovation; no pride in our great engineering expertise – just cheap labour.
That advert disgusted me. I was ashamed of its low ambition for our people. And, like them, I was appalled to see Britain sold so cheap. But nothing reveals more clearly the true nature of Conservative economic policy and the choice that Labour offers instead. For Britain can never succeed as a low skilled, low wage economy. Britain will only succeed if we build – as we know we can – a high quality workforce with the talent, the drive and the ambition to match and to beat the best in the world.
What Labour stands for is investment: long term investment in the productive capacity of our economy; investment in people and their skills; investment in technology and innovation; investment in our regions and in the infrastructure that underpins our nation’s prosperity. Ours is a strategy that looks to the future. It is a strategy that embraces the changes taking place in the industrial world: a strategy for a modern labour force, where women are equal partners both at home and at work. And it is a strategy that puts the skills and the talents of all our people at the very heart of our economic programme.
We believe that wealth creation is not the exclusive preserve of a privileged few but requires – indeed it depends upon – the active involvement of the whole community. We reject the absurd double standard which encourages massive rewards for those at the top whilst everyone else has to suffer pay cuts, longer hours, and fewer and fewer employment rights.
It is the old Tory trick – one special rule for their elite, another for all the rest. And just look at this double standard at work. The highest paid director of the East Midlands privatised electricity company will receive £226,000 this year, an increase over two years of 98 per cent. But a young Midlands hairdresser was told by her employer that, since the wages councils had been abolished, she would no longer get the £2.88 an hour to which she was previously entitled. She would get just £2 an hour – a drop of 31 per cent. The chairman of North West Water got an increase – an increase – of £72,000 this year, bringing his wages to £238,000, while an auxiliary nurse working long hours in hospital received a pay rise of just £105 for the year, from £7,000 to £7,105, because the Government told her the country could not afford to pay her a penny more than that. And now Kenneth Clarke tells this nurse and other public sector workers that they will not get any pay increase at all this year – unless, of course, they become more productive. What utter nonsense is this? How does a nurse become more productive? Does she juggle two bed pans at the same time? And is a fire-fighter expected to put out fires in two different places at one and the same time?
And whilst freezing pay, that same Mr Clarke puts up VAT and National Insurance, so that a typical family will pay £8.50 a week more in tax next year and £12.50 more the year after. How on earth does he expect hard-pressed people with families and mounting bills to cope with pay cuts on the one hand and tax and VAT increases on the other? How can it be right to impose a pay freeze and a VAT hike at one and the same time, hitting people’s incomes twice over?
But what else would you expect from a Government that abolishes wages councils, that opts out of the Social Chapter, that always finds ways of hitting low-waged people hardest, whilst the very rich seem to get bigger and bigger pay rises all the time. Because that is the double standard practised by this Government. That is their choice. That is the sickening hypocrisy of their trickle-down economics. And that is the reality of a Government that cares more about lining the pockets of its rich friends than it does about the real needs of individuals and families in our country today.
Labour’s choice is to end these double standards. That is why it is vital that we have a Labour Government to set anew agenda for the working people of Britain: a Labour Government that will restore to every working man and woman the dignity, the respect, and the rights to which they are entitled. Our charter of employment rights will give all working people basic rights that will come into force from the first day of their employment. We will give the same legal rights to every worker, part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent. We will give every working man and woman the right to protection against unfair dismissal, and access to health and safety protection. And every worker will have the right to join a trade union and have the right to union recognition. And it is for these principles that Labour fought at every stage of the Maastricht Bill, to secure for our people the same conditions at work and the same rights that the Social Chapter grants to every other working man and woman in the European Community. That fight will go on – right through next year’s vital European elections – until a new Labour Government adopts the Social Chapter in full.
And more – we will guarantee to all employees a national minimum wage. We need a national minimum wage in this country to help millions of low-paid workers, most of whom are women, who still suffer the worst exploitation and discrimination at work. Let us hear no more nonsense about the effect of a minimum wage on jobs, from a Government who have been responsible for the highest unemployment levels since the 1930s. If France can afford a national minimum wage, so can we. If Germany can afford minimum wage protection, so can we. And if members of the Cabinet would not dream of working for poverty wages, they should not force anyone else to do so either.
Our choice is founded on a very simple principle – when people work for a living, they should be paid a living wage. There are officially nearly three million unemployed people in Britain today. And out of that three million, nearly one third of the total unemployed are under 25 years of age: almost a million young people who want to work, who want to get a start in life, who want to prove their worth and to earn their way. Young people are being deprived of the chance to work for a living. What a terrible waste of our nation’s youth. What a dreadful betrayal of their future. And it is a shocking indictment of this Government that at such a time as this – when getting people back to work should be our overriding priority – central Government expenditure on employment and training has actually fallen by 22 per cent over the past five years, and expenditure on youth training has fallen by 34 per cent over the same period. Only a Tory Government would choose such a callous and irresponsible approach. And only a Labour Government will have the will and the resolve and the vision to get our nation working again.
That is why our economic statement to Conference this year – drawn up by Gordon Brown and his Treasury team – reaffirmed the pledge made to the British people as long ago as 1944 that: ‘The Government accept as one of their primary aims and ‘responsibilities the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment.’ This commitment to the goal of full employment is central to our economic approach. It means using not just interest rates – which now even the IMF believe should be cut – but all the instruments of economic policy to go for growth, jobs and investment. It means what we, as democratic socialists, have always believed, that it is the duty of Government to match unmet needs with unused resources. For surely it must be blindingly obvious to anyone in this country – this country of mass unemployment – that there is much work waiting to be done: work needing to be done to improve our schools, our hospitals, our transport system, and to improve and invest in our environment. All this work is waiting to be done, and crying out to be done now.
For what kind of country is it that has record numbers of homeless families, hundred of thousands of construction workers on the dole, and building companies making losses in the worst and longest recession we have endured since the war? It is Conservative Britain, where local authorities are prohibited from spending billions of pounds of their own money to build homes and create jobs. Why can they not be allowed to do what everyone knows is plain common sense?
But common sense is probably the last thing you will find in today’s Conservative Party. After all, we know that Mr. Major thinks his own back benchers are barmy. But considering the Government’s privatisation programme, maybe the Prime Minister should be questioning his own grip on reality. I have a suggestion for Mr Major. Find a quiet bathroom in Downing Street, look into the mirror, take a deep breath, repeat the words: ‘Rail privatisation,’ then ask this question: ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the barmiest of them all?’
We know that there is barely a single person in this country outside Downing Street who thinks it is a good idea to privatise British Rail. John MacGregor is struggling to defend a policy that has neither the support of the public, the private sector, nor even backbench Tory MPs. At a time when we are invited to believe that the country is in a state of penury, £200 million of tax-payers’ money is being spent on the break-up of our railways. And seventeen separate consultancy firms are being paid by the Department of Transport and by British Rail at a cost of £25 million to try to smooth out the problems which the sell-off throws up every day.
And what is all this designed to achieve? A system which will undoubtedly provide fewer services, which it is already clear will force substantial fare increases, and which sadly threatens the very existence of many rural lines.
But still, undeterred by the massive unpopularity of his plans, the Prime Minister ploughs on with his crazy privatisation programme. In the latest so-called market testing exercise inside the. Civil Service, the Inland Revenue’s tax records are to be privatised. I do not believe the British people want their personal tax affairs to be entrusted to some unknown private company, any more than they wanted the Government’s skill centres to be given away and then shut down, any more than they want the prisons of our country to be handed over to private operators so that they can make a profit out of the perpetrators of crime, any more than they want the Royal Mail to be sold off or the rail network to be broken up and auctioned off to anyone except British Rail – the only people who know how to run it.
Does John Major, with his barmy army of right-wing ideologues, not realise that there are some things that should never be put up for sale? Some responsibilities are the responsibilities of the nation and nobody else. You cannot privatise a national rail network and expect it to stay intact. You cannot privatise the responsibility to train our country’s workforce. And you certainly cannot privatise, and you should not try to privatise, law and order.
But this Government seem to think that the only thing that can possibly motivate people is greed, and if not greed, then fear. The concept of pride in public service for its own sake is utterly beyond the understanding of this Tory Government. But we know there is a different set of values. We know there are millions of people in this country who choose to work for the sake of the public good, because they want to deliver a service, because they want to help their community. We see these values at work every day, in schools, in hospitals, in community centres and in homes for the elderly: people who spend their lives helping others; fire-fighters who risk their lives saving others.
Every person in this hall this afternoon knows somebody who does a job of work, not for greed, not purely for profit, but for the satisfaction of helping and caring for other people. And not a word of thanks do they get from this Government, not a word of praise, nor any recognition of the value of their effort. All they get is a constant barrage of attack. They see their work devalued, their jobs threatened by cuts, their status and their conditions undermined. And they see their wages frozen, cut in real terms by a Government that have no idea of how ordinary people live or how hard they work.
This Tory Government are deluded by the bizarre notion that the free market is intrinsically good and the public sector is intrinsically bad. So they try to sell everything off to the private sector, and the things they cannot sell, they try to run according to free market rules. But schools are not businesses and neither are hospitals. Head teachers are not entrepreneurs and doctors are not accountants, nor should they be forced to act like them. They should all be allowed to get on with the job they are trained to do – to teach the children and to heal the sick.
We in the Labour Party believe in the value of public service. We are a Party that believes in the public good. And to the nurses and the teachers and the midwives and the fire-fighters, and to everyone who works so hard to deliver decent services to the people of this country we say that we are proud of what you do. We recognise your vital contribution to the life of our communities, and we abhor the disgraceful attempt by this Conservative Government to make you pay the price of their miserable failure.
The Government would like us to forget the promises they made to the British people before the last election. Let me remind you of some of them: the promise not to raise taxes; the promise not to put up VAT; the promise not to put up National Insurance. We will never let the Tories forget these promises they made to win votes before the election promises they have now broken one by one, pledges they have betrayed one by one; and, in the process, they have brought hardship and suffering to millions of old and vulnerable people in, our country.
A typical family will have to pay out an extra £1,000 in taxes over the next few years as a result of the last budget – a budget from a Party that won an election by frightening people with lies about Labour’s tax plans.
What is the nation to make of a Government that tells you after they have won the election that nothing they said during the campaign really counted at all? It was the new Chancellor, Mr Clarke, who said in the House of Commons that voters should not take too seriously what people said on some rainy night in an election campaign. But people do take it seriously, and I think they should take it seriously, and I can tell them that they take it very seriously when those promises are broken and these pledges are betrayed.
And what is the nation to make of a Government prepared to send three businessmen to jail to protect itself from the scrutiny of the law? The full extent of the Government’s deception in the Matrix-Churchill affair is slowly coming to light under the relentless and probing glare of the Scott inquiry. We see senior Cabinet ministers ducking and diving, twisting the truth and lying to Parliament, running for cover and allowing others to carry the guilt of their own shabby behaviour. What could be more revealing than the weasel words of Mr William Waldegrave to the Scott inquiry, dodging and weaving his way around the questions he could not answer – the same William Waldegrave who is now the minister in charge of open Government?
And what is the nation to think when they see so many former Cabinet ministers popping up on the boards of companies they themselves helped to privatise? Ministers one after the other are taking that slippery sleazy slide from the Cabinet room to the boardroom; cashing in on their own privatisation plans.
And what is the nation to make of a Government that has such contempt for democracy that it takes away the power of the people’s representatives on local authorities and hands it over to Tory place-men on quangos and on boards; unelected Tory yes-men who are not accountable to the people for the decisions they take on their behalf?
The Government has created a whole new unelected state which controls crucial aspects of community life – health, training, urban development, housing, roads. And the communities themselves have no say, no influence, no control, over these decisions. This is a Government that cares less about democracy than about power, that cares less about people than political dogma, that cares less about fairness and justice than about defending its own interests and the interests of its own rich benefactors.
No wonder people feel disillusioned with politics. No wonder they feel dismayed and disappointed. And no wonder they feel disgusted with a Government that has proved itself time and time again unfit to run this country.
And now there is much talk in the air of stalking horses. The Sun – usually the most loyal of Tory papers – ran a phone-in competition last week. Which stalking horse, they asked their readers, had the best chance of beating John Major for the Tory leadership? The Sun’s own tip was not Mr Clarke or Mr Portillo or Mr Hunt. It was Red Rum. And Sun readers agreed. The horse romped home – the 9-1 favourite, running on a ticket of no VAT on hay.
The prospect of a Tory horse race is really something to behold: Teresa Gorman riding Thatcher’s Revenge; Messrs Lilley and Portillo galloping off to the right. And poor old John Major frantically clutching on to the mane of his grey mare as it falls at every single fence. And where is jockey Clarke? Lurking in the stables sawing away at his rivals’ saddle-straps.
Surely our country deserves much better than this: not the self-serving ambitions of Tory ministers, but a new politics of principle and a new agenda of democratic rights.
Here in Brighton this week, our Party is offering the British people a new and exciting agenda of constitutional reform. We are proposing nothing less than a new constitution for a new century: a new and modern conception of citizenship, which recognises the importance of the community acting together to advance individual freedom; a revitalised democracy which protects the fundamental rights of each and every citizen, regardless of race, colour, gender or creed; a system of government that is open, accountable and close to the people it is elected to serve.
That is why the next Labour Government must enact. a Bill of Rights, legislate for freedom of information, modernise our parliamentary system, restore the powers of local Government, and devolve power to the regions of England and the nations of Scotland and Wales. Constitutional reform is far too important today to be regarded as the exclusive preserve of the so-called chattering classes. It goes right to the heart of what is wrong with the Government of Britain today – a Government that is arrogant, centralised, and unresponsive to people.
Our choice – Labour’s choice – is to build a democracy founded on pluralism, participation, and justice: a politics that springs from the roots of democratic socialism and from the writings of Tom Paine, the struggle for votes for women, and trade union campaigns for the rights of people at work. And we in the Labour Party – unlike any other Party – see the vital link between rights in the workplace and rights at the ballot box. For surely we need both, if we are to create a society of free and self-confident citizens.
I want to lead a Labour Government that will introduce the most radical package of constitutional reform ever proposed by any major political party. This, I believe, will be a key battleground of the 1990s, as we seek to define the new politics of a new century. And if we are to win that battle – as we must then I believe we must have the courage and the confidence to reform our own constitution as well. So let there be no doubt about the nature of the choices before our nation: the stark choices that confront our people.
Today I have set out a tale of two Britains: the Tory Britain we live in, and the new Britain that Labour wants to build. In the Tory Britain, an angry and disillusioned people are in danger of losing faith in our future. They have too often seen their jobs destroyed, people made homeless, youngsters denied opportunity. They worry – and no wonder they worry – that our society is coming apart, that our very sense of community is being undermined. And they worry that the crime on our streets and in our homes is spiralling out of control. In this Tory Britain, people see their income squeezed and their prospects reduced by recession after recession. In Tory Britain, people have stopped believing things will get better – they just hope they will not get any worse.
But we believe there is a different kind of fixture on offer to our people. Labour’s Britain will be a confident society that opens doors wide to new opportunities: a society that looks to the future and trains people to meet that future; a society that encourages new ideas, and rewards hard work and ambition, and a society also that looks after its poor, its sick and its old people.
In Labour’s Britain, we will stop the rot and start once again to build a country where strong communities help each one of us to live a fulfilling life, in which racism has no place and no quarter. This is the choice we set out before the British people – the Tory Britain of today, or Labour’s Britain of tomorrow? And where the Tories have clearly failed, Labour must succeed.
More than anyone else, I am deeply conscious of the huge challenges we face, of the vital choices we will have to make, for we will inherit an enfeebled economy and a demoralised society. But we will face these challenges. We will make these choices, with confidence in our ideals and pride in our values. So we must be bold in our ambitions: bold in our determination to get our country back to work; bold in our unyielding commitment to social justice; bold in our vision of a truly free and democratic society.
For I tell you this: there is no other force, no other power, no other party, that can turn this country round. It is up to us, all of us, together. This is our time of opportunity: the time to summon up all our commitment; the time to gather round us all our strength. And, united in our common purpose, it is the time to lead our country forward to the great tasks that lie ahead.
Click here for a secure way to sign up, you will be supporting independent news. Click the button below.
Disagree with this article? why not write in and you can have your say? email us