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Liam Fox: Speech at Folkestone constituency annual dinner

Speaking tonight at an event in Folkestone constituency annual, Shadow Deference Secretary, Liam Fox said:

Sometime, perhaps in a few weeks, Gordon Brown will call a general election. And the basis of Labour's case will be as big a lie and as great a con as anything Tony Blair gave us in his years of leading the New Labour project. The con is essentially that Gordon Brown had nothing to do with the Government in which he was the core player for 10 years, that a new government began in the summer of 2007 and that he represents change.

It is a con that has been swallowed with enthusiasm by the Labour supporting media and even his ultimate spin- that he has given up spin- has been accepted at face value. So there is an urgent need to restore reality to this debate and ensure that any election is seen as a judgement on the record of Gordon Brown over 10 years not a few months.

So what of his key boast, that he was a successful and prudent Chancellor of the Exchequer? Is this not the man who has brought us the highest taxes for 25 years and a savings ratio at a 44 year low? Is this not the man who sold our gold at exactly the wrong time losing us some £2.8 billion in the process? It is not the man who is taken some hundred billion pounds out of the pension funds and created a crisis for those facing retirement as a consequence? It is not the man who has overseen a credit boom which ended with the first run on a British bank in 150 years?

In 2000 when Gordon Brown finally ditched the spending plans he inherited from the previous Conservative Government outstanding consumer debt was £116 billion while mortgage debt was some £498 billion. By December 2005 that consumer debt had risen to £192 billion while mortgage debt had soared to £965 billion. In other words consumer credit had risen by 65.8% and mortgage debt by 94% at a time when earnings grew by only 22.4%.

And now we face a situation where income after tax is actually falling and in the next few months some 250,000 people will leave the security of fixed rate mortgages and see their bills soar.

And then there is the government debt itself. Government debt has grown by over £150bn since 1997, and is forecast to grow by the same again over the next five years. According to OECD and EU forecasts we have the biggest budget deficit in Western Europe. No wonder Gordon Brown is contemplating an early election. This is no act of courage, remember that this is the man who could not bring himself to take on Tony Blair for 10 years. No, this would be the cold calculation of a man who needs to get his date with the voters out of the way before they wake up to the grim reality of what may lie ahead.

But it is not just the economy where reality lags well behind the spin. In health, despite spending record amounts of money, Britain is sliding down the European league tables when it comes to surviving cancer. Up and down the country maternity units and accident and emergency units are closing. And we have just seen a catastrophic reorganisation of junior doctors. Because despite all the money that is being spent Gordon Brown simply cannot resist micromanagement, a target culture and control from the centre.

In education far too many of our young people are leaving school without the necessary skills in reading and writing and counting. Opportunity means nothing at all if you do not have the tools to grasp it. And it has a dramatic impact on our potential to maintain the prosperity of our country.

I visited India recently. This dynamic country is gradually picking up speed in areas such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals where Britain has traditionally had a lead. India is producing endless supplies of maths and science and engineering graduates at a time when British universities are closing down chemistry departments and we are giving out degrees in Madonna studies.

On the streets of our cities gun crime and knife crime are becoming ever more frequent. Young lives are being wiped out in a tidal wave of violent crime. But Gordon Brown tells us that to talk about our society being broken is unpatriotic. We will talk about it because not to do so is a dereliction of duty. It is a typical Brown approach to attempt to bully opponents into dropping the arguments he does not want to hear.

During his conference speech Gordon Brown mentioned the word British or Britishness 81 times. He did not do it out of some newly discovered patriotic fervour. He did it because, as one of the architects of devolution, he has not only created an unacceptable democratic imbalance in the United Kingdom but may have sown the seeds of the destruction of the United Kingdom itself. He presides over a government whose Scottish members can legislate on English education and health matters but not on their own. He is therefore able to make laws on large and sensitive areas of policy with which he can never himself be held accountable to voters. He knows only too well that the impetus that he has given the Nationalists threatens the very unity of the country he claims to care so much for.

And as for his Daily Mail designed soundbite of " British jobs for British workers". Has he forgotten about EU employment legislation which gives the right to a job in Britain to millions of EU citizens. Is he unaware of the 500,000 or more Poles who have swelled the ranks of the British workforce? This is the man who cares so much about Britain and Britishness that he is willing to give away 60 vetoes to the European Union while denying any say on the matter to the British people despite a explicit promise to do so at the last election.

In his conference speech of 67 minutes Gordon Brown dedicated only 6 lines to the Armed Forces. This year we will spend only 2.3% of our GDP on defence, the lowest proportion of our national income that we have dedicated in any year since 1930. This is a government only too happy to commit our troops to combat abroad while refusing to match this increased commitment with sufficient resources.

Let me just remind you what the Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker said at the inquest into the death of Sgt Steven Roberts. He said " to send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgivable and inexcusable, and represents a breach of trust that the soldiers have in those who govern them. Enhanced combat body armour was a basic piece of protective equipment. Sgt Roberts lost his life because he did not have that basic piece of equipment".

It is an inexcusable failure that we must remind voters of every day as we approach the election whenever it comes.

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