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Howard: I'll roll up my sleeves and get the job done

Speech in Ashford, Kent

"Thank you for being here on this Bank Holiday weekend. In six days time, it will be May the sixth.

We could be waking up to a brighter day for Britain.

The first day of a government that starts taking action on the things that matter to our country: a Government that never stops taking action on the things that matter, because that is what government is for.

It's not about talking: it's about doing.

It's not about promising: it's about delivering.

Or at least it's supposed to be.

But after the last eight years, a lot of people in Britain have simply forgotten what it's like to have a government that actually gets things done.

They can't imagine it.

Some of them have never even experienced such a thing.

"A government that does what it says? You must be joking! That just doesn't happen."

Well it may not happen with this Government.

But it will with mine.

How can you be sure?

How can you be sure that if we win the election next Thursday, we won't just make a difference, we'll be different?

That when we say something, it will happen?

That we'll deliver what we promise.

I can't predict the future.

But I can draw on my achievements.

When I became Home Secretary, the Civil Servants told me that rising crime was inevitable.

Apparently, my job description was to manage public expectations.

Well I just refused to accept that.

I didn't come in to politics to sit on my hands or to enjoy the perks. I'd have done far better financially if I'd stayed a barrister.

I came in to politics to get things done, to improve things.

So I said, very clearly, I saw my job very clearly. I said my job was to cut crime.

And I laid out, in specific detail, the actions that I would take to do it.

Some of you may remember that there were twenty seven of them.

The smart commentators mocked me for that.

And my approach didn't necessarily make me popular.

But look what happened.

It worked.

On my watch, crime fell by 18 per cent.

It had never happened before, and it hasn't happened since.

I'm proud of that record - very proud.

And today, as we prepare to tackle challenges every bit as serious as the challenge I faced back then, I want everyone to understand what my crime-fighting record was built upon.

It was built upon two simple things.

Taking a stand, and focusing on the specifics.

I took a stand against the liberal consensus on crime.

That liberal consensus was more concerned with explaining crime away than actually fighting it.

I said that wasn't good enough.

Too many people - ordinary hard working people - were suffering: it was time to take a stand.

And I focused on the specifics because it's only through specific action, through the detail of carefully thought through policy that you bring about change: not through airy-fairy talk; not through vague aspirations; not through charisma; just specific, detailed actions - carefully planned and forcefully delivered.

So when people say to me today:

"I've been let down by this Government, I agree with what you're saying, I want to have faith in you - but how do I know you'll really be different?"

I have a straightforward answer.

Look at what we've been doing for the last six months.

It's exactly what I did when I became Home Secretary.

Taking a stand, and focusing on the specifics.

It worked then, and I know it will work again.

We've taken a stand on crime.

We've said that there's too much crime, and not enough punishment.

We've challenged the political correctness that blurs the distinction between right and wrong.

We've stood up to the do-gooders, the hand-wringers and the mickeytakers and their endless, tortuous, insulting mumbo-jumbo that puts the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of law-abiding citizens.

We've taken a stand for the millions of decent people who can't understand what's happening to their country; who see through the statistics and know that crime is getting worse; who think some judges are on another planet; who think sentences are too soft; and who think it's time for more respect, more discipline and decent values.

We've taken a stand, and we've set out, in precise detail, the specific action we're going to take: launched at our Party Conference last October, fleshed out in our Action Plan on Crime, published in February, and summarised in our Manifesto.

It's all there: specific actions, specific times.

In our first week we will stop the police having to fill in a forty question form every time they stop someone.

I want the police out on our streets - eyeballing the yobs, invading their personal body space just like they're invading ours - not filling in forms.

And we'll introduce automatic minimum sentences for third time drug dealers and burglars.

Career burglars will get three years, and persistent drug dealers seven years.

And they'll serve their sentences in full.

I don't believe in half time sentences for full time crimes.

A Conservative Government will give youngsters who get caught up in drugs, a simple choice - rehab or prison: because addicts deserve a chance to go straight.

That's why we'll provide 25,000 extra residential rehab places - enough to treat every young heroin and cocaine addict.

We'll end Labour's early release scheme.

We'll make sure there are enough prison places so that criminals who should be behind bars are behind bars.

And we'll recruit 5,000 more police officers - real police officers - ever year.

On Monday, I will be announcing my priority tasks for an incoming Conservative Government.

Eight actions that will make a real difference, each with a specific date attached, so that people can put them in their calendar and hold us to account.

Action on crime will be one of those priority tasks.

If the British people elect me as Prime Minister next Thursday, I would know that they had sent me a clear message about their wish to fight crime.

I'm not going to hang around. And I won't.

I will be a Prime Minister who rolls up his sleeves and gets things done.

Because the Britain I want to see is a country where respect rules our streets, not the law of the jungle; where parents don't have to worry about letting their children play outside; where pensioners can walk down to the shops without the fear of getting attacked.

Is that too much to ask?

It's too much to ask of this Government, that's clear enough.

But I can promise you this: we will not be found wanting.

We've taken a stand, and focused on the specifics.

That's why you can be sure we'll get the job done.

I want to see a Britain where everyone has the best possible chance to go as far as their talents will take them.

Government can't do everything, but it can surely do one thing: insist that when children go to school, they learn.

Months ago, we took a stand on school discipline, and we focused on the specifics: at our Party Conference; in our Education Action Plan; and in our Manifesto.

And I will be spelling out my priority tasks on Monday, with specific times for the action we will take on school discipline.

I want to see a Britain where everyone can be confident that the health service is there, free of charge, to make them better - without the worry of catching a disease when you go to hospital.

Well we took a stand on cleaner hospitals, and we've worked hard to put the specifics in place: matron back in charge with the power to close infected wards; swabs to test for MRSA as soon as patients go into hospital; and publication of hospital infection rates.

It's all there in our Action Plan on Health, in the announcement I made with Andrew Lansley this week, and there will be more detail to come on Monday.

The Britain I believe in will always welcome those who want to come here to work hard and make a positive contribution: a Britain which offers sanctuary to those in genuine need of refuge.

Read our Action Plan on Controlled Immigration.

We've taken a stand on immigration.

We've set out our specific actions.

That's why you can be sure that we'll deliver.

And I want to see a Britain where hard work is rewarded, not penalised; where taxpayers get value for money; a Britain where stealth taxes are a thing of the past.

So we took a stand on government waste.

We said it was crazy to think that the Government couldn't save two pence in every pound it spends.

And we put in the effort to get the specifics right.

No opposition has ever produced a more careful, detailed, costed programme of action on government waste.

Read the James Report, read our Value for Money Action Plan.

See what I'll be saying on Monday about my priority tasks for Britain: more police; school discipline; cleaner hospitals; controlled immigration; and lower taxes.

These are not dreams.

They're not ploys to win an election.

I don't believe in empty promises.

I believe in rolling up your sleeves and getting on with the job.

The only way a politician can make life better is by taking a stand, and focusing on the specifics.

It's how I cut crime when I was Home Secretary; and it's how I will deliver the commitments we make today.

It's why accountability is at the heart of our programme.

Of course Mr. Blair could have done all this.

In 1997 and 2001 he was elected with the unprecedented support of the British people.

He had 412 MPs and a 167 seat majority.

It's because of their 412 MPs and their 167 seat majority, Labour have felt able to put up taxes when they promised they wouldn't.

It's because of their 412 MPs and their 167 seat majority, Labour have felt able to let people out of prison early when they promised to be "tough on crime".

And it's because of their 412 MPs and their 167 seat majority, Labour have felt able dramatically to increase immigration when they promised to control it.

Well I want the chance to get things done - because I believe too that Britain could be so much better.

And if there's anyone who doubts my determination to get things done, I've one more thing to say.

I'm 63 years old.

And I'm an incredibly lucky 63 year-old.

I have a wonderful family.

I've had a fascinating and rewarding career.

But most of all, I'm lucky because I can call this country home.

This country; this place called Britain; these islands of beauty and wit, common sense and splendour, quirky individualism and instinctive togetherness in the face of challenge.

What a country.

What a privilege to be British.

And what a chance we now have to serve again in government, to apply all our will and all our energy to the noble task of making this country a better place to live for everyone.

I remember my roots.

I'm not ashamed of them: I'm proud of them.

I started out in a State school in a small town in South Wales.

I've learnt that if you work hard, apply yourself and stick at it - whatever your background - you can make a success of your life.

So to all of you watching at home - don't be in any doubt about my determination to fight for a better life for you.

I could easily decide to call it a day, enjoy my retirement, and spend time with my wonderful grandchildren.

But I'm not going to do that.

I love my country, just like you do.

And I know, just like you do, that it could be doing so much better.

Your life could be easier.

Your prospects could be brighter.

And that's what I am determined to deliver.

To serve you to the best of my ability.

To give back all I can to the country that has given me everything."

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