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Howard: Its time to take a stand

Speech in Hastings

"Today I want to cut to the chase. There'll be none of the usual pleasantries, I'm afraid.

Eighteen days ago, Mr. Blair announced that he had decided to call an election because he wanted five more years in power.

Since then, a much loved Pope has died, there's been a Royal Wedding, and a new Pope has been elected.

All of them are big, important events.

So is this Election.

In twelve days time, Britain will go to the polls.

The Election is different from those events, historic as they are.

The citizens of this country were observers of those events.

In this Election, they decide.

At this Election you are the decision makers. It is your decision. Your vote is your voice.

But there's one person who's crossing his fingers in the hope you'll keep silent - praying that our country will sleepwalk its way to another five years of Labour.

And that person is Mr. Blair.

If you stay silent, you will send him a clear message: "Carry on, you're doing just fine".

So now, with just twelve days to go, it's time to focus on what really matters. How you use your vote - because if you stay silent you'll have to live with the consequences for the next five years.

To cast a vote is to take a stand.

To have your say about what's going on in our country.

To send people to Westminster who will stand up for the values you believe in, and get on with the things you want done.

If you're unhappy about high taxes, uncontrolled immigration, rising crime and dirty hospitals, then why reward Mr. Blair's Labour Party with your vote?

Why don't you take a stand? Isn't it your duty to take a stand? Your duty to yourselves and your duty to our country.

So think carefully about the message you want to send.

In twelve days time, you have the chance to take a stand - in fact it'll be your last chance to take a stand on Mr. Blair.

Let me tell you where I stand on the issues that matter.

Take crime. Crime is not just about statistics. It's about people - people who've been mugged, burgled or had their car stolen.

Mr. Blair has had eight years to get a grip on the problem.

Two days ago he said that he was going to fix it.

What? After eight years he's suddenly going to fix it? Are we seriously expected to fall for that one again?

I've taken a stand.

I want tough sentences for career criminals - for persistent burglars and hard drug dealers.

And they will serve their sentences in full.

There'll be no more half time sentences for full time crimes.

Britain has a thriving yob culture - arrogant youngsters who terrorise law-abiding families living in their local communities.

What's Mr. Blair done to deal with the problem?

He's brought in a new form - a forty question form that the police have to fill in every time they stop someone.

That's right just stop someone - not stop and search.

That sends out all the wrong signals to the yobs - that the police cannot even be trusted to stop someone.

Well I've taken a stand. I want yobs to fear the police.

That's right: FEAR the police.

I want the police out there on the streets eye balling these characters; invading their personal body space just like they're invading ours - not sitting behind their desks, filling out Mr. Blair's forms.

Immigration and asylum are out of control.

Yesterday Mr. Blair complained that this issue was "hard to tackle".

Yes it is - but he's had eight years to tackle it and look what's happened.

Immigration has tripled.

There are 250,000 failed asylum seekers somewhere in the country - no-one knows where.

But what's Mr. Blair's response?

To go to Dover and make a speech, repeating the same tired, old lines about "strict controls".

Do you think that, after eight years of talk, with one more speech Mr. Blair can suddenly control immigration? Are we expected to fall for that one again too?

Well, I've taken a stand on immigration.

Of course I want to welcome people to Britain who will work hard and make a positive contribution to our country.

And I want to offer a home to people genuinely fleeing persecution.

But immigration has to be controlled.

How will a country the size of Britain cope if its population increases by five times the size of Birmingham in just over 30 years?

That's why we need substantially to reduce the numbers settling here.

And I've set out our action plan to control immigration:

- An annual limit on the number of people who can settle in Britain - set by Parliament;

- 24-hour security at our ports;

- A British Border Control Police Force; and

- An Australian-style points system for work permits.

Some people don't agree with an annual limit.

They're entitled to their views, just as I am entitled to mine.

But whatever they say, I'm not going to be stopped from saying and doing what I think is right for Britain.

Too many schools don't have proper discipline. If kids don't learn respect for authority at school - how can we expect them to respect others when they grow up?

Mr. Blair said education would be his priority.

But what's he done?

He's going to force every school to accept disruptive pupils.

Well I think that's wrong.

I don't believe that the majority of pupils' education should suffer because of a few unruly kids. And I've taken a stand.

We will give head teachers control over their schools - we'll give them the power to expel disruptive pupils.

Of course these troubled youngsters need the chance to get back on the straight and narrow - so we'll invest heavily in new Turnaround Schools to teach them the basics, help them learn a practical skill and get them off drugs.

Then there's tax.

Mr Blair has put up taxes by stealth 66 times.

And if he gets in again, taxes will go up again.

Well I've had enough of this - hard working families deserve to be rewarded for their efforts - not punished. And I've taken a stand.

That's why I am determined to get a grip on how much government spends, and give people value for their money.

Some say that it's not possible to make savings. That's rubbish - it's just a matter of will.

Only Mr. Blair could think it is impossible to save two pence in every pound that government spends.

Yes, of course it involves taking tough decisions.

For example, we'll end Mr Blair's failed New Deal.

235,000 bureaucratic posts will go.

Unaccountable, unelected regional assemblies will be scrapped.

Will I apologise for that?

No, because I am on the side of the families who are working their socks off, and deserve value for their money.

And they deserve something else too: lower taxes.

I believe families are better at spending their hard earned cash than politicians are.

Our costed plan means we can offer affordable tax cuts to people who do the right thing, who work hard, who save to buy their first home, who put money aside for their retirement.

Lower taxes for families across the generations: that's my aim, and I have a plan to deliver it.

Stamp duty on the average home - that'll go.

People who save for their pension - for every £100 they put in, we'll put in £10 more.

Pensioners - millions will see their council tax bills cut.

If people do the right thing, we'll do the right thing by them; if families work hard, we'll reward them; if you help yourself, we'll help you.

And I'll do something else as well.

I believe in fair play.

We are one nation, one country and we should all play by the same rules.

There shouldn't be special rules for special interest groups.

Some people seem to think they're above the law.

That's why I've taken a stand on the tiny minority of arrogant travellers who think they can stick two fingers up to the law and get away with it.

I've set out our action plan to deal with the problem.

And a lot of people criticised me for it.

But as far as I'm concerned, someone had to take a stand.

Someone had to speak up for the law-abiding majority whose lives are made a misery by the minority who don't play by the rules.

So, to those people who have suffered in silence for the last eight years, and felt no one is on their side, May the fifth is your chance to speak up, voice your concerns and vote to take a stand.

Some people may think: "Why would we be any different?"

I totally understand why they may think that.

For eight years they have had a Prime Minister who says one thing before an election, and does something quite different afterwards.

Eight years of broken promises; eight years of pussy footing around the difficult issues; eight years of people who think they can get away with it - not just once, but again and again and again.

Look back at the last eight years and think about the things Mr. Blair has said to get elected.

And you realize that character IS an issue at this election.

And that's why I've got to say it as I see it.

Quite frankly, Tony Blair's lost the plot. He's talked a lot and failed to deliver. He's told lies to win elections.

And he's only taken a stand on one thing in the last eight years - taking Britain to war. And he couldn't even tell the truth about that.

Well, I don't believe in saying one thing but doing another.

With me, what you see is what you get.

I don't care what the armies of do-gooders have to say about it: I think we've been too soft on crime for too long. We've been too lax about immigration for too long. We've turned a blind eye to the lack of discipline at school for too long.

I want the chance to act on these issues.

My message to Britain is simple: you don't have to settle for this.

Britain is the fourth richest country in the world - we should be doing so much better than we are today.

By supporting your local Conservative candidate, you can vote for a Party that has taken a stand on the things that matter - cleaner hospitals, school discipline, more police, controlled immigration and lower taxes.

To cast a vote is to take a stand.

It's your duty to take a stand.

How else do you think Mr. Blair and his wishy-washy, pussyfooting government are going to get the message?

We've all had enough, and now we want action.

Be true to yourself.

Be true to our country.

On May the 5th take a stand on the things that matter.

On May the 5th take a stand for change.

On May the 5th take a stand and vote Conservative."

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