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Ancram: Action in world affairs

Speech to Conservative Party Conference 2004

"We in this hall owe our country one overriding duty. To win the next election.

It is a duty we will fulfil.

This debate has raised serious issues upon which the battle will be fought.

But as we know one of the biggest issues is Tony Blair himself.

He is, as we saw last week, a master of make-believe.

Untruthful, untrustworthy and unrepentant.

He postures. And then he fails to act.

Tony Blair assured us even before the war that plans for post war Iraq were 'in hand'. We now know there were none.

Yes, the threat of Saddam had to be dealt with. Otherwise that threat would still be with us, and today the risks of dealing with it potentially far greater now.

That is why our armed forces did us proud. They played their part in the war with enormous courage and professionalism.

They had the right to expect a comprehensive plan to win the peace.

There should have been plans for Iraq's own security forces to play from the start a greater role in securing public order.

There should have been plans to prevent insurgency from gaining a foothold.

There should have been plans to give post-Saddam Iraq employment and hope rather than despair and a ready excuse for hostility.

In each case there were no plans.

And that failure has helped turn a successful war into a shaky and danger-filled peace.

And the price for that failure is now being paid.

Tony Blair doesn't trust people. He takes them in.

He took us in over weapons of mass destruction.

He should have trusted the British people with the truth. Instead he misled the British people and in doing so he has lost the people's trust. And when a Prime Minister is not trusted on grave matters of intelligence how dangerous is that for our country as a whole?

Tony Blair doesn't lead. He follows.

He told us he would never be isolated in Europe.

That's not leading.

That's shorthand for surrender.

Surrender on the European Army. On the Constitution. On the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

There can be few more humiliating sights than a British Prime Minister ingratiating himself with his French and German counterparts. One day poodle Blair. Next day dachshund Blair. But bulldog Blair - never.

Little wonder the British people have lost confidence in Tony Blair.

Mr Blair, it's time you and your wretched government were gone.

And as for Jack Straw, I cannot forgive his shameful abandonment of Zimbabwe.

While Mugabe continues to torture, to murder and to demolish democracy and the rule of law, Straw's response is that the suffering Zimbabwean people must find their own salvation.

What a spineless betrayal.

Then two weeks ago he shook Mugabe's bloodstained hand. It was too dark to recognise him, we were told.

Come off it, Jack. It's not your eyesight that's faulty. It's your moral judgement.

And then the Lib-Dems. They don't change, do they? Still the dirtiest fighters in British politics. Promising anything and everything to win the protest vote.

Their logo isn't a phoenix. It's a cloud-cuckoo coming into land.

But they are dangerous. They are above all a European movement, committed to a United States of Europe with its own currency, its own government and its own law. We will fight them at every turn.

Britain deserves better - and that is why we must win.

We will find a changed, unsettled, more dangerous world.

My first priority will be to restore a sense of confidence in Britain again.

Where Blair has lost trust we will rebuild it. Where Blair postures we will deliver. And where Blair follows we will lead.

I want the world to look at us and to see a nation that is as strong as it is compassionate. Strong in the face of threats. Compassionate in the face of hunger and disease.

Many of today's problems are generated as much by sickness and deprivation as by terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They often come together in potentially rogue or failing states.

North Korea and Iran in their different ways must give grave cause for concern. While our response must always be firm, it should be tempered with dialogue wherever we can.

Our policy will be rooted in British national interests and will be matched by the resources to achieve them.

I want a strengthened and honest relationship with America based on shared values and beliefs and mutual respect. A relationship as before where we speak frankly to each other as friends and work together as partners.

I want Nato at the heart of our security, and us with the Americans at the heart of Nato.

I want to play our full part in the fight against international terrorism, which still remains the greatest threat to our security and to the stability of the world. There are no opt-outs from the fight against terrorism. We are all in the front line. And we must remain resolute until the scourge of terrorism is finally eradicated from the face of our world.

We will end the betrayal and deceit of the last seven years.

Take Gibraltar - betrayed by Jack Straw's secret negotiations to surrender sovereignty to Spain. The people of Gibraltar gave him no uncertain answer.

I am proud that after 300 years the people of Gibraltar unanimously want to stay British. I would never negotiate on sovereignty unless that was the wish of the people of Gibraltar themselves.

I give them this undertaking. Within a week of winning the election I will formally repudiate the dishonourable agreement reached with Spain by this government to share sovereignty over Gibraltar.

And within two weeks of taking office I will table a Security Council resolution to send monitors and observers into Zimbabwe to protect against Mugabe's brutality and to help restore democracy and the rule of law.

I will set out swiftly to re-establish our credibility in the Gulf and the Middle East as people historically who understand the region and can genuinely help as facilitators in resolving conflicts.

I will urge our Israeli and our Palestinian friends to believe that there is an answer to the Middle East crisis if the political will is there. Two states living peacefully side by side.

We will resolutely defend the right of Israel to exist free of terrorism within internationally guaranteed and peaceful borders. Just as we will assert the rights of Palestinians to live in a viable state west of the Jordan.

We will offer all our experience to facilitate the dialogue that alone can take this process forward.

And in Iraq we have learned the hard way that no hope and no jobs are powerful recruiters of terrorism. I would seek to reassert the importance of investment and the job creation that would follow.

I see a greater role for the Commonwealth in meeting the challenges of the world today. I would encourage it to use its unique global reach to work for peace and the defence of human rights.

And we want to change the direction of Europe.

For thirty years or more we have been swept along in the wake of an inexorable drift towards a politically united Europe.

Ironically the prospect of the European Constitution has changed all that.

It is the gateway towards a country called Europe. It is a gateway too far.

The British people don't want to be part of a country called Europe - and nor do we.

That is why last year I promised to fight for a referendum. In March Blair caved in and we got it - although he won't say when.

So on the day after we win the General Election next May we will set the date for that Referendum and it will be before we meet again at our Conference next October.

The 'No' vote for which we will campaign will stop the Constitution in its tracks. It will force European leaders back to the drawing board at a time when we will lead the European agenda.

And at the heart of that agenda will be reform.

We will fundamentally change the direction in which for thirty years Europe has been travelling.

We will reverse the conveyor belt that for so long has taken powers from Britain to Brussels.

We will bring powers back. For a start we will bring back control of our fisheries and a greater part of international aid and restore our opt-out from the Social Chapter.

And we will make it clear that we will never give away essential British rights of self determination, whether over tax, or our welfare system, or over immigration and asylum, or over defence and foreign policy - all of which are presently at risk.

But we have a much wider agenda of reform.

We want a less regulated Europe that does only what it needs to do.

A Europe in which we can trade freely, and in which we can work together with our European partners to deal with the problems like global warming which we share.

A flexible European Union, in which those who want to work more closely together can, but others are not forced to.

But many people are at the end of their tether with a Europe that increasingly seems to regulate their lives without any regard to their views or their democracy. We share that feeling.

That is why we fiercely oppose the Euro and defend the Pound.

That is why we will fight and defeat the Constitution.

That is why we will bring powers from Brussels back.

But to change Europe we need to be in power. Shouting from the sidelines won't do it.

There is only one party determined fundamentally to reform Europe and determined to reclaim control of our own destiny that can possibly form a government. And that is the Conservative Party.

Not Labour or the Lib Dems. They want the opposite.

Not UKIP. They know they will never be in power.

We are the only Party who can and will change Europe, who can and will bring powers back.

First we have to win.

Then we must show that we are totally determined to achieve those objectives.

We will be as obstinate as the French, as dogged as the Spaniards, and as hardnosed and committed in negotiation as Margaret Thatcher.

We will not take no for an answer.

And as for Romano Prodi's suggestion that in future British Olympic medalists should celebrate under the European flag, my answer is this. Get lost, Mr. Prodi, get lost.

The fight ahead of us will be hard.

There can be no room for doubts. Just single minded determination.

And no leader better epitomizes that determination than Michael Howard.

I am sick and tired of being told that to be patriotic is politically incorrect. I'm proud of Britain. I'm proud of our past and I'm proud of what I believe we can do in the future.

That is why I am so determined to win.

To give our country back its pride again.

To restore decency and integrity to our country.

To rid Britain of a Prime Minister who this nation can no longer trust.

And to sweep this strutting, self-satisfied, self-serving, sycophantic shower of second-raters out of government and onto the scrap heap of history where they belong.

Together let's go out and win."

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