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Ancram: A Safer Britain – A Safer World

Speech to Conservative Party Conference 20002

This Conference is about winning.

It is about rediscovering our self-confidence.

About binning political correctness.

About being proud to be Conservative again.

And nowhere is this more important than in the field of international relations.

Over the last 5 years this government's much proclaimed ethical foreign policy has been exposed for the cynical sham that it always was.

It has left behind a vacuum empty of principle. One which we can now begin to fill.

Today we have shown how.

Within our theme of a Safer World, lie vital principles, enormous challenges and very deep passions.

Our discussion today has been about values and beliefs which go to the very heart conservatism.

Democracy.

And human rights.

The overarching responsibility of government to protect its citizens.

Keeping faith with our friends.

Repaying loyalty with loyalty.

Putting the interests of our country first.

And that greatest of conservative principles - freedom.

All vital because in so many of these areas the Government of Mr Blair has failed.

We may live today in a world dominated by the crisis in Iraq.

But beyond that crisis there are many other issues, many other flashpoints, described by those caught up in them with anger and fear and despair.

Anger at the injustices which have given rise to them.

Despair at the government's failure to match its rhetoric with action.

These people feel they have no voice.

We will give them a voice. We will make sure they are heard.

Today we have begun.

We heard earlier today from Ko Aung. He told us about the injustices in Burma.

We have pressed our Government to take firm action with out response.

We will go on pressing them until they listen.

There wasn't much listening in Blackpool last week.

A lot of meaningless rhetoric and pious aspirations.

Tacky made up stories about grateful Africans praising the Prime Minister.

There were even tributes to Bill Clinton - for his integrity!

But not listening.

We have shown today that we listen and that unlike Labour we will not turn away.

Our theme has been 'a safer world'.

At one time it seemed that the end of the Cold War heralded that safer world.

Those who believed that were misguided.

The end of the Cold War broke the uneasy equilibrium created by the mutual bearhug of the two great blocs.

It replaced the known enemy with an invisible enemy.

And the quantifiable threat with the unpredictable.

Suddenly, as '9/11' viciously proved, the simple cold war doctrine of containment and deterrence no longer worked.

But Governments must still protect their citizens, and when the Prime Minister acts in the national interest, of course we will support him.

Last year we supported him in building the coalition against international terrorism

On Iraq today, we believe the Prime Minister is again acting in the national interest and again he has our support.

But that support is not unconditional. If he strays beyond what is right in the national interest, we will oppose him.

The objective must be the elimination of the threat which are Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Ideally through the United Nations and always in accordance with international law.

A time-limited Resolution which leaves Saddam in no doubt as to what must be done.

The total removal of the weapons.

Complete and unfettered access for UN Inspectors.

I pray this process will work, we all do.

But if it fails, as it may, there must be a clear and fully developed plan for military action to eliminate these weapons.

And there must be a clear understanding of the route by which the people of Iraq can build a peaceful, prosperous and united future.

None of us wants war.

None of us chooses war, except where there is no other way.

I have spent much of my political life working for peace.

But not peace at any price.

Not peace by allowing this murderous despot to develop his weapons of mass destruction to a point where they cannot be stopped.

Not peace in the knowledge that his chemical and biological weapons in the hands of terrorists could already be delivered with lethal consequences across the world.

Not peace which only postpones and deepens the threat.

If real peace is to emerge, then one way or another Saddam's weapons of mass destruction must go.

There are those who oppose conflict.

I respect their sincerity. I understand their concerns.

But if we believe that the objective of eliminating these weapons, before they are too strong to be eliminated, is one we cannot run away from, then we must support whatever action is appropriate to achieve it.

On the Middle East peace process we also support the Prime Minister.

There is no military solution to this problem. Leaders I have spoken to on both sides know it.

There is realistically only one way.

An Israel, recognised by her Arab neighbours, secure within acceptable borders.

Alongside a viable and peaceful Palestinian state.

And an end to terrorism and violence.

This requires a level of trust which today is absent, but which I believe can still be established through dialogue and negotiation.

As Conservatives we have historic links with both Israel and the Arab states.

We are friends both of Israel and of the Palestinians.

We can work with them to help achieve that trust.

We should also look to promote renewed dialogue between India and Pakistan over Kashmir where many of our own citizens come from.

Standing on the Line of Control three weeks ago, I saw the vast two armies often less than 200 yards apart, both with nuclear capability, and prepared for war.

Here again there is no military solution.

"No-one can conquer these mountains," a soldier told me. He is right.

India and Pakistan both agree they must talk.

They can't agree where to start.

We know something about getting peace talks going against the odds.

We can offer that experience.

But together these important issues do not amount to a cohesive foreign policy.

Mr Blair doesn't have one. Just a series of aspirations.

He is his own Foreign Secretary.

I can't help but feeling sorry for poor old Jack Straw - Sidelined.

He's less well known than Peter Hain!

He travels less than John Prescott!

He doesn't even seem to mind that Mr Blair has taken his job.

I do! I've got my eye on it after the next election.

I said earlier that where Mr Blair is right we will support him.

But where he is wrong or is failing to meet his responsibilities we will implacably oppose him.

On Zimbabwe he has failed even to meet the promise he made at his conference last year when he said that he would not tolerate the behaviour of Mugabe's thugs.

Let us make no mistake about what Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe.

Since the fraudulent election in March, it has been a growing nightmare of murder, rape, robbery, famine, ethnic cleansing and the dismantling of democracy and the rule of law.

6 million people facing Mugabe's deliberately created starvation.

In July I went into Zimbabwe to see for myself.

I spoke to the illegally evicted farmers, I met the displaced black farm-workers. I saw the derelict farmland.

I watched the food queues.

I was shown the records of torture and murder.

I witnessed immense courage and dark desperation.

One displaced, broken and desperate black farm worker said simply to me "don't let the world forget us".

We won't.

But Mr Blair already has.

He gave great hope to Zimbabweans last year.

They believed him.

They told me so.

And that hope has proved false.

He had the chance to do something for them in Africa in January, and he ducked it.

Again in June at the G8, and he ducked it.

Again in August at the Earth Summit, and he ducked it.

What was it he told his conference last week? "We're at our best when at our boldest".

Tell that to Mugabe's broken and abandoned victims!

Mr Blair, who faced up to the brutality of Milosevic in Kosovo, has turned his back on the brutality of Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

We have called on him to act:

· To withhold investment through NEPAD until Southern Africa turns the screws on Mugabe and forces new and fair elections.

· To extend sanctions to those who bankroll Mugabe.

· To make the travel ban on Mugabe and his thugs work.

And still he does nothing.

The message from this conference to the suffering people of Zimbabwe is simple.

We will not abandon you.

And then there is Europe.

After fifty years the European Union itself recognises that all is not well. That reform is urgently needed.

We find ourselves standing between those who want a fully integrated Europe on the one hand and those on the other who want out.

This offers us an opportunity we have awaited for a long time.

The chance to move Europe away from the mad dash to full integration.

And towards constructive reform:

· Reform which does more than tinker with power structures at the top.

· Reform which will create a commonsense Europe.

· A Europe which works for its people, not its bureaucrats.

· A Europe which takes real account of national differences and national aspirations.

· A Europe which is genuinely accountable to the national parliaments from which its power springs.

· A Europe which welcomes new members such as the Czech Republic as friends and not as supplicants.

Sensible reform:

· Ending that idiotic and costly monthly trek of the European Parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg once and for all.

Workable reform:

· Abandoning the unworkable goal of full political Union.

· Finally burying the aspiration of a single European foreign and security policy.

Schroeder's election campaign in Germany comprehensively blew it out of the water.

And acceptable reform:

· Making the implementation of directives more flexible.

· Limiting the use of power at the European level.

· Speeding up deregulation and the completion of the single market.

· Welcoming those like us who do not wish to join the Single Currency as well as those who do.

Despite the valiant efforts of our Conservative representatives on the Convention, little if any of this seems likely to be achieved by it.

What is needed now is a comprehensive review of the EU.

An audit into what is working and what is not, what should be changed and what should be discarded.

There must be no sacred cows, no sealed vaults everything must be looked at.

And if Europe fails to initiate such a review, we will.

Mr Blair and Mr Straw certainly won't.

They want a fully integrated Europe.

They dislike the concept of British sovereignty.

They can't wait to give it away, to share it, to pool it.

Anything but defend it.

They pretend otherwise.

Jack Straw tells us that the EU constitution need not be feared because - golf clubs have them!

Well, so does the United States. A rather famous constitution and that is no golf club!

At least Romano Prodi and Giscard d'Estaing are honest.

They declare that this constitution is the necessary prelude to full political union.

And contrary to Blair's instructions his own MEPs have voted for such a constitution.

Lets stop beating about the bush.

The stark truth is that a constitution would finally end our rights of self-determination.

I tell you this. We will fight this rush to a United States of Europe with all the political force at our disposal.

And we will fight growing anti-Americanism within the EU.

Our relationship with America is not and must never be subservient.

But denigrating America, as some leading Europeans have done, is both dangerous and foolish.

The US today is the world's greatest superpower.

We all need friends.

But the reality is that Europe needs America more than America needs Europe.

As Conservatives we must strengthen that special relationship which our shared values and history have created.

We will work with America and not against.

And we will fight also to preserve the democratic rights of British people abroad.

We have heard today from Gibraltar's Peter Caruana.

Yet Mr Blair and Mr Straw are still hell bent on selling Gibraltar out.

They have surreptitiously agreed in principle to share sovereignty with Spain.

They are now cynically trying to browbeat Gibraltar into accepting it.

I tell you, an incoming Conservative Government will not be bound by any agreement with Spain that has not received the democratic consent of the people of Gibraltar.

We believe in democratic consent.

Jack Straw and the Liberal Democrats's Menzies Campbell obviously do not.

They sneer at democracy in Gibraltar.

Straw called the coming referendum "eccentric"! Campbell called it "daft"!

How on earth is exercising democracy "eccentric"?

When is it ever daft to consult people about their future?

This is Alice in Wonderland. But then the Lib Dems always are!

And Jack Straw has now joined the Mad Hatters Tea party too!

He unbelievably says that he will ignore the outcome of the forthcoming vote in Gibraltar.

This vote will reflect the passionately held views of the people of Gibraltar on sovereignty.

It simply cannot be ignored.

The fact is these talks with Spain have reached a dead end.

They should immediately be suspended.

And any agreement between the two governments, whether in principle or otherwise, should be declared null and void as if it had never existed.

And when eventually the talks reconvene they should be genuinely three-cornered and on an agenda where agreement is possible.

Not on sovereignty where agreement is not.

I was in Gibraltar again last Friday.

The people of Gibraltar are British and wish to remain British.

So long as that is their wish, we will never sell them out.

We have a coherent foreign policy:

· We will continue to fight international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

· We will continue to promote dialogue and peace in the Middle East and in Kashmir.

· We will stand up for the suffering people of Zimbabwe;

· We will respect the democratic voice of Gibraltar;

· We will continue to work for a sensible, restructured Europe.

· We will match our words with action.

And with values such as these we will hold Mr Blair to account.

And there will be more.

Reforming NATO to meet the new challenges.

Reviewing the structures of the UN to make it more effective.

Developing a new relevance for the Commonwealth.

Fighting against the global spread of famine and AIDS.

Using our unique global relationships to be a genuine influence for good, for freedom and for democracy.

All these will form part of our foreign policy for the 21st century.

We already have the chance to set down our markers.

In doing so we will be governed by principle rather than by photo-opportunity,

By conviction rather than by compromise.

I am ashamed at how this government shies away from the real challenges of British foreign policy today.

I didn't come into politics to shy away.

Or to be governed by political correctness.

It is time we threw off the outdated guilt ridden shadow of the past.

With Iain Duncan Smith we have the chance to walk tall in the world again.

He believes in Britain. He will speak for Britain. He will never sell Britain short.

The road ahead will be long and hard but in the end it will be worth it.

To be able to be proud of our country again.

We must have courage.

We must hold our heads high.

Our cause is Britain. Our watchword is freedom. We will keep faith with our friends.

And if we mean it, and if we do it, we will win.

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