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Dame Pauline Neville-Jones: It is time for a national security policy

Addressing the Conservative Party Conference today, Shadow Minister for Security, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, said:


It's great to be here in Blackpool.

The Conservative Party should always have a conference in the North. But I would say that — I'm from Leeds.

We live in an unquiet world. It is getting more dangerous. Al Qaeda terrorism. A Russian dissident murdered on the streets of London. Iran's nuclear ambitions.

That's why David Cameron asked me to put together a team of distinguished diplomats, military officers and academics to develop a new national security policy for the United Kingdom. To read our report, just go to the web address you can see behind me.

After the Berlin Wall came down, we thought we had won. And in Europe we had.

Not least thanks to Margaret Thatcher, we sent communism packing.

When Labour came to power Britain's international reputation stood high. Our Armed Forces, the best in the world, were ready to do what was asked of them. The country was united. We conservatives left a good inheritance.

But the Blair-Brown government has squandered it. The Blair-Brown government has damaged our international reputation, overstretched our Armed Forces and weakened the cohesion of the country.

They've made us less safe today than we were in 97. Military intervention abroad always carries risks. Labour failed to take the precautions at home that its policies abroad demanded.

The Conservative Party supported and still supports the intervention in Iraq. But Blair and Brown made huge mistakes of implementation which have had serious consequences for our security.

We're going to have to start right from the beginning. With our values.

And Despite what Brown and Blair have done, Britain still has tremendous assets which we can bring to the world.

Vibrant Parliamentary Democracy.

Our tradition of international aid and voluntary giving;

And the best Armed Forces in the World.

We will get our priorities right. We will pursue our interests competently and with care. We will make Britain safer.

We need to start with our country's historic friendships. Our friends in the Commonwealth. Our Friends in the rest of Europe and above all our friends in the United States These relationships are strongest when they have integrity. Look at what Bush and Blair did. And compare that with what Thatcher and Reagan achieved.


NATO saved democracy during the Cold War.

And now NATO is fighting on the front line for freedom. For our freedom and for Afghanistan's freedom. Success there is crucial to this country.

So what should the next Conservative Government do? This was the focus of our report.

Over eighteen months, our group took evidence from more than 120 witnesses from 19 countries.

These are our conclusions.

First, we need a national security policy. When damage to a pipeline in Russia can put up the price of heating in Redditch; when cartoons in Denmark can set off riots in Pakistan; when opium from Helmand can end up on the streets of Huddersfield it's crazy to put foreign and domestic security policy in separate boxes.

We will set up a National Security Council so policy is made in the round.

The most important thing is to ensure the security of the nation. As Security Minister that will be my task.

The security of our borders is essential to this, which is why we will create a dedicated border force. Gordon Brown claims he has done this. But his changes are cosmetic. A Conservative Government will enact new powers.

Our intelligence services and police are admired around the world.

Their counterterrorist work is essential.

But should there be, God forbid, a major terrorist attack, we need resilience. We need to be able to recover quickly. Government at all levels has a duty to prepare for this. And the next Conservative Government will make sure this happens.

Sometimes this will mean we will need help from our Armed Forces.

Did you know that under Labour the Armed Forces aren't supposed to defend the homeland?

But don't worry. We're in safe hands, Labour have given the Home Office the job instead…

The next Conservative Government will set up a Homeland Command to protect Britain. It also means that if there's a major emergency, like a flood, there will always be troops on hand to help.

And didn't they do a magnificent job when the floods hit this summer?

But our forces are so overstretched that we were lucky there were any there at all. We will treat them better.

When he took power Gordon Brown promised change.

All the Armed Forces got was small change.

They don't even have a full-time Secretary of State. Now that Des Browne has to spend half his time as Scottish Secretary, even he's overstretched.

A Conservative Government will make sure that the Armed Forces get the resources they need for the job we ask them to do.

And they will have a full time Defence Secretary, Liam Fox.

The international terrorist threat is the most serious threat to the security of the UK. Britain hasn't only been importing terrorism, it's been exporting it.

Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Hanif: the two men who blew up themselves and many others in an English pub, Mike's Place, in Israel. And Ahmed Omar Sayeed Sheikh who murdered the American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. These are but a few examples. They all came from the UK.

It is appalling that one of the oldest and greatest democracies in the world should be exporting terrorism.

So what will a Conservative Government do about this?

Strengthened international co-operation between intelligence agencies is essential. But it is not enough. We also need to secure our borders properly and we need a more sophisticated foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.

Although we must be ready to fight, it's clear that we can't protect the UK with the sword alone.

Yes, we need to promote our values.

We have long-standing relationships with the countries of the Middle East.

We need to use those relationships to persuade them to reform their societies and their political systems so they start to resolve the social and political problems that breed terrorism.

That's why we proposed a new Partnership for Open Societies, where the world's democracies work with the countries of the region to develop the institutions of liberal democracy.

This is going to take time. Democracies don't emerge fully-formed from the first election. They have to grow. We have to show what the military call strategic patience.

But this effort is essential if we are not only to bring individual terrorists to justice but also to put an end to the conditions in which they thrive.

Now let me be clear. We must bring those individual terrorists to justice. At home 41 terrorists have been convicted. Another 114 suspects are awaiting trial. We know there will be more: as the former head of MI5 has said, there are some 1600 suspects under surveillance.

The challenge for our society - and that means all of us - is to make ourselves secure without sacrificing our liberties.

Because our liberties make this country worth living in.

A Conservative Government will vigorously enforce the laws against extremism, allow terrorist suspects to be questioned after charge, support the use of intercept evidence in court whilst at the same time safeguarding the liberties of law abiding people.

But we also know that Labour Government policy has allowed Britain to become a permissive environment for the terrorists' ideology, which undermines the values that everyone living in this country should share.

So What has gone wrong?

Just as we have failed to promote our values abroad, we have neglected our values at home. The generation growing up has scarcely any knowledge of the British fight for freedom over the centuries. A Conservative Government will bring history teaching back for all our children.

If we don't even explain our values to our own children, we mustn't be surprised that newcomers to the country find them hard to take in.

This has left many of them vulnerable to extremists who undermine the institutions of the free society here.

Things have got so bad that when the radical Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir held its annual conference in Jakarta - the Indonesian government - a democracy - refused to allow its British spokesman, Imran Wahid, in. They felt he would be a danger to their security!

Last night, very serious allegations against Hizb ut Tahrir were made in a Panorama programme. It is vital that in such cases, the police investigate the allegations, not the programme makers.

We have left things drift for too long. We, as a society, need to defend and explain our values: that we are a liberal democracy; all our citizens are equal under a single secular law. These are values shared by all decent law abiding people from all communities in Britain.

This is a huge task that we all face. It will take time and it will take determination. But we must put the effort in. Because the key to our security is a strong, united, cohesive society.

Let me repeat: the key to our security is a strong, united, cohesive society.

In just a few minutes, Sayeeda Warsi, the Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion will be talking about this.

But first let's see Conservatives around the country discussing the report…"

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