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Evans: The values of democracy

To the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Llandudno.

"On the 7th July last year I was in London, making my way to an engagement in the North of England.

Travelling by train, I left Kings Cross station shortly after 8 in the morning that day.

Barely half an hour later four young men using the same station - Kings Cross - as their base had launched the worst terrorist outrage ever committed on London's Underground network.

56 people were killed and more than 700 injured in the worst death toll in London since World War II.

Like all of you, I've thought about those terrible events quite a bit since then.

But most of all I've wondered what were these terrorists trying to achieve?

Those attacks on Londoners travelling to work in the morning, the destruction of the World Trade Center and attack on the Pentagon which killed just under 3000 people and the carnage at Madrid's Atocha railway station which killed 191 with more than 1400 injured were all calculated but indiscriminate attacks on ordinary people just going about their daily lives.

I think we see the purpose of the bombers in last week's attack on the golden temple at Samarrah.

These murderers who profess to kill in the name of Islam deliberately chose to attack one of Islam's holy shrines, and their aim is clear.

It is to fuel sectarian hatred and violence of the sort we have so sadly seen in Iraq throughout the past week.

Their aim is to sow chaos in order that the fundamental elements of our civilized democratic society collapse.

But I've also thought with some pride of our reaction in the West to these dreadful bloody outrages committed against us.

And the response whether in New York, Madrid or London has been the same.

A determination to carry on with life and not to allow ourselves to be terrorised.

The American pop band REM were due to play in Hyde Park on the 7th July.

They had to postpone their concert for a couple of days because of the London bombings, but they surely spoke for all of us when they performed for thousands with the backdrop WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

Our reaction shows the real power of our values not just in Britain but throughout the Western world.

The values which flow from our devotion to democracy, our over-riding belief in the value of every human life, our determination to defend freedom of speech, and to uphold personal liberty.

We are certainly fighting a war against terrorism and against the states and individuals that sponsor and pay for it throughout the world.

That has meant a complete re-evaluation of the nature of the terrorist threats we face and how we deal with them.

But in working out how we should be doing that, we must never lose sight of the values of democracy and personal freedom which were the terrorists real targets. We must always ensure that in improving international security we keep the preservation of these values as our priority.

That is a balance which Tony Blair has sadly forgotten in some of the proposals which he has brought to Parliament on detention without trial.

No one should be in any doubt of the Conservative Party's determination to help the Police in tackling terrorists,.

But we surely do the terrorists work for them if we then convert our country into a Police state with power to hold people for as long as three months without any charges.

We were right to defeat this. Tony Blair said he was convinced of the case by the Police themselves. Well as we have found this week, it doesn't take much to convince Mr Blair.

The man who was absolutely convinced that we all faced the imminent threat within 45 mins of weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein, is also convinced that a gift of a third of a million pounds is unlikely to be the subject of any sort of conversation over breakfast in the Jowell household.

Well he always claimed he was a straight sort of guy. But given their track record, I am not convinced that giving Sir Ian Blair or Richard Brunsdon every bit of power they want is the job of a responsible Prime Minister.

We have seen the idea of personal freedom challenged in two other ways in recent weeks.

The publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in Danish newspapers sparked violence throughout many parts of the world, Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended for a month for verbal abuse of a Jewish reporter and the Holocaust denier David Irving was sent to prison for his opinions in Austria.

These are clear tests for our democratic values. Our society has always defended the right to freely express opinions - even ones which we may personally find distasteful.

So if we defend the right of cartoonists to lampoon others -even distastefully - as I believe we must -, it must surely also be wrong to imprison or suspend others for only expressing their opinions however misguided or downright offensive.

The law of Austria is a matter for the Austrians, but I hope that David Cameron will make it clear that there is no prospect of a Conservative Government introducing a similar law herein the UK as suggested by shadow cabinet minister Theresa Villiers last week on Question time.

One thing that our new Leader has made clear is that he wants to build stronger transatlantic ties with the USA.

As the Chairman of the Transatlantic Legislative Dialogue, the body established to promote closer links between European and American politicians, I welcome this. In tackling terrorism throughout the world, there is a clear need for the closest security co-operation with Washington.

One of the biggest tests that we face in the short term comes from the determination of hardliners in the Iranian government to forge ahead with its ambitions to develop its own nuclear weapons, in open defiance of the international community. Iran's contempt for international law, and for the independent monitors of the International Atomic Energy Authority is a big challenge to us all.

And the threat is graver still when seen in terms of the Iranian President's threat to wipe the state of Israel from the map.

Major efforts have been made by Britain, France and Germany with the active support of the US State Department to get the Iranians to see sense, but without success.

It must now be a matter for the UN Security Council to show its resolve in dealing with the Iranians.

And here we must recognise the courage of nations like India and Pakistan in joining with the international community in challenging Iran.

They have shown greater statesmanship than President Putin of Russia. And the time is fast approaching when the Russian President should be challenged rather than continually indulged by Britain and the USA.

Russia's recent behaviour towards both Ukraine and Belarus remind us a little too much of Russian foreign policy during the Cold War.

The Middle East conflict has long been recognised as a potential powder keg. The incapacity of Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon and the recent election of Hamas to government in Palestine is a major threat to the painstaking peace efforts pursued for so long by so many well meaning people.

Let us be in no doubt - Hamas is an unashamed terrorist organisation which prides itself on having sent more than sixty suicide bombers into Israel to kill ordinary men women and children.

They do not recognise Israel's right to exist, but still demand that the international community provide them with the financial aid and assistance which funds the Palestinian authority.

No terrorist organisation, whether elected or not - should receive funding from British taxpayers, while that organisation remains committed to terrorism.

The message to Hamas must be clear. They must renounce violence, commit themselves to the two state solution and engage in constructive dialogue with their neighbours.

There is no room for equivocation on this. If Hamas fail to renounce violence they must be treated as a pariah government and forfeit international financial support.

It is also a shame that the Synod of the Church of England appears to have so little to say on all this, but apparently plenty to say about about the US bulldozer manufacturer Caterpillar.

Apparantly the Israeli Army uses Caterpillar bulldozers. The Synod disapproves of this and so have withdrawn theitr investments from the US Manufacturer oblivious of the crucial role with Caterpillar bulldozers played in tackling the wreckage of the tsunami in South East Asia.

No wonder even Lord Carey was moved to denounce the double standards and crass stupidity of the Synod of the Church of England.

Terrorism, Iran, the Middle East are clear security challenges for us and America, and it is vital that we work together on them.

But the relationship is much more important than just security. The economic links between Europe and the USA are huge. We invest almost $900 billion a year in the US and they invest over $700 billion a year in Europe.

Our financial bonds are already the strongest in terms of financial markets and world trade - links which have continued to expand and grow throughout the past few years.

Here in Wales, the major international investor in our manufacturing industry is not Japan or Europe - it is the USA. And be in no doubt, these US investors are not making goods for export to the US market - they are making goods to sell into Europe.

Recently our new Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague travelled to Washington with Liam Fox and George Osborne to re-establish links with the Republicans following Tony Blair's infatuation with George Bush.

This is all welcome, and William is clearly well qualified for this job as former Chairman of the International Democratic Union - the worldwide alliance of Conservative parties which embraces the American republicans, John Howard's party in Australia and the newly elected Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

It is certainly good to see Conservatives back in power this year in both Canada and Germany.

As William looks to build our Party's international alliances I hope that he will look to the IDU for our Party's partners in the various bodies which operate at a supra-national level.

But it is also important to recognise that this Bush administration has a limited lifespan ahead of it.

A new US President will be elected within two years, and could even come from the Democrat side, so our dialogue must urgently get going and must be with both sides of the American political divide.

Others are already recognising this. A year ago, the German Chancellor Socialist Gerd Schroder together with Jacques Chirac - formed the vanguard - the bedrock - of anti Americanism in Europe.

Today the new Conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reversed German foreign policy and is already aiming to re-establish Germany as America's primary ally in Europe - a position which Germany first established under the Presidency of George Bush's father in the early 90s.

And in France the long tired and tawdry reign of Jacques Chirac seems to be coming under increasing challenge from the centre right Party leader Nikolas Sarkozy - an unashamed Atlanticist.

But while we have these strong bonds with America on security, defence and economic matters, we must also recognise that we have as friends one or two disagreements.

In the middle of the last Presidential election, George Bush launched a complaint in the World Trade Organisation which has ensnared both Boeing and Airbus.

We have special reasons for concern over this dispute here in Wales. Airbus manufactures most of the wings for its planes at Hawarden just along the A55 in what is today Britain's largest manufacturing facility.

More than 12,000 jobs are at stake here, and it is truly extraordinary that the US authorities should have chosen to use the WTO rather than negotiate a solution acceptable to both companies.

In launching its complaint, the then US Trade Representative said that the WTO would referee the dispute.

But the WTO has also refereed at least three other recent disputes in which the US Congress have later refused to accept the outcome.

Our close friendship with the United States must not constrain us as Conservatives from standing up and fighting for the legitimate trade interests of workers here in Wales - and it won't.

But we could certainly do with a more competent government in Cardiff Bay promoting Wales' place on the world stage.

Rhodri Morgan likes to see himself as a player in international current affairs.

After all, why otherwise should he have poured millions of our money into establishing Welsh embassies all over the world.

Surely not just to give his fellow ministers the opportunity of a little more international travel. Well they have been dispatched to all corners of the globe - to study matters as varied as education in Cuba and rugby in Australia.

But if Wales is to really establish itself worldwide, we will need a rather more convincing figurehead than Rhodri.

We will shortly hear from or excellent Leader in the National Assembly Nick Bourne, but though Nick is our man for the job

In a sense, almost everyone in Wales is better qualified than Rhodri. Why?

Well everyone else in Wales - except Rhodri - could see that our country should be represented by its First Minister at the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

And everyone in Wales - except Rhodri -had an opinion about the Iraq war.

This is the man with an opinion on everything from the wading patterns of ducks to the line-up of the Welsh rugby team, but with no opinion on the most debated issue of the last decade.

As one audience member said on Question Time. Rhodri have you seen yourself, man. This is going out on television all over Britain. You are embarrassing your country and you are embarrassing yourself..

None of us could have put it better.

The embarrassment of this useless, worthless incompetent administration of Rhodri Morgan and Labour in Cardiff Bay can be ended next year. It won't be a moment too soon."

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