Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

Mitchell: No more compromises with blood-thirsty tyrants

Speech to Conservative Party Conference 2005

"The people in that film are not asking for a hand out.

Magnan Fane and his family don't want our charity or sympathy.

They're not asking for something for nothing.

All they want is the chance to be able to sell their cotton for a fair price.

They want to be able to enjoy the opportunities that flow from free trade.

These are wholly natural desires.

But to achieve them poor countries need respect for the rule of law, for human rights and for property rights.

Those principles are the essential building blocks for free trade between both individuals and nations.

As our film explained their livelihood has been

destroyed by the selfish protectionist policies of Europe and of the US.

In the end the most effective way to help countries like Mali escape from poverty is to open up markets for their trade.

Sadly the record of the European Union on the issue of free trade is truly dreadful.

In the past five years Brussels has spent 20 Billion pounds on subsidising European agricultural exports.

At the same time when poor countries try to sell their agricultural goods to Europe, they often face enormous tariff barriers.

This is absolutely appalling

The Common Agricultural Policy not only hurts British taxpayers and consumers but also destroys the living standards of the poor.

It is a direct cause of African poverty and a waste of European taxpayers' money.

We Conservatives believe that protection for developed countries at the expense of the developing world is immoral and hypocritical.

It must be brought to an end.

In December there will be an important meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong.

At that meeting we call upon the Government to insist upon a rigorous timetable to phase out these unjust subsidies and destructive tariffs.

President Bush has said that he will scrap American farm subsidies if Europe will do so as well.

Let's take him up on that offer.

The recent ludicrous 'Bra Wars' row with China exposed the incompetence of the European Commission by its remarkable triple failure.

[First] They deprived British consumers of inexpensive clothing.

[Second] They deprived British retailers of the merchandise they need.

[Third] And they deprived Chinese traders of a route out of poverty.

And all this presided over by Britain's Labour Commissioner in Brussels, Peter Mandelson.

We must oppose any further transfer of powers from elected politicians to these bumbling protectionists in Brussels.

Our Party must keep up the fight for an open free trading Europe.

Earlier this summer millions of Conservatives across Britain, and many in this hall today, supported a British agenda at the G8 summit, to help the least well off on our world.

A world where half the global population live on less than £1.30 a day.

A world where each and every day 30,000 children die from disease or malnutrition which we have the power to prevent.

A world where HIV AIDS claims a toll of 8,000 victims a day.

In South Africa people spend more on burying their dead than they do on food and clothes for their family.

12 million children in Africa have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

Africa has more young orphans than Britain has children.

Over 100 million children receive no education. Their school fees - often less than £5 per term - are beyond their parents' means.

That is if they have any parents.

These are not just abstract figures.

They describe a horrifying reality.

Africa's children are like our children.

They laugh the same, they play the same, they show the same emotions and they have the same talents.

But denied an education they are denied the opportunity to flourish.

They are condemned from birth to a life of under achievement or premature death.

Their talent is wasted forever.

In the 19th century that great Conservative Benjamin Disraeli saw two nations in Britain - the rich and the poor.

If he were alive today he would see two worlds

The haves and the have nots.

With the gap between them getting wider and wider.

And Disraeli would be in no doubt that we can no more ignore such suffering in today's global village than he could in the Britain of his time.

As Conservatives we understand that there are no easy answers, no quick fixes.

Of course aid can and does make a huge difference in fighting poverty and disease in the developing world.

But we also know that if it were just a question of money African poverty would already be history.

Between 1960 and 1997 Africa received more than 200 billion pounds from western donors.

The equivalent of six Marshall Plans.

But very little of this money reached the poor.

Much was siphoned off into the Swiss bank accounts of corrupt African dictators.

Too often this aid has ended up as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

The Prime Minister claims that Africa has changed.

He claims that its leaders are now committed to good governance, transparency and respect for human rights.

Well, does he mean leaders like the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, a member of his Africa Commission whose security forces gunned down protestors on the streets of

Addis Ababa for challenging the integrity of the May elections?

Or the King of Swaziland who squanders his country's meagre resources to buy cars and build palaces for his ever increasing number of wives?

To some this behaviour is a bit of a joke.

But the joke is completely lost on the third of the Swazi population who suffer from HIV Aids - the highest infection rate in the world.

Or does he mean the odious Mugabe who once boasted that he was the black Hitler who would be ten times worse if necessary to keep power?

He has certainly tried to keep that grim promise.

His brutal expulsion of the white farmers was only a trial run.

He has since persecuted, starved and murdered hundreds of thousands of black Zimbabweans.

He has virtually destroyed a country once rich in natural resources and human potential.

The Prime Minister tells us to put our faith in the quiet diplomacy of the international community.

To many of us this so called quiet diplomacy smacks of gutless complicity.

Under a Conservative Government there will be no more compromises with blood-thirsty tyrants.

No more smiling press conferences with those who have the honour to lead their country but who steal from their people or abuse and terrorise them.

We will reform this Government's policy of direct budgetary support to African Governments where lump sums are transferred with no questions asked.

This is a blank cheque encouraging corruption and inefficiency.

It must stop.

We would channel hard working British taxpayers' money through the many brilliant organisations who do so much vital work and which so many of us support.

Organisations like the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and the Medical Missionaries of Mary, whose wonderful work I saw recently in Uganda, like WaterAid and Save the Children and many, many more.

Their efforts are saving the lives of so many who would otherwise have no chance.

The truth is that where British aid is spent well, where it is accountable and transparent, it can work miracles.

25 years ago British aid helped to eradicate small pox.

Today it is helping to eradicate polio.

In Uganda I was proud to see children who are alive today because of British help.

And that is why the next Conservative Government will tell the European Union that we are taking back control of our aid budget.

As Conservatives we know that the only way to help people in the long term is to empower them to help themselves.

This is not just true in Britain.

It is true in every part of the world where bad government crushes the talents of the people and starves them of opportunity.

The hard truth is that over recent years the number of Africans living in extreme poverty on under 65p per day has doubled.

More of the same just won't do.

Tony Blair talks a lot about respect.

Well let us show respect in our policies toward Africa.

Like us they have the ability to create prosperous economies, which employ and feed their people.

But they need to be helped to help themselves and not kept in a web of dependence from which they are too weak to break free.

Some people may call this tough love.

I call it compassionate Conservatism.

It was a former Conservative Prime Minster, Harold Macmillan, who famously talked of "The winds of change blowing through that continent".

Those winds are blowing harder now.

Big government, high taxation, simply throwing money at Africa.

These are not the answers.

European Union Reform, accountable aid and free trade- that is what is needed -Conservative values.

Make no mistake this is Tory territory.

We did it in Britain in the 1980s; we can help Africa and the developing world to do it now.

I am proud of the achievements of our Party in international development just as we are all proud of the way our Party transformed Britain when Margaret Thatcher came to power.

The faint hearts said it could not be done.

Well, the Conservative Party did it.

And remember it wasn't this Party that had to tear up its long held and cherished beliefs to secure election.

Those same beliefs, those same values,

those same principles which gave us the opportunity to serve the British people in Government will surely serve our Party and our country again.

For these are the beliefs, the values and the

principles which still bind our Party to the British people.

We pushed back the frontiers of the state. We set Britain free.

We are the same people.

This is the same Party.

United in our determination to improve lives.

Committed to changing Britain for the better.

Tory Idealism

One Nation

Modern Conservatism."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech