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Fox: Time for action

Speech to Conservative Party Spring Conference

"Today, across the whole of our country, people are witnessing the decay of a government that they once trusted but which they feel has betrayed them, a government which promised so much but has achieved so little. It is led by a Prime Minister whose priorities are all wrong and whose motivation is deeply suspect.

Arrogantly, he takes people for granted and increasingly he plays politics with issues instead of dealing with them. He wants to control things that are our business but can't control things that are his business. He wants to control smoking and smacking and hunting but he can't control immigration or crime or asylum. He will apologise for any event in our history that's nothing to do with him but he won't apologise for anything that's the fault of him or his government. And let me tell you - anyone who criticises them is subjected to ridicule, abuse and bullying.

How far it all seems from 1997,when he promised to be whiter than white. What a tragedy Blair's New Labour has become.

Most of us are not surprised by what has happened. But it seems to have come as a recent revelation to Gordon Brown that he can't believe anything that Tony Blair tells him.

Strikes me he's bit of a slow learner. Because Tony Blair has form. He'll say anything he has to at any time to anyone. Try these.

In 1983, guess who said "We'll negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs" Yes, the same Tony Blair who said in 1994 "I have always believed that our country can prosper best within Europe".

Who told the Unions in 1983 "having fought long and hard for their freedoms unions will not give them up lightly. We shall oppose the Bill which is a scandalous and undemocratic measure against the trade union movement". The same Tony Blair who told the Daily Telegraph in 1996 "there is no going back on the Thatcherite trade union reforms". Come on Gordon, you can't be that surprised.

Who told us that told us the security services were absolutely certain that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which were ready to be used within 45 minutes when that was not their position and who told us this week that the security services were against a sensible time limit on the Government's Terror Bill when they had said nothing of the sort. For once Gordon you are right - you cannot believe a word this man says.

Of course, you're right, Prime Minister - we do face a terrorist threat. Everyone agrees with that. But there are hundreds of thousands of people in this country illegally because you have failed to control immigration and asylum. You don't know who they are and you don't know where they are because have failed in your first duty to keep our borders secure. And what is your response? Not to put them behind bars but behind their front doors living tagged among us in our communities. Despite all your talk, you are not improving our security. Like the Chancellor, we don't believe a word you say either.

You promised "not just to save the NHS but to make it better" and you promised that "a greater proportion of every pound will go on patient care and not bureaucracy" Yet the reality is that more people are dying of infections caught while in NHS hospitals. Fewer people have access to an NHS dentist. We have a huge increase in red tape, bureaucracy and targets. And the scandal of degrading mixed sex wards remains despite false claims that they had been eliminated. Is it any wonder no one trusts you anymore.

And remember "education, education, education"? You said "discipline is vital in schools" yet last year over a million pupils played truant and a teacher is assaulted every seven minutes in Britain's classrooms. Some discipline. And you even said "I want schools released from form filling" yet you issued on average 12 pages of paperwork for every school day last year. How can anyone trust you ever again?

And now after 8 years of broken promises and failure to deliver he's at it again. Only yesterday he promised "a step change in the fight against crime and disorder if Labour are re-elected." Who does he think has been in office for the past 8 years? Who does he think should carry the responsibility for the explosion in violent crime? When drunken yobs terrify elderly people or women are afraid to walk down streets in the dark does he think it is nothing to do with his government?

Government is not about dewy eyed sincerity or pandering to today's fashion or lip quivering BAFTA worthy performances. It is about delivering on your promises and making things better for the forgotten majority of the people in this country. That is why no one should trust Tony Blair ever again.

All we get from this Prime Minister is more talk but we've heard it all before. It is now a time for action.

At this election there will be a clear choice facing the British people.

On immigration and asylum, we will make clear that we don't have to put up with the shambles that Labour has created. Britain should not be a soft touch. All countries benefit from controlled immigration, but uncontrolled immigration has to stop. We will set a quota on the number of people allowed to come into the United Kingdom each year. And we will apply strict rules on work permits so that we can take in the skills we require, without giving automatic settlement.

On health, we will show that we do not need to put up with dirty hospitals or the continuing scandal of mixed sex wards. It is a terrible indictment that in the world's fourth richest country at the beginning of the 21st century up to 1% of all deaths in the UK last year were due to hospital acquired infections. We will abolish the target culture which has so distorted the ethical priorities in the NHS. We will set professionals free to do what they were trained to do without the interference of bureaucrats or ministers. We will give hospital matrons the power to close down infected wards. And we will give patients the right to go to any NHS hospital, free of charge, in any part of the country. For the first time, we will create a truly National Health Service.

And what's wrong with a little discipline in our schools? Why shouldn't parents have the right to determine which schools their children go to? Why shouldn't parents and patients have a choice about what happens to them or their families? These are the things that a Conservative government will bring.

We are the party that believes in lower taxes. It has been too long since this Party stood up boldly for the case for lower taxes and Oliver Letwin deserves our thanks. Because lower taxes are good for the economy and good for individuals. They liberate enterprise, reward hard work, and they reduce the influence of government in our lives, allowing people to make more decisions for themselves. By reducing the terrible waste of the Blair years we will give value for taxpayers pounds. Let me remind you - there is no such thing as government money, there is only taxpayers money. And with the plans set out by Oliver we will control the rate of growth of public spending, ensuring that we continue to expand the services that really matter while setting the ground for lower taxes.

And there will be a choice at this election, between the rise in violent crime under Labour and a Conservative government that will get to grips with law and order. We want to see more police on the streets to deter crime. And when criminals are caught and sentenced the public should know exactly how long they will stay behind bars. We will end Labour's early release scheme where prisoners are set free while the public live in fear. The point of our criminal justice system is to protect the law abiding and punish the law breakers.

And if the BBC are listening, we will certainly not allow criminals to benefit financially from their crimes. Unlike Labour, we won't just talk - we will change the law to do something about it.

But there is one other choice that we must make. It is the choice of leadership for our country. Our current Prime Minister Tony Blair was handed a golden economic legacy, two enormous parliamentary majorities and great public goodwill. Yet his government has been characterised by failure to deliver on public services, broken promises - on student fees and taxes - and above all, a seemingly irreparable breakdown of trust.

We need a change at the top. We need a change of direction for Britain.

We need a Prime Minister who is straight talking and honest.

We need a Prime Minister, willing to make the tough decisions on reform.

We need a Prime Minister who doesn't want to be all things to all men.

We need a Prime Minister willing to defend our traditions and heritage, who is in tune with our national identity, and who believes in an independent United Kingdom.

Michael Howard will be that Prime Minister. And with your help we will deliver a government for Britain that really believes in Britain.

Time for Action.

A clear choice."

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