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Duncan Smith: A fair deal for everyone

Launch of the Conservative Party's new "A fair deal for everyone" strategy at the University of London

"Twelve days ago - the Conservatives came through the local government elections in good shape.

There are now three thousand more Conservative councillors than in 1997.

That reflects two years of hard work at all levels of the party, throughout the country...

...Work which has brought us to a stronger place from which to go forward to the next election.

We now have a clear understanding of what the British people want and deserve from their government.

And it's that which I plan to address here this morning.

What we heard from the voters on May Day was just that -

-- it was a Mayday signal, a call for help

-- -- above all, a call for delivery.

The people of Britain - want - delivery.

Since I became leader of the Conservative Party, I have been travelling almost every week to different parts of the country to see and hear for myself the experience of life in Britain today.

I must have met more people in the last two years then in my previous 47.

And this is what they have told me...

They feel disillusioned and insecure.

They feel let down and neglected.

They feel penalised and stifled.

And they are getting angry.

This is what we've all heard --

A growing sense of frustration...

A cry for reform...

... for delivery...

... for value for money.

We've heard a cry for a fair deal.

At the next election, Labour will have to persuade people that, after a decade of failure, they should be given a third chance and five more years.

But they don't deserve a third chance.

Labour promised so much; but have delivered so little.

And yet they had everything going for them.

The economy was buoyant.

They had two huge majorities.

They enjoyed the goodwill of the British people.

But they have squandered their opportunity.

Labour - have - failed.

They've failed because they've ducked almost all of the tough decisions they should have taken.

Mr Blair's habit of making big promises has never led him to take big decisions.

When it comes to raising standards in our schools and hospitals, Labour have been too afraid to trust the teachers and doctors who deserve to be cut free from political control and bureaucracy.

Labour's biggest ambition has been to reach for the taxpayer's cheque-book.

But a heavier tax burden on hard-working families is not delivering promised improvements in public services or value for money.

When it comes to fighting crime, Labour hasn't been fair to those who play by the rules.

It zealously pursues petty offences but surrenders in the face of hardened criminals.

The innocent are afraid to leave their homes at night while the guilty walk free.

Burglars stay out of prison - while police officers stay off the streets, tied down by bureaucracy.

When it comes to fighting poverty, Labour is full of ambitious talk.

Yet they create a bigger and bigger welfare system rather than provide people with the opportunity to escape poverty altogether.

This isn't a fair deal for anyone.

Labour's weak policies - like those of the Liberal Democrats - involve big burdens and small ambitions.

They respond to every problem by increasing the power of politicians and the centralised state.

But a greedy, know-all state crushes public service professionalism and voluntary action - just as much as it flattens economic enterprise.

The Labour state lacks the vision to see things that don't yet exist.

After all, it's the teacher - not the state - who notices hidden talents in disruptive children.

It's a small businessman - not the state - who creates new jobs where they are needed most.

It's a social entrepreneur - not the state - who has the imagination to mend broken communities.

Labour just don't see it.

Labour have failed our public services, and weakened our economy --

-- because by believing that one side can only gain at the expense of the other-

-- they don't see the interdependence between the two.

They have insisted that people make choices... ...choices based on exaggerated extremes.

They have insisted that improvements in public services can only be delivered through greater state control...

...even if it has to be at the expense of professional freedom and parental or patient choice.

And what's more, they have told the British people that they must either pay more taxes to subsidise this state control...

...or they must suffer deteriorating public services.

But in insisting on this, they miss a fundamental point.

These are not real alternatives.

They are false choices -- they reflect an abject failure of political ambition.

That's why more and more people are getting a raw deal.

And because Labour have failed to deliver...

...high hopes have been replaced by deepening cynicism...

...and an enduring sense of betrayal.

But - it - wasn't - meant - to - be - like - this... ... ...

In 1997 Labour promised us so much.

They promised a more just Britain.

On the eve of his first election victory, Mr Blair said that education would be his priority and that there were twenty-four hours to save the NHS.

Six years later...

...there are still a million people on hospital waiting lists...

...and a school teacher is attacked every seven minutes.

The sick -- the old -- and the young -- have been betrayed by Labour.

In 1997 Labour promised a safer Britain.

Mr Blair promised to be tough on crime - as well as its causes.

Six years later Britain's streets have never been more violent.

A violence perpetrated by gangs - armed with guns and fuelled by drugs.

The thousands of communities plagued by crime - and the fear of crime -- have been betrayed by Labour.

In 1997 Labour promised an enterprising Britain.

Mr Blair said that he had no plans to raise taxes at all.

Sixty tax rises later - and with British business tied down by red tape - the people who create the nation's wealth and its jobs have been betrayed.

As a result, many in Britain are losing confidence that their quality of life will ever improve.

The Government is taking fifty per cent more in tax...

...but people don't feel they're getting value for money.

And they know that their futures are being jeopardised twice over -- by low standards and by rising taxes.

Their security in retirement has been stolen by Labour's raid on their pensions... ...

Many are concerned about the security of their jobs as they see sales and investment falling and firms cutting back... ...

And everybody in work is taking home less pay -- because of last month's National Insurance tax hike.

These people -- who are the quiet strength of Britain -- feel the heavy hand of a failing government holding them back.

They are losing confidence that any government can make a positive difference to their lives.

And they're not just giving up on Mr Blair.

Some are turning their backs on democracy altogether -

-- and choosing not to vote, in ever greater numbers.

But even so, despite Labour's efforts, Britain remains a great country.

We are all rightly proud of our country's achievements and our place in the world.

But -- after six years of standing still -- we have reached a point in our history when, if we do not build on our past achievements, we endanger our future.

And so we face a fundamental challenge:

To achieve our goals we must answer three vital questions.

One, is it right to embrace reforms that will deliver world-class public services for the British people or to settle for second best?

It's surely right to embrace reforms that have already worked in other countries.

The poor, the sick and the old will suffer most if we do not have the courage to reform our public services and deliver solutions to Labour's crime and asylum crises.

Two, is it fairer to value the people that play by the rules; or to make them pay for those who don't?

It is surely fairer to appreciate that when people do the right thing all of society benefits.

If we break the backbone of Britain, no-one gets opportunity or security.

Three, is it better to overcome the greatest challenges of our time or merely to manage them?

We must surely have ambition for Britain.

We must have ambition not just to contain the drug menace - but to defeat it...

..Not just to make poverty more bearable for people - but to free them from it...

...Not just to slow down the destruction of our countryside - but to end it...

...And above all else...

...we must have the ambition to deliver prosperity and world-class public services.

Labour have sat this exam and failed.

They've been asked three questions ...

... and - they've - got - all - three - wrong.

Only the Conservatives are willing to embrace what has worked in other countries...

...we are willing to stand up for those who play by the rules...

...and we share the ambitions of the British people.

We have the ambition to deliver prosperity and world-class public services to Britain.

It is only Labour and the Liberal Democrats who persist in believing that one must be at the expense of the other.

Britain can be a far better place than it is becoming under Labour.

We must now persuade the British people to give us the opportunity to set a new course.

But we must not pretend that peoples' ambitions can be achieved with easy gestures.

Britain doesn't just need a change of management - it needs a different - kind - of - government - altogether.

Britain needs a government that understands that more people are left behind when more people are held back.

It needs a government that stands back in order for its people to step forward.

The Conservative Party's fair deal for everyone is built on a unifying commitment to ensure that no-one is held back and no-one is left behind.

Everyone deserves security and opportunity and we all depend on each other for our security and opportunity.

This is an enriching interdependence between people - not a stifling dependence on the state.

This fair deal commitment is rooted in a deep respect for the value and potential of every human being.

Fulfilment of potential is about much more than personal wealth.

Lasting fulfilment stems from shared purpose --

-- building community, raising the next generation and public service.

Ultimately, materialism is not enough.

The Conservative Party's commitment is to nurture every person's full potential...

...enabling them to grow as individuals and to stand tall as citizens.

A Conservative Government will actively support families -- and other social networks -- that help people to become the best that they can be.

Secure families and strong local communities prepare people for a fulfilled life.

The breakdown of family and community erodes the fundamental sources of fulfilment and aspiration.

And without aspiration - there can be no social progress.

I want to pause for a moment to thank Jeremy Swain and Ray Lewis for their contributions today.

Their drive to improve their communities is inspirational.

They and their organisations can achieve results that governments can only dream of.

Of course, Jeremy and Ray are not the only people here today making a real difference to our country.

In different places and in different ways you have all taken tough decisions - and you've all succeeded.

Succeeded in providing more people with opportunity and security.

What you do makes a real difference.

That's why I invited you here today.

So that the spirit of your success inspires our preparations for government.

That's why I'm sharing with you my vision of how we might bring hope and a fair deal to Britain.

I pledge to you --

-- and the many across Britain like you --

-- that the next Conservative Government will not hold you back --

-- so in turn you can help society to leave no one behind.

Our fair deal is built on a commitment to an enterprising economy...

...and to excellence in the public services... ...

... ... it will help to build a cohesive society.

A successful political settlement must create better public services and a more socially just Britain.

...Yet it must not penalise those who work hard through higher and higher taxes.

Not only are the two parts of this mission equally important --

-- they depend on and reinforce each other.

Just as Britain needs a strong economy to pay for the public services on which we all depend...

...so we need our public services and quality of life to be so much better...

... if we are to become a confident nation once again where people want to live and do business.

Just as the creation of wealth is at the root of social security--

-- so prosperity and public services must be placed side by side in harness

-- driving Britain forward.

The Conservative Party is determined to rebuild this country as one nation.

We understand the fundamental relationship between prosperity and public services.

We want the next Conservative Government to have the opportunity to transform Britain's quality of life --

-- in the same way as the last Conservative government successfully transformed our economy.

We will enable the professionals at the heart of Britain's public services to deliver the world-class healthcare and education that every local community deserves.

We will nourish networks within society - like families, charities and faith communities - that provide all of us with opportunity and security.

And by reforming and improving our public services...

...we can offer taxpayers a better deal...

..and better value for their money.

There is no contradiction between delivering sustained prosperity and world-class public services.

And there is no contradiction between giving a fair deal to those who need jobs and those who create them.

A fair deal for everyone is possible.

The British people deserve no less.

The fair deal agenda has been at the heart of the Conservative Party's mission since I became leader.

From day one we have been developing ideas and policies that will deliver a fair deal for all our people.

Liam Fox's patient passport will help people -- who've already waited long enough -- to afford treatment from a hospital of their choice.

New York declared war on criminals and won.

Oliver Letwin and I will build on the rock of that success.

Forty thousand extra police officers on Britain's streets will lead the battle to recapture communities from crime and drugs.

In managing the economy and taxation, we will - as Conservative local councils prove all over Britain - always be a lower tax party than Labour.

We will be careful with what the government takes from taxpayers --

-- rooting out waste and offering them value for money in return.

It's time for a government to end the disgraceful exploitation of our shambolic asylum system.

Our proposed quota system will provide refuge to genuine asylum seekers to whom, as a compassionate nation, we owe help, and a fair deal for the citizens of this country who should not be taken for granted or have their security threatened.

In Holland, parents have much greater freedom to send their child to a school that meets their needs and reflects their values.

Damian Green's state scholarship proposal will give the same right to parents in Britain's most hard-pressed areas.

The money that the state spends on a child's education should be free to be used at a school chosen by that child's parents.

We must help those currently left behind by our education system to achieve their potential by bringing inner city schools up to the standards of the best...

...and by developing world-class vocational education.

And we will scrap Labour's university tuition fees - a tax on learning.

Their fees have penalised hard-working families who want their children to get on.

We will make the university sector better focused and will provide places to all who will benefit from them, on the basis of their merit and their potential...

...Regardless of their background...

...Regardless of their means.

That's our fair deal for students and universities.

We have already committed to these --

-- and many more policies to ensure that no-one is held back and no-one is left behind..

But our ambitions do not stop there.

Here in Britain, there are too many people excluded from prosperity --

even in the best of economic times.

Poverty and unemployment are passed from one generation to the next and are cruelly concentrated on estates where hope is in retreat.

Restoring hope to deeply disadvantaged places like Easterhouse will be a priority for the next Conservative government.

In fact, this week, I will unveil sixteen proposals to rebuild the community infrastructure on which poor neighbourhoods depend.

Beating poverty is one ambition.

But its success can depend on another --- beating drugs.

The war on drugs must be won.

Conservatives will not tolerate the cowardly defeatism of this government's attitude to crack and heroin.

The twenty thousand extra rehab places we've already promised are only the start of what we want to achieve.

When young people turn to drugs they're turning their backs on their families and their futures--

-- rejecting everything society has to offer.

But a decent society should not turn its back on them.

It must make the use of heroin or crack cocaine an unacceptable choice.

It must possess the ambition for those young people that they temporarily lack for themselves.

Up and down the country, there are parents battling to save their children from drugs.

People I've met... ... like Sue Coe in Faversham and Jim Doherty in Gallowgate ... ... deserve a government that will fight alongside them.

A government that believes their children have a future.

My ambition -- to free the next generation from drugs -- is unshakeable.

I - want - to - say - plainly - just what it is we believe about society...

...about how Britain should be governed...

...and about what, fundamentally, will guide the next Conservative Government.

We believe that no-one is helped by holding back people who create wealth. . .

We believe that no-one is helped by holding back the professionals at the heart of our public services. . .

We believe that no-one is helped by holding back the children in schools who are seeking to make their mark in life. . .

We believe that no-one is helped by holding back local communities, or crushing the social networks that provide people with security and a sense of belonging.

And because we believe these things. . .

The next Conservative Government will allow people to be all that they can be...

...We will encourage the creation of excellence and of opportunity....

...We will ensure - - - that no-one is held back.

We believe that society is weakened by trapping people in dependency. . .

Labour has failed because they have ignored the drug and crime driven despair of our poorest communities as society is hollowed out from within.

Conservatives need the courage and vision to commit Britain to a better course.

To be a 'can do' and compassionate Britain.

Where entitlements are met because responsibilities are upheld.

Our is no less than a fight for a new political frontier.

The frontier we must cross as a people is the frontier between decline and hope.

This is what I mean when I say that Conservatives will deliver a fair deal for everyone...

...a country where no-one is held back...

...and no-one is left behind.

This is the purpose of our party.

This will be the purpose of the first Conservative government of the 21st Century."

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