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Ancram: 'We will stay with this fight until it is won'

Speaking at the 118th Conservative Party Conference the Shadow Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Ancram QC MP said;

Today, not for the first time in the history of our conference, we meet under the shadow of terrorism and conflict.

Our Party is no stranger to conflict and the sacrifices demanded by it. In 1982 we grieved for lives lost in the southern Atlantic in defence of freedom, but believed that the value of freedom was worth the cost. And we believe that still today.

Our Party knows terrorism. Those of us who were in the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984 know what it is to be bombed. We know what it is to lose friends at the hands of the terrorist. We remember vividly the fear and the sadness and the loss.

We know too that terrorism must never be allowed to win.

So we have never flinched in the face of terrorist threats. We have never drawn back from the defence of freedom. We have always been at the forefront of the fight.

Now, today, we are asked once again to reassert that the evil of terrorism will never triumph.

We do so with all the determination at our command.

We meet at a grave time in our history.

Today our forces are in action. In the days and weeks to come that action may increase.

It is easy for us to talk about principles, about beliefs and about values and of our duty to preserve them. It is our brave service men and women who have to carry those words through.

We owe them not only our thoughts and our prayers. We owe them our loyalty and gratitude as well. And above all we owe them our pride. Their professionalism, their dedication and courage have no parallel.

Today we pledge them our wholehearted support.

And our thoughts must also today be with Yvonne Ridley and her family. We pray for her safety.

Almost four weeks have passed since the terrible outrages of 11 September which literally shook the world. We must never forget the 6000 innocent lives so murderously cut short.

It was the day that for many of us the 21st century lost its innocence.

It was the day when terrorism moved on from being a territorial enemy to being the enemy of us all, an unseen enemy with no rules and no limits.

It was the day when the world began to realise that unless we came together to crush this malign and evil force it would eventually crush us.

Those terrible images still scar our minds.

The diving planes, the hideous fireballs, the human figures jumping to their deaths.

The collapsing towers. The realisation that we were literally witnessing the extinguishing of thousands of innocent lives by a calculated act of terror aimed at the heart of freedom itself.

And then through the darkness and the dust and the smoke, the shining torch of the indomitable spirit of man.

The brave messages of love from those facing death. The almost unbelievable self-sacrificing valour of the emergency services. The dignity of the bereaved.

And from that torch the first flicker of a new hope.

This was first and foremost America's tragedy. It struck at the beating heart of America and inflicted deep and vicious wounds. As America's truest friend we naturally shared the pain and the grief of it with them. Our hearts still go out to them today.

But it killed hundreds of our own and many other nationals too.

It discriminated neither between nations or religions. It murdered Muslims and Christians and Jews alike.

This was a crime against us all. It was a crime against humanity, against ordinary working people, against mothers and children, against the freedom to live.

It demonstrated in a world of international terrorism without limits how vulnerable we all are.

Now we must face up to that vulnerability and mend it. And we started that process yesterday.

What we saw last night was harsh. If it is to be effective it must be harsh.

It must once and for all crush this evil of international terrorism and leave no place for it to grow again.

President Bush's statement yesterday makes clear that is his aim. It must be ours as well.

We must for the moment cast aside differences and come together in common cause both here and abroad to see it done.

That is why the nature and tone and length of this Conference have been changed and why we are opening with this debate.

We will look at the terrorist threat and the challenges it poses. We will consider the consequences for our armed forces. And we will look at the implications of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the obligations which flow from it.

And at the end I hope that we will in clear and resolute tones reassert our determination and our willingness to see through whatever it takes to achieve our goal.

The times ahead will be difficult.

We are not facing a simple military action with a clear and limited goal.

We are taking on an often hidden enemy which unless stopped will beyond doubt escalate its campaign of terrorism against us all.

We know now that this is an enemy with no conscience, no humanity, no limits and no room for compromise. This is a terrorism capable of delivering worldwide destruction on a massive scale.

It threatens us all and that is why we have responded.

Let us be clear. This fight will be hard and long and painful. There will be no triumph, but rather the slow and grinding destruction of the apparatus of international terror wherever it is to be found.

It is a fight which must be fought.

Doing nothing in the face of terrorist challenge has never been an option.

On 11 September it was human flying bombs driven without mercy into crowded buildings.

Next time it could be even worse.

The weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, nuclear are increasingly available. And the terrorists who confront us would not hesitate to use them.

They must be beaten.

Nor was it an option to seek a negotiated answer.

I know about negotiations and I know a bit about terrorism too.

Terrorism feeds on appeasement and concession. Those siren voices who press for dialogue are the "appeasement challenges" of our generation. We must reject them.

Terrorism is never about negotiation or compromise or democratic solutions. It is simply about terror, because that is the sole means of the terrorist to effect change.

There is only one message which can be sent to the terrorists and those who support them.

You can be for peace and justice and democracy with us, or you can be for blackmail and terrorism on your own. You cannot be for both. And if you are not with us, then you must bear the harsh consequences which inevitably will follow.

That is what the Taliban and bin Laden are learning today

The fight to eradicate international terrorism cannot be fought by one nation alone.

That is why our commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans is so vital and why we must stick to it through thick and thin.

We trust them. They have stood by us in our times of need and we will stand by them now in theirs.

We have supported Tony Blair in his robust commitment to President Bush and we will continue to do so.

This is no time for qualification or weasel words. The worst support of all is an uncertain support. Ours is wholehearted and in pursuit of our objective wholehearted it will remain.

That objective is to rid the world of terrorism, to hunt it down wherever it occurs, to starve it of the ill-gotten finance upon which it feeds, to deny it the shelter and hiding places upon which it relies, and then to eradicate it.

And we mean all terrorism, anyone who seeks to achieve political ends by the use of the blackmail of terror and violence and murder.

We must be clear that we are not just looking at Bin Laden and al Qa'eda but at the terrorism of Hezbollah and Hamas, of ETA, of FARC. And even closer at home at the still active remnants of the IRA and the Loyalists who continue to retain and use their apparatus of terror.

No terrorists can be exempt.

But we must start with the removal of Bin Laden and his henchmen. We know that unless checked he will stop at nothing. We know of the evidence of his involvement in the horrors of 11 September.

The justification for going after him is now self-evident.

The threat of further atrocities is there. If proof of that threat was needed, his words yesterday chillingly provided it.

That operation has now begun, and we must put our support behind it.

I know that it will bring pressures on many states within the region around Afghanistan. I pay tribute to those of them who have joined us in a coalition of intent.

Our Leader and I recently met the ambassadors of all the Arab states. I was heartened by their condemnation of the atrocities in New York and Washington. They did not hesitate to denounce the evil of these murderous and indiscriminate crimes.

And at this difficult time we must not lose sight of that fact.

The destruction of the World Trade Centre and the damage to the Pentagon had no idealistic purpose. They were a coldly calculated and wanton destruction of human life.

Bin Laden's terrorism has no true religious foundation. Any ideal it purports to follow, as is so often the case with terrorists, is an ideal which has been distorted and perverted.

His very aims mock that core belief in humanity and peace which is common to all our main religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity alike.

This is not about religion but about a form of terrorism which threatens us all.

I pay special tribute to Pakistan for the stalwart way in which they have stood against intimidation and supported the fight against terrorism. They are in the front line. Yet they have done the right and brave thing when it might have been easier to do nothing.

We respect them for it. But now we must do more. We must show them that we will give them friendship and support in the difficult years which lie ahead.

We can start with the international response to the humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and on Pakistan's borders with it.

We can balance the international fight against terrorism with an equal international effort to meet the growing problems of starvation and deprivation in that area, and to help re-establish stability within Afghanistan itself.

We can show that we do genuinely understand the fears and the angers and the resentments which spring from hardship, and that our fight is against that hardship too.

That is how we can with sensitivity and sincerity start to show our support for Pakistan at this hardest of times. And indeed our support too for the ordinary people of Afghanistan with whom we have no quarrel and no fight.

I welcome also the efforts to bring about a new ceasefire in the Middle East.

We all know, and bin Laden knows too, that renewed fighting between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours destabilises the wider Arab world and can only be helpful to his interests. He through the tentacles of his organisation will surely seek to provoke such conflict whenever he can.

We who are friends of Israel, as we are also of so many of her Arab neighbours, must urge the resumption of peace talks and, in the face of provocation, restraint.

With the understanding of so many countries in the Middle East and with the help and cooperation of Russia and her allies to the north, the ending of bin Laden's reign of terror is within reach. It must now be achieved.

But that will not be the end of it.

International terrorism is not some monster which once the head is cut off will wither and die. Bin Laden's removal would still leave behind a formidable network of terror stretched across the world.

There are many other potential bin Ladens out there, equally contemptuous of human life and equally determined to wreak death and destruction.

We along with America and all those who stand with us must make it clear, as President Bush did yesterday, that the fight against international terrorism will only just have begun.

Wherever there is incontrovertible evidence of involvement in terrorism, or sponsorship of it or support for it, then we must move to root it out.

There is no such thing as acceptable or defensible terrorism.

That is why this fight will be long and hard.

That is also why the building of the international coalition has been so vital and so remarkable too. It is an historic achievement.

How many of us would have believed that we would live to see a coalition of interest and cooperation comprising Europe, America, Russia and China too? How many of us would have thought we would see unanimous Resolutions against terrorism issuing from the Security Council of the United Nations? Or that NATO would activate Article 5 which can bind us together in action?

Those who drove the planes into the World Trade Centre may have thought they were blowing the world apart. In truth they have brought it closer together.

And we must use that togetherness now to destroy the terrorism from which they sprang.

We are fortunate at this time to have as our new leader a man who knows the nature of terrorism and the ways in which military force can be brought to bear on it. To have someone who has been in the field against the terrorist threat and who sees clearly the broad picture of the challenges that lie ahead.

Iain Duncan Smith's measured but determined approach has rightly won him praise.

He has won national respect for the way in which he has given his support to the Prime Minister in the fight which has now begun.

He is on his way now to do so again in Parliament tonight. He does so with our full and unstinting support.

Today we re-commit ourselves to this fight in the full knowledge of the dangers and hardships which it will entail. We do so because we know it is right.

We owe it, not only to the victims of 11 September but also to the generations which will follow us, to try to ensure that such atrocities can never happen again.

We owe it to them to lay the foundations of a world in which people can live in freedom from terror.

I am convinced that out of the smouldering ruins that were once the World Trade Centre, good can grow again.

A new belief in the value of human life and the humanity and compassion which underpin it.

A new spirit of international cooperation to build a better and safer world.

A new commitment to the freedoms and rights which the terrorists so violently sought to destroy.

A new determination to fight the obscenity of famine across the world.

And an end to terror itself.

That is the strongest answer that we can give to the evil men who planned the outrages of that Tuesday four short weeks ago.

If from those deaths and that destruction can spring new hope, then good will have triumphed over evil and terrorism will have failed.

Let us once again with courage and determination commit ourselves to those beliefs and to that end.

We are after all the party of freedom, and terrorism is freedom's greatest foe.

So let us look terrorism in the eye. And just as we have faced it down before let us face it down again.

So this is our message to Mr Blair, to President Bush and to all with whom at this grim time we stand.

Let it with courage and defiance ring out from here today.

We will stay with this fight until it is won. We are with you all the way. May God be with us all.

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