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Lansley: Party Conference Speech 2000

Delivering the Common Sense Revolution

Today I would like to talk to conference about Believing in Britain and how Conservative policies will deliver a common sense revolution for our country.

"My job, as Don said, is to coordinate policy for the Conservatives. And as Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Mo Mowlam is my opposite number. It is supposed to be her job to coordinate Labour's policies. At least in theory.

"In fact she has been on late night chat shows more often than she has been to the Despatch Box to answer for her Government's policies. But then maybe she knows what we know - that there is no future in the Labour Party. So Mo Mowlam has decided to give up at the next election. Apparently she wants to get involved in conflict resolution. Why on earth is she leaving?

"If that is the case the best place for her is in the Cabinet. Tony's gang versus Gordon's gang.

It's like West Side Story but without the music.

"You know, it tells us a lot about this Labour Government, and Mr Blair in particular, that he is prepared to see Mo Mowlam pushed out of his Government by his own people with their briefing and backbiting.

"While, just ten months after Peter Mandelson resigned in disgrace Tony Blair welcomed him back into his Government - That's a disgrace!

"Apparently, that's the action of "a pretty straight sort of guy". That is how Mr Blair 'modestly' described himself. Whilst - at the same time - he was denying Labour's intention to take Formula One donations. About as straight as a nine bob note.

"If the people of Britain want to know what it is like, in truth, to have a pretty straight sort of guy for a Prime Minister, they don't have to look far.

"One was on this platform this afternoon - John Major. The other will be on this platform on Thursday - William Hague.

"Now let me tell you a tale about last week's Labour conference. As you came into the hall today, you passed stalls selling Conservative Party stuff, you know - T-shirts, posters, that kind of thing. Of course they do the same thing at the Labour conference. Only this year, Labour went further. They brought out a whole new line of Labour products.

"Books of course. Andrew Rawnsley's Book in the non-fiction section, the Labour Party manifesto in the fiction section, and the Government's Annual Report in the pulped fiction section.

"Then there is the John Prescott thesaurus - when only the wrong word will do. Or what about a Jack Straw burglar alarm - it warns the burglar when the police are coming. Or why not take out a loan for a Peter Mandelson washing machine - goes straight to the spin cycle but never washes whiter. Or could you spare 75 pence for a Gordon Brown kiss me quick hat.

"Then again for the discerning traveller, the Robin Cook travel kit with international adapter - it changes your principles according to which country you're in.

"Mo Mowlam vanishing cream as supplied by Millbank Tower. Or the Tony Blair "you can't be sure" antiperspirant. I say, send the Labour products to trading standards. Time for a product recall.

"And it is the Conservative Party's policies that we will put in our shop window this week. In July William Hague led the shadow cabinet in a day long series of discussions to finalise our policy proposals for Believing in Britain. We weren't talking about Labour. We were only interested in what we can achieve, through our policies, for Britain.

"I saw a team which was imaginative and purposeful. We knew that freedom, responsibility, enterprise and choice were key Conservative principles to work from. We had the ideas from the Listening to Britain programme.

"We had common sense practical solutions from meetings with you the party members all over Britain. And Believing in Britain is the result of our work.

"This document doesn't talk about Labour. This document is all about our positive policies. Because we know that Britain needs a new direction. One that is totally different from Labour's. Because they have reverted to the classic Labour mistake. When a little socialism fails they think more socialism is the answer.

"So when tax and waste, red tape, spin, and bossy-boots political correctness has got them nowhere, do they stop? No - they do more of it.

"That is why they have failed and that is why they will fail. It is no good Mr Blair asking for ten years to deliver - if he is going in the wrong direction he will never get there. So, Conservatives will take a new direction. Where will that take us?

"Our new direction will mean a competitive economy. The best place to do business.

"Because taxes are low, burdens are light and Universities that are centres for the knowledge economy which will be critical to our place in global markets. A new direction means realising the potential of every child at school.

"Schools pursuing high standards. Schools genuinely responding to parents' choices and to the needs of every child. Excellent schools, including grammar schools, but with every school free to raise the expectations and achievements of its pupils.

"Schools getting resources directly, free from bureaucracy. Schools able to specialise and adapt the curriculum to meet differing needs. Schools with an ethos of discipline and respect for teachers.

"Our new direction means a health service that treats patients as individuals not numbers. A health service where quality of care is the only measure that counts. A health service where doctors and nurses are free to care for patients as they know best, not as politicians dictate.

"A health service which will be there when people need it with a day and a doctor they can count on: that is our patients guarantee.

"Our new direction also means new life for our cities. Britain's greatest unrealised potential is in our inner cities. Even in London, shameful poverty, unemployment and dereliction is to be found within a few miles of the City of London.

"Big budget government programmes have never got to the heart of the problem, that those with families and a future are too likely to abandon the inner city.

"So we must harness the powers and budgets of central and local government and the enterprise of the private and voluntary sectors. Together we must create safe streets, strong schools and sustainable, thriving communities.

"And our new direction means giving people a sense of security. It will mean more police. It will mean tougher sentences. It will mean a constructive and purposeful prison regime.

"It will mean visible local policing and active community involvement in detecting and combating crime. It will mean the toughest possible measures to protect our children from drug dealers. It will mean Ann Widdecombe as the Home Secretary. There is more in here that we must do.

"But if we can do these things then I for one will be deeply proud. For we will have transformed Britain and its hope for the future. A few minutes ago we saw hundreds of our candidates for the next election. Not one of us will take that election for granted.

"But let me tell you this. I believe that many of those Conservatives will be back. Only next time they will be back as Members of Parliament presenting to you the policies of the next Conservative Government.

"We can be proud of our party, we can be proud of our people and we can be proud of our policies. We have seen bad times and we have learnt from them.

"Listening to Britain has put us back on track with the instincts and experiences of the mainstream majority of this country. The Common Sense Revolution has put us at the forefront of ideas, which will shape government in the future.

"It has been a year of campaigns. We campaigned to keep the pound - and the people of Britain are responding. We voted against petrol tax rises and took our campaign to the people and they responded - some of them in ways we never expected.

"We showed how pensioners could once again be given the respect and dignity they deserve, and they, too, are responding.

"On these, on tackling the asylum crisis, on discipline in schools, on guaranteed waiting times in the NHS, and on enforcing law and order, William Hague has shown how Common Sense can achieve a revolution in government: a government that delivers.

"Every time I hear the Labour party accuse us of populism, I count it a victory. Because what they mean is that we are Listening to Britain. It is Labour who are out of touch. Not just because of the red boxes, official cars and grace and favour apartments. No. It goes much deeper than that.

"It is born out of their arrogant disregard for the people they claim to serve. Mr Blair said he would govern for all the people.

"Let him tell that to the farmers, to manufacturers, to hauliers, to motorists, to small businesses, to hard-working families paying higher taxes, to teachers demoralised by endless form filling, to doctors and nurses told they are getting billions extra but who see none of it.

"Let him tell that to the pensioners who received a one per cent increase in their pensions, while petrol tax went up three per cent, and council tax six per cent.

"No, Mr Blair, no one believes you anymore. Because we know. We know that Labour govern for the few.

"Taxes from the many, spending by the few. Labour are the party of tax and waste and we have to stop it. There are people at home watching this on television - at least I hope you are. Many of them will be thinking that Labour have let them down. They know now that they can't trust Labour.

"The party that said it would be purer than pure has governed through deceit and spin. The party that said it was 'new' has turned out to be the same old Labour.

"The party that said it would not increase taxes at all has forced the people of Britain into a taxpayers revolt because taxes are up and we can't see what we are paying for or where the money is going.

"People know they can't trust Labour. They want to know: can they trust us? We lost their trust. We can win it back.

"We will gain that trust because Listening to Britain is now the way we do business in this Party. We will gain that trust because we will speak for the mainstream majority of our country. We will gain that trust because we will set people free.

"Free to choose because people will keep more of what they earn. Freedom for schools and hospitals to meet the needs of parents and patients. Freedom for local government to choose priorities, and to be the voice for civic pride and community renewal.

"We will gain people's trust because we will give backing to the police to be a strong, visible, local presence to deter and detect crime; and we will hold that trust because we will not allow Britain to be broken up, nor our sovereignty to be transferred to a United States of Europe.

"Trusted because we will deliver value for money, and because we will not spend more than the country can afford. Trusted because we will be the Party of enterprise and cut the burdens of tax, red tape. Trusted because we will give teachers and schools the respect, the freedom and the resources to raise standards.

"Trusted because we will take politics out of the NHS. Trusted because we will keep the pound. Trusted because we will only promise what we know we can deliver.

"Under William's leadership;

"With Conservative principles;

"With Common Sense policies;

"And with an unshakeable belief in Britain and what we can achieve, with your support;

"We can, we must; and we will earn the trust of the people of Britain.

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