Leader's speech, Brighton 1995
Tony Blair (Labour)
This was Blair’s second speech to the party conference as leader and thus an opportunity to affirm himself after a year of trying to ‘rebrand’ the party. It received a rave review from The Guardian newspaper which, in its leading article, wrote that ‘Coming to Brighton this week, Mr Blair needed to…explain his vision of a Labour Britain and give his party confidence that it was engaged in a project for which it could stand up and cheer’. It concluded that he succeeded, referring to the speech as ‘an intensely accomplished bit of oratory…unusually well written, finding a language that spoke to the passions of the party as well as to the preoccupations of the wider electorate…’. It especially praised the way he connected himself to the tradition of the party (for instance with his opening thanks to Mary Wilson, wife of former Labour leader Harold Wilson) and also a ‘vintage’ passage about ‘the distress of one being the distress of all’. It called the speech ‘an avowedly socialist speech, albeit in Mr Blair 's own carefully defined, high moral and even biblical version of the term’.
Blair’s mission in this first year of leader had been to convince the party of need to reform, to attend less to some of the traditional tokens of a socialist party. But, less obviously, his mission had been to establish an image of himself, and to convince not only as a party leader but as a Prime Minister in waiting. Thus te speech (and this is something fairly consistent in Blair’s speeches) was really all about him. He consistently refers to himself in the first person, and to the audience in the third. There are times where he does so in order to indicate the overlap, the common ground, but – remarkably, he does not attempt to close the gap entirely. There is no point where the ‘I’ and ‘you’ turns into an unequivocal ‘we’ and remains as such. Even the peroration is in the first person, delivering a commitment to what ‘I’ will do rather than ‘we’. However, very neatly, this emphasis, which in lesser hands would be wholly wearing, is balanced by various jokes of a self-deprecating nature.
Also noticeable and laudable, is the argumentative focus of the speech. Blair spells out at the beginning that the speech will explain his vision of a reborn nation. It is consistent in doing so, tying discussion of particular policy areas - the NHS, crime, education – into that framework, enabling the idea of rebirth to segue into the theme of a young country.
Gordon, Conference, before I begin my speech I would just like to introduce you to someone sitting on the platform - it is Mary Wilson, the widow of Harold Wilson. (Applause) Mary, we thank you and we thank Harold for all the work and dedication for our party and for our country.
Can I welcome too today the many ambassadors from all round the world and, in particular, if I may, the ambassador from Israel and from those of the Arab countries involved in the peace process. We wish you well. We hope that your process succeeds. The whole courage and eyes of the world are behind you.
Today I place before you my vision of a new Britain - a nation reborn, prosperous, secure, united - one Britain. I say how this vision is to be achieved: by a new, confident Labour Party that, with the support of the British people, will sweep away forever the most discredited, dishonourable government in living memory.
New Labour, new Britain. I know that for some of you, new Labour has been painful and there is no greater pain to be endured in politics than the birth of a new idea, but I believe in it and I want to tell you why. Socialism for me was never about nationalisation or the power of the state, not just about economics or even politics. It is a moral purpose to life, a set of values, a belief in society, in co-operation, in achieving together what we cannot achieve alone. It is how I try to live my life, how you try to live yours - the simple truths - I am worth no more than anyone else, I am my brother’s keeper, I will not walk by on the other side. We are not simply people set in isolation from one another, face to face with eternity, but members of the same family, same community, same human race. This is my socialism and the irony of all our long years in opposition is that those values are shared by the vast majority of the British people.
I joined this party because it represented those values, but I felt something else and I think in your heart of hearts you felt it too: that however great and timeless our values, at that time our party’s politics, structure and even its ideology no longer reflected those values in a way that brought them alive for the British people. We had become separated from the very people we said we represented. We called them ‘our people,’ while forgetting who they were.
1983 for me was a watershed. New Labour was born then of the courage of one man. We would not be here, proud and confident today, but for that man - Neil Kinnock. (Applause) And then it grew under the wisdom of John Smith, who guided us through the revolution in our party democracy and whose memory we honour, and in this last year we have transformed our party - our constitution rewritten, our relations with the trade unions changed and better defined for today's world, our party organisation improved, political education on an unprecedented scale, new policy breaking new ground.
I did not come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change my country and I honestly believe that if we had not changed, if we had not returned our party to its essential values, free from the weight of outdated ideology, we could not change the country. We could not win and even if we did, we would not have governed in the way Britain needs. For I do not want a one term Labour government that dazzles for a moment, then ends in disillusion. I want a Labour government that governs for a generation and changes Britain for good.
It has been hard, I know - hard for me sometimes. Last year, I was Bambi. This year, I'm Stalin! From Disneyland to dictatorship in 12 short months. I’m not sure which one I prefer. OK - I prefer Bambi, honestly.
There have been good moments, however, like yesterday when for the first time since I became Leader, my children were impressed by something I did. ‘Did you really meet Kevin Keegan, Dad?’ ‘Did you really do 27 consecutive headers?’ And wasn’t it good to see Eric Cantona back in action? Let us hope this time he remembers that kicking people in the teeth is the job of the Tory government.
So, it has been tough. No one ever thought it would be done, and it has been, but what I want to say to you is this: I did not do it alone. We did it together. Thank you. Our success is record by-election results, record local election results and - I am as proud of this as anything - the new Labour women candidates we have chosen. There has been some pain there too, yes, but look at the results. We could have 80 or 90 Labour women MPs after the next election and that would transform politics in this country.
I read the other day that not one winnable Tory seat has picked a woman candidate. What a disgrace. But, then again, what is a winnable Tory seat? Peter Lilley, MP for St Albans - majority 16,000 - unsafe; Lilley on the chicken run to Hitchen and Harpenden. Tory Chairman, Brian Mawhinney, a man whose job it is to say that the Tories will sweep the country once more - majority 5,000 - unsafe; on the chicken run from Peterborough to Cambridgeshire. And what about Basildon man himself? Terrified of the nation watching on election night as that smug grin is finally removed. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to a safer seat, but never have so many chickens died in vain. Ask the man who said: ‘They can run, but they can’t hide.’
There is great success to celebrate and much of the work in gearing up our party has been done by the Deputy Leader, John Prescott, and I pay tribute to him. He is a good friend and a great support; blunt, honest, outspoken - and that's just with me.
I see, incidentally, that Mr Major is now planning to challenge me to a TV debate during the general election. Fine. His record against our policies, any place, any time, but I have a better idea. Instead of just challenging us to a television debate, challenge us to a general election and do it now. (Applause)
We now have 100,000 new members. Next year for the first time we will have more members than the Conservative Party, and a huge increase in Young Labour - five times as many in Young Labour as in the Young Conservatives. We value our members, new and old, and let us never fall for this nonsense, that by seeking new support, we turn our back on the poor, the homeless and unemployed.
I have spent 16 years being angry, passionate and indignant about young people huddled in doorways, families made wretched by unemployment, the poor unable to make ends meet. I am fed up with anger. They do not need our anger, they need action and they will not get it from the rage of opposition, but through a Labour Party that has had the courage to take hard choices, get into government and do something for them.
We know that the hard choices get harder in government: when we refuse to take risks with inflation because this country cannot be rebuilt on boom and bust, even to boost short-term employment; when we want more children at university and do not want the government student loan scheme and face choices about how it will be replaced; on public sector pay when, let us be honest, a Labour government, like any other, will have to say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes,’ even to people in this hall. Hard choices are what good government is about, but remember this, I love my party, I just hate it being in opposition and I love my country and hate what the Tories have done to it. Every promise ever made has been broken - taxes, unemployment, crime, the health service, education. It is a record of incompetence and dishonesty on an epic scale. Now they plead with the British people, ‘Trust us this one more time.’ I say to the British people, there are two sides to a deal. They gave their word, you gave your vote. They broke their word, do not ever give them your vote again.
I will tell you about the Tories and tax. They cut your taxes before the election and they raise them afterwards and only ever give one side of the equation. They will cut your income tax, but raise your VAT. They make you pay charges, such as in the NHS, extra costs like taxes on insuring your home. It is all a con. We all want ordinary, hard working families to pay less tax, but the way to cut tax and make it last is to cut unemployment, crime, welfare spending - all the reasons why taxes have gone up.
Imagine for one moment a Tory fifth term Britain. Would there be a National Health Service? (‘No!’) Would there be a free state education system for all? (‘No!’) Would there be a welfare state? (‘No!’) Would Mr Redwood be in charge of deciding which single parents get to keep their children? (‘No!’) Well, let’s make sure it doesn’t happen. Re-elect them and be in no doubt. Back they come with VAT on fuel, all schools to opt-out, your post office sold off, more health privatisation, giant privatised monopolies controlling your services, the price decided by a gaggle of former ministers on the board, for they too are a party changed. Half the Conservative back benchers voted for Mr Redwood to be prime minister. All aboard Starship Redwood, bound for Planet Portillo! Do you remember Planet Portillo? Last year it was a joke. Next year it could be Britain. Don’t let them capture this country’s future, for they offer it nothing.
This is a new age, to be led by a new generation. Let me talk to you about my generation. We grew up after the Second World War. We read about fascism and saw the Soviet Union and we learned to fear extremes of right and left. We were born into the welfare state and the National Health Service, into the market economy of bank accounts, supermarkets, jeans and cars. We had money in our pockets our parents never dreamt of, we travelled abroad, we have been through the sexual revolution of the 60s. Half the workforce now are women and the world of work revolutionised by science. We built a new popular culture, transformed by colour TV, Coronation Street and the Beatles.
My generation enjoys a thousand material advantages over any previous generation and yet we suffer a depth of insecurity and spiritual doubt they never knew. The family weakened, society divided, we see elderly people in fear of crime, children abused. We live today with the knowledge that the world through nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and contempt for the environment can end a billion years of evolution.
Mine is the generation with more freedom than any other, but less certainty in how to exercise it responsibly. It is the generation that knocks on the door of a new millennium frightened for our future and unsure of our soul because we live in a new age, but in an old country. Britain won two world wars. We had an Empire and formed a Commonwealth. We invented the sports the rest of the world plays, we gave the world some of its finest literature, art and poetry. We are proud of our history, but its weight hangs heavy upon us. Why? Because for far too long it has left us defining ourselves as a nation, not by what unites us, but by what divides us: a class system, unequal and antiquated; a social fabric, tattered and torn; a politics where dogma so often drives out common sense; even an education system where one part of the nation is taught apart from the other; and where, if we do not change course now, we will have two classes of health service, two classes of state school, two Britains, one on welfare, the other paying for it.
I want us to be a young country again with a common purpose, ideals we cherish and live up to, not resting on past glories, fighting old battles and sitting back, hand on mouth, concealing a yawn of cynicism, but ready for the day’s challenge, ambitious, idealistic, united, where people succeed on the basis of what they did to their country, rather than what they take from their country, not saying, ‘This was a great country,’ but ‘Britain can and will be a great country again.’ A young country: no more bosses versus workers - partnership at the workplace; no more public versus private - cooperation to rebuild our nation’s road, rail, inner cities and regions; no more boom and bust economics, but stability which businesses need to plan for the future; help for small businesses; a new relationship between public and private sector, measures to encourage long term investment. But above all, I present to you today our proposals to equip our people and businesses for new technological and economic challenge, to change the basis of this country's thinking of the past 100 years. Education is the best economic policy there is for a modern country and it is in the marriage of education and technology that the future lies. The arms race may be over; the knowledge race has begun and we will never compete on the basis of a low-wage, sweat shop economy. It cannot be done that way. We have one asset - our people, their intelligence, their potential. Develop it, we succeed, neglect it, we fail. It is as simple as that and the pace of technological change means that this task is urgent.
Education does not stop when you walk out of the school gates for the last time. Education must be for life. This is hard economics. The more you learn, the more you earn. It is your way to do well out of life - your route to jobs, to growth, to the combination of technology and know-how that will transform our lives. Look at the potential of it. Look at industry and business: an oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico has metal fatigue, it can be diagnosed from an office in Aberdeen. European businesses will finalise a deal with the Japanese with simultaneous translation down the phone line. The calls in the future could even be free. Leisure too: virtual reality tourism that allows you to go anywhere in the world, computers that learn about a child as they teach them, shaping courses to their personal need. Knowledge in this new world is power, information is opportunity and technology can make it happen if we use it properly and if we plan and think ahead for the future.
Just think: direct access to the best teaching skills from the workplace or the home - class size of one; the engineer who needs to keep pace with technical change; the self-employed architect who wants to do his own accountancy; the computer operator who needs to adapt to new systems; the mother on maternity leave learning a new skill or language to equip her for her return to work. It can be done, but will it happen? Only if we make it happen. It means bringing together the private sector, government, universities, research centres, science laboratories, to put together an advanced system of further education for the electronic age for people at work and for people who lose their job. It requires a supreme national effort. The market will not do it.
A Labour government will and can and we have started work on it already. It will be called the University for Industry and it will transform education and skills in Britain and make lifelong learning a reality. But we must be even bolder. We have huge advantages - some of the finest telecommunications companies in the world, world leaders in broadcasting, the world’s first language - English. Together they could put us years ahead in education, technology and business, but in Tory Britain we waste our assets. We are not using them, organising, making the most of them and time is running out because other countries are doing it.
I put before you today this proposal, that we should open up the markets in communications and technology - yes, a market solution. The cable companies are playing their part, using the new technology to good effect, but we should aim for free and fair competition and end the restrictions that have prevented British Telecom, Mercury and others from playing their part in wiring up Britain until there is full and open competition everywhere from the year 2002. This is a market with huge potential, but in return these companies owe some responsibility to the nation. That is the essence of partnership.
In these past weeks we have been in discussion with British Telecom. In return for access to the market, I can announce that they have agreed, as they build their network, to connect every school, college, hospital and library in Britain, for free. They get the chance to win new markets, the nation gets the chance to succeed. That is what I mean by new Labour, that type of co-operation with our people; public and private working together, building a dynamic economy that addresses the nation’s needs and serves the nation's interests. Eventually we want every home to be wired up in new Britain - a goal worth striving for, no haves and have nots in the computer age.
We can make it happen: business enhanced, life more entertaining, public services improved, People better off and Britain better off. I can announce a third public-private initiative. David Blunkett will be opening discussions with both the education authorities and the computer companies which supply them about how we meet the goal of ensuring that every child has access to a proper laptop computer. It is a big challenge; it would need new forms of teacher training and a whole network of delivery, but it is possible. Just think: 50 years ago, their grandparents came into state schools for the first time and sat at a proper wooden desk and a Labour government provided them. Half a century later, a new way for a new age. That is also what I mean by new Labour.
Thirty-fifth in the education league may be good enough for the Tories but I didn’t come into politics satisfied for Britain to be 35th best at anything. What an appalling record to have. We are going to put our education system right - no more dogma, no more arguments about structures, for every school, fair and equal funding, no return to selection, academic or social, but a new deal in our classrooms.
We will be the champions of standards for the 21st century: more support and in return, more demand for achievement; the aim of a nursery place for every three and four year old; a voluntary network of associate teachers - adults with expertise in a foreign language or business - to assist the classroom teacher; a new adult-pupil ratio in class, pioneered by Labour authorities, extended to the whole of Britain; proper assessment for all five year olds; schools playing to their strengths, not just technology, which should be part of every school's curriculum, but schools with a specialism that can bring out the best in their pupils - science, music, design or maths - developing areas of expertise, subjects in which they can offer that extra depth that helps the child, centres of excellence for the benefit of the whole community. And one more thing: the Tories say that class size does not matter; if that is true, I just wonder why so many of them spend so much money buying small classes in the private sector.
The Tories spend over £100 million a year on the Assisted Places Scheme. Under Labour, the scheme will be phased out. £60 million - just over half the cost of the Assisted Places Scheme - would pay for every five, six and seven year old to be educated in classes of less than 30 children. That is how they will be educated in Labour Britain.
The price of more support will be higher expectations of success and more action to combat failure. Teachers should be rewarded, but if they cannot do the job, they should not be teaching at all. Headteachers should prove their leadership skills before they are considered for a head’s post. Parents have duties too. Children do homework, they should not be playing truant and where they are, it is not just the school’s job to do something about it, it is the parents’ job too. We support the development of home-school contracts where schools and parents jointly take responsibility for children (again pioneered by Labour in local government), tougher inspection, higher targets and more prompt action when things are going wrong. I know some of that may sound harsh, but actually it is fair. If we tolerate failure in our schools, it is ordinary children who suffer and we cannot betray their future.
Our challenge to be a young country is not just economic, it is social and moral. Look at the wreckage of our broken society, see Britain through the eyes of our children. Are we really proud of our society today - drugs, violence, youngsters hanging around street corners with nothing to do? We have to have the courage to build a new civil society, a new social order, where everyone has a stake and everyone plays a part - justice for all, responsibility from all. It is a bargain between us and the people.
No one pretends that we can solve unemployment overnight, but no decent society can tolerate these levels of long-term unemployment, with all the misery and social breakdown they bring. We will take the excess profits of the new robber barons of Tory Britain, the privatised utilities, and use them for the most radical programme of work and education for the unemployed ever put forward in Britain. We will use that money too - and end up saving money - by giving single parents the chance not to live on benefit, but to plan their future, organise childcare and training so that they can support themselves and their children, not be the butt of Tory propaganda, but citizens of a new Britain who can earn a wage and look after the children they love.
With this opportunity comes the responsibility because both come together. It has always been absurd that the debate about crime in this country has some talking of its causes and others of the need to punish criminals. Sweep away the dogma - tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime: reform of the criminal justice system; a comprehensive programme to deal with juvenile offending; tackling drug abuse; proper treatment of victims and witnesses; tougher penalties on violence or guns; a crackdown on those who make life hell in their local neighbourhoods through noise or disturbance and, for the first time, a nationwide crime prevention policy in which in each community, police, schools, businesses and local government plan together how to beat crime. Law and order is a Labour issue today. We all suffer crime and the poorest and vulnerable most of all. It is the duty of government to protect them, but we can make choices in spending too and instead of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory identity cards as the Tory Right demand, let that money provide thousands of extra police officers on the beat where they can actually protect people. This is what a young country can do.
The truth is, and we know it, that the best two crime prevention policies are a job and a stable family. A young country that wants to be a strong country cannot be morally neutral about the family. It is the foundation of any decent society. Behind strong communities, lie strong families. Go to any juvenile court and you will see, because in the family people learn to respect and care for one another. Destroy that in a family and you cannot rebuild it in a country. In every area of policy, we should examine its effect on the family, seeing how we can strengthen it and keep it together - in benefits, employment, education, and there is something very tangible we could do in housing. Let local authorities use the money from the sale of council houses to end the most telling obscenity of Tory Britain, that we spend millions of pounds on slum bed and breakfast accommodation for families when we could use that money to build homes for people.
In this young country, we can then reform and modernise our welfare state, and the party that founded it and believes in it is the party to reform it. There are hard choices and we will face up to them, but they should be made with justice and equity. This party introduced universal pensions. We believe they must remain the foundation of pension provision, but we cannot cure pensioner poverty simply through the state pension. Some 600,000 of our elderly people are left behind because they do not claim means-tested income support. Increasing numbers of pensioners have second and third pensions. That is why we are looking at ways for people to put together income from public and private sources to guarantee a minimum standard of living for our pensioners. The aim of this policy should be to remove the stigma of means testing for ever and guarantee a minimum income that provides dignity in old age. That is new Labour too, and we are also thinking through new ways of planning for long-term care. You will all know elderly people who saved all their lives and now see their savings eaten away by nursing home costs. It is one of the great modern tragedies of our country and we will examine that and bring forward sensible proposals there to help those people.
But I do not want an old social order. I want a new one with rules for today. I believe in the family and in being tough on crime. Some would say that those are the moral values of the old-fashioned or the right, but don’t let the Tories claim these values as their own. They are our values and you can be tough on crime and tough on prejudice too. In any young country, the talents of all are allowed to flourish. There should be no discrimination in our young country on grounds of disability, gender, age, sexuality or race. I say this to the Conservatives, those who play politics with race or immigration, betray the values of a decent, civilised society.
Justice, in society and at work: people at work should have a stake in the companies for which they work. A young country gives rights, but it demands responsibilities. Leave the battles of the past. Ballots, peaceful picketing, proper conduct of disputes - these laws are staying we know. But there will be new rights for all individuals at work.
A Labour government will be part of the European Social Chapter. Part-time employees will no longer be treated as second class citizens. There will be an end to zero-hours contracts. Young people will be properly protected against under age working and joining a trade union will be a matter of free choice, but where that choice is exercised, there will be a right to representation and, where the majority want it, a right to union recognition.
There is one other piece of unfinished business. For 10 years, good and patriotic workers at GCHQ have been denied the right to join a free trade union. Under Labour, they will get it back. One other thing: Keir Hardie did not manage to achieve a minimum wage and nor did Attlee, Wilson, Callaghan or anyone else, but this next Labour government will introduce a statutory minimum wage for Britain. That is our pledge, and it will be done. Not building a workforce where fear is the spur or insecurity the incentive, but a workforce of partners committed to a new and dynamic Britain at work.
A young country will sweep away the dogma from our public services. We need to make them public services again - modernised, but serving the public, not vested interests of any kind. This party created the National Health Service and we will save it. Let that £1 billion in extra administration that the Tories have spent on bureaucracy, accountants and company cars be spent on beds, nurses and patients. Let the internal market that pits hospital against hospital cease. Let our system of GP commissioning replace GP fund-holding that has created this two-tier system and let the National Health Service work as a service again. Let doctors do what the doctors should do - care for the sick not be forced to make a business out of them We will improve it and today we can announce a new proposal from Professor Robert Winston in the audience today, one of the world’s leading consultants. It is about how we can use technology to create regional centres of excellence in specialist care, directly linked up through our superhighway proposals to local hospitals and surgeries. That is his proposal. He is passionate not just about defending the National Health Service, but about improving it and he is also a passionate supporter of this party, working for Labour, working for Britain.
We will sweep away the dogma of the market in transport and the environment. Our cities are congested, our roads a driver’s nightmare, our railways reduced to such a state that their latest timetable has as many false promises as a Tory Party manifesto. This nation needs a proper national, integrated transport system that serves the people and safeguards the environment. We should sit down and plan it, not wait for the free market to build it - but plan it together - the market where it works, where it does not, we do it. Let me make one thing clear: I do not give blank cheques in any area of policy, including this, no matter what the pressures, but to anyone thinking of grabbing our railways, built up over the years, so they can make a quick profit as our network is broken up and sold off, I say this there will be a publicly owned, publicly accountable railway system under a Labour government. We can then save the hundreds of millions of pounds being wasted on selling our railways to upgrade the service and modernise our lines. That is new Labour too.
The privatised utilities will be properly regulated. We even have plans for the lottery too. The lottery profits could be going to good causes. Camelot have six years of their contract to run. A Labour government will then be seeking an efficient, non-profit making promoter so that we can release more money for the benefit of Britain. We will be seeking ways of ensuring that the views of the lottery players themselves are taken into account when lottery panels decide how the takings are spent. It is the people’s lottery - they should get more out of it.
But nowhere is a young country more needed than in politics itself. We will change the old and dead political culture of Tory Britain. Where it is right, we will co-operate as well as oppose - on constitutional change and on Northern Ireland. I will not play political games with the peace process in Northern Ireland, it is too important for that. But it is time to end the Tory sleaze, to sweep away the quango state, to take power back from big government and share it with the people. Scotland shall have its Parliament; Wales will have its Assembly. They will be legislated for in the first year of a Labour government and people will then have a say over how their health, education and law and order services are run. A young country should not be frightened of such change. It will strengthen Britain. The only thing that threatens the United Kingdom is a government that refuses to listen to the desire of people to take more power to themselves. That is the threat to Britain.
London, our great capital city, will be run by a directly elected authority like any other capital and if, in time, the regions of England want a greater say in their health, education, police and transport, then that can come too. We will rebuild local government in this country and end the muddled hopeless system of rate-capping. We will do it in a way that changes the whole relationship between citizen and state - a Freedom of Information Act for central and local government, an end to hereditary peers sitting in the House of Lords as the first step to a proper directly elected second chamber, and the chance for people to decide after the election the system by which they elect the government of the future.
The Tories set up the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life. Now they are refusing to implement it because it forces Tory MPs to say what they earn from outside consultancies. Labour will implement it in full.
This young country will be proud of its identity and its place in the world, not living in its history, but grasping the opportunities of its future. It is a disgrace that the Conservative Party have reduced British foreign policy in Europe to the level of a joke. Of course, Europe needs reform. We have led the calls to reform the Common Agricultural Policy and the institutions of Europe. Of course, if there are further steps to integration, then we have been the first to say the people should give their consent at a general election or in a referendum, but Europe is a vital part of our national interest. To be sidelined without influence is not a betrayal of Europe, it is a betrayal of Britain. I warn this country, there is now a growing part of the Conservative Party that would take Britain out of Europe altogether and that would be a disaster for jobs and business. I say this to my country in all honesty, we cannot be half in and half out for ever. This country should be leading in Europe and under Labour it will lead in Europe.
We will be a nation that stands up for the rights of other nations, as we have done in Bosnia; a nation that will stand up for our allies when right and make a stand when they are wrong, as we do when we condemn without reservation the decision by France to carry out nuclear testing in the South Pacific.
We will be a nation proud to welcome our friends from abroad, as we do on Thursday with the visit of Thabo Mbeki and we are doubly proud that we were prepared to support them in prison and not just in government. We will be a nation that will never, for the sake of short-term electoral advantage, sacrifice our overseas aid budget for the poorest people in the world, and shame on those Tories who suggest it.
We will be a young country, equipped for the future with a just society, a new politics and a clear understanding of its role in the world. I want to make this pledge today to the whole country and especially to those despairing, who have almost given up hope of change under politicians, that the party I lead will carry out in government, the programme we provide in our manifesto - nothing more, nothing less. That is my word. We deliver what we promise; we do not promise what we cannot deliver.
Is this not a vision worth fighting for? Can you not already see the foundations of new Britain being laid just in what we have said today? Ahead in technology, schools transformed, the National Health Service restored and saved, police patrolling the streets, a new battle against crime, democracy and politics renewed, the homeless in houses not on the street, an integrated transport system, partnership between government and business, public and private sector to create the dynamic and modern economy that we need, a direct attack on unemployment, real help that will get single parents off welfare and into work. Feel new Britain come alive. Feel the vitality that can course through this country’s veins and make it young again.
Rise together to the challenge because new Labour cannot create new Britain alone. I challenge this country, my country. Let us rouse ourselves to a new moral purpose for our nation to build a new and young country that can lay aside all the prejudices that have dominated our land for generations, a nation for all the people, built by all the people, old divisions cast out, a new spirit in the nation, working together in unity, solidarity, partnership - one Britain. That is the patriotism for the future where never again do we fight our politics by appealing to one section of our nation at the expense of another, where your child in distress is my child, your parent ill and in pain is my parent, your friend unemployed and helpless is my friend, your neighbour, my neighbour. That is the true patriotism of a nation so that together we do make this the young country of my generation's dreams, 50 years from the war, five years from a new millennium, at a turning point in our history. I say to Britain, be strong and of good courage. The Tories will tell you that it cannot be done. They will lie about you, they will lie about me, they will lie about themselves, but do not let fear drive out hope.
The coming election is not a struggle for political power. It is a battle for the soul of a nation and I say to you, my party, be strong and of good courage. The Labour Party that first won support from the British people was new Labour then. 1945 was new Labour, 1964 was new Labour - both new Labour because both had the courage to take the values of the Labour Party and use them, not for the world as it was, but for the world as they wanted it to be. New Labour now is ready in 1995 to build new Britain.
During the VJ Day celebrations, I was on the platform with Tory ministers and as we walked down the Mall, there were thousands of people, holding their Union Jacks and it became clear, to the horror of the Tories, that most of them were Labour and they were waving and shouting and urging me to ‘get the Tories out.’ These are our people. They love this country just as we do and it is because they love this country that they look to us to change it. Let us say with pride, we are patriots. This is the patriotic party because it is the party of the people. As the Tories wave their Union Jacks next week, I know what so many people will be thinking. I know what the people want to say to those Tories: it is no good waving the fabric of our flag when you have spent 16 years tearing apart the fabric of the nation; tearing apart the bonds that tie communities together and make us a United Kingdom; tearing apart the security of those people, clutching their Union Jacks, swelling with pride at their victory over tyranny, yelling at me to ‘get the Tories out’ because they want security, because they want to leave a better world for their children and their grandchildren than they created for themselves and they know the Tories cannot do it; decent people, good people, patriotic people. When I hear people urging us to fight for ‘our people,’ I tell you, these are our people. They are the majority and we will serve them and build that new Britain, that young country, for their children and their families.
I make them this promise now: that I will do all that I can to get these Tories out and devote every breath that I breathe, every sinew of my body to ensuring that your grandchildren do get to live in that new Britain in a new and better world. Discipline, courage, determination, honesty: this victory can be won. The prize is immense. It is new Britain, one Britain - the people united by shared values, shared aims, a government governing for all the people and the party, this party, the Labour Party, new Labour, founded by the people, back truly as the people’s party.
New Labour, new Britain, the party renewed, the country reborn. New Labour. New Britain. (Prolonged applause)