Bahai News - Full text: Tony Blair's speech
Full text: Tony Blair's speech
Part one of the speech by prime minister, Tony Blair, at the Labour Party conference
Tuesday October 2, 2001
In retrospect, the Millennium marked only a moment in time. It was the events of September 11 that
marked a turning point in history, where we confront the dangers of the future and assess the choices
It was a tragedy. An act of evil. From this nation, goes our deepest sympathy and
prayers for the victims and our profound solidarity with the American people.
We were with you at the
first. We will stay with you to the last.
Just two weeks ago, in New York, after the church service
I met some of the families of the British victims.
It was in many ways a very British occasion. Tea
and biscuits. It was raining outside. Around the edge of the room, strangers making small talk, trying
to be normal people in an abnormal situation.
And as you crossed the room, you felt the longing and
sadness; hands clutching photos of sons and daughters, wives and husbands; imploring you to believe
them when they said there was still an outside chance of their loved ones being found alive, when you
knew in truth that all hope was gone.
And then a middle-aged mother looks you in the eyes and tells
you her only son has died, and asks you: why?
I tell you: you do not feel like the most powerful
person in the country at times like that.
Because there is no answer. There is no justification for
their pain. Their son did nothing wrong. The woman, seven months pregnant, whose child will never know
its father, did nothing wrong.
They don't want revenge. They want something better in memory of
their loved ones.
I believe their memorial can and should be greater than simply the punishment of
the guilty. It is that out of the shadow of this evil, should emerge lasting good: destruction of the
machinery of terrorism wherever it is found; hope amongst all nations of a new beginning where we seek
to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way; greater understanding between nations and between
faiths; and above all justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed, so that people everywhere
can see the chance of a better future through the hard work and creative power of the free citizen, not
the violence and savagery of the fanatic.
I know that here in Britain people are anxious, even a
little frightened. I understand that. People know we must act but they worry what might follow.
worry about the economy and talk of recession.
And, of course there are dangers; it is a new
But the fundamentals of the US, British and European economies are strong.
reasonable measure of internal security is being undertaken.
Our way of life is a great deal stronger
and will last a great deal longer than the actions of fanatics, small in number and now facing a
unified world against them.
People should have confidence.
This is a battle with only one outcome:
our victory not theirs.
What happened on 11 September was without parallel in the bloody history of
Within a few hours, up to 7000 people were annihilated, the commercial centre of New York
was reduced to rubble and in Washington and Pennsylvania further death and horror on an unimaginable
scale. Let no one say this was a blow for Islam when the blood of innocent Muslims was shed along with
those of the Christian, Jewish and other faiths around the world.
We know those responsible. In
Afghanistan are scores of training camps for the export of terror. Chief amongst the sponsors and
organisers is Usama Bin Laden.
He is supported, shielded and given succour by the Taliban
Two days before the 11 September attacks, Masood, the leader of the opposition Northern
Alliance, was assassinated by two suicide bombers. Both were linked to Bin Laden. Some may call that
coincidence. I call it payment - payment in the currency these people deal in: blood.
Be in no doubt:
Bin Laden and his people organised this atrocity. The Taliban aid and abet him. He will not desist from
further acts of terror. They will not stop helping him.
Whatever the dangers of the action we take,
the dangers of inaction are far, far greater.
Look for a moment at the Taliban regime. It is
undemocratic. That goes without saying.
There is no sport allowed, or television or photography. No
art or culture is permitted. All other faiths, all other interpretations of Islam are ruthlessly
suppressed. Those who practice their faith are imprisoned. Women are treated in a way almost too
revolting to be credible. First driven out of university; girls not allowed to go to school; no legal
rights; unable to go out of doors without a man. Those that disobey are stoned.
There is now no
contact permitted with western agencies, even those delivering food. The people live in abject poverty.
It is a regime founded on fear and funded on the drugs trade. The biggest drugs hoard in the world is
in Afghanistan, controlled by the Taliban. Ninety per cent of the heroin on British streets originates
The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for with the lives of young British
people buying their drugs on British streets.
That is another part of their regime that we should
seek to destroy.
So what do we do?
Don't overreact some say. We aren't.
We haven't lashed out.
No missiles on the first night just for effect.
Don't kill innocent people. We are not the ones who
waged war on the innocent. We seek the guilty.
Look for a diplomatic solution. There is no diplomacy
with Bin Laden or the Taliban regime.
State an ultimatum and get their response. We stated the
ultimatum; they haven't responded.
Understand the causes of terror. Yes, we should try, but let there
be no moral ambiguity about this: nothing could ever justify the events of 11 September, and it is to
turn justice on its head to pretend it could.
The action we take will be proportionate; targeted; we
will do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties. But understand what we are dealing with.
Listen to the calls of those passengers on the planes. Think of the children on them, told they were
going to die.
Think of the cruelty beyond our comprehension as amongst the screams and the anguish
of the innocent, those hijackers drove at full throttle planes laden with fuel into buildings where
tens of thousands worked.
They have no moral inhibition on the slaughter of the innocent. If they
could have murdered not 7,000 but 70,000 does anyone doubt they would have done so and rejoiced in it?
There is no compromise possible with such people, no meeting of minds, no point of understanding
with such terror.
Just a choice: defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must.
taken will be against the terrorist network of Bin Laden.
As for the Taliban, they can surrender the
terrorists; or face the consequences and again in any action the aim will be to eliminate their
military hardware, cut off their finances, disrupt their supplies, target their troops, not civilians.
We will put a trap around the regime.
I say to the Taliban : surrender the terrorists; or surrender
power. It's your choice.
We will take action at every level, national and international, in the UN,
in G8, in the EU, in Nato, in every regional grouping in the world, to strike at international
terrorism wherever it exists.
For the first time, the UN security council has imposed mandatory
obligations on all UN members to cut off terrorist financing and end safe havens for
Those that finance terror, those who launder their money, those that cover their tracks
are every bit as guilty as the fanatic who commits the final act.
Here in this country and in other
nations round the world, laws will be changed, not to deny basic liberties but to prevent their abuse
and protect the most basic liberty of all: freedom from terror. New extradition laws will be
introduced; new rules to ensure asylum is not a front for terrorist entry. This country is proud of its
tradition in giving asylum to those fleeing tyranny. We will always do so. But we have a duty to
protect the system from abuse.
It must be overhauled radically so that from now on, those who abide
by the rules get help and those that don't, can no longer play the system to gain unfair advantage over
Round the world, 11 September is bringing Governments and people to reflect, consider and
change. And in this process, amidst all the talk of war and action, there is another dimension
There is a coming together. The power of community is asserting itself. We are realising
how fragile are our frontiers in the face of the world's new challenges.
Today conflicts rarely stay
within national boundaries.
Today a tremor in one financial market is repeated in the markets of the
Today confidence is global; either its presence or its absence.
Today the threat is chaos;
because for people with work to do, family life to balance, mortgages to pay, careers to further,
pensions to provide, the yearning is for order and stability and if it doesn't exist elsewhere, it is
unlikely to exist here.
I have long believed this interdependence defines the new world we live
People say: we are only acting because it's the USA that was attacked. Double standards, they
say. But when Milosevic embarked on the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kosovo, we acted.
sceptics said it was pointless, we'd make matters worse, we'd make Milosevic stronger and look what
happened, we won, the refugees went home, the policies of ethnic cleansing were reversed and one of the
great dictators of the last century, will see justice in this century.
And I tell you if Rwanda
happened again today as it did in 1993, when a million people were slaughtered in cold blood, we would
have a moral duty to act there also. We were there in Sierra Leone when a murderous group of gangsters
threatened its democratically elected Government and people.
And we as a country should, and I as
Prime Minister do, give thanks for the brilliance, dedication and sheer professionalism of the British
We can't do it all. Neither can the Americans.
But the power of the international
community could, together, if it chose to.
It could, with our help, sort out the blight that is the
continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where three million people have died
through war or famine in the last decade.
A Partnership for Africa, between the developed and
developing world based around the New African Initiative, is there to be done if we find the will.
On our side: provide more aid, untied to trade; write off debt; help with good governance and
infrastructure; training to the soldiers, with UN blessing, in conflict resolution; encouraging
investment; and access to our markets so that we practise the free trade we are so fond of
But it's a deal: on the African side: true democracy, no more excuses for dictatorship,
abuses of human rights; no tolerance of bad governance, from the endemic corruption of some states, to
the activities of Mr Mugabe's henchmen in Zimbabwe. Proper commercial, legal and financial systems.
The will, with our help, to broker agreements for peace and provide troops to police them.
state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. But if the world as a community focused on
it, we could heal it. And if we don't, it will become deeper and angrier.
We could defeat climate
change if we chose to. Kyoto is right. We will implement it and call upon all other nations to do so.
But it's only a start. With imagination, we could use or find the technologies that create energy
without destroying our planet; we could provide work and trade without deforestation.
was able, finally, to make industrial progress without the factory conditions of the 19th Century;
surely we have the wit and will to develop economically without despoiling the very environment we
depend upon. And if we wanted to, we could breathe new life into the Middle East Peace Process and we
The state of Israel must be given recognition by all; freed from terror; know that it is
accepted as part of the future of the Middle East not its very existence under threat. The Palestinians
must have justice, the chance to prosper and in their own land, as equal partners with Israel in that
We know that. It is the only way, just as we know in our own peace process, in Northern
Ireland, there will be no unification of Ireland except by consent - and there will be no return to the
days of unionist or Protestant supremacy because those days have no place in the modern world. So the
unionists must accept justice and equality for nationalists.
The Republicans must show they have
given up violence - not just a ceasefire but weapons put beyond use. And not only the Republicans, but
those people who call themselves Loyalists, but who by acts of terrorism, sully the name of the United
We know this also. The values we believe in should shine through what we do in
To the Afghan people we make this commitment. The conflict will not be the end. We will
not walk away, as the outside world has done so many times before.
If the Taliban regime changes, we
will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broad-based, that unites all ethnic
groups, and that offers some way out of the miserable poverty that is your present existence.
more than ever now, with every bit as much thought and planning, we will assemble a humanitarian
coalition alongside the military coalition so that inside and outside Afghanistan, the refugees,
millions on the move even before September 11, are given shelter, food and help during the winter
The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for force.
critics will say: but how can the world be a community? Nations act in their own self-interest. Of
course they do. But what is the lesson of the financial markets, climate change, international
terrorism, nuclear proliferation or world trade? It is that our self-interest and our mutual interests
are today inextricably woven together.
This is the politics of globalisation.
I realise why people
protest against globalisation.
We watch aspects of it with trepidation. We feel powerless, as if we
were now pushed to and fro by forces far beyond our control.
But there's a risk that political
leaders, faced with street demonstrations, pander to the argument rather than answer it. The
demonstrators are right to say there's injustice, poverty, environmental degradation.
globalisation is a fact and, by and large, it is driven by people.
Not just in finance, but in
communication, in technology, increasingly in culture, in recreation. In the world of the internet,
information technology and TV, there will be globalisation. And in trade, the problem is not there's
too much of it; on the contrary there's too little of it.
The issue is not how to stop globalisation.
The issue is how we use the power of community to combine it with justice. If globalisation works
only for the benefit of the few, then it will fail and will deserve to fail.
But if we follow the
principles that have served us so well at home - that power, wealth and opportunity must be in the
hands of the many, not the few - if we make that our guiding light for the global economy, then it will
be a force for good and an international movement that we should take pride in leading.
alternative to globalisation is isolation.
Confronted by this reality, round the world, nations are
instinctively drawing together. In Quebec, all the countries of North and South America deciding to
make one huge free trade area, rivalling Europe.
In Asia. In Europe, the most integrated grouping of
all, we are now 15 nations. Another 12 countries negotiating to join, and more beyond that.
relationship between Russia and Europe is beginning.
And will not India and China, each with three
times as many citizens as the whole of the EU put together, once their economies have developed
sufficiently as they will do, not reconfigure entirely the geopolitics of the world and in our
That is why, with 60 per cent of our trade dependent on Europe, three million jobs tied up
with Europe, much of our political weight engaged in Europe, it would be a fundamental denial of our
true national interest to turn our backs on Europe.
We will never let that happen.
For 50 years,
Britain has, uncharacteristically, followed not led in Europe. At each and every step.
debates central to our future coming up: how we reform European economic policy; how we take forward
European defence; how we fight organised crime and terrorism.
Britain needs its voice strong in
Europe and bluntly Europe needs a strong Britain, rock solid in our alliance with the USA, yet
determined to play its full part in shaping Europe's destiny.
We should only be part of the single
currency if the economic conditions are met. They are not window-dressing for a political decision.
They are fundamental. But if they are met, we should join, and if met in this parliament, we should
have the courage of our argument, to ask the British people for their consent in this Parliament.
Europe is not a threat to Britain. Europe is an opportunity.
It is in taking the best of the
Anglo-Saxon and European models of development that Britain's hope of a prosperous future lies. The
American spirit of enterprise; the European spirit of solidarity. We have, here also, an opportunity.
Not just to build bridges politically, but economically.
What is the answer to the current crisis?
Not isolationism but the world coming together with America as a community.
What is the answer to
Britain's relations with Europe? Not opting out, but being leading members of a community in which, in
alliance with others, we gain strength.
What is the answer to Britain's future? Not each person for
themselves, but working together as a community to ensure that everyone, not just the privileged few
get the chance to succeed.
This is an extraordinary moment for progressive politics.
Our values are
the right ones for this age: the power of community, solidarity, the collective ability to further the
People ask me if I think ideology is dead. My answer is:
In the sense of
rigid forms of economic and social theory, yes.
The 20th century killed those ideologies and their
passing causes little regret. But, in the sense of a governing idea in politics, based on values, no.
The governing idea of modern social democracy is community. Founded on the principles of social
justice. That people should rise according to merit not birth; that the test of any decent society is
not the contentment of the wealthy and strong, but the commitment to the poor and weak.
aren't enough. The mantle of leadership comes at a price: the courage to learn and change; to show how
values that stand for all ages, can be applied in a way relevant to each age.
Our politics only
succeed when the realism is as clear as the idealism.
This party's strength today comes from the
journey of change and learning we have made.
We learnt that however much we strive for peace, we need
strong defence capability where a peaceful approach fails.
We learnt that equality is about equal
worth, not equal outcomes.
Today our idea of society is shaped around mutual responsibility; a deal,
an agreement between citizens not a one-way gift, from the well-off to the dependent.
and social policy today owes as much to the liberal social democratic tradition of Lloyd George, Keynes
and Beveridge as to the socialist principles of the 1945 Government.
Just over a decade ago, people
asked if Labour could ever win again. Today they ask the same question of the Opposition. Painful
though that journey of change has been, it has been worth it, every stage of the way.
journey, the values have never changed. The aims haven't. Our aims would be instantly recognisable to
every Labour leader from Keir Hardie onwards. But the means do change.
The journey hasn't ended. It
never ends. The next stage for New Labour is not backwards; it is renewing ourselves again. Just after
the election, an old colleague of mine said: "Come on Tony, now we've won again, can't we drop all this
New Labour and do what we believe in?"
I said: "It's worse than you think. I really do believe in
We didn't revolutionise British economic policy - Bank of England independence, tough spending
rules - for some managerial reason or as a clever wheeze to steal Tory clothes.
We did it because
the victims of economic incompetence - 15 per cent interest rates, 3m unemployed - are hard-working
families. They are the ones - and even more so, now - with tough times ahead - that the economy should
be run for, not speculators, or currency dealers or senior executives whose pay packets don't seem to
bear any resemblance to the performance of their companies.
Economic competence is the pre-condition
of social justice.
We have legislated for fairness at work, like the minimum wage which people
struggled a century for. But we won't give up the essential flexibility of our economy or our
commitment to enterprise.
Why? Because in a world leaving behind mass production, where technology
revolutionises not just companies but whole industries, almost overnight, enterprise creates the jobs
people depend on.
We have boosted pensions, child benefit, family incomes. We will do more. But our
number one priority for spending is and will remain education.
Why? Because in the new markets
countries like Britain can only create wealth by brain power not low wages and sweatshop labour.
have cut youth unemployment by 75 per cent.
By more than any government before us. But we refuse to
pay benefit to those who refuse to work. Why? Because the welfare that works is welfare that helps
people to help themselves.
The graffiti, the vandalism, the burnt out cars, the street corner drug
dealers, the teenage mugger just graduating from the minor school of crime: we're not old fashioned or
right-wing to take action against this social menace.
We're standing up for the people we represent,
who play by the rules and have a right to expect others to do the same.
And especially at this time
let us say: we celebrate the diversity in our country, get strength from the cultures and races that go
to make up Britain today; and racist abuse and racist attacks have no place in the Britain we believe
All these policies are linked by a common thread of principle.
Part two of the speech by prime minister, Tony Blair, at the Labour Party conference
Now with this second term, our duty is not to sit back and bask in it. It is across the board, in
competition policy, enterprise, pensions, criminal justice, the civil service and of course public
services, to go still further in the journey of change. All for the same reason: to allow us to deliver
social justice in the modern world.
Public services are the power of community in action.
social justice made real. The child with a good education flourishes. The child given a poor education
lives with it for the rest of their life. How much talent and ability and potential do we waste? How
many children never know not just the earning power of a good education but the joy of art and culture
and the stretching of imagination and horizons which true education brings? Poor education is a
personal tragedy and national scandal.
Yet even now, with all the progress of recent years, a quarter
of 11-year-olds fail their basic tests and almost a half of 16 year olds don't get five decent
The NHS meant that for succeeding generations, anxiety was lifted from their shoulders. For
millions who get superb treatment still, the NHS remains the ultimate symbol of social justice.
for every patient waiting in pain, that can't get treatment for cancer or a heart condition or in
desperation ends up paying for their operation, that patient's suffering is the ultimate social
And the demands on the system are ever greater. Children need to be better and better
People live longer. There is a vast array of new treatment available.
are higher. This is a consumer age. People don't take what they're given. They demand more.
alone in this. All round the world governments are struggling with the same problems.
So what is the
solution? Yes, public services need more money. We are putting in the largest ever increases in NHS,
education and transport spending in the next few years; and on the police too. We will keep to those
spending plans. And I say in all honesty to the country: if we want that to continue and the choice is
between investment and tax cuts, then investment must come first.
There is a simple truth we all
know. For decades there has been chronic under-investment in British public services. Our historic
mission is to put that right; and the historic shift represented by the election of June 7 was that
investment to provide quality public services for all comprehensively defeated short-term tax cuts for
We need better pay and conditions for the staff; better incentives for recruitment; and for
retention. We're getting them and recruitment is rising.
This year, for the first time in nearly a
decade, public sector pay will rise faster than private sector pay.
And we are the only major
government in Europe this year to be increasing public spending on health and education as a percentage
of our national income.
This Party believes in public services; believes in the ethos of public
service; and believes in the dedication the vast majority of public servants show; and the proof of it
is that we're spending more, hiring more and paying more than ever before.
Public servants don't do
it for money or glory. They do it because they find fulfilment in a child well taught or a patient well
cared-for; or a community made safer and we salute them for it.
All that is true. But this is also
That often they work in systems and structures that are hopelessly old fashioned or even
worse, work against the very goals they aim for.
There are schools, with exactly the same social
intake. One does well; the other badly.
There are hospitals with exactly the same patient mix. One
performs well; the other badly.
Without reform, more money and pay won't succeed.
First, we need a
national framework of accountability, inspection; and minimum standards of delivery.
that framework, we need to free up local leaders to be able to innovate, develop and be creative.
Third, there should be far greater flexibility in the terms and conditions of employment of public
Fourth, there has to be choice for the user of public services and the ability, where
provision of the service fails, to have an alternative provider.
If schools want to develop or
specialise in a particular area; or hire classroom assistants or computer professionals as well as
teachers, let them. If in a Primary Care Trust, doctors can provide minor surgery or physiotherapists
see patients otherwise referred to a consultant, let them.
There are too many old demarcations,
especially between nurses, doctors and consultants; too little use of the potential of new technology;
too much bureaucracy, too many outdated practices, too great an adherence to the way we've always done
it rather than the way public servants would like to do it if they got the time to think and the
freedom to act.
It's not reform that is the enemy of public services. It's the status quo.
that reform programme is partnership with the private or voluntary sector.
Let's get one thing clear.
Nobody is talking about privatising the NHS or schools.
Nobody believes the private sector is a
There are great examples of public service and poor examples. There are excellent private
sector companies and poor ones. There are areas where the private sector has worked well; and areas
where, as with parts of the railways, it's been a disaster.
Where the private sector is used, it
should not make a profit simply by cutting the wages and conditions of its staff.
But where the
private sector can help lever in vital capital investment, where it helps raise standards, where it
improves the public service as a public service, then to set up some dogmatic barrier to using it, is
to let down the very people who most need our public services to improve.
This programme of reform is
huge: in the NHS, education, including student finance, - we have to find a better way to combine state
funding and student contributions criminal justice; and transport.
I regard it as being as
important for the country as Clause IV's reform was for the Party, and obviously far more important for
the lives of the people we serve.
And it is a vital test for the modern Labour Party
lose faith in public services, be under no illusion as to what will happen.
There is a different
approach waiting in the wings. Cut public spending drastically; let those that can afford to, buy their
own services; and those that can't, will depend on a demoralised, sink public service. That would be a
denial of social justice on a massive scale.
It would be contrary to the very basis of
So this is a battle of values. Let's have that battle but not amongst ourselves. The real
fight is between those who believe in strong public services and those who don't.
That's the fight
In all of this, at home and abroad, the same beliefs throughout: that we are a
community of people, whose self-interest and mutual interest at crucial points merge, and that it is
through a sense of justice that community is born and nurtured.
And what does this concept of justice
Fairness, people all of equal worth, of course. But also reason and tolerance. Justice
has no favourites; not amongst nations, peoples or faiths.
When we act to bring to account those
that committed the atrocity of September 11, we do so, not out of bloodlust.
We do so because it is
just. We do not act against Islam. The true followers of Islam are our brothers and sisters in this
struggle. Bin Laden is no more obedient to the proper teaching of the Koran than those Crusaders of the
12th century who pillaged and murdered, represented the teaching of the Gospel.
It is time the west
confronted its ignorance of Islam. Jews, Muslims and Christians are all children of Abraham.
the moment to bring the faiths closer together in understanding of our common values and heritage, a
source of unity and strength.
It is time also for parts of Islam to confront prejudice against
America and not only Islam but parts of western societies too.
America has its faults as a society,
as we have ours.
But I think of the Union of America born out of the defeat of slavery.
of its Constitution, with its inalienable rights granted to every citizen still a model for the world.
I think of a black man, born in poverty, who became chief of their armed forces and is now secretary
of state Colin Powell and I wonder frankly whether such a thing could have happened here.
I think of
the Statue of Liberty and how many refugees, migrants and the impoverished passed its light and felt
that if not for them, for their children, a new world could indeed be theirs.
I think of a country
where people who do well, don't have questions asked about their accent, their class, their beginnings
but have admiration for what they have done and the success they've achieved.
I think of those New
Yorkers I met, still in shock, but resolute; the fire fighters and police, mourning their comrades but
still head held high.
I think of all this and I reflect: yes, America has its faults, but it is a
free country, a democracy, it is our ally and some of the reaction to September 11 betrays a hatred of
America that shames those that feel it.
So I believe this is a fight for freedom. And I want to make
it a fight for justice too. Justice not only to punish the guilty. But justice to bring those same
values of democracy and freedom to people round the world.
And I mean: freedom, not only in the
narrow sense of personal liberty but in the broader sense of each individual having the economic and
social freedom to develop their potential to the full. That is what community means, founded on the
equal worth of all.
The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want
and squalor from the deserts of Northern Africa to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of
Afghanistan: they too are our cause.
This is a moment to seize. The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The
pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around
Today, humankind has the science and technology to destroy itself or to provide prosperity to
all. Yet science can't make that choice for us. Only the moral power of a world acting as a community,
"By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we can alone".
those people who lost their lives on September 11 and those that mourn them; now is the time for the
strength to build that community. Let that be their memorial.
©Copyright 2001, Guardian
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