["After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say: I
WANT TO SEE THE MANAGER." -- William S. Burroughs. Here is the (acting)
deputy manager's explanation of the current state of the planet. John.]
Wednesday 3 October 2001
Speech by Tony Blair, Prime Minister, Labour Party conference, Brighton 2001
In retrospect the Millennium marked only a moment in time. It was the events
of 11 September that marked a turning point in history, where we confront
the dangers of the future and assess the choices facing humankind.
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
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
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.
They worry about the economy and talk of recession.
And, of course there are dangers; it is a new situation.
But the fundamentals of the US, British and European economies are strong.
Every 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
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
He is supported, shielded and given succour by the Taliban regime.
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,
Look for a moment at the Taliban regime. It is undemocratic. That goes
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 in Afghanistan.
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
State an ultimatum and get their response. We stated the ultimatum; they
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.
Any action 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
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 terrorists.
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
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 others.
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 appearing.
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
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 in.
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.
The sceptics said it was pointless, we'd make matters worse, we'd make
Milosovic 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 Armed
We can't do it all. Neither can the Americans.
But the power of the international community could, together, if it chose
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 preaching.
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.
The 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.
If humankind 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 must.
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 Kingdom.
We know this also. The values we believe in should shine through what we do
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
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
And, 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, 41/2 million on the move
even before 11 September, are given shelter, food and help during the winter
The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for
The 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.
But 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.
Because the 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, ASEAN.
In Europe, the most integrated grouping of all, we are now 15 nations.
Another 12 countries negotiating to join, and more beyond that.
A new 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 lifetime?
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. There are 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
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 individual's interests.
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.
But values 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
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
Our economic 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.
On this 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 it".
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% interest rates,
3 million 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
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.
We 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
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
All these policies are linked by a common thread of principle.
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.
They are 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
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
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.
But 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 injustice.
And the demands on the system are ever greater. Children need to be better
and better educated.
People live longer. There is a vast array of new treatment available.
And expectations are higher. This is a consumer age. People don't take what
they're given. They demand more.
We're not 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 the few.
We need better pay and conditions for the staff; better incentives for
recruitment; and for retention. We're getting them and recruitment is
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
This Party believes in public services; believes in the ethos of public
service; and believes in the dedication the vast majority of public servants
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 true.
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
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.
Second, within 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 servants.
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
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.
Part of that reform programme is partnership with the private or voluntary
Let's get one thing clear. Nobody is talking about privatising the NHS or
Nobody believes the private sector is a panacea.
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
And it is a vital test for the modern Labour Party
If people lose faith in public services, be under no illusion as to what
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 community.
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 worth having.
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 consist of?
Fairness, people all of equal worth, of course. But also reason and
tolerance. Justice has no favourites; not amongst nations, peoples or
When we act to bring to account those that committed the atrocity of 11
September, 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
It is time the West confronted its ignorance of Islam. Jews, Muslims and
Christians are all children of Abraham.
This is 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.
I think 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 11
September 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 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
Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.
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, can.
"By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we
For those people who lost their lives on 11 September and those that mourn
them; now is the time for the strength to build that community. Let that be
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