Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cameron's speech

Tim F sent me a rewrite of Cameron's last speech. It is absolutely brilliant:

"It's a huge honour to be standing before you as leader of the Conservative Party. And frankly I'm surprised I'm still here. It's been a time of great change. I'm already on my second leader of the Liberal Democrats. Before long I'll be on to my second Labour Prime Minister. Soon I'll be the longest-serving leader of a major British political party.

I wanted this job for a very simple reason. I love this country. I have great ambitions for our future. I wanted this job for two very simple reasons. I love this country. I have great ambitions for our future. And I want the Party I love…Three simple reasons! I'll come in again. Amongst my reasons for wanting this job are such diverse elements as… I love this country. I have great ambitions for our future. And I want the Party I love… …to serve the rich……in helping them realize their interests. We need to change in order to have that chance. You cannot change the past without altering the present in ways you could never imagine. You knew that.

And that's why you voted for change. I believe we can all be proud of what we've achieved these past ten months.People looking at us with fresh loathing. 25,000 new members - and in the same period of time, only 50,000 died! And in our first electoral test, in the local elections, we did about the same as four years ago. Let's hear it for our fantastic local councillors who got lucky. Tony Blair says it's all style and no substance. Well that's what wins elections.

In the whole of the last year, there is only one Tory thing that the Labour Party has achieved for our country. Their education reforms. Right now, across the country, comprehensive schools are being undermined by a return to selection. The only reason - the only reason - that's happening is because the Conservative Party did the clever thing and took the legislation through the House of Commons. I'm proud of that - proud of us, for putting party politics before automatic antagonism.

Another sign of our changing fortunes is the motley bunch of mediocres who have come to join us at our conference this year. And I'd like to pay a special tribute to one in particular. He's a man who knows more than George W Bush about leadership. He's endured hardship that's unimaginable to prosperous, ageing Tory delegates. And he's fought battles for global capitalism. Who knows the length of a piece of string? But John, I for one would be proud to see you - a Republican and a great friend to the Tory party - as leader of America.

I'd also like to pay tribute to my colleagues who have spoken already today. A year ago, David Davis and I were rivals. Today I'm the leader and he's not. He has given me the most fantastic support over these past ten months. Blah, blah, blah. He has not only helped bring this Party together… …he has helped take our Party in the right direction, and I want to thank him for all he's done. And I'm proud to work with another man who is a failed politician, a broken man, and discredited Conservative. A man who would be a Foreign Secretary that was bald: William Hague. Then there's Francis. I know Francis likes to pretend that everything is doom and gloom. He's always talking about the mountain we have to climb. He's so gloomy, he makes Gordon Brown look like a ray of sunshine. But Francis, you're only there to help me appeal to the extreme wing of the party.

Of course Francis has long told us to avoid the point-scoring and name-calling that can give politics such a bad name.He's right. That's why my public relations strategy has been based on provoking barneys with senior Tory figures.

So we have a great responsibility. To set out a clear, united and credible alternative. With some elections, you just know the result before a single vote has been cast. We were never going to win in 1997. People saw through us. I remember it well. I fought Stafford. And Stafford fought back. Labour were never going to win in 1983 when Thatcher had just won a war against a country in the middle of economic collapse. Other elections are wide open. And the next election will be one of those.
But we will not win, nor deserve to win.

On Wednesday, the last day of our conference, I want to talk in detail about the important issues we face as a nation - and what our response will be. But today, on this first day of our conference, I'd like to pontificate for a little longer. I want to explain how we will arrive at the next election knowing exactly what we want to do, without telling anyone what it is. My argument is based on very little.

Getting ready for the responsibility of government is like building a house together. Think of it in three stages. First you wait until the government is unpopular. Then you sit back and ignore the temptation to come up with policy. And then, finally, you cross your fingers.

WAITING

These last ten months, we have been waiting until the government is unpopular. Our Party's history tells us the ground on which political success is built. It is the centre ground. Not the bog of political compromise. Not the ideological wilderness, out on the fringes of debate. Not the snowy plains of Iceland. Not the sandy dunes of Australia. But the solid ground where people are. The centre ground is where you find the concerns, the hopes and the dreams of most people and families and cats and dogs in the center. In 1979, they wanted a government to end unemployment and curb inflation. Margaret Thatcher took advantage of this to cut NHS funding and help her friends in business. And this Party can forever take pride in her magnificent achievements. Today, people want different things. Things we cannot provide. Safer streets. Schools that teach. A better quality of life. Better treatment for carers. That's what people are talking about today. But for too long, we were having a different conversation. A big conversation. Instead of talking about the things that most people care about, we talked about what we cared about most. While parents worried about childcare, getting the kids to school, balancing work and family life - we were banging on about Europe. As they worried about standards in thousands of secondary schools, we obsessed about a handful more grammar schools. As rising expectations demanded a better NHS for everyone, we put our faith in opt-outs for a few. While people wanted, more than anything, stability and low mortgage rates, the first thing we talked about was tax cuts. For years, this country wanted - desperately needed – socialism. Well, they can't have it.

LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS - SHIRKING RESPONSIBILITY

But waiting until the government is unpopular is just the first stage. Now we must sit back and avoid telling people what we would do in power. A strong government needs strong foundations. And I want us to lay those foundations this week. That's not about individual policies. It is about pontificating wildly so people think I have charisma. A Britain where we do not ask what government can do. We ask what can we stop it doing. A Britain where we stop bothering to take action to stop crime. And start realising that we are fucked.

Shirking responsibility - that is the essence of liberal Conservatism. That is the idea I want us to explain this week. That is what we stand for. That is what we're fighting for. That is the Britain we want to build. Take fighting crime. It is not just a state responsibility. It is the responsibility of maurading vigilantes, too. Let's not pretend that all we need is tough talk and tough laws to bring safety to our streets. Of course the state must play its part. That's why we're developing a programme of radical police reform. That's why we want to pay our mates in business ludicrous sums of money to build more prisons and underfund the ones we've got, so we can reduce taxes. And that's why we'll invest in drugs, to feed my habit. But that is not the end of the nightmare. It is just the start. We need parents to beat their children. We need to bring back the cane. We need to stand up for British values and shout down minorities. We need to make sure crime doesn't affect middle-class areas. We've got to stop selling alcohol to children. We need the music industry to understand that profiting from violent and homophobic words and images may be in their interests, but they should issue corporate responsibility plans pretending they disapprove.

But more than this, we need people, families, communities, businesses to step up to the plate and understand that it's not just about perpetuating the bad things… …it's about actively stopping the good things. Not waiting for the state to do it all, but shirking responsibility, making a difference, saying loudly and proudly: this is my country, this is my community: I will sit down and do nothing.
That is shirking responsibility.
That is our idea.

So I want us to be the champions of a new spirit of shirking responsibility in this land.A new spirit of shirking responsibility that will succeed for Britain where Labour's outdated state responsibility has failed.

LABOUR'S APPROACH

Think of any issue - not just crime - and then think of Labour's response. This Government's way of doing things - the old way of doing things - is so familiar, and so depressing. Ministers hold a summit. They announce an eye-catching initiative. A five-year plan. Gordon Brown generously finds the money for it. The money gets a headline, but no-one knows what to do with it. So they create a unit in the Cabinet Office. A task force is set up. Regional co-ordinators are appointed. Gordon Brown sets them targets - after all, it is his money. Pilot schemes are launched. The pilot schemes are rolled out across the country. They are evaluated. Then revised, re-organised and re-launched. And then finally, once the reality dawns that the only people to benefit are working class people…the media whip up an outcry. These last nine years have been the story of a Government which instinctively believes, whatever it says, that it has responsibilities. We believe in shirking responsibility.

So let us define this week the kind of Britain we want to see. And let us show how our idea - shirking responsibility……not Labour's idea - state responsibility……is the right response to the challenges Britain faces.

We know that in the age of globalisation, in the face of fast-moving economic change, people want their government to provide security. We know that the end of the traditional 9 to 9 job can make life tough for families, and people look to their government for answers. And we know that in the race against time to tackle climate change and protect the environment, people expect their government to show leadership.

On all these challenges, Labour's first response is to regulate business, hoping to offer protection. It may sound attractive. But there are unintended consequences. Well-intentioned regulation can stop business from exploiting workers. Less able to squeeze money out of them to line their own pockets. It can undermine the bank accounts of our businessmen, so it's harder for them to invest in yachts. So our response, based on our philosophy of shirking responsibility, is to say to business:

Yes you should look after your workers, yes you should look after your community, yes you should look after our environment.

But you don't have to.

Next week our MEPs will try to win middle-class votes by strengthening proposals to make companies replace dangerous chemicals with safe ones. But where Labour try to protect workers, we will make sure we don't. We will ask: Are we making it easier to exploit people? Easier to discriminate on the basis of race, gender and age? Is the gap between the poor and rich increasing? Will the CBI like it? If only we had a government that was asking these questions today. We want companies to create their own solutions to social and environmental challenges, because those are the solutions least likely to cost them anything. So in a Conservative Britain, shirking responsibility will provide the best long-term answer to economic insecurity, well-being in the workplace, and environmental care. It is the same approach when you look at the other great challenges we face.

We know that in an age of amazing technological advance, instant information exchange, and empowered consumers who don't have the deference of previous generations… …people expect more from our health service and our schools. And government has to combat that.

Labour's response is the culture of democratic control, aimed at raising standards in our public services. They mean well. But the unintended consequence is to drive up standards. So our response, based on our philosophy of shirking responsibility, is to say to our nurses, doctors, teachers: Yes you should meet higher standards, yes you should give your patients and your pupils more. But we're not going to give you the money to do it. So in a Conservative Britain, shirking responsibility will provide the answer to rising expectations in the NHS and schools.

And just as people will no longer accept second best in public services, we know that in their communities they are fed up with squalor and poverty and crime……and they look to their leaders to sort things out. Labour's response has been a massive expansion of central government into local communities. The centralised Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, the Pathfinder programme, prescriptive top-down schemes for regeneration. You can see why Labour have done it. But the unintended consequence is to put more money into the most deprived communities. …the media whip up an outcry. These last nine years have been the story of a Government which instinctively believes, whatever it says, that it has responsibilities. We believe in shirking responsibility.

So let us define this week the kind of Britain we want to see. And let us show how our idea - shirking responsibility……not Labour's idea - state responsibility……is the right response to the challenges Britain faces. We know that in the age of globalisation, in the face of fast-moving economic change, people want their government to provide security. We know that the end of the traditional 9 to 9 job can make life tough for families, and people look to their government for answers. And we know that in the race against time to tackle climate change and protect the environment, people expect their government to show leadership. On all these challenges, Labour's first response is to regulate business, hoping to offer protection. It may sound attractive. But there are unintended consequences. Well-intentioned regulation can stop business from exploiting workers. Less able to squeeze money out of them to line their own pockets. It can undermine the bank accounts of our businessmen, so it's harder for them to invest in yachts. So our response, based on our philosophy of shirking responsibility, is to say to business:

Yes you should look after your workers, yes you should look after your community, yes you should look after our environment.

But you don't have to.

Next week our MEPs will try to win middle-class votes by strengthening proposals to make companies replace dangerous chemicals with safe ones. But where Labour try to protect workers, we will make sure we don't. We will ask: Are we making it easier to exploit people? Easier to discriminate on the basis of race, gender and age? Is the gap between the poor and rich increasing? Will the CBI like it? If only we had a government that was asking these questions today. We want companies to create their own solutions to social and environmental challenges, because those are the solutions least likely to cost them anything. So in a Conservative Britain, shirking responsibility will provide the best long-term answer to economic insecurity, well-being in the workplace, and environmental care. It is the same approach when you look at the other great challenges we face.

We know that in an age of amazing technological advance, instant information exchange, and empowered consumers who don't have the deference of previous generations… …people expect more from our health service and our schools. And government has to combat that.

Labour's response is the culture of democratic control, aimed at raising standards in our public services. They mean well. But the unintended consequence is to drive up standards. So our response, based on our philosophy of shirking responsibility, is to say to our nurses, doctors, teachers: Yes you should meet higher standards, yes you should give your patients and your pupils more. But we're not going to give you the money to do it. So in a Conservative Britain, shirking responsibility will provide the answer to rising expectations in the NHS and schools.

And just as people will no longer accept second best in public services, we know that in their communities they are fed up with squalor and poverty and crime……and they look to their leaders to sort things out. Labour's response has been a massive expansion of central government into local communities. The centralised Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, the Pathfinder programme, prescriptive top-down schemes for regeneration. You can see why Labour have done it. But the unintended consequence is to put more money into the most deprived communities.

Our response, based on our philosophy of shirking responsibility, is to not give a shit. So we will hand power and control to business, who are our friends. They will pay us back when we're old and out of power. So in a Conservative Britain, shirking responsibility will provide the answer to improving the quality of life for the few and not the many.

And then perhaps the greatest challenge of all. The challenge of bringing up children in a world that often seems fraught with risk and danger. There is nothing that matters more to me than the safety and happiness of my family. Of course it's right that government should be on parents' side. But Labour take it way too far.

A national database to avoid more Victoria Climbies. Making childcare accessible to working class people and not just the wealthy. Offering parenting classes where they're needed. Labour's intentions may be good. But the unintended consequence is to create better educated, healthier children with higher expectations who will demand the wages they deserve. They may have abandoned Clause 4 and the nationalisation of industry. But they still want better conditions for the worst off.

The state can never be perfect - so it shouldn't do anything. Real change will take years of patient hard work, and we will test every policy by asking: does it shirk responsibility? We need to understand that no change is worth any number of government initiatives. Who has done more to improve school food, Jamie Oliver, or the Department of Education? Put another way, we need more of brainless daytime TV programmes, less real action to meet real needs. So in a Conservative Britain, shirking responsibility will provide the best answer to the risks and dangers of the modern world.

Shirking responsibility.

Shirking responsibility.

Shirking responsibility.

Shirking responsibility.

These are the four pillars of our social responsibility.

That is the Britain we want to build.

A Britain with more homeless. More middle-class family-friendly. More in the hands of unelected middle-class people who have time to piss around with resources that could be spent where they are needed. Less belief in politicians' ability to do anything at all. But more optimistic about what we can achieve if we cross our fingers.

We want power.

CROSSING OUR FINGERS

This week, in our debates, we will refuse to say anything of substance. Saying nothing must come first. How superficial, how insubstantial it would be, for us to actually propose solutions to pressing problems. Policy without principle is like a porcupine without pork.

A upine.

That is what our Policy Review is all about: upine

If we do this, we can help achieve so much for this country. In a few years' time, Britain could wake up to a bright new morning. We have everything to be optimistic about. You could not design a country with better natural advantages than we have. We speak the language of the world, because we enslaved most of it. We have links of history and culture with every continent on earth, because we invaded them and stole their natural resources. We have institutions - our legal system, our armed forces, the BBC, our great universities. Our artists, writers and musicians. We are. In this young century, these old advantages give us the edge we need.

CONCLUSION

What a prospect for a Tory Party - to get power back. So let us stick to the plan. Let us build - carefully, thoughtfully and patiently, a new house together. Preparing the ground as we move to the centre, meeting the priorities of the modern world. Sitting back and doing nothing with our idea - shirking responsibility. And crossing our fingers, hoping to win back power. The hopes of the nation are in our hands. People's hopes. Your hopes. My hopes. His hopes. Her hopes. That man over there with the funny hat and the silly moustache's hopes.

In eight days' time I will be forty years old. I have so much to look forward to. My young family. They have so much to look forward to. If you want to know what I'm all about, I can explain it in one word. That word is optimism. I am optimistic about human nature. That's because I have been handed everything in life on a plate.

Labour are pessimists. They think that without their guidance, people will act in their interests. That's why they want to regulate and control. So let us show clearly which side we are on. Let optimism beat pessimism. Let sunshine win the day. Let fluffy animals dance round a beautiful rainbow. Oh wait, this is a flashback.

And let everyone know that the Conservative Party is ready.
Ready to serve (the wealthy).
Ready to fight.
Ready to lose.

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