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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Kennedy's speech: Key extracts
The key extracts from Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy's speech to his party conference in Brighton.


Iraq

There must be a new UN Resolution, setting a timetable for the readmission of weapons inspectors. Without conditions.
Every effort must be made to re-start the Middle East peace process - genuine security for Israel, stability for a Palestinian state

Charles Kennedy
The House of Commons must have a vote prior to any possible future deployment of British forces to Iraq. Parliament must remain mindful of the anxieties now amongst the Muslim community here in Britain. And every effort must be made to re-start the Middle East peace process - genuine security for Israel, stability for a Palestinian state. A resort to military force must be a last resort - and under the auspices of the UN.

Joining the euro

The European cause is one which all too often we Liberal Democrats have been left to champion alone.

Europe has become the unacceptable conspiracy of silence in British politics

Charles Kennedy
We have argued - again and again and again - that the Government has to set a timetable for the timing of a referendum.

Tony Blair could do it this autumn - in the Queen's Speech.

It would be a start. A bill, paving the way for the referendum.

It would be a clear signal of intent, kickstarting the debate.

But I'm not holding my breath.

The Prime Minister and his Chancellor have got to resolve their collective political position.

Europe has become the unacceptable conspiracy of silence in British politics.

Tony Blair would like to talk more about it - but Gordon Brown just won't let him.

It's an insult to the collective intelligence of the British people.

The environment

The West - and in particular the USA - must stop plundering the resources of the planet. It's not only future generations who'll suffer. It means more deprivation here and now for the poor countries of the world.

And that glaring injustice will inevitably lead to future conflicts - more economic migrants, more human misery, more fertile ground for terrorists.

The Tories

The French translate Shadow Cabinet as Cabinet Phantome.

They look faded. They sound jaded. The party of yesteryear

Charles Kennedy
And never has there been a cabinet more phantom than the Tory front bench.

At the moment, the only direction the Tories are going is backwards.

The trouble with the Tories these days is this: it's not just the individual personalities or the policies. It's the party itself that's the real problem.

They look faded. They sound jaded. The party of yesteryear.

And that gives us Liberal Democrats a great and growing opportunity.

Proportional representation

The Government said they'd review our many electoral systems after next year's round of elections.

It's high time the Government extended fair votes to Westminster

Charles Kennedy
It was a promise I sought and extracted from them. And I mean to hold them to it.

The case for PR has never looked so strong. We'll be there at the table, making that case.

It's high time the Government extended fair votes to Westminster.

It would give us a system which made every vote count. And it would also give us a Parliament which looked far more like a genuine cross section of our country - male and female.

Public services

We'll earmark National Insurance for the National Health Service. People will be able to see how the money is raised and see how it's spent. That will force politicians and managers to deliver the most efficient service.

Gordon Brown's plans are time-limited. National Insurance Contributions guarantee investment in the Health Service year in, year out.

it means more power for patients and parents to make decisions for themselves - choice for everyone, not just those with money

Charles Kennedy
There's a second radical reform in our programme for public services. And that is to reduce the power of central government over them. Reduce it drastically.

Ensure that the people making the decisions are local. People who understand the needs on the ground much better than Whitehall.

And our third big new idea is to give local people - including the professionals who work in schools and hospitals - the opportunity to run them.

That means far more scope for doctors, nurses and teachers to exercise their professional judgment.

And it means more power for patients and parents to make decisions for themselves - choice for everyone, not just those with money.

'New politics'

This is an exciting time in politics. It's what some call the new politics.

a defining debate for the next General Election is between the Government and ourselves, the Liberal Democrats

Charles Kennedy
The Conservative Party's lost its head. The Labour Government's lost its way. We can show there's a better way - our way.

People no longer recognise any relevance in the old distinctions of left and right.

In this era of new politics we can set out our stall with conviction

In the knowledge that the argument is going our way.

Increasingly a defining debate for the next General Election is between the Government and ourselves, the Liberal Democrats.

Steadily, month by month, our influence and credibility is growing.

The attraction isn't simply that we're not Labour or the Tories. Our image is becoming ever stronger, our role ever more clear.

there's no law which says the Liberal Democrats need forever remain third amongst Britain's parties

Charles Kennedy
I've always said as your leader that the process of building up the Liberal Democrats in British politics is more a marathon than a sprint. But now has to be the time to quicken the pace.

British politics is up for grabs in a way it has not been for a hundred years.

The prize is very great. There's no law which says when the Conservative Party is down it must come up again.

And there's no law which says the Liberal Democrats need forever remain third amongst Britain's parties.

We're now in the strongest position to speak for the British people because we're most in tune with the British people. They're looking to us.

To speak up on Iraq. To speak up on public services. To speak up on human rights. And to speak up and speak out for Liberal Democracy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"Charles Kennedy's closing speech will be an all out assault on the Conservatives"

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26 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Sep 02 | Politics
22 Sep 02 | Politics
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