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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 15:41 GMT
Tory leader's 'I believe' pledge
Michael Howard
The beliefs are what got me into politics, says Mr Howard
Michael Howard has published a list of beliefs on which the Conservatives will fight the next election.

Echoing JFK and Martin Luther King, every pledge starts with the words "I believe".

The Tory leader said they were "distinct" from those which motivated other political parties and offered "positive and fresh thinking".

But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Mr Howard should be judged by his record and not his dreams.

The statement was published in the Times on Friday and will be sent to 100,000 Tory party members who will be urged to forward it to 10 more people.

I want people to understand the set of beliefs which brought me into politics
Michael Howard

Mr Howard said he was "ambitious for Britain" and wanted people to understand what had brought him into politics.

"Our policies will be built on coherent principles," he said.

"I want people to understand the set of beliefs which brought me into politics.

"These beliefs are distinct from those which motivate politicians from other parties.

"I believe they are far more likely to provide the answers to the challenges we face. They really will make it possible to improve people's lives."


Among the "beliefs" are that it is natural for people to want wealth, health and happiness, that people need protecting from bureaucracy and that parents want a better education for their children than the one they had.

But Mr Prescott poured scorn on Mr Howard's two-page advert, which is estimated to have cost 57,000.

"It's selling a product and he has got to be judged against his record, not his dreams. Howard's way is about dreams and not the past record of nightmares," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney said the statement showed Mr Howard was "stuck in a failed Tory past" and "Thatcherism is safe in his hands".

"Like Mrs Thatcher before him, he clearly still believes that there is no such thing as society," he said.

Mr Howard's statement in full:

  • I believe it is natural for men and women to want health, wealth and happiness for their families and themselves

  • I believe it is the duty of every politician to serve the people by removing the obstacles in the way of these ambitions

  • I believe people are most likely to be happy when they are masters of their own lives, when they are not nannied or over-governed

  • I believe that the people should be big. That the state should be small

  • I believe red tape, bureaucracy, regulations, inspectorates, commissions, quangos, 'czars', 'units' and 'targets' came to help and protect us, but now we need protection from them. Armies of interferers don't contribute to human happiness

  • I believe that people must have every opportunity to fulfil their potential

  • I believe there is no freedom without responsibility. It is our duty to look after those who cannot help themselves

  • I believe in equality of opportunity. Injustice makes us angry

  • I believe every parent wants their child to have a better education than they had

  • I believe every child wants security for their parents in their old age

  • I do not believe that one person's poverty is caused by another's wealth

  • I do not believe that one person's ignorance is caused by another's knowledge and education

  • I do not believe that one person's sickness is made worse by another's health

  • I believe the British people are only happy when they are free

  • I believe that Britain should defend her freedom at any time, against all comers, however mighty

  • I believe that by good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity, these islands are home to a great people with a noble past and exciting future.

    I am happy to be their servant.

The BBC's James Landale
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