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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
At-a-glance: Kennedy's speech
Here are the key points of Charles Kennedy's speech to the 2004 Liberal Democrat conference:

  • Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has expressed his party's sympathy for British hostage Ken Bigley who is being held by Islamic extremists in Iraq.

  • He said it was incomprehensible what Mr Bigley and his family were going through.

    Lib Dem policy

  • Mr Kennedy pledged his party would stop tuition fees and axe top-up fees, reduce class sizes for the youngest children, and abolish unnecessary tests and red tape.

    Never again must this country be led into war on the basis of questionable intelligence
    Charles Kennedy

  • The Lib Dems would not "pander to the lowest common denominator over asylum and immigration". They would embark on reforms to make the systems "fairer and faster".

  • 10,000 more police would be put on the streets. Prison would be seen as an educational opportunity to help inmates with literacy and numeracy.

  • The council tax would be replaced with a local income tax and the elderly would no longer have to pay for personal care.
    The British people have probably not more than 225 days left to choose between two essentially conservative parties - and the real alternative which is the Liberal Democrats
    Charles Kennedy

  • Mr Kennedy pledged to put environmental concerns at the heart of his policies.

  • The Lib Dems would "tax more fairly and spend more wisely" Mr Kennedy claimed.

    "Isn't it a disgrace that after seven years of a supposedly Labour government the poorest 20% contribute more of their income in tax than do the richest 20%?" he asked.

  • Lib Dem savings in government would include dropping plans for ID cards, relocating some government departments and scrapping others, and "doing less, better and more efficiently".

  • A Lib Dem administration would make sure by 2011 that the UK fulfilled its UN obligations and boosted the overseas aid budget to 0.7% of GNP, said Mr Kennedy.

    Iraq

  • The Lib Dem leader said his party had provided a "rational principled and consistent opposition to the war in Iraq".

    "Never again must this country be led into war on the basis of questionable intelligence," he said.

  • Mr Kennedy said opponents to the war in Iraq should not "just look back in anger. There is every sign we should look forward with increasing anxiety".

  • Tony Blair must give a "cast iron guarantee" that the UK will not support unilateral military action against Iran, said Mr Kennedy.

    Lib Dem successes

  • Mr Kennedy said that Labour and Tory agendas were "converging".

  • Mr Kennedy hailed the Lib Dems' electoral successes in the past year boosting their presence in Europe, Westminster and in local authorities.

    Isn't it a disgrace that after seven years of a supposedly Labour government the poorest 20% contribute more of their income in tax than do the richest 20%?
    Charles Kennedy

  • The Lib Dem leader claimed the Tories were "out of the race" in most of urban Britain and only his party could challenge Labour.

  • Mr Kennedy said his party stood for "freedom, fairness, trust" arguing it was in step with a modern liberal Britain.

  • He highlighted his party's record where it had shared power in Wales and Scotland and said the Lib Dems were listening to voters' concerns.

  • In much of the country the Tories were a "wasted vote", the Lib Dem leader said.

  • The Lib Dems were looking to move from a party of protest to a party of power.

  • Mr Kennedy said the British people probably had not more than 225 days left to choose "between two essentially conservative parties - and the real alternative which is the Liberal Democrats".





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