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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK

UK Politics

Gordon Brown's speech in full

This is the full text of Chancellor Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour Party conference:

I come to this Conference: to report to you not just on the work we as a Government are doing, and what we plan to do.

But to affirm to you that the values which brought our party into being in the first year of this century - are the values that will guide us in the next: justice, fairness and economic progress- the same values, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And there can be no better demonstration of Labour values than that yesterday in Washington, a historic meeting of world finance and Development Ministers, at which Clare Short and I were proud to represent you, agreed our party's policy, that in the year 2000 the world will be writing off 100 Billion Dollars, more than 2/3 of the debts of the world's poorest countries. Debt Relief once a dream, then a promise, now becoming a reality. The richest countries, as they should have done long ago, honoring their obligations to the poorest countries.

We aim not only to eliminate these debts, but to eradicate poverty. And yesterday we agreed also a new anti-poverty strategy --- money now spent on servicing debts will be invested not in military weapons or bureaucratic waste or corruption, but where the money should always have gone - educating the young, healing the sick, relieving the suffering of the world's poor.

This shows why if a Labour Party did not exist it would have to be created to fight for justice for all.

And to those who say our great radical achievements are behind us and to those who thought our high watermark as a party was the first of may 1997, I say winning the General Election was only the first step.

I say to this conference

As a Labour Party and as a Labour Government, we have only just begun.

Now the essential first stage of our journey since 1997, has been to end damaging economic instability --- to tackle the Tory boom and bust which served the interests of a privileged few but left millions insecure and worse off. Instead to create the conditions for growth and for jobs.

And it is because we rejected not just the Tory policy but the flawed Tory values behind it - their short-termist, take-what-you-can, selfish irresponsibility - and it is because we put in their place Labour values of economic responsibility, planning for the long term, building stability from solid foundations - that we now in our country have mortgage rates around their lowest levels for twenty years, inflation at its lowest level in over thirty years, long term interest rates at their lowest levels in nearly 40 years and not just one hundred thousand additional jobs or 200,000 additional jobs but today in Britain, 648,000 more jobs, more people in work -- over 27 million men and women --than ever before in our history.

You and I know that behind every policy, every number and every statistic, there are people, their hopes, their hard work and their future.

At this Conference we have with us David Obaje,

Two and a half years ago out of work in Tory Britain.

Last year, with us at Conference, one of the first to sign up to the new deal.

Now this year, moved from the New Deal to a new job.

David ---last year you shared with us your hopes and ambitions, today we celebrate your achievement.

If only David had found a job this would for me have made the New Deal worthwhile.

But today I can report the New Deal has reached a new milestone - 500,000 people, like David, have now entered the New Deal.

The Tories have stated they would end the New Deal. Let them explain that to David Obaje whose presence here demonstrates the difference between the dole under the Conservatives, work under Labour.

Twenty years ago the Tory Party put up posters around the country claiming Labour isn't working.

At the next election let us have posters telling the truth about our Government.

Labour is working.

Today we also have with us Susan Martin, mother of two children, from here in Bournemouth who now works full-time - with our better deal for working families, the Working Families Tax Credit, introduced next week, she can expect to be nearly 50 pounds a week better off. And mothers like Susan, under the National Childcare Strategy our party called for, now with a right to affordable, high quality childcare for the first time.

But the Tories want to abolish our Working Families Tax Credit.

Let them explain that to Susan Martin and the 1.5 million families who know the difference between poverty under the Tories, hope under Labour.

And let us not forget - that in 100 years of the Labour Party - for all the great things we accomplished during these early years - until now, our party had not succeeded in creating - as we have now - a Statutory Minimum Wage, the Working Families Tax Credit, the new Tax and Benefit System, the New Deal, the National Childcare Strategy, until now:

Until our generation,

Our Government,

Our Prime Minister Tony Blair.

And all of us can be proud that these are our achievements.

And I say to you today that for all the people whose hopes are at the heart of our purpose, for the principles we believe in, for the new Britain we hope for and strive for, we have only just begun.

And who was against every single one of our measures to put the economy right - who opposed making the Bank of England independent? Who opposed every interest rate decision that was made to tackle inflation? Who opposed every single tax change to sort out the Tory deficit?

Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude.

Who said that 40 billion on health and education was reckless, wasteful and could not be afforded?

Who said we should stop building new hospitals and stop renovating our schools?

Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude.

Who opposed giving the poorest pensioner couples an extra 15 pounds a week in a New Minimum Income Guarantee and who failed to support our new 100 pound winter allowance for all pensioner households?

Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude.

And who even said this - that as a country we could not afford to ensure workers a Minimum Wage of 3.60 an hour? Who said the Minimum Wage would destroy thousands of jobs?

You know the answer: Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude.

Who last year at this time called our growth forecasts fantasy?

Who called them "fairy-tale figures"?

Who called them "Peter Pan economics"?

Who called them "wonderland politics"?

Who called them "complacent nonsense"?

And who said there would be a recession, a downturn, they said, made in Downing Street?

Who talked Britain down every time they spoke?

You know who it was - Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude.

Who will now hear their false prophecies of doom repeated back to them day- in, day-out up to and during the next General Election that Labour will win.

I say that these people - Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude - are not just unfit to be the Government. They are proving unfit even to be the Opposition.

And I think the country agrees with us.

Hague, Widdecombe, Redwood and Maude.

And what can you say about a Tory Party so extreme that Peter Lilley is too moderate to be in the Shadow Cabinet, Michael Howard now not hardline enough to be at Home Affairs.

And to who in their desperation does the Tory party now turn? Who do they believe can give them a more human face, a fresh approach, a more caring Conservatism ...Michael Portillo.

The same Michael Portillo who wanted to abolish the State Pension.

The same Michael Portillo who at the Treasury cut more public spending on more public services than any other Tory.

The same Michael Portillo whose latest campaign we read about is not as he would have us believe on behalf of the NHS but on behalf of General Pinochet.

Michael Portillo - now presented as the acceptable face of extremism: his is the political face that would launch a thousand cuts.

And let the Tories go to Blackpool and prepare for their next leadership election. Here in Bournemouth we are planning for the next General Election.

And I say to Conference and the country, we will never return to the days of Tory boom - bust.

So in the years ahead, we will always be vigilant about stability, our Labour Government will never take risks with inflation.

I will never let the deficit get out of control.

We will not spend money we have not earned.

Our years of responsibility in Government have only just begun.

We will never again let Tory economics ruin people's lives.

And we will be the party of Britain in Europe. Europe is where we are, where we trade, from where thousands of businesses and millions of jobs come.

Our October 1997 statement says clearly that a successful Single Currency that met our five economic tests is in Britain's national economic interest.

Our common campaign: not Britain isolated in Europe under the Conservatives but Britain in Europe with Labour - and in Europe to stay.

And it is precisely because of what we have been able to achieve together that as a Party and Government we can now raise our sights.

Our values, our history, our movement teach us that we are in politics not just to serve an electoral purpose but to serve and realise a greater public purpose. Our obligation not just to hold office in our country for today, but in the office we hold today to change our country for tomorrow ---- our summons as a Party not just to build for the next election but to build for the next generation.

And what will the new Great Britain founded on Labour values look like?

Two centuries ago, Great Britain created an industrial revolution that swept the world.

In the new century, let us exploit the new technological revolution so that, for the first time, we create a Britain of rising opportunity not just for the few, but for all.

A progressive ideal which will define a new Great Britain to the world.

A new Great Britain of great opportunity - realising Labour values - because at last we develop all the potential of all of our children.

A new Great Britain of great opportunity - realising Labour values- because, for the first time, all young people can study as far as their talents take them, get the qualifications they need and be all they can be.

A new Great Britain of great opportunity - realising Labour values- because through investment, reform and modernisation, we deliver the best public services in our history.

A new Great Britain of great opportunity - realising Labour values- because where, as we raise our productivity to the world's best, more people are in employment and enjoying prosperity than ever before.

This is the Great British society we seek - the greatness of Britain defined by great opportunities for all the people of this land.

And to create this new and dynamic Great Britain, the forces of progress and modernisation, which we represent, must defeat the forces of reaction and priviledge, which have for too long held our country back.

This is the challenge of the next decade:

To sweep aside the old cosy cartels, the complacent old boy networks in favour of enterprise open to all.

To sweep aside the something for-nothing short-termism whether it be in the boardroom or any workplace in our economy --- in favour of responsibility accepted by all.

To replace poverty and the denial of opportunity with fairness guaranteed to all.

Our promise: enterprise for all,

Our demand: responsibility from all

Our mission: fairness to all.

Now the new economy of the next decade will need more competition, more entrepreneurship, more flexibility, more long-term investment.

And companies, indeed countries, which fail to adapt, reform and lead the way will simply be left behind.

Let us be honest with ourselves: we must never again become a Party that is seen as anti-success, anti-competition, anti-profit, anti-markets.

Our enemy is not markets but monopoly, not competition but cartels, not profits but privilege and greed.

And it is because we are the party that understands the importance of opportunity for all, that we must be the party that promotes enterprise open to all.

Too often in the old Britain, Conservatism exalted a closed system of enterprise for the few and put the speculator above the long term investor and entrepreneur.

So in the new Great Britain, we are creating, we are rewarding long term investment with a lower long term rate of capital gains tax.

Our banking review, set up last year, reporting this year, to be implemented next year will want to ensure that big institutions cannot hold back small business from investing, growing and creating jobs.

And the benefits of employee share ownership will no longer be wasted, in millions of share options for a few utility bosses, but millions of employee shares will go to millions in the workforce.

Too often in the old Britain, monopolies, cartels and cliques have overcharged, pushed prices far above what consumers pay in America and elsewhere.

In the new Britain of enterprise open to all, competition will be open to all. So we will expose and end anti-competitive practises. We will stand on the side of consumers, for the first time publish league tables comparing all the key charges for financial services.

And never again will we allow the retirement plans of tens of thousands of Britain's hardest working people to be ruined by the misselling of pensions.

Our promise to the British people: in place of the rip off Britain we inherited, a fair deal Britain for the future.

And instead of an old Britain that undervalued science, modern manufacturing, innovation and long-term investment:

1 Billion of investment in science, an r&d tax credit, regional institutes of enterprise at the service of modern manufacturing, new Computer Learning Centres to teach the skills of the future in every community and now Regional Development Agencies empowered to promote, across the regions, balanced economic growth.

And in the old Britain the forces of Conservatism falsely said economic efficiency depends on social injustice. And so they penalised the hard working majority, who are the backbone of Britain.

In the new Britain, we are creating --- in place of tax cuts for millionaires --- still the first Tory priority, still the main Tory obsession. Our labour priority: a 10p Tax Rate, the basic rate cut to 22p. The Working Families Tax Credit worth an extra 24 pounds a week to low-paid families, we are making work pay for the hard-working majority whose side we are on.

In this new great Britain, we will stand for enterprise not the old establishment. We will reward hard work, not heredity, we will value the talents of all, not the titles of a few. We will exalt the potential of millions of hard-working families, never the privileges of 1000 hereditary peers.

And it will be the British people, that will be able to say, in the words of Roosevelt, in our first term, these forces of reaction and privilege met their match; in our second term they met their master.

And in the new Great Britain, let there be responsibility from all.

A high and stable level of employment is our goal. Not jobs for life which no government can promise to deliver, but job opportunities for all throughout all their working life.

And this is our challenge: if those who can work take the responsibility to work, if employers take the responsibility to train and to invest, and if all of us show the same responsibility in pay, then Britain can deliver, in our generation, employment opportunity for all: a goal that this party and this movement has long sought, a goal now within our reach for the twenty first century - full employment for our country.

Not just for one brief shining moment when the figures look good, not just figures that impress for a month or a year, but high and stable levels of growth with high and stable levels of employment.

That is why we, the Labour party are extending the New Deal, its rights and its responsibilities, to help more young people, and the long-term unemployed--- helping lone parents and the disabled who want to work.

That investment in work is now saving money on benefits. While the Tories would abolish the New Deal, I believe our duty is to make the New Deal a Permanent Deal - rights backed by responsibilities- not just for this Parliament but for the next Parliament too.

Not just for the young today, but for all who should be in jobs today and in the future.

Responsibility from all, fairness for all.

Stage by stage, we are tackling the poverty we inherited.

We are already taking nearly a million children out of poverty.

This is a start, Labour values in action.

But I say, for all those in need, we have only just begun.

We know the numbers of children in poverty, children who unless we act- are destined to fail even before their life's journey has begun.

We know this is wrong and let me tell this Conference how we will change it:

We will attack child poverty with better financial support for children and families.

Next week, income support for every child under 11 rising by nearly 5 pounds a week.

Child benefit, by next April, 15 pounds for the eldest child, up since 1997 by over 30 per cent.

And, with our Tax and Benefit changes together, total family support for the first child-- only 600 pounds a year when we came to power will by 2001 be more than twice as much - around 1200 pounds a year.

And we will attack child poverty too with our new Sure Start Programme for the under three's, an extra 3000 pounds per child. A Sure Start in Health Care, a Sure Start in Childcare, a Sure Start in Education, a Sure-Start for the children of the poorest families in our country.

And we will attack child poverty by harnessing the energy, the imagination and the compassion of all who care about child poverty and forge new partnerships with community and voluntary groups.

For I want all of us - parents, teachers, health visitors local authorities, carers, trades unions, leaders in the private and voluntary as well as public sector to join together in a crusade that will mobilise the forces of justice and change in our communities.

As Tony Blair has said, let us be remembered as the generation that won the war against child poverty, the child poverty that has shamed Britain.

So we have made our choice.

With the scale of the challenges ahead, there is no gain for our country in policies which look credible but are not radical---and fail to deliver.

Nor, as we learned the hard way, can we ever succeed by posing as radical without being credible----and fail even to begin.

Our approach is indeed a third way.

Our socialism - credible and radical.

Credible radicals for the 21st century

And we in our party are strengthened for this cause by the inspiration that comes for all of us from the achievements of our pioneers, that we celebrate in this our centenary year.

Our ancestors had to fight against the greatest odds. They knew how much easier it was to be Conservative than Labour.

Easier to conserve than to change.

Easier to succumb to vested interests than to oppose them.

Easier to appease your enemies than to take them on.

Easier to take only for yourself than fight for everyone to have a fair share.

But our Labour pioneers had a dream. They had a vision. They saw beyond the here and now. Because hard times did not teach selfishness but solidarity, they rose above their hardships to create in 1945 a Welfare State that took the shame out of need, and in 1948 a National Health Service---an NHS which is the greatest living realisation of Labour's vision of a just society.

Now is our time and this is our cause

Together we have come a long way since 1997. But we have only just begun.

We will never lose sight of that ambition we all share, to right wrongs, to end injustice, to meet new needs, to give life to our peoples' hopes and give strength to our country's future.

So I say to all of you who share our vision The millions who feel with us the pain of all those in need the millions who share with us a faith and belief in something bigger than ourselves.

Together as a party, as a country, under Tony Blair's leadership we can build the new Great Britain of great opportunity for all.

Together we can build the Great British society.

Join us

Join with Labour

Join us

Join us on our journey

Join us

We have only just begun

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