[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
In full: John Reid speech
Here is the full text of the speech from Home Secretary John Reid to the Labour party conference:

I'd like to start by thanking all of those - my predecessors, ministers and officials - who've given me so much support in the task that I've been privileged to be given.

The events of August have shown how difficult and dangerous a task that can be.

And - on behalf of the whole country - we extend our gratitude to those members of the security services who've been working night and day to protect us from the terrorist threat.

The prime minister has asked me to review, in the light of our August experience, Britain's counter terrorist capacity.

We agree that we need a radical step change to ensure that there is a seamless co-ordinated approach to the now seamless threat.

To counter radicalisation as a nation, we need not only to tackle the immediate dangers but put in place the concept, doctrine, laws and capabilities for a challenge we expect will last a generation.

We extend our gratitude too to the members of the police service, and in particular, to the friends and families of those who risked their lives that our lives might be protected, and have died in the line of duty.

Let me tell you where I stand on the big issues of security, crime and terrorism confronting us today.

I stand with the public.

I believe in a Britain where there is no compromise with terrorism.

Where immigration is managed fairly.

Where rights are matched by responsibilities.

Where policing is based in the community - visible, accessible, responsive.

And where respect is put back at the heart of our communities.

These values are what drive me.

But we have to apply them in a new age of insecurity and uncertainty.

I know that means difficult choices, uncomfortable choices.

Nobody in this hall, including me, joined the Labour party to fight a war against terrorists.

We didn't sign the party membership card because we were motivated by a driving desire to deport illegal immigrants from our shores.

We joined this party because we wanted to see a more equal and just society, where people are no longer held back by the accident of birth, where everybody has the chance to make the most of their potential.

And we still want that.

But we have come to realise that without security, none of the other things are possible.

To those who say we should concentrate only on combating poverty, rather than security, I say this - there's little point in trying to end child poverty if kids are brought up on estates awash with crime, drugs and disorder.

There is more than one type of poverty.

A life blighted by drug addiction or afflicted with fear of leaving the house is an impoverished existence for any human being, whatever the riches, whatever the rank.

But it's the weak and the vulnerable who suffer most in an insecure world.

Security is a Labour value, just as much as opportunity and solidarity that have long motivated us in this movement.

And in this age of uncertainty, people should feel able to turn to us under the pressures of modern life.

Not for bland assurances.

Not for empty promises.

But for leadership and courage and strength of character.

My guiding purpose is to reduce fear: to create opportunity; and as far as possible ensure security for everyone, especially the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

We talk a lot about human rights.

Let me give you my view.

The chance to live, and to live our lives without fear of terror or crime should be the most basic of our human rights.

It is the right to peace of mind - Nye Bevan called it serenity.

An unfashionable word, but one that goes to the heart of today's anxieties and today's challenges.

It's worth remembering that Bevan's great socialist tract was not entitled In Place of Injustice, or In Place of Poverty.

It was entitled In Place of Fear.

That fear and feeling of unfairness is most evident today in relation to mass migration.

It isn't fair when desperate people fleeing persecution who need asylum are put at risk because criminal gangs abuse an antiquated asylum system.

It isn't fair when someone illegally enters our country and jumps the queue.

It isn't fair on British workers if they find their terms and conditions undermined by unscrupulous employers deliberately taking on cheap illegal labour.

And it isn't fair, or sensible, if in assessing immigration levels we don't take into account the effects of immigration on the schools, and hospitals and housing.

So, I'm putting fairness at the heart of everything we're doing in the Home Office.

That's why I favour tighter immigration controls and ID cards.

And we need firmer action against rogue employers who misuse illegal immigrant labour.

That's why I want to establish an independent Migration Advisory Committee to advise on how migration should be managed to the benefit of the country as a whole.

And if they want somewhere to start, now that we have a lot more homegrown doctors and nurses, maybe we should be asking if we need quite so many medical staff, junior doctors, for instance, from the developing world.

And on the awful trade in human trafficking I can tell Conference that next week we will open with the police the UK's first specialist centre to fight this terrible scourge.

All of this approach goes with, not against, the grain of the British sense of fairness and decency.

And in the same way, the public want to see more fairness in our approach to law and order.

People want to know that the government is on the side of the victim, not protecting the criminal.

That's fine by me, because it's this party, and has always been this party, that's on the side of the decent, hard-working majority in our country.

Why? Because we believe in rights balanced by responsibilities.

It is that, that has always divided us from the Conservatives.

That's why I am going to introduce a Community Payback scheme.

Simple, swift, just.

So, if people ruin our community they are going to have to put it right themselves.

And why shouldn't violent offenders pay towards the healthcare costs of their victims?

And there are other values that we are going to insist on too - that our society is based on mutual tolerance of each other's beliefs, protecting each and all of us from those who would stir up hatred.

And let's be clear.

It cannot be right that the rights of an individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, life and limb of the British people.

It's wrong. Full stop.

No ifs. No buts. It's just plain wrong.

And we insist too that men and women are equal and will be treated as such.

In this country that's not an optional extra.

That's why we will return again to the question of forced marriages.

They are a breach of children's rights, a breach of women's rights and a fundamental breach of human rights.

And that's why we will continue our drive against domestic violence.

It effects one in four women and ruins the lives of men, women and children.

Well, we are changing that.

For the first time, under this Labour government, domestic homicides are going down.

We are saving the lives of women and better protecting the children.

That's not an optional extra either.

But it's not just at home we face challenges.

The world is a less secure, more dangerous place than even a decade ago.

We face an unconstrained international terrorist threat that doesn't accept any limitation on human destruction.

Even here, in the midst of all this violence, the struggle of values is central.

That's why I went to Waltham Forest last week, to play my part in that debate.

Five years ago, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I was asked to do the closing speech for this conference.

I said then and I repeat today that no religion, no political creed, no ideology has a monopoly on terrorism.

This is not a clash of civilisations. It's not Muslims versus the rest of us.

It's evil terrorists on one side against all civilised people on the other.

There can be no compromise, no appeasement with terrorism.

Faced with the terrorist threat, as John F Kennedy said, we must be prepared to "bear any burden, pay any price, face any foe, and support any friend".

And Muslims are our friends as well as our fellow citizens. They are owed our support.

So, Waltham Forest was my first visit. But it won't be my last.

Because if we, in this movement, are going to ask the decent, silent majority of Muslim men - and women - to have the courage to face down the extremist bullies, then we need to have the courage and character to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in doing it.

So when the terrorists or their loud-mouthed sympathisers tell me that we won't be allowed to raise our arguments in this or that part of our community, my answer is simple.

Yes we will. This is Britain.

There are, and there will be, no "no-go areas" in our country for any of our people, whatever our background, colour or creed.

We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like and we will never be brow-beaten by bullies.

That's what it means to be British.

Of course, these attempts to bully, or browbeat are all part of a wider struggle to break our spirit.

That is the objective of terrorism. To break the spirit of their opponent by terror.

So we must have the courage of our convictions.

This is a time for standing up for what we believe. And I mean all of us, irrespective of party affiliation.

I want to see the widest, deepest, national alliance.

That's why I am genuinely saddened by the response of the opposition.

I understand that David Cameron has not been in post long.

The public may understand that he doesn't want to rush to judgement on every decision. But he has to be capable of making some decisions. That is what leadership is all about.

There are some issues so serious, so rooted in the very fibre of our national values, that we need to make the hard choices now.

David Cameron may find that those who wait too long to see which way the wind is blowing, get blown away by the gale.

And so the Tories end up talking tough, voting soft and hoping no one will notice.

But the public has noticed what they have opposed - tougher sentences for murder, sexual offences, violent offences, dangerous driving, immigration, asylum.

They voted against or abstained on all of them.

Why? It's all too difficult. Too controversial.

Actually, it's because they are too lacking in leadership.

But if they won't lead, we will. Countering global terrorism requires that.

It needs global alliances as well. Common endeavour against a common enemy.

We need alliances not just with Europe but across the wider world - and that includes the United States.

Let's take this head on.

We should tell George Bush when he's wrong on climate change, on stem cell research, on civil partnerships, on tax cuts.

But remember, the enduring relationship between peoples with common values in a common struggle, against a common enemy transcends the transient political personalities involved.

Put simply - you don't have to love everything George W Bush stands for to hate everything that Osama Bin Laden stands for.

So at home and abroad in all of this, we'll work together as a party and as a nation in common endeavour.

Because our belief in common endeavour is even more relevant to this century than when our party was founded 100 years ago.

So, have confidence. And when people ask you, in today's modern world, is there a place for common endeavour, are those values still relevant, do they still work, don't they stifle individualism?

Explain to them. Sure, we all make our own futures, and grasp our own opportunities as individuals.

We all face our own demons and forge our own futures. We all exercise our free will, of course we do.

But we don't do it in circumstances of our own choosing.

And for some, the circumstances of their life make it so much harder to achieve improvement by their own efforts.

That's why the decent instinct of the British people is to help each other, to help ourselves.

And you know, we need to help each other in this party as well, from top to bottom.

Leadership isn't a zero-sum game. When one of us shines, it doesn't diminish the others - it reflects on all of us.

When one of us succeeds, the others don't fail.

We share in that success.

Now, as Tony Blair leaves, we all need that unity of purpose and common endeavour more than ever before .

And, just as we contribute to that common effort, so we will share in that common victory when it is achieved.

And I pledge to you that I will play my full part in that.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific