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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
David Davis speech in full
Here is the full text of shadow home secretary David Davis's speech to the Conservative Party conference.

When I listened to that extraordinary speech from Gordon Brown last week, I was reminded that this man was the grand architect of Blairism.

David Davis
Mr Davis wants to see zero-tolerance policing on the streets
And yet again he was trying to execute the first principle of Blairism:

"You can't fool all the people all the time. But do it once and it lasts 5 years."

Well not this time Gordon. Despite all the photo calls, we have established already in this conference that he is no Margaret Thatcher.

Where Margaret Thatcher would confront problems, he conceals them.

For thirty years, after the second world war Labour Governments thought their job was to manage an inevitable economic decline.

Margaret Thatcher proved them wrong. She reversed that decline.

For the last ten years, this Labour government has thought that its job was to manage the inevitable decline of our society.

Violent crime. Drug abuse. Family breakdown.

Now once again, it's our job to prove them wrong.

We will reverse that decline. Because we have a vision for Britain that restores authority in our schools, in our justice system and on our streets.

A vision that trusts professional police officers to enforce the law with common sense.

A vision that revives our sense of responsibility for our own actions, our own families, our own future.

Battle of ideas

Labour has built a society which seems to treat adults like children and children like adults.

I want to build a society that lets children be children and treats adults like adults.

One difference between Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown is that famously Margaret Thatcher did not believe in U-turns.

Last week at the Labour conference we saw more U-turns than a plumber's workshop.

That means, of course that we're winning the battle of ideas.

But it's no good Gordon Brown talking like a Tory, when he doesn't believe in the vision that goes with it.

Is the chancellor who smothered public services with targets really the prime minister to free the police from all that red-tape?

Is the chancellor who refused money for prison places really the prime minister to deal with the failure of our criminal justice system?

And is the chancellor who controlled social policy for ten years really the prime minister to tackle soaring drug abuse and family breakdown?

I say this to Gordon Brown: Have the courage to run on your record, instead of trying to run away from your record.

Broken promises won't mend a broken society.

Take the fight against crime.

This week we've heard all about Jack Straw's personal assault on crime. Vigilante Jack !!

It's come to something, hasn't it when Gordon Brown presents himself as Dunfermline's answer to Mrs. T. And Jack Straw presents himself as Blackburn's answer to Mister T.

Let's look at the facts. Labour claim police numbers are up.

But extra officers can't fight crime buried in paperwork.

And they can't restore order on our streets from behind a desk.

It's no surprise that police resignations have tripled under Labour.

Decent police officers driven out by exasperation at the red-tape and bureaucracy have told us about the government's desperate record on this.

Here's just one of them former Detective Constable John Hills.

[Video interview with John Hills].

Gordon Brown can't talk about zero tolerance policing.

When half the crime reported isn't investigated....

When it takes ten hours to process an arrest.

When police spend more time filling forms than on the streets.

But there is one form that would cut crime with the tick of a box. A P45 for a redundant Government that has failed in its first duty to protect the public.

And just as paperwork distracts from real policing, targets distort it.

Five years ago, when this problem really began to bite, there was a story of an elderly lady who lived alone in a remote house in Yorkshire.

She wakes up in the middle of the night and hears someone moving around downstairs.

Realising she has a burglar in the house, she calls the police.

"I'm sorry, madam," says the officer. "We have no spare police cars at the moment. Just lock your bedroom door .......and wait for him to leave."

Now this does not please our little old lady at all. So ten minutes later she rings back.

"It's all right officer," she said, "You needn't bother any more. Problem's solved. I've shot him."

Well, inside five minutes 6 police cars arrive, sirens wailing and blue lights flashing and an armed response team crash through the front door-to find our burglar, safe and sound, who they duly arrest.

The chief superintendent storms up the stairs to confront our old lady.

"I thought you said you'd shot him," he said. "Really," she replied, "I thought you said you had no police cars."

Five years ago it was an apocryphal story but I'm afraid today it's a parable.

In most parts of London, police only respond when called to a burglary, if the burglar is still in the home.

In Devon officers mustn't throw out a life-belt in an emergency without first conducting an assessment of the risk to themselves.

And just recently in the terrible tragedy in Wigan, a brave ten-year old boy drowned trying to rescue his sister.

He was allowed to drown because uniformed officers on the scene were held back from helping by rules and regulation, defined by a spurious idea of health and safety.

This government has undermined the heroism that has traditionally defined the police.

They have introduced targets, rules and regulations and a "health and safety" culture that makes the police less healthy and the public less safe.

Last year I warned we were drifting towards a walk-on-by society.

One man recently chose not to walk-on-by.

Nicholas Tyers, a 43 year old fish and chip shop owner in Bridlington. He was serving people in his chip shop when a young yob came in, yelled abuse, spat at customers and smashed the shop window.

Mr Tyers and his son, a Royal Marine, made a citizen's arrest and drove the lout to the local police station.

What happened next?

The police didn't charge the yob. They didn't thank Mr Tyers. They arrested him and his son and charged them with kidnap.

Eventually, the charges were dropped - but not before the family were put through hell.

The first reaction was against the responsible citizen and to protect the rights of the yob.

And that has got to stop.

A Conservative government will back the police and back the people who uphold the law. We won't back those who break the law.

What difference would we make?

When I'm home secretary, the police will reclaim the streets. They will break up the gangs.

They will enforce zero-tolerance of all crime. And they will be held accountable to local people for their performance, street by street, block by block and house by house.

It's a policy that's tried. It's tested. It works.

The street crime plaguing New York in the 1980s was thought by many commentators to be inevitable. But the New York Police Department adopted a zero-tolerance approach to crime and cut it by 75%.

Some people will tell you it can't be done here.

I say nonsense.

If it's good enough for New York it's good enough for London, Liverpool, Bridlington, Blackpool and every other town in this country.

It's time to bring zero-tolerance policing to the streets of Britain.

And under a Conservative government when criminals are caught, they won't get a slap on the wrist. They won't get a glorified parking ticket. They'll get the punishment that fits the crime.

Overcrowded prisons and early release of criminals are not inevitable.

The prisons crisis didn't come out of the blue.

Five years ago we foresaw it, the Home Office forecast it, but Gordon Brown froze the money to deal with it.

It will take a Conservative government to reverse Gordon Brown's perverse order of priorities. That puts murderers and violent criminals on the streets. And puts the public at risk.

We'll scrap ID cards, that expensive white elephant. Put some of the early savings into extra prison places....

And scrap the government's reckless early release scheme.

That's the way to protect the public.

The government's serial failure to tackle crime, reaches well beyond law enforcement.

For ten years Labour talked up the importance of being tough on the causes of crime.

But in reality they gave up, especially on drugs.

Spiralling drug abuse isn't inevitable. It's not a sign of the times. It's a sign of a failed policy.

Take Labour's approach to drug rehabilitation. They spend taxpayers' money trying to manage addiction.

That means keeping addicts on drugs.

We want to get addicts off drugs.

And we will introduce a major abstinence-based drugs rehabilitation program.

A program that gets addicts off drugs, all drugs for good.

But if Labour's failings extend beyond law enforcement we must also recognise that government doesn't have all the answers.

As David Cameron said, we're in this together government, police, local communities all with a strong vested interest in our society.

And that's why we need to bring in our vibrant voluntary sector to promote a much wider sense of responsibility for the challenges we face.

Earlier this year I visited the East Side Young Leaders Academy which takes young kids who are wandering off the straight and narrow, and puts them back on the rails.

[Interviews at East Side Young Leaders' Academy]

Discipline, respect, belief.

That's what Ray Lewis offers. That's what those boys learn. And that's what we stand for.

That young man has just won a scholarship to Rugby. Just to demonstrate that no matter where you come from, there's no limit to how high you can climb.

Another great challenge this government has totally failed in, is immigration.

I want to make it absolutely clear that immigration is a key issue for the next Conservative government and I want to remind you of how we will tackle it very differently from the current government.

Labour has systematically failed to think through the consequences of an open-door Britain.

When the EU expanded, the government predicted that 13,000 people would come here.

The actual number? More than 700,000.

How can housing, schools, communities cope, when the numbers are so huge?

Then the other great failure. While they are letting in too many people who shouldn't be here, they slam the door on those we should be helping.

Like the Gurkha who won a Victoria Cross fighting for Britain. Don't we have a moral duty to protect people like him?

And understand there are many hidden victims of Labour's failed immigration policy.

The Chinese cockle-pickers drowned at Morecambe Bay.

The 10,000 women trafficked into Britain for prostitution, held today as slaves in British cities.

And the hundreds of children trafficked into Britain last year alone, half of whom simply disappeared on arrival.

But there is a choice.

Unchecked immigration is not inevitable. It's not the irresistible result of globalisation. It's what happens when you have a failed policy.

So let me tell you what we would do differently.

We believe that some immigration benefits the UK but not all of it. We want the right people and the right number of people.

So we would have an annual limit on the number of economic migrants coming here.

The government last week admitted that net immigration is running at two-hundred thousand every year.

Let me make it clear under a Conservative government that figure will be substantially lower.

We can control it. We must control it. And under a Conservative government we will control it.

And we will introduce tough new border controls. Gordon Brown has proposed a Border Service which he hopes will fool people into thinking this is the same as our proposal for a Border Police Force.

But when Gordon talks about a Border Service, he's left out one rather key element - the police.

His new border force is the same people with the same powers. The only real change? A nice new uniform.

This is "New" New Labour. Soundbite by Brown, Policy by Prada.

By contrast we are doing some real work on how to protect our borders.

Our advisory committee, chaired by John Stevens the former head of the Metropolitan Police has produced its interim findings.

Today we have seven different organisations with seven different sets of powers.

Under a Conservative government, we'll have one body, with real power.

To stop, search, detain and prosecute.

To gather intelligence and seize illegal goods.

A proper integrated force with real power to protect our borders.

That, and a government that is not afraid to set a limit on immigration.

The last great threat we face is the threat to our security from international terrorism.

We've got to defeat it. Not confine it. Not contain it. Defeat it.

And a Conservative government won't rest until we've won this struggle.

We will ensure sound intelligence and tough new border controls to prevent attacks.

We will prosecute anyone involved in preaching, preparing or perpetrating terror.

And as for groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir that fuel hatred and violence against this country and against our way of life?

We will ban them.

But let's not forget that this is also a struggle that tests character.

We paid tribute to those heroes, who demonstrated their character, when faced with terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow this year.

I want you to know what a real hero looks like. He's not 9 foot tall. He doesn't have to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And he's 72 years old.

But on 21 July 2005, Arthur Burton-Garbett chased a suicide bomber through Oval underground station.

Here's what he told me about how he responded on that day.

[Interview with Arthur Burton-Garbett]

We can't ever let ourselves be cowed by these fanatics. Because that's their first aim.

We can't ever let them disrupt our way of life. Because that's their benchmark for success.

And we must always remember that our freedoms, the freedoms the terrorists despise, are the same basic freedoms the British people have always valued and still do today.

That's why our party opposes 90-day detention without trial.

For one thing those on the front line in counter-terrorism warn that it risks cutting off vital local intelligence and serving as a recruiting sergeant for terrorists.

But even more important, remember, we stand for a hard-nosed defence of freedom.

Because you can't defend liberty by sacrificing liberty.

You can't defend our way of life by sacrificing our way of life.

And you don't defeat terrorism, you surrender to it, when you abandon the freedoms that they despise, but we hold dear.

We are very lucky, we British. We have a wonderful country: free, open, tolerant, civilised in its standards, outward looking and dynamic in its attitudes.

And all of this is threatened in one way or another by the threats of spiralling crime, out of control immigration, the sinister challenge of terrorism.

The fractures in our society are not affecting everybody yet. But they are growing.

Freedom, tolerance, openness, are all built on a foundation of confidence that comes with personal security.

I want to make sure that the 5 year old living with his mum on his council estate today has the same chances I had 50 years ago.

Now that won't happen if the most successful role model on that estate is the drug dealer driving his big BMW with blacked out windows.

It won't happen if people live here not learning English or not understanding the values that make us British.

It won't happen if carrying knives, and even guns, becomes the norm for young teenager.

If we get this wrong our policies on crime, and immigration, and terrorism we will be undermining the future of all those youngsters on all those estates up and down our country.

But if we get it right if we reverse the tide of social breakdown - as I intend that we will - if we get it right we will create the conditions for a magnificent future for that same generation.

I'm talking about a future built on a society that is one truly open society not a collection of closed societies.

A society where freedom of speech is balanced by a tradition of tolerance and respect.

A society in which hard work and virtue are rewarded, and where crime and dishonesty are punished.

Labour is in denial about the problems Britain faces today. They're in denial because they're part of the problem.

The truth is that after ten tired years, Labour lacks the courage, competence and the conviction to re-build our broken society.

That task falls to us.

The challenges are huge.

But our convictions run deep. That the decline of our society is not inevitable. .

Fixing our broken society is not beyond our reach if we pull together, government, communities, families and each and every individual citizen in this country...

And that will be the mission, the mandate and the measure of the next Conservative government.


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