David Cameron, Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, speaks in Downing Street
David Cameron, 11/05/2010
Category: General Election 2010
Her Majesty The Queen has asked me to form a new Government and I have accepted.
Before I talk about that new Government, let me say something about the one that has just passed.
Compared with a decade ago this country is more open at home, and more compassionate abroad and that is something we should all be grateful for and on behalf of the whole country I'd like to pay tribute to the outgoing Prime Minister for his long record of dedicated public service.
In terms of the future, our country has a hung Parliament where no party has an overall majority and we have some deep and pressing problems, a huge deficit, deep social problems and a political system in need of reform. For those reasons, I aim to form a proper and full coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. I believe that is the right way to provide this country with the strong, the stable, the good and decent Government that I think we need so badly.
Nick Clegg and I are both political leaders who want to put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest. I believe that is the best way to get the strong Government that we need, decisive Government that we need today.
I came in to politics because I love this country. I think its best days still lie ahead and I believe deeply in public service. And I think the service our country needs right now is to face up to our really big challenges to confront our problems, to take difficult decisions, to lead people through those difficult decisions so that together we can reach better times ahead.
One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system. Yes that's about cleaning up expenses, yes that's about reforming Parliament and yes it's about making sure people are con, in control and that the politicians are always their servants and never their masters.
But I believe it's also something else. It's about being honest about what Government can achieve. Real change is not what Government can do on its own. Real change is when everyone pulls together, comes together, works together when we all exercise our responsibilities to ourselves, to our families, to our communities and to others. And I want to help try and build a more responsible society here in Britain, one where we don't just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities. When we don't ask where what am I just owed, but more what can I give. And a guide for that society that those who can should and those who can't we will always help.
I want to make sure that my Government always looks after the elderly, the frail, the poorest in our country. We must take everyone through us on some of the difficult decisions that we have ahead. Above all it will be a Government that is built on some clear values, values of freedom, values of fairness and values of responsibility. I want us to build an economy that rewards work. I want us to build a society with stronger families and stronger communities and I want a political system that people can trust and look up to once again.
This is going to be hard and difficult work. A coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges, but I believe together we can provide that strong and stable Government that our country needs based on those values, rebuilding family, rebuilding community, above all rebuilding responsibility in our country.
Those are the things I care about; those are the things that this Government will now start work on doing.
Thank you very much.
David Cameron's speech to the Local Government Association
David Cameron, 29/06/2011
It’s great to be back at the LGA conference.
And I want to congratulate Sir Merrick Cockell on his appointment as Chair of the Local Government Association.
Today, I want to talk about the big issue of the week – the reform of public service pensions.
But before I do that, let me say something about local government.
I want it put on record: I think you are doing a brilliant job in challenging circumstances.
I know it was a tough financial settlement.
And I know you are all grappling with some really difficult decisions.
When your budget is being cut, freezing council tax isn’t easy.
But because of the action that’s been taken, by everyone in this room, a typical family in a Band D home will save up to £72 over the next year.
You did that – and it’s something you should be proud of.
But there will be many more tough decisions in the weeks and months ahead.
And my job is to make your job less difficult, not more.
And I believe, as a government, we’re going some way to doing that.
So much of that bureaucracy that drove you mad and cost you so much time and money in administration – it’s going.
The Comprehensive Area Assessments, the Place Surveys and Local Area Agreements – we’ve got rid of them.
Quangos like the Audit Commission and Standards Board – we’re scrapping them.
And regional Spatial Strategies, Regional Fire Control Rooms, Government Offices for the Regions – they’re going too.
We don’t need regional government. The public want – you want, I want – local government.
What’s more, we’re also phasing out that ring-fencing that made you spend money with one hand behind your back.
In every way we can, we’re rooting out the red tape and regulation and freeing your hands from the grip of central government control.
At the same time as this, we’re actively giving you new powers and freedoms – trusting you to get on with the job.
I believe that our agenda of localism is one the most exciting things we are doing in government.
For years, the default position of government has been to see a problem and suck more power to the centre.
We want to be different. Very different.
When we see a problem, we don’t ask what central government can do…
…we ask what can local people do, what can councils do?
It’s by asking those questions that you arrive at so many of our reforms.
Our new general power of competence means councils can develop property, run new services and own assets.
Our new Health and Wellbeing Boards mean you can take a leading role in developing a public health strategy for your local residents.
And our new Local Enterprise Partnerships has seen many of you take control of your local area’s economic destiny.
These are already gathering real momentum.
Like in Tees Valley, where local councils have pooled their budgets and got together with business to draw up a plan to make that place a hub for green industry.
This is what you do when you get more power – you get things done.
Another way you’re doing this is through community budgets.
We’re saying to local authorities and local public services: here is the freedom to put all your different strands of cash in one pot…
…go and tackle some of most stubborn social problems the way you think is best.
It’s already having an impact.
In Islington, the council, NHS, Job Centre Plus, Probation, Police, housing and voluntary sector have pooled staff and over £6 million worth of resources to give the most hard-to-reach families the most intensive and personalized support possible.
Again, we’re giving you the power – and you’re getting things done.
So for me, it’s not a question of: should we give councils more power?
It’s: how far and how fast can we go?
And we are not stopping this power shift at the Town Hall.
We are going even further, taking people power to the next level...
…from councils to neighbourhoods, communities and individuals.
Whether it’s letting people set up new schools…
…take over the running of playgrounds, parks and post offices…
…hold beat meetings so they can ask police officers what they’re doing…
…or plan the look, size, shape and feel of local developments…
…we believe in changing the way our country is run.
But let me say this.
Yes, we’re giving you this power. And yes, we’re doing that because we trust you.
But no, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a frank exchange of views between us.
Of course, the only people you have to answer to are your voters.
The same is true for us in Central government.
But I’m happy for you to turn round and say so when you think we in central government have the wrong priorities.
And if I see things you’re doing that I don’t like, I think you should be comfortable if I make my opinions known too.
That doesn’t mean I want us locking horns on an ongoing basis.
In fact quite the opposite.
I hope our relationship can be as constructive and co-operative as possible
But we live in a new world of council power…
…and it’s time for a new relationship between central and local government, based on our new responsibilities.
PUBLIC SERVICE PENSIONS
So I’ve said something about the great job you’re doing.
I now want to turn to a job we’ve got to do together – and that is reforming public service pensions.
Over the past few months, I believe we have been acting in good faith on this issue.
We asked Lord Hutton, a Labour peer - and a former Work and Pensions Secretary with a brilliant understanding of the detail – to conduct the Review.
We wanted him to build proposals that would be well thought through and maximise the chance cross-party consensus.
And we have met with union leaders regularly to discuss the issues in a good, open, frank and respectful fashion – and will continue to do so.
Of course, because it is a funded scheme, the Local Government Pension Scheme is different from other public sector pension schemes.
That’s why we will have a more in-depth discussion with local government unions and the TUC about how we take this into account.
But the broad thrust of the wider reforms we are proposing will affect people in this room and your workforces.
So it’s right that I speak about this issue here – and it’s right that I speak about it now.
In two days time, a minority of unions will go on strike in opposition to our proposals.
Of course, in a democracy, people can go out and protest.
But the people marching should know what they’re objecting to, and I believe there are some misconceptions flying around.
So today, I want to tell you the three things people need to know.
One – reform is essential.
Two – our proposals are fair on the taxpayer.
Three – our proposals are fair on public sector workers.
Let me take each in turn.
First, reform is essential because we just can’t go on as we are.
That’s not because, as some people say, public service pensions are ridiculously generous.
In fact, around half of public service pensioners receive less than £6,000 a year.
No. The reason we can’t go on as we are is because as the baby boomers retire – and thankfully live longer – the pension system is in danger of going broke.
Here’s a key fact.
In the 1970s, when a civil servant say retired at sixty, they could expect to claim a pension for around twenty years.
Today, when they retire at sixty, they can expect to claim a pension for nearly thirty years – about a fifty percent increase on before.
Now, obviously, more people living for longer is a great development for society.
But more people claiming their pension for longer has a real life impact on our ability to pay for pensions.
Indeed, we are already seeing the impact.
In 2009, total payments to public service pensioners and their dependents were almost £32 billion – an increase of a third, even after allowing for inflation, compared to 1999.
So what are we going to do?
In the words of Lord Hutton, “the responsible thing to do is to accept that because we are living longer we should work for longer”.
That’s why we are proposing to increase the age when public sector employees can take their pension.
Now, I know some people say this change should only affect new entrants to the pension scheme.
But I’m sorry, I just don’t think that’s right.
It’s not just the people who are joining the workforce now who are living longer.
We’re all living longer – so we must all play our part in dealing with this problem.
FAIR FOR TAXPAYER
The second thing people need to know is that our proposals are fair on other taxpayers.
Under the current system, the balance between what public sector employees pay in to their pensions and what the taxpayer contributes is getting massively out of kilter.
Take, for example, the Civil Service Pensions Scheme.
Today, employees contribute around 1.5 and 3.5 percent towards their own pension.
The taxpayer, however, contributes nineteen percent.
Indeed, in total, the taxpayer currently contributes over two-thirds of the costs of maintaining public sector pensions.
That’s the equivalent of £1,000 a household.
That figure is only expected to rise.
Is that a fair?
I don’t believe it is, especially when people in the private sector are seeing the value of their own pensions falling, their own pension age rise…
…and when, according to the Office for National Statistics, the average gross pay in the public sector is now higher than in the private sector.
So we need to rebalance the system.
That’s why from April next year, we are proposing to increase the contributions public sector workers have to make to their pension.
And because we really want to protect the lower paid, we propose not to increase contributions at all for those earning £15,000 or less a year.
FAIR ON PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS
Third, our proposals are also fair on public sector workers.
Now I know a lot of people are hearing scare stories about our proposals…
…about how we are closing defined benefit schemes and replacing them with defined contribution schemes.
Well, here is the plain, irreducible truth: public service pension schemes will remain defined benefit.
This means every public sector worker will receive a guaranteed amount in retirement…
…not an uncertain amount based on the value of an investment fund like most people in the private sector.
Any suggestion otherwise is completely untrue.
And any suggestion that we are stripping workers of the benefits they have already accumulated is untrue too.
With our proposals, what you have already earned, you will keep.
We will protect, in full, the pension you have already built up, and we will maintain the final salary link for these benefits.
What would this mean in practice?
It means the ‘final salary’ which is used to calculate your pension will not be the salary you’re on now, will not be the salary you have when the new scheme comes in…
…it will be the one you have when you eventually decide to retire or leave the scheme altogether.
And for what you have already built up, the age at which you can claim those benefits is not changing.
That part of your pension, those past entitlements…
…what they allow you to have…
…are yours and they will not change.
So those people who are claiming otherwise…
…are not just getting their facts wrong…
…they are giving really bad advice to teachers, nurses and the police officers who are wondering whether to continue with their pension.
Let me tell you how it is.
Anyone with a public service career ahead of them who carries on contributing to their pension will be better off for doing so. Fact
Defined benefit is staying. Fact.
Your pre-reform entitlements are being fully protected. What you have earned you will keep. Fact.
That’s why I can look you in the eye and say public service pensions will remain among the very best...
…much better, indeed, than for many private sector workers.
And it’s because we are determined to do what’s fair by people who work in the public sector that we are suggesting other changes.
The public service pensions system today is inherently biased against some of the lowest paid workers.
That’s because, under a final salary scheme, it’s the people who reach very high salaries at the end of their careers who benefit the most.
Yes, these are talented people. And yes, they are hugely important to the running of our public services.
But the way the system works, it’s not the community nurse who retires on a final salary of £28,000 who gets the benefit…
…but the hospital consultant who leaves on a final salary of £110,000.
Indeed, in some instances, for every £100 they put in their pension, higher earners can get twice as much out.
Is this fair?
No. It’s not.
So again, in accordance with the recommendations of Lord Hutton, we are proposing to replace the final salary scheme with a Career Average scheme.
This would mean that the lowest-paid do not subsidise those individuals who jump to higher salaries in the last few years of their career.
And it would mean that everyone will get broadly the same amount for every pound they put in.
This is not about saving money. It’s about doing what’s right and fair by you.
As Danny Alexander recently set out, our proposals mean that low and middle income workers will receive a pension that is at least as good as what they have now.
Let me end by saying this.
I know why people care so much about this issue.
The provision of good, high quality public service pensions goes to the heart of the kind of society we are.
It’s a vital part of the contract between all those who work in our schools and hospitals, fire stations and police stations, councils and prisons…
…and the rest of the country.
It’s about saying: you’ve spent your career serving others; so we will look after you in old age.
And I am determined to not just meet that contract, but to strengthen it.
But here’s the truth.
That won’t happen if we delay action, or even worse refuse to act.
All that will mean is a worse pension system in five, ten, fifteen years time as the obligations become unaffordable.
The fact is we will only meet and strengthen that contract through change.
And the changes we propose are a good deal.
They are fair for the lower paid and fair on the taxpayer.
They secure affordable pensions not just now, but for decades to come.
And they mean public service pensions will remain among the very best available.
So to those considering strike action, at a time when discussions are ongoing, I would say to you: these strikes are wrong – for you, for the people you serve, for the good of the country.
It’s the changes we propose that are right.
Right for the long-term.
Right by the taxpayer.
And most crucially of all, right by you.
David Cameron's statement on media and the police
David Cameron, 20/07/2011
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement.
Over the past two weeks, a torrent of revelations and allegations has engulfed some of this country's most important institutions.
It has shaken people's trust in the media and the legality of what they do, in the police and their ability to investigate media malpractice, and, yes, in politics and in politicians' ability to get to grips with these issues.
People desperately want us to put a stop to the illegal practices, to ensure the independence and effectiveness of the police and to establish a more healthy relationship between politicians and media owners.
Above all, they want us to act on behalf of the victims: people who have suffered dreadfully - including through murder and terrorism - and who have had to re-live that agony all over again because of phone hacking.
The public want us to work together to sort this problem out, because until we do so it will not be possible to get back to the issues they care about even more, getting our economy moving, creating jobs, helping with the cost of living, protecting them from terrorism, restoring fairness to our welfare and immigration systems.
Let me set out the action we have taken.
We now have a well-led police investigation which will examine criminal behaviour by the media and corruption in the police.
We've set up a wide-ranging and independent judicial inquiry under Lord Justice Leveson to establish what went wrong, why and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again.
I am the first Prime Minister to publish meetings with media editors, proprietors and senior executives to bring complete transparency to the relationship between government ministers and the media - stretching right back to the general election.
And the House of Commons, by speaking so clearly about its revulsion at the phone hacking allegations, helped to cause the end of the News Corp bid for the rest of BSkyB.
Today, I would like to update the House on the action that we are taking.
First, on the make-up and remit of the public inquiry.
And second, on issues concerning the police service.
And third, I will answer - I am afraid Mr Speaker at some length - all of the key questions that have been raised about my role and that of my staff.
So first, the judicial Inquiry and the panel of experts who will assist it.
Those experts will be:
'B7 'B7The civil liberties campaigner and Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti;
'B7 The former Chief Constable of the West Midlands, Sir Paul Scott-Lee;
'B7 The former Chairman of OfCOM, Lord David Currie;
'B7 The longserving former political editor of Channel 4 news, Elinor Goodman;
'B7 The former political editor of the Daily Telegraph, and fomer special correspondent of the press association, George Jones;
'B7 And the former Chairman of the Financial Times, Sir David Bell.
These people have been chosen not only for their expertise in the media, broadcasting, regulation and policing, but for their complete independence from the interested parties.
Mr. Speaker, I also said last week that the Inquiry will proceed in two parts and I set out a draft terms of reference.
We have consulted with Lord Justice Leveson, with the Opposition, the Chairs of relevant Select Committees and the devolved administrations.
I also talked to the family of Milly Dowler and the Hacked off campaign.
We have made some significant amendments to the remit of the Inquiry.
With allegations that the problem of the relationship between the press and the police goes wider than just the Met we have agreed that other relevant forces will now be within the scope of the Inquiry.
We have agreed that the Inquiry should consider not just the relationship between the press, police and politicians but their individual conduct too.
And we have also made clear that the Inquiry should look at not just the press but other media organisations - including broadcasters and social media - if there is any evidence that they have been involved in criminal activities.
I am today placing in the library of the House the final terms of reference.
Lord Justice Leveson and the panel will get to work immediately.
He will aim to make a report on the first part of the Inquiry within 12 months.
Mr. Speaker, there should be no doubt:
This public Inquiry is as robust as possible.
It is fully independent.
Lord Justice Leveson will be able to summon witnesses under oath.
Mr. Speaker, let me now turn to the extraordinary events we have seen over the past few days at Britain's largest police force - the Met.
On Sunday, Sir Paul Stephenson resigned as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
I want to thank him for the work he has carried out in policing over many, many years in London and elsewhere.
On Monday, Assistant Commissioner John Yates also resigned and again I want to express my gratitude for the work he has done, especially in improving our response to terrorism.
Given the sudden departure of two such senior officers, the first concern must be to ensure the effective policing of our capital - and that confidence in that policing - is maintained.
I have asked the Home Secretary and Mayor of London to ensure that the responsibilities of the Met will continue seamlessly.
The current Deputy Commissioner - Tim Godwin - who stood in for Paul Stephenson when he was ill, and did a good job, will shortly do so again.
The vital counter-terrorism job, carried out by John Yates, will be taken on by the highly experienced Cressida Dick.
The responsibilities of the Deputy Commissioner - which the House will remember include general oversight of the vital investigations both into hacking and into the Police - Operations Weeting and Elveden will not be done by someone from inside the Met, but instead by Bernard Hogan-Howe who will join temporarily from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.
We are also looking to speed up the process for selecting and appointing the next Commissioner.
But Mr. Speaker, we cannot hope that a change in personnel at the top of the Met is enough.
The simple fact is that this whole affair raises huge issues about the ethics and practices of our police.
Let me state plainly - the vast majority of our police officers are beyond reproach, and serve the public with distinction.
But police corruption must be rooted out.
Operation Elveden and Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry are charged with doing just this.
But I believe we can, and must, do more.
Put simply there are two problems.
First, a perception that when problems arise it is still 'the police investigating the police.'
And second a lack of transparency in terms of police contacts with the media
We are acting on both.
These were precisely the two points that my Rt Hon Friend the Home Secretary addressed in her Statement to this House on Monday.
We believe this crisis calls for us to stand back and take another, broader look at the whole culture of policing in this country, including the way it is led.
At the moment, the police system is too closed.
There is only one point of entry into the force.
There are too few - and arguably too similar - candidates for the top jobs.
As everyone knows, Tom Winsor is looking into police careers, and I want to see radical proposals for how we can open up our police force and bring in fresh leadership.
The government is introducing elected Police and Crime Commissioners, ensuring there is an individual holding their local force to account on behalf of local people.
And we need to see if we can extend that openness to the operational side too.
hy should all police officers have to start at the same level?
Why shouldn't someone with a different skill-set be able to join the police force in a senior role?
Why shouldn't someone, who has been a proven success overseas, be able to help turn around a force at home?
I think these are questions we must ask to achieve the greater transparency and stronger corporate governance that we need in Britain's policing.
Finally let me turn to the specific questions I have been asked in recent days.
First, it has been suggested that my Chief of Staff was behaving wrongly when he didn't take up then Assistant Commissioner Yates's offer to be briefed on police investigations around phone hacking.
I have said repeatedly about the police investigation that they should purse the evidence wherever it leads and arrest exactly who they wish.
And that is exactly what they have done.
No 10 has now published the full email exchange between my chief of Staff and John Yates and it shows my staff behaved entirely properly.
Ed Llewellyn's reply to the police made clear that it would be not be appropriate to give me or my staff any privileged briefing.
The reply that he sent was cleared in advance by my Permanent Secretary, Jeremy Heywood.
Just imagine, Mr Speaker if they had done the opposite and asked for, or acquiesced in receiving privileged information - even if there was no intention to use it.
There would have been quite justified outrage.
To risk any perception that No 10 was seeking to influence a sensitive police investigation in any way would have been completely wrong.
Mr Yates and Sir Paul both backed this judgment in their evidence yesterday.
Indeed, as John Yates said: "The offer was properly and understandably rejected."
The Cabinet Secretary and the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee have both now backed that judgement too.
Next, there is the question as to whether the Ministerial code was broken in relation to the BSkyB merger and meetings with News International executives.
The Cabinet Secretary has ruled very clearly that the code was not broken - not least because I had asked to be entirely excluded from the decision.
Next, I would like to set the record straight on another question that arose yesterday - whether the Conservative Party had also employed Neil Wallis.
The Conservative Party Chairman has ensured that all the accounts have been gone through and has confirmed to me that neither Neil Wallis nor his company has ever been employed by or contracted by the Conservative Party - nor has the Conservative Party made payments to either of them.
It has been drawn to our attention that he may have provided Andy Coulson with some informal advice on a voluntary basis before the election.
To the best of my knowledge I didn't know anything about this until Sunday night.
But as with revealing this information, we will be entirely transparent about this issue.
Finally Mr Speaker, there is the question whether everyone - the media, the police, politicians - is taking responsibility in an appropriate manner.
I want to address my own responsibilities very directly - and that brings me to my decision to employ Andy Coulson.
I have said very clearly that if it turns out Andy Coulson knew about the hacking at the News of the World he will not only have lied to me but he will have lied to the police, to a select committee, to the Press Complaints Commission and, of course, perjured himself in a court of law.
More to the point, if that comes to pass, he could also expect to face severe criminal charges.
I have an old fashioned view about 'innocent until proven guilty'.
But if it turns out I have been lied to, that would be a moment for a profound apology.
And, in that event, I can tell you I will not fall short.
My responsibilities are for hiring him - and for the work he did in Downing Street.
On the work he did, I will repeat, perhaps not for the last time, that his work at Downing Street has not been the subject of any serious complaint.
And, of course, he left months ago.
On the decision to hire him, I believe I have answered every question about this.
It was my decision. I take responsibility.
People will, of course, make judgements about it.
Of course I regret and I am extremely sorry about the furore it has caused.
With 20:20 hindsight - and all that has followed - I would not have offered him the job and I expect that he wouldn't have taken it.
But you don't make decisions in hindsight; you make them in the present.
You live and you learn - and believe you me, I have learnt.
I look forward to answering any and all questions about these issues - and following the statement I will open the debate.
But the greatest responsibility I have is to clear up this mess - so let me finish by saying this.
There are accusations of criminal behaviour - by parts of the press and potentially by the Police where the most rapid and decisive action is required.
There are the issues of excessive closeness to media groups and media owners where both Labour and Conservative have to make a fresh start.
There is the history of missed warnings - select committee reports, information commissioner reports - missed by the last government but yes also missed by the official opposition too.
What the public expects is not petty point scoring, but what they want, what they deserve, is concerted action to rise to the level of events and pledge to work together to sort this issue once and for all.
And it is in that spirit that I commend this statement to the House.
David Cameron's speech to the Lord Mayor's Banquet. David Cameron, 14/11/2011 Category: Foreign Policy
My Lord Mayor, my late Lord Mayor, your Grace, my Lord Chancellor, Mr Speaker, your Excellencies, my Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen.
Last year I spoke about focusing our foreign policy on one objective: promoting Britain’s national interest.
Tonight I want to explain why that means…...a strong and open approach to the world…
…one that both helps us and helps others. There are those who look at the upheavals in North Africa
…or the crisis in the Eurozone……and conclude that for Britain the best way forward is to draw back
“Stay out of Libya… because nothing good ever comes of such interventions.”
Cut the aid budget…because the money is wasted.”
“Europe is heading in the wrong direction without any chance of reform……so think of giving up.”
“Promoting trade with economic powers like Russia and China always means walking away from values we believe in.”
I think those arguments are fundamentally wrong for three reasons.
First, they fail to appreciate that in today’s world, others’ problems are our problems too.
Second, they forget that our strength as a country is built on our economic strength……and that means engaging in the world economy……fighting for free trade…
…making sure British interests get heard.
Third, we have advantages we should make the most of……like one of the most open economies on earth……or our brilliant armed forces, whose sacrifice and service we commemorated this weekend.
So tonight I want to explain how we can use our influence... …and confront the pessimism that claims we can’t make a difference.
The Arab Spring is one those extraordinary moments when the will of the people changes the world.
But it also directly matters to us.
Yes, change brings risk…
…and no one expects a simple straight line progression from dictatorship and stagnation to democracy and prosperity.
But in the long-term, developing the building blocks of democracy is the best way for the Arab world to secure stability, progress and prosperity, which is in all our interests.
In Libya, it’s true, we didn’t have to get involved.
Some told us we shouldn’t because they said it would only end in failure.
Some said we couldn’t because they said Britain didn't have the military might any more.
Well, to those who predicted failure, look at what we have achieved.
We saved civilian lives as Gaddafi’s tanks bore down on Bengahzi.
We helped the Libyan people to liberate themselves.
And we now have…
…the prospect of a new partner in the Southern Mediterranean…
…stronger alliances with our friends in the Gulf…
…and a refreshed defence relationship with France.
I would argue that our action helped keep the Arab Spring alive.
And it’s also worth noting that although Gaddafi agreed to declare and dismantle all his weapons of mass destruction…
…and although we made real progress diminishing the threat he posed…
…in the last few days we have learnt that the new Libyan authorities have found chemical weapons that were kept hidden from the world.
Some will look at Libya and ask ‘is this a new British doctrine for intervention?’
Next time, will we just charge in regardless?
My answer is “no.” Look at the reasons for the success of the Libya campaign.
We set limited goals and stuck to them. We worked with allies. We went through the United Nations. We had the support of the people.
We didn't presume to tell people what sort of government they should have.
But we held our nerve when critics here said we should give up.
We should be grateful for the incredible skill of British and other coalition pilots who ensured that the number of civilian casualties of the air attacks was so low.
The role of the Arab League was crucial.
And on that note let’s welcome their decision this weekend to suspend Syria’s membership.
To those who said Britain didn’t have the resources to intervene in Libya, let me just say this.
We deployed 8 Typhoons in Libya.
We’ve got 72, with more on the way
We deployed 16 of 136 Tornadoes and 5 of our 67 attack helicopters
This operation was well within our capabilities…
…and will remain so.
To those who question the Strategic Defence and Security Review let me tell you….
…those of us responsible for it didn’t spend a single day of the Libya campaign wishing we had taken things more slowly.
On the contrary, Libya underlined the need for us to reshape our armed forces as rapidly as possible.
Fewer main battle tanks, more drones, more helicopters, more transport aircraft.
We are going to need a different kind of military to meet different kinds of threat.
Deployment of our military brings me directly to Afghanistan.
Ten years after 9/11, and after 385 of our servicemen and women have given their lives, the whole country wants to know the answers to two questions.
Why are we still in Afghanistan?
And for how much longer?
Let me answer.
We are there to prevent Afghanistan from ever being used again as a base from which to launch attacks on this country or our allies.
Of course, people say you can’t make progress in Afghanistan without tackling terrorism and deep-seated problems in Pakistan.
And they are right.
That is why we are squeezing the problem of terrorism from both sides of the Durand line…
…and Al Qaeda has been seriously weakened with the death of Bin Laden and so many of its senior leadership in the Tribal belt of Pakistan.
Terrorism feeds on broken countries, so our response must go far beyond tackling the leadership of terrorist groups.
That’s why Pakistan is set to become the biggest recipient of British aid.
It’s also why we have been engaging at every level…
…not just politicians but security and military chiefs as well.
We are now reaching the point when the Afghans can secure their country for themselves.
That is why I have been very clear – and I repeat here tonight – by the end of 2014 there will be no British troops serving in Afghanistan in a combat role.
Somalia is a failed state that directly threatens British interests.
Tourists and aid workers kidnapped. Young British minds poisoned by radicalism. Mass migration. Vital trade routes disrupted.
Meanwhile Somalis themselves suffer extreme famine, made worse by violence and some of the worst poverty on earth.
We shouldn't tolerate this.
Somali pirates aren't invincible: they are violent and lawless men in small boats and it is time we properly stood up to them.
That’s why British vessels can now carry arms.
But there is a real and pressing need to pull together the international effort.
That is why Britain will host a major conference in London next year, to focus attention on…
…protecting merchant ships passing through the Gulf of Aden…
…pressurising the extremists…
…supporting countries in the region…
…and addressing the causes of conflict and instability in Somalia.
The next area where the pessimists say Britain should pull back is aid.
I believe in the moral argument for aid…
…that we have obligations to the poorest in the world…
…but I also believe that it is in our national interest.
Isn't it better to help stop countries disintegrating – rather than end up dealing with the consequences for our own country: immigration, asylum, terrorism?
Aid can help us avoid crises before they explode into violence, requiring immense military spending.
And the answer to the legitimate concern that too much aid money gets wasted - isn’t to walk away.
It’s to change the way we do development.
By 2015 UK aid will secure schooling for more children than we educate in the UK but at one-fortieth of the cost.
And we will help vaccinate more children against preventable diseases than there are people in the whole of England.
That’s the kind of aid I believe in…
...and will secure for the future.
In Europe, these are times of change.
Old assumptions are collapsing.
It was said that no exit from the Euro could ever be envisaged.
That membership of the EU would always lead to ever closer union.
That rules and structures were like a ratchet – always getting tighter. Powers would only ever go one way – to the centre.
And now everything is changing.
Right now, fears about Europe’s economic future are understandably intense.
Think how the European Union - as it is tonight - looks to those with growing economies watching from Sao Paulo, from Delhi or indeed Washington.
Not – as it should be – a place to admire and emulate…
…but a source of alarm and crisis.
Britain is not some dispassionate observer.
We are a member of the European Union.
The strength of our own economy is closely linked to the rest of Europe.
So we have a profound national interest in ensuring the swift resolution of the crisis in the Eurozone and a return to growth.
What was the European Community, now the EU, has been an effective anchor for democracy and prosperity.
It has helped transform Eastern Europe, build alliances, boost trade, knock down old obstacles to freedom and success.
But today – to the outside world and to the citizens of its own countries – the EU’s achievements are dramatically overshadowed by its problems.
It’s not just the crisis in the Eurozone – urgent and all consuming though that is.
It’s how out of touch the EU has become when its institutions are demanding budget increases while Europe’s citizens tighten their belts.
It’s the pointless interference, rules and regulations that stifle growth not unleash it.
The sense that the EU is somehow an abstract end in itself, immune from developments in the real world, rather than a means of helping to deliver better living standards for the people of its Nations.
It does not have to be like this.
Out of crisis can come opportunity for the European Union, if its Member States are ready to grasp it.
Now is the chance to ask: what kind of Europe do we actually want?
For me, the answer is clear.
One that is outward-looking – with its eyes to the world not gazing inwards.
One with the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc – whose institutions help by connecting and strengthening its members to thrive in a vibrant world, rather than holding them back.
One that understands and values national identity and sees the diversity of Europe’s nations as source of strength.
I feel this very personally.
The attitudes of my predecessors at this dinner, in previous decades, were understandably shaped by the events of 1945, and the need to secure peace on our continent.
The experiences of the Second World War gave birth to the European Union we have today.
But for me, 1989 is the key date - when Europe tore down the Iron Curtain…
...and came together as democratic nations working together across our continent.
So what needs to change?
Of course, the immediate answer is growth. Europe’s arteries have hardened. As a continent we are slipping behind, growing less fast than the rest of the world.
European countries have indulged in debt and overspending…
…and looked uncertain – or worse – when confronted with the consequences.
Unless we all get a grip on growth the European Union will remain an organisation in peril representing a continent in trouble.
And now every member of European Union can see it.
That’s why Britain’s EU growth plan is focused – together with other allies - on promoting open markets, flexible economies and enterprise.
And it’s why we must continue to work with the European Commission for the completion of the single market in services…
…the opening up of our energy markets…
…and the scrapping of the bureaucracy that makes it so hard to start a new business.
European countries account for 50 per cent of our trade and much of our inward investment.
Leaving the EU is not in our national interest.
Outside, we would end up like Norway, subject to every rule for the Single Market made in Brussels but unable to shape those rules.
And believe me: if we weren’t in there helping write the rules they would be written without us – the biggest supporter of open markets and free trade – and we wouldn’t like the outcome.
For too long, the European Union has tried to make reality fit its institutions.
But you can only succeed in the long run if the institutions fit the reality.
For years people who have suggested doing less at European level have been accused of not being committed to a successful European Union.
But we sceptics have a vital point.
We should look sceptically at grand plans and utopian visions.
We’ve a right to ask what the European Union should and shouldn’t do...
...and change it accordingly.
As I said, change brings opportunities.
An opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests…
…and the interests of its other 26 nations too.
An opportunity, in Britain’s case, for powers to ebb back instead of flow away...
....and for the European Union to focus on what really matters.
To underpin prosperity, stability and growth.
That is kind of fundamental reform I yearn for.
And I am determined to do everything possible to deliver it.
RUSSIA AND MERCANTILISM
Finally, if we are to earn our living in the rest of the world, we also need to forge stronger relationships with countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey, Nigeria and South Africa.
I have led trade missions to six of these countries and the Deputy Prime Minister has taken a business delegation to Brazil.
Now one former Labour minister called this “low grade mercantilism”.
That comment says so much about what’s gone wrong with foreign policy in the past.
We forgot old friends, missed new opportunities and damaged Britain’s interests as a result.
I'm proud - not embarrassed - to fill planes with businessmen and women and heading off to visit the most vibrant markets on the planet.
I'm not intending to reduce international relations simply to a commercial agenda.
In dealing with other countries, their politics matter. But when the politics are troubling the answer isn't to deal with the politics and put the trade on hold.
We must be bold enough to try and deal with the politics and the trade at the same time.
In September I was the first British Prime Minister to visit Russia for five years.
Of course there are things on which I think Russia is in the wrong.
The Litvinenko case. Magnitsky. Khodorkovsky.
We can’t pretend these differences – of human rights, the rule of law - don’t exist.
We should always be a champion of human rights – and we should address our differences candidly.
But we should not allow them to define and limit the whole relationship.
It’s in our interests – and Russia’s – to offer British companies new opportunities to trade and invest…
…to support Russia joining the World Trade Organisation…
…and to develop our partnership in key growth sectors like science and innovation.
Shared prosperity is one of the best ways to ensure shared security.
I simply refuse to accept we have to choose between politics and trade.
I believe we can advance both.
Here we are in the City of London - the centre of world trade and commerce from commodities to currencies.
This is the place the planet looks to raise capital, float a business, set the price of the goods which power the world economy.
No other market on earth can match the City of London for the range and scale of its activities - a place that has always reached out to the world.
This country has always been at its best when it projects its influence.
David Cameron speech on the fight-back after the riots
David Cameron, 15/08/2011
Category: Conservative Politics (General)
It is time for our country to take stock.
Last week we saw some of the most sickening acts on our streets.
I’ll never forget talking to Maurice Reeves, whose family had run the Reeves furniture store in Croydon for generations.
This was an 80 year old man who had seen the business he had loved, that his family had built up for generations, simply destroyed.
A hundred years of hard work, burned to the ground in a few hours.
But last week we didn’t just see the worst of the British people; we saw the best of them too.
The ones who called themselves riot wombles and headed down to the hardware stores to pick up brooms and start the clean-up.
The people who linked arms together to stand and defend their homes, their businesses.
The policemen and women and fire officers who worked long, hard shifts, sleeping in corridors then going out again to put their life on the line.
Everywhere I’ve been this past week, in Salford, Manchester, Birmingham, Croydon, people of every background, colour and religion have shared the same moral outrage and hurt for our country.
Because this is Britain.
This is a great country of good people.
Those thugs we saw last week do not represent us, nor do they represent our young people - and they will not drag us down.
But now that the fires have been put out and the smoke has cleared, the question hangs in the air: ‘Why? How could this happen on our streets and in our country?’
Of course, we mustn’t oversimplify.
There were different things going on in different parts of the country.
In Tottenham some of the anger was directed at the police.
In Salford there was some organised crime, a calculated attack on the forces of order.
But what we know for sure is that in large parts of the country this was just pure criminality.
So as we begin the necessary processes of inquiry, investigation, listening and learning: let’s be clear.
These riots were not about race: the perpetrators and the victims were white, black and Asian.
These riots were not about government cuts: they were directed at high street stores, not Parliament.
And these riots were not about poverty: that insults the millions of people who, whatever the hardship, would never dream of making others suffer like this.
No, this was about behaviour…
…people showing indifference to right and wrong...
...people with a twisted moral code...
...people with a complete absence of self-restraint.
Now I know as soon as I use words like ‘behaviour’ and ‘moral’ people will say – what gives politicians the right to lecture us?
Of course we’re not perfect.
But politicians shying away from speaking the truth about behaviour, about morality...
...this has actually helped to cause the social problems we see around us.
We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong.
We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said - about everything from
marriage to welfare to common courtesy.
Sometimes the reasons for that are noble – we don’t want to insult or hurt people.
Sometimes they’re ideological – we don’t feel it’s the job of the state to try and pass judgement on people’s behaviour or engineer personal morality.
And sometimes they’re just human – we’re not perfect beings ourselves and we don’t want to look like hypocrites.
So you can’t say that marriage and commitment are good things - for fear of alienating single mothers.
You don’t deal properly with children who repeatedly fail in school - because you’re worried about being accused of stigmatising them.
You’re wary of talking about those who have never worked and never want to work - in case you’re charged with not getting it, being middle class and out of touch.
In this risk-free ground of moral neutrality there are no bad choices, just different lifestyles.
People aren’t the architects of their own problems, they are victims of circumstance.
‘Live and let live’ becomes ‘do what you please.’
Well actually, what last week has shown is that this moral neutrality, this relativism – it’s not going to cut it any more.
One of the biggest lessons of these riots is that we’ve got to talk honestly about behaviour and then act – because bad behaviour has literally arrived on people’s doorsteps.
And we can’t shy away from the truth anymore.
So this must be a wake-up call for our country.
Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face.
Now, just as people last week wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these social problems taken on and defeated.
Our security fightback must be matched by a social fightback.
We must fight back against the attitudes and assumptions that have brought parts of our society to this shocking state.
We know what's gone wrong: the question is, do we have the determination to put it right?
Do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations?
Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences.
Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort.
Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control.
Some of the worst aspects of human nature tolerated, indulged - sometimes even incentivised - by a state and its agencies that in parts have become literally de-moralised.
So do we have the determination to confront all this and turn it around?
I have the very strong sense that the responsible majority of people in this country not only have that determination; they are crying out for their government to act upon it.
And I can assure you, I will not be found wanting.
In my very first act as leader of this party I signalled my personal priority: to mend our broken society.
That passion is stronger today than ever.
Yes, we have had an economic crisis to deal with, clearing up the terrible mess we inherited, and we are not out of those woods yet - not by a long way.
But I repeat today, as I have on many occasions these last few years, that the reason I am in politics is to build a bigger, stronger society.
Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger society.
This is what I came into politics to do – and the shocking events of last week have renewed in me that drive.
So I can announce today that over the next few weeks, I and ministers from across the coalition government will review every aspect of our work to mend our broken society…
…on schools, welfare, families, parenting, addiction, communities…
…on the cultural, legal, bureaucratic problems in our society too:
...from the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights that has undermined personal
...to the obsession with health and safety that has eroded people’s willingness to act according to common sense.
We will review our work and consider whether our plans and programmes are big enough and bold enough to deliver the change that I feel this country now wants to see.
Government cannot legislate to change behaviour, but it is wrong to think the State is a bystander.
Because people’s behaviour does not happen in a vacuum: it is affected by the rules government sets and how they are enforced...
...by the services government provides and how they are delivered...
...and perhaps above all by the signals government sends about the kinds of behaviour
that are encouraged and rewarded.
So yes, the broken society is back at the top of my agenda.
And as we review our policies in the weeks ahead, today I want to set out the priority areas I will be looking at, and give you a sense of where I think we need to raise our
First and foremost, we need a security fight-back.
We need to reclaim our streets from the thugs who didn’t just spring out of nowhere
last week, but who’ve been making lives a misery for years.
Now I know there have been questions in people’s minds about my approach to law and order.
Well, I don’t want there to be any doubt.
Nothing in this job is more important to me than keeping people safe.
And it is obvious to me that to do that we’ve got to be tough, we’ve got to be robust, we’ve got to score a clear line between right and wrong right through the heart of this country – in every street and in every community.
That starts with a stronger police presence – pounding the beat, deterring crime, ready to re-group and crack down at the first sign of trouble.
Let me be clear: under this government we will always have enough police officers to be able to scale up our deployments in the way we saw last week.
To those who say this means we need to abandon our plans to make savings in police budgets, I say you are missing the point.
The point is that what really matters in this fight-back is the amount of time the police actually spend on the streets.
For years we’ve had a police force suffocated by bureaucracy, officers spending the majority of their time filling in forms and stuck behind desks.
This won’t be fixed by pumping money in and keeping things basically as they’ve been.
As the Home Secretary will explain tomorrow, it will be fixed by completely changing the way the police work.
Scrapping the paperwork that holds them back, getting them out on the streets where people can see them and criminals can fear them.
Our reforms mean that the police are going to answer directly to the people.
You want more tough, no-nonsense policing?
You want to make sure the police spend more time confronting the thugs in your neighbourhood and less time meeting targets by stopping motorists?
You want the police out patrolling your streets instead of sitting behind their desks?
Elected police and crime commissioners are part of the answer: they will provide that direct accountability so you can finally get what you want when it comes to policing.
The point of our police reforms is not to save money, not to change things for the sake of it – but to fight crime.
And in the light of last week it’s clear that we now have to go even further, even faster in beefing up the powers and presence of the police.
Already we've given backing to measures like dispersal orders, we're toughening curfew powers, we're giving police officers the power to remove face coverings from rioters, we're looking at giving them more powers to confiscate offenders' property - and over the coming months you're going to see even more.
It’s time for something else too.
A concerted, all-out war on gangs and gang culture.
This isn’t some side issue.
It is a major criminal disease that has infected streets and estates across our country.
Stamping out these gangs is a new national priority.
Last week I set up a cross-government programme to look at every aspect of this problem.
We will fight back against gangs, crime and the thugs who make people’s lives hell and we will fight back hard.
The last front in that fight is proper punishment.
On the radio last week they interviewed one of the young men who’d been looting in Manchester.
He said he was going to carry on until he got caught.
This will be my first arrest, he said.
The prisons were already overflowing so he’d just get an ASBO, and he could live with that.
Well, we’ve got to show him and everyone like him that the party’s over.
I know that when politicians talk about punishment and tough sentencing people roll their eyes.
Yes, last week we saw the criminal justice system deal with an unprecedented challenge: the courts sat through the night and dispensed swift, firm justice.
We saw that the system was on the side of the law-abiding majority.
But confidence in the system is still too low.
And believe me - I understand the anger with the level of crime in our country today and I am determined we sort it out and restore people's faith that if someone hurts our society, if they break the rules in our society, then society will punish them for it.
And we will tackle the hard core of people who persistently reoffend and blight the lives of their communities.
So no-one should doubt this government's determination to be tough on crime and to mount an effective security fight-back.
But we need much more than that.
We need a social fight-back too, with big changes right through our society.
Let me start with families.
The question people asked over and over again last week was ‘where are the parents?
Why aren’t they keeping the rioting kids indoors?’
Tragically that’s been followed in some cases by judges rightly lamenting: “why don’t the parents even turn up when their children are in court?”
Well, join the dots and you have a clear idea about why some of these young people
were behaving so terribly.
Either there was no one at home, they didn’t much care or they’d lost control.
I don’t doubt that many of the rioters out last week have no father at home.
Perhaps they come from one of the neighbourhoods where it’s standard for children to have a mum and not a dad…
…where it’s normal for young men to grow up without a male role model, looking to the streets for their father figures, filled up with rage and anger.
So if we want to have any hope of mending our broken society, family and parenting is where we’ve got to start.
I’ve been saying this for years, since before I was Prime Minister, since before I was leader of the Conservative Party.
So: from here on I want a family test applied to all domestic policy.
If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.
More than that, we’ve got to get out there and make a positive difference to the way families work, the way people bring up their children…
…and we’ve got to be less sensitive to the charge that this is about interfering or nannying.
We are working on ways to help improve parenting – well now I want that work accelerated, expanded and implemented as quickly as possible.
This has got to be right at the top of our priority list.
And we need more urgent action, too, on the families that some people call ‘problem’, others call ‘troubled’.
The ones that everyone in their neighbourhood knows and often avoids.
Last December I asked Emma Harrison to develop a plan to help get these families on track.
It became clear to me earlier this year that – as can so often happen – those plans were being held back by bureaucracy.
So even before the riots happened, I asked for an explanation.
Now that the riots have happened I will make sure that we clear away the red tape and the bureaucratic wrangling, and put rocket boosters under this programme...
...with a clear ambition that within the lifetime of this Parliament we will turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in the country.
The next part of the social fight-back is what happens in schools.
We need an education system which reinforces the message that if you do the wrong thing you’ll be disciplined…
…but if you work hard and play by the rules you will succeed.
This isn’t a distant dream.
It’s already happening in schools like Woodside High in Tottenham and Mossbourne in Hackney.
They expect high standards from every child and make no excuses for failure to work hard.
They foster pride through strict uniform and behaviour policies.
And they provide an alternative to street culture by showing how anyone can get up and get on if they apply themselves.
Kids from Hammersmith and Hackney are now going to top universities thanks to these schools.
We need many more like them which is why we are creating more academies…
…why the people behind these success stories are now opening free schools…
…and why we have pledged to turn round the 200 weakest secondaries and the 200
weakest primaries in the next year.
But with the failures in our education system so deep, we can’t just say ‘these are our plans and we believe in them, let’s sit back while they take effect’.
I now want us to push further, faster.
Are we really doing enough to ensure that great new schools are set up in the poorest
areas, to help the children who need them most?
And why are we putting up with the complete scandal of schools being allowed to fail, year after year?
If young people have left school without being able to read or write, why shouldn’t that school be held more directly accountable?
Yes, these questions are already being asked across government but what happened last week gives them a new urgency – and we need to act on it.
Just as we want schools to be proud of we want everyone to feel proud of their communities.
We need a sense of social responsibility at the heart of every community.
Yet the truth is that for too long the big bossy bureaucratic state has drained it away.
It's usurped local leadership with its endless Whitehall diktats.
It's frustrated local organisers with its rules and regulations
And it's denied local people any real kind of say over what goes on where they live.
Is it any wonder that many people don't feel they have a stake in their community?
This has got to change. And we're already taking steps to change it.
That’s why we want executive Mayors in our twelve biggest cities…
…because strong civic leadership can make a real difference in creating that sense of belonging.
We're training an army of community organisers to work in our most deprived neighbourhoods…
…because we’re serious about encouraging social action and giving people a real chance to improve the community in which they live.
We're changing the planning rules and giving people the right to take over local assets.
But the question I want to ask now is this.
Are these changes big enough to foster the sense of belonging we want to see?
Are these changes bold enough to spread the social responsibility we need right across our communities, especially in our cities?
That's what we're going to be looking at urgently over the coming weeks.
Because we won't get things right in our country if we don't get them right in our communities.
But one of the biggest parts of this social fight-back is fixing the welfare system.
For years we’ve had a system that encourages the worst in people – that incites laziness, that excuses bad behaviour, that erodes self-discipline, that discourages hard work…
…above all that drains responsibility away from people.
We talk about moral hazard in our financial system – where banks think they can act recklessly because the state will always bail them out…
…well this is moral hazard in our welfare system – people thinking they can be as irresponsible as they like because the state will always bail them out.
We’re already addressing this through the Welfare Reform Bill going through parliament.
But I’m not satisfied that we’re doing all we can.
I want us to look at toughening up the conditions for those who are out of work and receiving benefits…
…and speeding up our efforts to get all those who can work back to work
Work is at the heart of a responsible society.
So getting more of our young people into jobs, or up and running in their own businesses is a critical part of how we strengthen responsibility in our society.
Our Work Programme is the first step, with local authorities, charities, social enterprises and businesses all working together to provide the best possible help to get a job.
It leaves no one behind – including those who have been on welfare for years.
But there is more we need to do, to boost self-employment and enterprise...
...because it’s only by getting our young people into work that we can build an ownership society in which everyone feels they have a stake.
As we consider these questions of attitude and behaviour, the signals that government sends, and the incentives it creates...
...we inevitably come to the question of the Human Rights Act and the culture associated with it.
Let me be clear: in this country we are proud to stand up for human rights, at home and abroad. It is part of the British tradition.
But what is alien to our tradition – and now exerting such a corrosive influence on behaviour and morality...
...is the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights in a way that has undermined personal responsibility.
We are attacking this problem from both sides.
We’re working to develop a way through the morass by looking at creating our own British Bill of Rights.
And we will be using our current chairmanship of the Council of Europe to seek agreement to important operational changes to the European Convention on Human Rights.
But this is all frustratingly slow.
The truth is, the interpretation of human rights legislation has exerted a chilling effect on public sector organisations, leading them to act in ways that fly in the face of common sense, offend our sense of right and wrong, and undermine responsibility.
It is exactly the same with health and safety – where regulations have often been twisted out of all recognition into a culture where the words ‘health and safety’ are lazily trotted out to justify all sorts of actions and regulations that damage our social fabric.
So I want to make something very clear: I get it. This stuff matters.
And as we urgently review the work we’re doing on the broken society, judging whether it’s ambitious enough - I want to make it clear that there will be no holds barred...
...and that most definitely includes the human rights and health and safety culture.
Many people have long thought that the answer to these questions of social behaviour is to bring back national service.
In many ways I agree...
...and that’s why we are actually introducing something similar – National Citizen Service.
It’s a non-military programme that captures the spirit of national service.
It takes sixteen year-olds from different backgrounds and gets them to work together.
They work in their communities, whether that’s coaching children to play football, visiting old people at the hospital or offering a bike repair service to the community.
It shows young people that doing good can feel good.
The real thrill is from building things up, not tearing them down.
Team-work, discipline, duty, decency: these might sound old-fashioned words but they are part of the solution to this very modern problem of alienated, angry young
Restoring those values is what National Citizen Service is all about.
I passionately believe in this idea.
It’s something we’ve been developing for years.
Thousands of teenagers are taking part this summer.
The plan is for thirty thousand to take part next year.
But in response to the riots I will say this.
This should become a great national effort.
Let’s make National Citizen Service available to all sixteen year olds as a rite of passage.
We can do that if we work together: businesses, charities, schools and social enterprises...
...and in the months ahead I will put renewed effort into making it happen.
Today I’ve talked a lot about what the government is going to do.
But let me be clear:
This social fight-back is not a job for government on its own.
Government doesn’t run the businesses that create jobs and turn lives around.
Government doesn’t make the video games or print the magazines or produce the
music that tells young people what’s important in life.
Government can’t be on every street and in every estate, instilling the values that matter.
This is a problem that has deep roots in our society, and it’s a job for all of our society to help fix it.
In the highest offices, the plushest boardrooms, the most influential jobs, we need to think about the example we are setting.
Moral decline and bad behaviour is not limited to a few of the poorest parts of our society.
In the banking crisis, with MPs’ expenses, in the phone hacking scandal, we have seen some of the worst cases of greed, irresponsibility and entitlement.
The restoration of responsibility has to cut right across our society.
Because whatever the arguments, we all belong to the same society, and we all have a stake in making it better.
There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ – there is us.
We are all in this together, and we will mend our broken society – together.