Blair: My Decent Society

Key passages of the Labour leader's speech in Blackpool yesterday

Today I offer you, and we offer the country, a new vision. If we are to build this new Age of Achievement, you and I, and all of us together must first build the decent society to deliver it. A society in which every individual is valued, every person given a chance to develop their potential, a society to which we contribute and which contributes to us.

History will call it the Decent Society, a new social order for the new Age of Achievement for Britain. We will respect family life, develop it and encourage it in any way we can, for strong families are the foundation of strong communities.

New Labour, new members. I am proud of them. But let me say to you: I don't forget that this party only survived for new members to join because the old members stuck with it through thick and thin.

Let me try to explain this to you. I wasn't born Labour, I became Labour. And when you look back on your past you try to think of the things that shaped you. My father was a very ambitious man, he was successful, he was a go-getter. One morning I woke to be told he had had a stroke in the middle of the night and might not live through the day and my whole world fell apart.

It taught me something: it taught me the value of the family, because my mother worked for three years to help him talk and walk again. But it taught me something else too: when that happened, the fairweather friends, they went - that's not unusual.

But the real friends, the true friends, they stayed with us, they helped us, and they stuck with us for no other reason than that it was the right thing to do. I don't pretend to you that I had a deprived childhood: I didn't, but I learned a sense of values in my childhood.

And, yes, we are a democratic socialist party. It says so in the new Clause IV that I drafted and the party overwhelmingly supported. But it stands in a tradition bigger than European social democracy, bigger than any "ism". Bigger than any of us. It stands in a tradition whose flame was alive in human hearts long before the Labour Party was thought of. A tradition far above ideology but not beyond ideals.

We are not a sect or a cult. We are part of the broad movement of human progress. The marriage of ambition with justice, the constant striving of the human spirit to do better, be better. It is that which separates us from Conservatives.

When the Tories talk about the spirit of enterprise, they mean a few self-made millionaires. Best of luck to them. But there should be a spirit of enterprise on the shopfloor, in the office. In the 16-year-old who starts as an office girl with the realistic chance of ending up as the office manager; the young graduate with the confidence to take initiatives; in the secretary who takes time out to learn a new language and comes back to look for a new and better job. Ask me my three main priorities for government - I tell you, education, education and education.

I say to the British people, have the courage to change now. We are coming home to you. We are back as the party of the people, and that's why the people are coming back to us.

When a 76-year old widow from Liverpool, a party member since before I was born, sends me a Christmas card that says "Tony, please, for me, win", then I tell you, we have a duty to win.

In 1945, when miners voted Labour, they did it so that their sons would not have to go down the pit as they had. And in 1964 their children voted Labour because they saw the next generation's chance to go to university and do better than their parents had done.

Labour's coming home. Seventeen years of hurt never stopped us dreaming. Labour's coming home. As we did in '45 and '64. I know that was then, but it could be again.

Britain can take on the world and win. And we will be envied throughout the world not just because of our castles and palaces and our glorious history, but because we gave hope back to the generations, we turned this country round by the will of the people in unity with the party of the people, and we built the Age of Achievement in our lifetime.

All I ask is a chance to serve. At the time of the next election there will be just 1,000 days until the new millennium; 1,000 days to prepare for 1,000 years.

The true radical mission of the Labour Party, new and old, is this; not to hold people back but to help them get on. Our task is to restore hope, to build a new Age of Achievement in a new and different world.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album