Iain Duncan Smith: Labour has left the poor even more dependent on the state

From a speech by the leader of the Conservative Party to the Compassionate Conservatism 2003 conference in London
Click to follow

When I left Easterhouse, I committed the Conservative Party to a new mission with these words: "A nation that leaves its vulnerable behind, diminishes its own future."

Britain will never be all that it should be until opportunity and security mean something to people in Easterhouse. That is why there are two inseparable parts to our Fair Deal: no one held back and no one left behind. Opportunity and security. Aspiration and compassion.

To give credit where it's due, Labour has not been inactive. They talk big on poverty, and they spend big too.

I believe that many Labour politicians genuinely care about poverty but, sadly, something has gone terribly wrong with their policies. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have enjoyed a golden legacy of record tax receipts. Which they have spent recklessly. But not sustainably.

Labour's policies have left the poor even more dependent on the state for their incomes and the kind of public services they receive. And that, in the end, will be Labour's legacy to the poor. Dependence, not independence.

On my first visit to Easterhouse, someone shouted out: "What are you doing here? This is a Labour area." "Yes," I said, "and look around you."

There will be others that say: "Why are you talking about poverty? That's a Labour issue." And to them I'll say, "Yes, and look around you."

Labour think they have a monopoly on compassion. And this monopoly - like all monopolies - has hurt the people it dominates.

I don't expect to storm the Labour heartlands at the next election. But unless Conservatives can show that we will govern for the whole nation, we will neither win nor deserve to. That is why our fair deal is for everyone. No one held back. No one left behind.