The illusion that the fall of the Berlin Wall ended threats to our way of life can no longer be sustained. We must accept that we still live in a dangerous world and wishing won't make it otherwise.
New threats require new thinking. We must never again be unprepared. Bin Laden's terrorists sought to draw Islam into fundamental conflict with the non-Islamic world. They must not be allowed to succeed. The enemy is not Islam. It never has been. We will defend religious freedom as vigorously as the other freedoms we hold dear. Bin Laden claims to speak for Islam, but he cannot. This is a man who sends young acolytes to die for his own pathological purpose, while he himself skulks in caves. This is a man who prefers martyrdom at a distance.
We must hold on to our respect for civil liberties: it is, after all, what marks out our open society from the tyranny of the men of violence. But in many areas of our life we shall also have to find a new balance between human rights and human safety.
The Human Rights Act passed two years ago is proving an obstacle to protecting the lives of British citizens. When we cannot deport those who threaten the life of a British Prime Minister and promote terrorism from the safety of our own country; when we cannot refuse entry to terrorist suspects on the grounds of national security; when we cannot even extradite people accused of violence against America to the United States; then it is time to change the law.
But it's not just these threats that disturb our peace of mind today. Different worries, growing fast in recent years, make our society more fearful of the future.
There is a growing sense of unease that our quality of life is diminishing. We are the fourth richest country on earth. We should be providing public services that match those of our European neighbours not those of the Third World. Our European neighbours simply enjoy better hospitals and schools, because they put the needs of their people before the demands of dogma. If we are to live up to the demands of a new century we must do the same. This is our greatest mission at home over the coming years: to assemble the coalition of charities and churches, the public and private sectors that will deliver results.
Not for us the ideological baggage, the special favours for those who pay the political bills. For the Conservatives it is just the determination to succeed. We will examine all the models available to us from all over the world and draw on expert opinion in this country. I have instructed the Shadow Cabinet to visit other countries, to see why it is that their public services are so much better than ours. And I've told them to consult those who run our public services as well as those who rely on them.
Our economy is set for turbulent times ahead, and is in a weaker condition to withstand them than it was five years ago. We have been told that the course is now set for entry into the euro. As a party we will oppose that. Whenever the referendum comes we will fight to keep the Pound.
As the years go by, the mission of a party, just like the destiny of a nation, changes. But we face change, and we lead others through change, on the foundations of values and beliefs which do not change.
We know that women, ethnic minorities and people of different life-styles must have greater opportunity within our party. And I shall do everything I can to give this effect. Not because I am interested in ensuring that the Conservative Party is politically correct, but because I want us to be politically effective. That means drawing on the widest possible pool of talent, recruiting and promoting on the basis of merit.
Today, this country is engaged in a ferocious conflict, a struggle for Civilisation itself. We should remember why we are fighting, what we believe, and who we are.Reuse content