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Thursday, September 28, 2006 

Save us, John!

John Reid is possibly the most dangerous man in Britain. The ex-Stalinist, ex-friend of Radovan Karadzic, ex-alcoholic, probably ex-directory Scot, whom despite being permanently called a tough man was beaten to the punch by "gorgeous" George Galloway (see current Private Eye 1168, or Galloway's autobiography) made a typically bruising, myopic, disengenuous speech today at the Labour party conference. Some have said it was a covert leadership bid. A focus group poll on Newsnight on Tuesday was depressing in how the members liked Reid's no-nonsense rhetoric, giving him the most support for the Labour leadership. Roy Hattersley was entirely right; if Reid becomes prime minister, then all of us might as well shoot ourselves.

Let me tell you where I stand on the big issues of security, crime and terrorism confronting us today.

I stand with the public.

I believe in a Britain where there is no compromise with terrorism.

Where immigration is managed fairly.

Where rights are matched by responsibilities.

Where policing is based in the community - visible, accessible, responsive.

And where respect is put back at the heart of our communities.

These values are what drive me.

This specious bullshit about responsibilities and rights needs to be put to an end. Every single person has rights - they only time they should be diluted is when that person is found guilty of a crime, not before and not until. No one is suggesting any compromise with terrorism, but neither should we give away our rights because of a few extremist fanatics who are willing to blow themselves up. As for these values driving Reid, the only value that drives him is opportunism. His slavish dedication to Blair, likened by Steve Bell to that of a suicide bomber to his cause, has been one of the reasons why we are still suffering from being led by the current prime minister. Now that the ultra-Blairites are searching for an anyone but Gordon candidate, the only likely person left is himself. That this foul, unprincipled hardman is even being considered is proof that the Labour party is finished.

My guiding purpose is to reduce fear: to create opportunity; and as far as possible ensure security for everyone, especially the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

We talk a lot about human rights.

Let me give you my view.

The chance to live, and to live our lives without fear of terror or crime should be the most basic of our human rights.

It is the right to peace of mind - Nye Bevan called it serenity.

An unfashionable word, but one that goes to the heart of today's anxieties and today's challenges.

It's worth remembering that Bevan's great socialist tract was not entitled In Place of Injustice, or In Place of Poverty.

It was entitled In Place of Fear.

That fear and feeling of unfairness is most evident today in relation to mass migration.

It isn't fair when desperate people fleeing persecution who need asylum are put at risk because criminal gangs abuse an antiquated asylum system.

It isn't fair when someone illegally enters our country and jumps the queue.

It isn't fair on British workers if they find their terms and conditions undermined by unscrupulous employers deliberately taking on cheap illegal labour.

And it isn't fair, or sensible, if in assessing immigration levels we don't take into account the effects of immigration on the schools, and hospitals and housing.

So, I'm putting fairness at the heart of everything we're doing in the Home Office.

What exactly was fair about the decision to still prevent the doctors from Afghanistan who hijacked a plane to escape the Taliban from working, by yet again appealing against the decision of the high court? What's fair about the payments to victims of miscarriages of justice being slashed? What's fair about the removal of the automatic reduction when someone pleads guilty, when it was the government's fault that it was brought into disrepute when Craig Sweeney's sentence was slashed as a result? What's fair about asylum seekers being demonised by the same tabloids that Reid is desperately trying to woo? What's fair about the hugely distorted press campaigns against migrants from Romania and Bulgaria being allowed to come to Britain when their countries join the EU? Instead of indulging the tabloids, Reid should be making the effort to reassure communities that asylum seekers are not free loaders, and that migrants are contributing huge amounts of both tax and money towards the British economy. They should be welcomed rather than seen as a potential threat.

That's why I favour tighter immigration controls and ID cards.

And we need firmer action against rogue employers who misuse illegal immigrant labour.

That's why I want to establish an independent Migration Advisory Committee to advise on how migration should be managed to the benefit of the country as a whole.

And if they want somewhere to start, now that we have a lot more homegrown doctors and nurses, maybe we should be asking if we need quite so many medical staff, junior doctors, for instance, from the developing world.

And on the awful trade in human trafficking I can tell Conference that next week we will open with the police the UK's first specialist centre to fight this terrible scourge.

Action against rogue employers; fine. Independent migration advisory committee; good idea. Awful trade in human trafficking; if it's so terrible, then why is the government still refusing to sign up to Council of Europe convention on trafficking which gives the victims a formal period of reflection as well as the possibility of a temporary residence permit? Rather than helping young women who've been brought to Britain to work as prostitutes, the current policy is sending them straight back to the country where they've came from, risking the cycle being repeated.

All of this approach goes with, not against, the grain of the British sense of fairness and decency.

And in the same way, the public want to see more fairness in our approach to law and order.

People want to know that the government is on the side of the victim, not protecting the criminal.

That's fine by me, because it's this party, and has always been this party, that's on the side of the decent, hard-working majority in our country.

Why? Because we believe in rights balanced by responsibilities.

It is that, that has always divided us from the Conservatives.

Yep, we're back to re-balancing the criminal justice system in favour of the victim again. No government should be on the side of either the "victim" or the "criminal" until a court has found one way or another. The court system needs to be independent, neutral and robust, without political interference. Reid wants the opposite. Those nasty Conservatives, they've always favoured rights over "responsibilities", whatever they are. The sad thing is that the Tories have of late rightly opposed Labour's illiberal excesses, such as 90 days without charge for terrorism suspects. The thing that used to divide Labour from the Conservatives was that Labour believed in the people of this country. The Blair years have meant that Labour now believes only in the wonders of capital and the dead dog rhetoric from the Sun.

That's why I am going to introduce a Community Payback scheme.

Simple, swift, just.

So, if people ruin our community they are going to have to put it right themselves.

And why shouldn't violent offenders pay towards the healthcare costs of their victims?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe because it's likely to impoverish them, alienate them even further from society and create more grievances and resentment, as well as the simple fact that a huge number of fines handed down by the courts currently go unpaid. There's nothing wrong with payback in the community, but if this is going to be put into place then it needs to take into account the circumstances of the attack and the background of the person.

And there are other values that we are going to insist on too - that our society is based on mutual tolerance of each other's beliefs, protecting each and all of us from those who would stir up hatred.

And let's be clear.

It cannot be right that the rights of an individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, life and limb of the British people.

It's wrong. Full stop.

No ifs. No buts. It's just plain wrong.

What is that supposed to mean? This is gibberish, empty rhetoric that doesn't even make any sense. If this is a nudge towards 90 days being reintroduced, then it needs to rejected. Nothing we have seen this summer justifies such a long period of detention without charge. Two of those arrested over the alleged plot to bomb airliners using liquid explosives were held for 28 days then released without charge. Lawyers for the men suggested that they had been repeatedly harassed and strip-searched during that time, and that they hadn't even been interviewed for almost the first full week they were held. If it's about suspected terrorists being held under control orders, awaiting deportation, then the government still needs to explain why they cannot be tried here. Reports have suggested that Omar Bakri Muhammad, the radical preacher who left for Lebanon and was not allowed back, is still in contact with his followers over the internet and phone. If he is as dangerous as he is supposed to be, why could he have not been charged with an offence rather than just being unceremoniously dumped out of the UK? Thanks to this short-sighted policy he still may well a pose a threat to Britain.

The world is a less secure, more dangerous place than even a decade ago.

We face an unconstrained international terrorist threat that doesn't accept any limitation on human destruction.

Even here, in the midst of all this violence, the struggle of values is central.

That's why I went to Waltham Forest last week, to play my part in that debate.

Five years ago, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I was asked to do the closing speech for this conference.

I said then and I repeat today that no religion, no political creed, no ideology has a monopoly on terrorism.

This is not a clash of civilisations. It's not Muslims versus the rest of us.

It's evil terrorists on one side against all civilised people on the other.

There can be no compromise, no appeasement with terrorism.

Faced with the terrorist threat, as John F Kennedy said, we must be prepared to "bear any burden, pay any price, face any foe, and support any friend".

Fine words, but our invasion of Iraq has made the world a far more dangerous place, a fact that is denied by this government, despite report after report stating that this is the case. However, if in the face of this terror threat we end up supporting such charming governments as that of Uzbekistan, when torture was endemic and the country so backwards that students were forced to pick cotton rather than continue their studies, or end up repeating such counter-productive moves as supporting the Afghanistan mujahideen, then JFK was wrong. Our enemies enemy is not necessarily our friend.

Because if we, in this movement, are going to ask the decent, silent majority of Muslim men - and women - to have the courage to face down the extremist bullies, then we need to have the courage and character to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in doing it.

So when the terrorists or their loud-mouthed sympathisers tell me that we won't be allowed to raise our arguments in this or that part of our community, my answer is simple.

Yes we will. This is Britain.

There are, and there will be, no "no-go areas" in our country for any of our people, whatever our background, colour or creed.

We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like and we will never be brow-beaten by bullies.

That's what it means to be British.

Strange that. There already are numerous no go areas in Britain. Postman Patel points one out in Northern Ireland. The centre of Manchester has been turned into one so that Labour can have their annual shindig while sticking two fingers up at both the local population and those that come to demonstrate. Within a mile of parliament is now a no-go area if a policeman decides that you're protesting without permission. In certain areas children under 16 were banned from going outside after 9 o'clock because of powers given to the police meant to target anti-social behaviour. Instead law-abiding citizens were stopped from going outside, enjoying themselves or running errands for friends and family. If Reid is serious about standing shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community, why doesn't he stop lying to them about their children possibly being brainwashed?

I want to see the widest, deepest, national alliance.

That's why I am genuinely saddened by the response of the opposition.

I understand that David Cameron has not been in post long.

The public may understand that he doesn't want to rush to judgement on every decision. But he has to be capable of making some decisions. That is what leadership is all about.

There are some issues so serious, so rooted in the very fibre of our national values, that we need to make the hard choices now.

David Cameron may find that those who wait too long to see which way the wind is blowing, get blown away by the gale.

And so the Tories end up talking tough, voting soft and hoping no one will notice.

But the public has noticed what they have opposed - tougher sentences for murder, sexual offences, violent offences, dangerous driving, immigration, asylum.

They voted against or abstained on all of them.

Why? It's all too difficult. Too controversial.

Actually, it's because they are too lacking in leadership.

But if they won't lead, we will. Countering global terrorism requires that.

This isn't just completely wrong, this is libellous. On many occasions the Tories have shown far more backbone and principle than this Labour government has when it's come to the the affairs of the Home Office. It isn't a lack of leadership, it's being the opposition. It's all too easy to blame the Tories and crown yourselves as the saviour of the British public, but it's rubbish. Last year in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings, both David Davis and Mark Oaten, the then Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, had a number of meetings with Charles Clarke to reach agreement on whether any new laws to deal with the terrorist threat were necessary. All their work on an alliance was blown apart when Blair, responding to the Sun's incessant screaming, said that the "rules of the game were changing". That he did this after Clarke had gone away on holiday, humiliating him and undoing all his attempts to reach a deal fatally undermined him. It led to the government being defeated for the first time in the Commons. Now Reid wants to repeat history.

We need alliances not just with Europe but across the wider world - and that includes the United States.

Let's take this head on.

We should tell George Bush when he's wrong on climate change, on stem cell research, on civil partnerships, on tax cuts.

But remember, the enduring relationship between peoples with common values in a common struggle, against a common enemy transcends the transient political personalities involved.

Put simply - you don't have to love everything George W Bush stands for to hate everything that Osama Bin Laden stands for.

Strange - Guantanamo, renditon, the attempts to dismantle the Geneva convention, the failure to make Israel adhere to the road map to peace, and the bellicose, belligerent attitude towards Iran are all missing from Reid's list of what Bush is wrong on.

That's why the decent instinct of the British people is to help each other, to help ourselves.

Ah, so there is such a thing as society, but you still need to rely on yourselves. That's a nice new twist.

Leadership isn't a zero-sum game. When one of us shines, it doesn't diminish the others - it reflects on all of us.

When one of us succeeds, the others don't fail.

Err....

Now, as Tony Blair leaves, we all need that unity of purpose and common endeavour more than ever before.

And, just as we contribute to that common effort, so we will share in that common victory when it is achieved.

And I pledge to you that I will play my full part in that.

In other words, vote Reid! He's our man, if he can't do it, then Gordon can! God help us.

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god help us indeed!

methinks the rottveiler is barking up the wrong tree...

genius post!

Listened to the whole speech whilst at the gym. It could have been drafted by the BNP for his forthcoming visit to Burnley.

However, the chances of a Reid / Hain Axis is very high, which is frightening.

Of course the cunning bastards have stolen the Cameronian Lowlanders clothes with an outflanking movement on the Right. Where can the Right go now - advocate public hanging and flogging ? Emasculation of paedophiles with rusty razor blades ?

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