05/10/2011 Today at Conference


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05/10/2011

Andrew Neil presents highlights of the Conservative Party's annual conference in Manchester.


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Welcome to our final round up of the Conservative Party conference,

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here in Manchester, indeed our final round up of the party season

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2011. One year ago, David Cameron told the Conservative conference

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that the British economy was out of the dangers are. Today, in the run-

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up to his speech, we learnt that economic growth had slowed to zero,

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that the recession was deeper than we had thought, and that the

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eurozone crisis had just entered an even more dangerous phase. Mr

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Cameron made his speech against the backdrop of the grimmest economic

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outlook since the IMF bailed out of this country in the mid- 1970s.

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Here are the highlights. I do not underestimate how worried people

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feel. But the truth is, the Government now, we need to be

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energised, not paralysed by gloom and fear. Half the world is booming.

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Let's go and say to them, so many of our communities are thriving.

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There is so much that is great about our country, so let us reject

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the pessimism, let us and bring on the can-do optimism, and fight for

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a better future for our country, Now, of course, that starts with

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our economy. As we meet here in Manchester, the threat to the world

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economy, and to Britain, is as serious as in 2008, when world

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recession loomed. The eurozone is in crisis, the French and German

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economies have slowed to a standstill. Even mighty America is

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questioned about her debts. It is an anxious time. Prices and bills

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keep going up - petrol, electricity, the weekly shop. On the news it is

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job losses, cutbacks, closures. You think about tuition fees, house

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prices, the cost of a deposit, you wonder how our children will manage.

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Of course, government can help, and this one is. The answer is

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straightforward but uncomfortable. This was not a normal recession, it

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was a debt crisis. It was caused by too much borrowing, by individuals,

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banks, businesses, and most of all, by governments. The only way out of

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a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That's why households are

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peeing down the credit card and the store card bills. It means banks

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getting the books in order, and it means governments all over the

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world cutting spending and living within their means. Our whole

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deficit reduction programme is really just one big bail-out of the

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last Labour government. We have been subjected to a kind of

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national apology Tour by Labour these last few months. Sorry for

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sucking up to Gaddafi, for not regulating the banks, for crushing

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civil liberties, for failing to go green, for not building enough

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houses. But nothing, not a peep, on the thing they really need to say

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sorry for, wasting billions and billions of your money. No apology

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Do you know what the shadow Chancellor said last week? That

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Labour did not spend any more money than they had available. Ed - use

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spent �428 billion more than you had available. And there is only

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one conclusion you can draw from this - we must never ever let these

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people anywhere near a our economy ever again. So, to the unions

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planning to strike over public sector pensions, I say this - you

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have a very right to protest, but our population is ageing, our

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public sector pension system is unaffordable, the only way to give

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public sector workers a decent, sustainable pension system, which I

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want to, and to do right by the taxpayer, is to ask public servants

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to work a little longer and to pay a little more. That is fair. What

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is not fair, what is not right, is going on strike and hitting the

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very people that are helping to pay for your future pension. There is

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too much can't-do sogginess around. We cannot go on with the rigid,

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outdated employment legislation of the past. I know that people will

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say, what about workers' rights? We must not forget the most important

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right of all, the right to have a This government is providing

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funding for an extra 250,000 apprenticeships across this

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Parliament. But we're not getting enough back from big business. So,

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here is a direct appeal - if you want skilled employees, we will

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provide the funding, we will cut the red tape, but you have got to

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show the leadership and give us the apprenticeships this country so

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Our businesses need the space to grow, literally. And that is one of

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the reasons we are reforming our planning system. It is hard to

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blame local people for opposing developments, when they get so few

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benefits. We are changing that. I know people are worried about what

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this means for conservation. Let me tell you, I love our countryside, I

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would never do anything to put it at risk. But we have got to get the

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balance right. To those who oppose everything we do, my message is

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this - take your arguments down to the JobCentre, because we're going

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to get Britain back to work. In Britain today, we do have a group

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of schools which are utterly intolerant of failure, where 90% of

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pupils get five good GCSEs. Yes, private schools. You have heard me

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talk about social responsibility. I want to see private schools and

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academies in the state system. Wellington College does it, Dulwich

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does it, others can, too. The apartheid between private and state

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education is one of the biggest wasted opportunities in our country

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today. Let it be us, the Conservative Party, who help to

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I am incredibly fortunate in leading his party -- leading his

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party. I have had incredible support from all of our previous

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leaders. In this party, we do not boo our leaders. We are proud of

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what they have done for our party and for our country. A few months

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ago, we were all shocked by the scenes on the streets in London and

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in other parts of the country. But perhaps almost the most shocking

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thing is that people were not that surprised. There was no great call

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for a public inquiry to find out what had gone wrong. Instead, I

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think you could hear the angry, insistent, overwhelming cry of the

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country shouting to its leaders - we know. One of the things that

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people want his speedy justice. After the riots, those responsible

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were put straight into court, and tough sentences were quickly handed

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out. I have made it clear to the police, the prosecution services,

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the Ministry of Justice, that if we can do that then, let us do it all

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But we all know that the problems go deeper. That is why my driving

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ambition in politics is to build that bigger, stronger society. I

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stood before a Conservative conference once, and I said it

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should not matter whether commitment was between a man and a

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woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. You applauded me.

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Five years on, we are consulting on legalising gay marriage. To anyone

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who has reservations, I say this - yes, it is about equality, but it

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is also about something else, commitment. Conservatives believe

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in the ties that bind us, that society is stronger when we make

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vows to each other and we support each other. I do not support gay

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marriage in spite of being a Conservative, a support gay

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marriage because I am are Conservative. -- I am a

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Conservative. Next year we're going to welcome the world for the

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Olympics and for the Queen's diamond Jubilee. These two events

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so a lot about Britain - tradition and maternity all-in-one. Today, we

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can choose to be a country that back on its feet and striding

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forward, playing down our debt and earning a living, getting people

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off welfare and into work, breaking new ground in education with

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excellence for Everyone. Britain never had the biggest population,

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the largest land mass, the richest resources, but we had the spirit.

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It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the

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fight in the dock. Overcoming the challenge, reinventing ourselves,

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confounding the sceptics! That is what we do. It is called leadership.

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Let this time of challenge be turned into a time of opportunity.

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Not sitting around watching things happen and wondering again, but

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standing up, making things happen, and asking, why not? We have the

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ideas, we have the people, and now we have a government which is

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freeing those people, backing those ideas. Let us show the world some

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fight, let us pull together and Most commentators did not regard it

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as his finest conference speech, and many were surprised that he did

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not dwell more on the precarious international financial situation,

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which could turn out to be even more serious than the financial

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meltdown of 2008. Perhaps the speech can best be summed up by the

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old wartime slogan, keep calm and carry on. I spoke to the Foreign

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Secretary, William Hague, after the speech and suggested to him that

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Britain really was back in the I don't think it would be fair to

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say that. The triple A credit rating was maintained when other

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countries were being reduced. I think it is fair to say that the

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global economic danger zone has been enlarged, if you like, but it

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would be the wrong attitude to say we are back in the danger zone, and

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the economy has been growing. defect is a disorderly default in

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Greece -- but if there is a disorderly defaulting Greece and

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there are no measures put in to stop the contagion, we will be

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swept up in that. Virtually the entire western world would be

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affected, very seriously. I often use the analogy of the Belding

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building with no exit the we have to support the quenching of the

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fire. George Osborne was there at the finance ministers' meeting in

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Luxembourg last week and was producing some of the ideas as well

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as urging them before the G20 summit to take the necessary action.

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Of course it involves a recapitalising the banks and making

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sure the euro-zone country work more closely together. The if there

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is a burning building with no exits, had you put the fire out? You have

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to use all your resources. How do you getting? That may be taking the

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matter for a bit far. It is your metaphor. The serious point is

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there is no clear exit. The Eurozone is a symptom of a wider

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problem of debt and deficit in Western nations because the

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Eurozone is not well designed it really shows the pressure. It

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applies in the United States as well. It applies in this country

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where the deficits have been too great and we are dealing with that

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and we have seen the Prime Minister, the man who gives the necessary

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leadership. But she cannot give the leadership to the Eurozone. We are

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not part of it. Unlike the banking crisis in 2008 where because of

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London's position we were a central part of this we are now spectators

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or, at best, sensible critics from the sidelines. Hopefully we are

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sensible critics. We are a bit more than spectators. It does involve us

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and because we are one of the principal players in subscribing to

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the International Monetary Fund... However when the IMF takes action,

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Britain is part of it. We have increased our subscription

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accordingly, so we are more than spectators. And as a big player in

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the financial world I think what the Chancellor of Britain says he's

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taken seriously. The throughout the conference people have told us

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although growth is anaemic, growth has carried on, but that has turned

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out not to be true. It is true the growth figures have changed. There

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has been no growth. Over the last year the economy has grown. So when

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ministers have told us the economy has growing, it turned out with

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revision they were wrong. This economy is not growing. We don't

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have the figures for now, of course. We have them for the nine months

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until the summer. Do we expect things to be growing? I am not

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going to forecast economic figures. Over the last year the economy has

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not grown. It has not grown since the end of the third quarter of

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last year. The figures have been revised but they're still has been

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growth in the economy. Of course we won the economy to grow more

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strongly and that is what so many of these measures are about. You

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look at the housing figures and the announcement the Prime Minister

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referred to, 200,000 more homes, but 400,000 new jobs. These are the

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sort of announcement necessary to help growth, which is of causes low

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or anaemic, whatever expression you want to use. It is zero at the

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moment. We will see what the figures show when it comes to this

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quarter. Why does the government says we should pay down credit card

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debt and household debt when the government is adding half a

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trillion pounds to its own debt? One of the things we are doing is

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bringing government debt under control. It is going up because of

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the inheritance we have. I think everyone agrees that what George

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Osborne has announced in the Budget brings down the government deficit.

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But debt is heading for almost 1.5 trillion. So wide you get tomorrow

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-- borrow more and we have to pay off our credit cards? There are two

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points in this. We are saving �85 billion over four years from

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government spending so the stock of debt will not go over as quickly

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over previous plans. The deficits are bring board down. We are not

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telling people what to do with their credit cards. People have

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been paying down a credit card bills. And an economy that is

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vulnerable to high levels of debt, the bank level, the government

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level, that is vulnerable in this situation. A subdued conference?

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Are you a bit worried? I think this was a confident conference. The

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fact we have had the biggest argument over CHC is a successful

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conference. Realistic, but optimistic. Realistic but an

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optimistic speech from the Prime Minister. We might be fighting the

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quick -- economic equivalent of war, but we are still fighting real wars

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in Afghanistan and Libya. So up popped the Defence Secretary Liam

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Fox to explain away the defence cuts which so annoyed his party

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faithful. This is a flavour of what he had to say. Not a day passes

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without me thinking how lucky I am to work with the men and women in

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uniform, or how humble die down by the great responsibility. That is

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why I am determined to get the Ministry of Defence back into shape

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after more than a decade of chaos and a Labour. We always knew it

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would be hard, especially with a �38 billion black hole in the MoD

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budget. But the national deficit left behind by Labour also has a

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direct impact on our national security and our standing in the

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world. You can be strong if you're broke. That is what Labour always

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fails to understand. George Osborne has Binstead fast in his

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determination to deal with the deficit -- has been that Stead fast

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-- and he has my support. The nation lives within its means and

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every department has to do its bit, but even after the MoD contribution

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to deficit deduction -- reduction, we still have the 4th largest

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defence budget in the world. And we continue to be one of only five

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countries out of 28 in NATO meeting our 2% GDP obligation. Libya has

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shown that Britain remains a global player. Our armed forces carried

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out the evacuation of more than 1,400 UK and other nationals. The

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RAF contributed 20 % of all coalition airstrikes. The Nato-led

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mission will continue. That is until we are satisfied that the

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people of Libya are no longer threatened by remnants of the

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former regime. And although the campaign is not yet over, the

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Libyan people can now shape their own destiny in a way that was

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unthinkable to them even six months ago. There are those in Europe who

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are calling for the EU to take a greater role in Europe's security.

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Let me tell you, Europe already has a guarantor of its defence. It is

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called NATO. It is nonsense to duplicate and diverge from NATO at

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a time when resources are scarce, and the last thing we need is more

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What really riles so many Tories is that while defences being cut, the

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foreign aid budget is being increased will stop I asked the

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International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell what it was like to

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preside over the most unpopular policy at the conference. I think

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it is getting better understood, and increasingly popular. Some of

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the polling suggests it is the case. I had the chance to make a speech

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at the conference on Sunday where I set out the reasons for this, that

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even in these extremely difficult economic times we have a plan which

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stands by our commitments on developments and we do this because

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it is the right thing to do, and the national interest. Do you

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accept there could be circumstances where you can keep to the

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commitment? It is a commitment predicated on the size of the

:22:09.:22:14.

national cake, not a fixed figure. That is the right commitment to

:22:14.:22:18.

make and we have set out quite clearly, as George Osborne did

:22:18.:22:21.

earlier this year, what our spending plans are and we have

:22:21.:22:25.

every intention of sticking to the plans. But if the economy goes into

:22:25.:22:29.

recession, which is now a possibility, because you don't have

:22:29.:22:34.

to blame the government for that, and if the Eurozone goes into

:22:34.:22:36.

meltdown and unemployment starts to soar and living standards collapse

:22:36.:22:40.

even more, we will still continue with our commitment to spend

:22:40.:22:47.

billions on oversee the -- overseas aid? We are clear on this, and it

:22:47.:22:51.

is the right thing and you see the British support across this to the

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disaster in the Horn of Africa where although times are more

:22:55.:23:00.

straitened than the past, people asked -- are more general. It is

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part of the British character, but it is part of national security.

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The budget goes to ensure we are more secure. The security is not

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only gain by guns and bullets but also by training the police in

:23:12.:23:15.

Afghanistan, building up government structures in Middle East, getting

:23:15.:23:20.

girls into school in the Horn of Africa. The youth except that if

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the conference was a Democratic gathering -- do you accept that if

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the conference was a Democratic gathering them about 70 % of the

:23:27.:23:31.

people they would rather stop the collapse in police numbers and the

:23:31.:23:35.

cuts in defence than finance your department's budget? Do you accept

:23:35.:23:39.

that is the reality? They may be wrong or right, but that is the

:23:39.:23:44.

reality? The I think the number of people in the Conservative Party

:23:44.:23:47.

there have reservations about the development budget is falling all

:23:47.:23:50.

the time, and the reason is we are getting across the point that it is

:23:50.:23:54.

the right thing to do and in our national interest and we have made

:23:54.:23:58.

our plans which clearly were set out by the government and have

:23:58.:24:02.

secured international recognition and respect, which is why we have

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German rates of interest although we have Greek levels of debt, and

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those plans include giving strong support to the police and making

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sure the front line is preserved and making sure we have strong

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defence forces of the country, which was the result of the vote

:24:17.:24:22.

last year, and standing by commitments and not Balancing books

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on the back of the poorest people here in Britain or overseas. Sombre

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and muted sum up the Dome -- mood in Manchester this week except from

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a brief flap about a cat. We asked Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail for

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his take. Leadership for a better future, that is the slogan in

:24:41.:24:44.

Manchester. But it was a leader from the past to start to the

:24:44.:24:49.

conference of. William Hague. Last year he had a streaky time with the

:24:49.:24:53.

activists. There had been a row about him sharing a bedroom with a

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special adviser, but this year the relationship between William Hague

:24:56.:25:02.

and the activists is back on. Good speech. Now we are embarked on the

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most difficult, challenging and urgent task of our lives. To take a

:25:06.:25:11.

country that Gordon Brown and all of the people called Edu who ran

:25:11.:25:15.

the Labour Party to make it strong and confident again, and that is

:25:15.:25:25.
:25:25.:25:27.

what we are determined to do. That is a magnificent sight. Real

:25:27.:25:32.

tweak. Fantastic examples of the old-fashioned Tory. On the whole,

:25:32.:25:36.

the activists here, if they are activists, have been suited chances,

:25:36.:25:40.

the smell of Commerce, what happened to the Tory party of the

:25:40.:25:46.

shires? The Tory conference is the only time we ever see Steve Hilton,

:25:46.:25:51.

the Svengali like figure in Downing Street. Sometimes we spot the man.

:25:51.:25:57.

And there he was, rare footage, showing him with an influential

:25:57.:26:02.

backbencher. Was he leaning on him? Last week you said the government

:26:03.:26:08.

policy was incoherent and inconsistent. What has changed?

:26:08.:26:12.

you can see consistency in a speech and it is a huge step forward. It

:26:12.:26:16.

will be widely welcomed by people in the country. You have not been

:26:16.:26:21.

nobbled by Downing Street? You know me well enough. Talking to back

:26:21.:26:25.

pensions is not the only arm bending it goes on. Look at this --

:26:25.:26:30.

backbenchers. Look at this. That is the sort of thing the Treasury does

:26:30.:26:35.

to statistics. Let's be honest, all politicians dream of standing here

:26:35.:26:40.

at the door of Number Ten. One who dreams it more than those days

:26:40.:26:44.

Boris Johnson. The Mayor of London gave his routine speech, so routine

:26:44.:26:49.

that some of it were reheated from last year, but the delegates liked

:26:49.:26:53.

him and he goes down very well. But is he really credible for this

:26:53.:26:58.

place? I'm not convinced. We are also insisting on homes big enough

:26:58.:27:03.

for families with children and rooms that are big enough for human

:27:03.:27:11.

beings rather than whole bits. -- Hobbit. None of us are getting any

:27:11.:27:15.

smaller, as you might have noticed. Boris lacks the seriousness of

:27:15.:27:19.

George Osborne. The Chancellor gave a speech about deficit reduction

:27:19.:27:25.

and did have the patina of gravity. Yet his speech did not somehow lift

:27:25.:27:28.

off. The activists gave him respectable applause, but the

:27:28.:27:31.

clapping was no stronger than you would find at a county cricket

:27:31.:27:36.

match. We are in a debt crisis. It is not a normal recovery. You

:27:36.:27:46.
:27:46.:27:49.

So we reach the end of conference season and I cannot say on Surrey.

:27:49.:27:52.

There has been a decadence here. It was the same as the Labour

:27:53.:27:55.

conference and the Liberal Democrats. We have not been able to

:27:55.:27:59.

take the cameras into the bars late at night but the drinking has been

:27:59.:28:04.

sybaritic and the lobbying, I tell you, if the voters and viewers of

:28:04.:28:08.

Britain knew what went on at these events they would be horrified.

:28:08.:28:14.

That is it from Manchester, indeed for the party conference courante -

:28:14.:28:18.

- coverage on 2011. The day the Prime Minister tried to convince us

:28:18.:28:22.

there would be good times ahead but only after we got through the

:28:22.:28:25.

horrendous economic outlook. The Tories left Manchester today

:28:25.:28:30.

knowing that their political fate depends on how well Mr Cameron and

:28:30.:28:37.

his team whether the gathering economic storms. I'll be back with

:28:37.:28:40.

The Daily Politics on BBC Two tomorrow at noon and I'll be back

:28:40.:28:44.