Leader's speech, Dundee 1985
David Steel (Liberal)
Commentary:In his address to the Joint Liberal Assembly, Steel criticised the Thatcher government’s record in such areas as public sector pay and its failure to support sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He then called on his party to embark on a ‘revolutionary shift in values and attitudes,’ central to which was the idea of a partnership between government and citizens, management and employees, and the public and private sectors. In policy terms, the Alliance was committed to the regeneration of Britain’s inner cities, devolution, and the decentralisation of power to local authorities. The key events of the time included the Live Aid concert to raise money for famine relief, the riots in Handsworth, Birmingham, and the ban on trade unionism at GCHQ.
The whistle has blown for kick-off in the second half of this parliament. By half-time we had built up a good score. We must keep our nerve as the government team starts to use rougher and dirtier tactics in the second half.
They have good reason to be afraid. We are playing up-field. We surged forward in the county council elections in May. In large parts of Britain Alliance councillors are giving people the experience of a new sort of open and effective local government. Since May, in local by-elections across the whole country, voters have given victory after famous victory to Liberals and our SDP allies. And not just at the expense of the Tories. We have been making inroads into Labour heartlands such as the Nottingham coalfields and Inner London.
In fact our lead has been widening. You don’t have to bank on the opinion polls. If you add up all the votes cast in council by-elections over the last three months we have polled 37%, Labour 32% and the Conservatives only 29%. Here in Scotland we have reduced Labour control in Aberdeen to a knife-edge and across the silvery Tay we control North East Fife District Council.
Our steady march forward in local government has been matched by the great parliamentary triumph of Brecon and Radnor. But as we have seen so vividly in these last two weeks Brecon was no isolated beacon of hope.
It’s not surprising that the other parties feel threatened by our success. Last week I warned the SDP to expect a furious campaign of misrepresentation by the Tories and their tame Press lords. It has already started.
It is obviously going to be noisy and squalid. So I wonder if, in the public interest, I might make a sort of political Noise Abatement proposal to the new Tory Party Chairman: ‘Norman, if you stop telling lies about us, we’ll stop telling the truth about you.’
Incidentally I notice Norman Tebbit has acquired a new assistant, Mr. Jeffrey Archer, who, I am told by Debbie Owen, writes books. A novel appointment. Looking at them together, I found myself thinking of the old axiom that truth is stranger than fiction.
Internally we have made good progress too: together with out SDP partners we have reached agreement in almost 600 of the parliamentary seats and many candidates are already chosen and campaigning.
My message to them is this: you are our ‘MPs in waiting.’ You have the support of a team of regional organisers, of a newly-formed campaign unit in Parliament and of the joint policy programme ‘Priorities for the Nineties’ which the Alliance will publish in 1986. We shall also have a streamlined Party Headquarters in a new suite of offices in the National Liberal Club. Sadly, the man who has done so much to build this electoral fighting machine, John Spiller, has had to retire through ill health. John, we thank you and hope you will be fit enough to join us at the next election. That’s one that nobody should miss.
When that election comes, the Alliance will be the only credible alternative to Thatcherism. We are established everywhere and growing everywhere. By contrast Labour is a party in retreat, driven back to its traditional class and regional fortresses.
I don’t propose to waste the time of this Assembly by dwelling on the so-called Official Opposition. Yet spare just one thought for poor Mr. Kinnock, leading a party in long-term decline. He has accused me of putting the hype into hypothetical. Posing as an alternative Prime Minister he has certainly put the babble into the impro-bable. I say poor Mr. Kinnock because the leadership of the Labour Party has become a position of responsibility without power.
The power belongs to the trade union paymasters, like. Ron Todd, Ken Gill and Arthur Scargill, and to the town-hail militants like Ted Knight in London, Derek Hatton in Liverpool and Alex Wood in Edinburgh. They, for their part, have no sense of responsibility to anyone, certainly not their members or electors. Power is all they care about. But let me tell you this. Come the election the British people will refuse both responsibility and power to Labour’s warring factions - and they will be right to do so.
So we must very seriously prepare ourselves for government - and incidentally, William, I think you got your proposition the wrong way round. I wouldn’t say that Liberals are not ready for government. It is government that isn’t ready for the Liberals. Whitehall is going to have to come to terms with a different way of working - from a reforming Alliance, with a more open style.
But preparing for government is not just a matter of having effective administrative machinery and the right policies. I want today to concentrate on the values and attitudes which make good government possible in a complicated modern democracy like ours. The values and attitudes of this government are plain wrong, which is why their policies are wrong and why they cannot succeed in introducing many of the changes which are needed. The old politics are running out of steam because they are running out of consent.
Good government works with the grain, not against the grain. That is the trouble with Thatcherism it goes against the grain.
You sometimes get the feeling that the Prime Minister’s definition of the enemy within has not been expanded to include most of the British people. We are all ‘moaning ninnies’ now. Her highest ideals are the shabby values of Dallas or Dynasty, where the poor are kept safely off the screen.
In pursuit of the fast buck, Thatcherism has been prepared to leave a trail of destruction behind it, but this radicalism of the right has been strangely selective. Thatcherism hasn’t tackled the real obstacles to progress - the professional closed shops, the lucrative old boy deals in the City, the excessive overtime that puts people out of work, the cover-ups in Whitehall, the inefficiency in Parliament or the concentration of half the nation’s wealth into the hands of the few.
No, the target of the new wreckers of the right has been the wealth of institutions that embody the basic British values of fairness and tolerance; institutions which are admired abroad as at home, and which best express what I call the British genius, that makes our country special. Just look at a few examples.
Take the BBC. Now Aunty BBC is by no means perfect but nevertheless we all have reason to be grateful for its existence. It is a strong and respected pillar of liberal democracy in Britain, admired and envied in other countries throughout the world.
Yet this government, irritated by the independence of the BBC, has set out to commercialise it, to control it and to dismember it. Friends of democratic pluralism should be friends of the BBC, determined to defend it from the Prime Minister and her philistine friends.
Aunty is our guarantee that Nanny does not get things all her own way.
Take another manifestation of the British genius, the scientific research on which our future depends.
In this century British scientists have won more Nobel Prizes than any country except the USA. Our scientists command immense international respect.
Yet through indiscriminate cost-cutting, the Government has been attacking them and their prospects in a way which makes me tremble for our commercial future. Laboratories are closing, entire research units are being disbanded and vital equipment is not being purchased.
The Medical Research Council, the Agricultural Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Scientific and Engineering Council are all under pressure.
You can see the results. The overseas brain-drain of able young scientists is accelerating. Unfortunately this is part of a wider pattern of neglect of higher education of all kinds. The contraction of universities and colleges at the very time when we should be investing in our future files in the face of common sense.
A further expression of the British genius has been our history of local democracy.
We ought to be building on that tradition. Our people should have and wish to have more say in the decisions affecting their lives. The process of government has become too complex. We aim to simplify it.
To that end, within two years of winning the General Election, we are determined to introduce the legislation needed to provide for the setting up of Scottish and Welsh Parliaments - assemblies fashioned to meet the distinct needs and aspirations of their respective nations, and with local government streamlined in both countries into a single tier of effective, multi-purpose authorities, close to the people.
That pattern of decentralisation, once established in a legislative framework, will also allow us to shift power to the people and regions of England as the demand takes shape.
The dead hand of centralisation must be resisted wherever this Tory government extends its grip; not only here in Scotland but increasingly over local authorities throughout Britain; for the Alderman’s daughter has attacked the very principle of local government itself.
Liberals have long been critics of both the GLC and the metropolitan counties. But we have never been attracted to the idea of tearing down without putting something better in its place.
Moreover; a mixture of political prejudice and administrative frustration cannot justify her unconstitutional abolition of elected authorities without consent.
Abolition, rate-capping, financial penalties, the remorseless reduction in rate support grant, the freezing of £6,000 million capital receipts ‑ in fact the endless stream of interference with local government does not defeat the government’s political opponents. What it does is to destroy local democracy itself.
Voters turn away in cynical despair from the powerlessness of what should be their Councils; and fewer and fewer men and women of goodwill feel it is worthwhile freely giving their time and energy in the service of the local community. The genius that inspired Chamberlain’s Birmingham or Morrison’s London, which made the boroughs and the shires the first flowers of British democracy, is being snuffed out. Now the grey wastes of the ‘republic of mediocrity,’ in which the ‘woman in Whitehall’ knows best, threatens to replace the local autonomy and variety which once were our pride.
Another element of what makes this country unique is our matchless countryside - William Blake’s ‘green and pleasant land.’ In the 1930s Green Belts - and her example of British genius - were first introduced to stop the ruin of the land by the uncontrolled sprawling development of the towns and cities.
Yet incredibly this government is now moving in to attack the Green Belts at the behest of a consortium of building developers who want the easy profits from developing green field sites. At Hook in Hampshire earlier this year I supported those protesting at having 6,000 new houses dumped next to their village. They won that fight but now the threat is aimed at a 720 acre green field site at Tillingham Hall in Essex.
The government’s own figures show that over 18,000 acres of derelict land are currently held by public authorities in the South-East alone. Certainly we need more houses but our priority should be to build them in our run-down and neglected cities, not in our precious countryside.
Another expression of the British genius has been to look outward from these islands to the world. That quality has never been more badly needed than today but under this government Britain’s influence for good around the world has been dissipated. We may be only a middle-ranking power nowadays but our history and international experience give us a unique opportunity to be a force for justice; for human rights; for peace and disarmament.
The present British government has become identified with the most narrow-minded and conservative elements in the world.
In a European Community, which is seeking greater political unity and completion of the internal market, the Prime Minister’s contribution has been broken-bottle diplomacy, hectoring our friends and abusing her colleagues.
She has lagged behind the civilised community of nations again and again: on disarmament talks where she refuses to put Polaris on the negotiating table, frustrates the prospects for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the renewal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and pursues the blatant unilateral nuclear escalation of Trident; on Central America where the government has ranged itself consistently with the forces of reaction; on the Middle East, where she looks for what Britain can gain from the conflict, not for what we can contribute to its solution; and on South Africa where she overrides the Foreign Office in seeing ‘positive aspects’ in President Botha’s stonewalling speech and where we now stand isolated in our refusal to support sanctions.
Martin Luther King once spoke of ‘the appalling silence of the good people.’ Because Mrs. Thatcher cares more for Britain’s investment in South Africa than for the basic civil rights of the majority people of that country, the good people of Britain have been silenced. Gagged by their own government.
Mrs. Thatcher mistakes the attitudes of the good British people. She thinks they share her slavish devotion to Ronald Reagan. She thinks they believe with her that everyone who opposes the tin-pot dictators and millionaire landlords of the Third World must be a communist.
Our Prime Minister under-rates the tradition of imagination and generosity in Britain towards the poor and wretched of the world. We saw it when people crammed into village and town halls to hear about the Brandt Report - and more recently when the famine in Ethiopia was shown on television it was the people who led the way. After Band Aid, Live Aid demonstrated that the spontaneous outburst of concern had deep and enduring roots. The good people led the way while the government found its extra aid for Ethiopia and Sudan by raiding other parts of our already reduced aid budget. The people put the government to shame.
Within twenty-five years four out of five people will live in the developing world.
If the nations of the North cannot speak to those of the South: if the international economic crisis, and the huge rise in indebtedness is not tackled imaginatively; if trade withers as protectionism and chauvinism grow, if we continue to see growing expenditure on arms in both East and West, we shall fail. There will be no world unless we find the way to one world.
The ideal of public service is central to the British spirit. Yet this government has set out to denigrate public servants and the whole public sector. The damage that has been done to the morale of the civil service is reflected in the rising numbers of men and women leaving, and in the leaks which continue to seep from disillusioned civil servants despite draconian efforts to maintain official secrecy.
I am not just talking about senior civil servants. Top people have been well looked after. It is the dedicated ordinary public servant wham we take for granted, clerical officers who struggle to deal with the mountains of government paper, customs officers trying to stem the flood of hard drugs into Britain, the social security staff who find themselves caught between their clients and an uncaring government, the inland revenue staff operating an inequitable and over-complicated tax system, the nurses, who are expected to work for love and loyalty; the teachers, undervalued by a government which cares far more about private education than public education, and by a Secretary of State who would scarcely survive for half an hour in a secondary school classroom. It isn’t just the holding-down of salaries which has depressed the morale of so many of those who work for the common good of our community. It is the government’s evident lack of respect for the contribution they make.
Sir Robert Armstrong, the senior civil servant in the land, himself the recipient of a 48% increase in pay, circulated a civil service memorandum last year which blurred the boundary between official loyalty to the government of the day and the wider loyalty to the crown. It’s a dangerous development to suggest that officials must in all circumstances obey the instructions of their political superiors; we put people on trial in Nuremberg for doing that. And with real vindictiveness the government is still pursuing those staff at GCHQ who are right to insist that the defence of a free society must mean the defence of free trade unions.
And so at the end of eight years of Conservative government, Britain will be a poorer country in every way - less prosperous, meaner in spirit, with less to be proud of.
Yes, the rich will be richer - but this is the only respect in which the Thatcher revolution will have succeeded. The next government - and I believe it will be the Alliance next - will face the grim reality of the post oil era with a weakened economy, a more divided society and widespread pessimism about the future. The legacy we inherit will be a heavy mortgage on Britain’s future.
So what will we do about it?
We must embark on a revolution of our own, a revolutionary shift in values and attitudes.
First, we must rekindle the British genius. We must junk all this monetarist and socialist ideology and get back to basics. And for any Liberal the basics are very simple - they are the potential of each individual. We must liberate all the wasted energy of the people of this country by finding new ways to work together rather than against each other. We must create a new partnership in every company, in every community and in the nation as a whole.
The role of government is not to command - as Conservatives and Socialists both believe - it is to enable: to enable each individual to use his or her talents to the full - and incidentally what sort of country is it that fails to use all the talents of half its people, its women - to enable industry and commerce to thrive; to enable the arts and learning to flourish; and to enable political decisions to be made at the level of the people most affected by them.
An enabling government, which treats each citizen as a partner, which shares its ideas instead of imposing them, is going to be essential in the difficult decades ahead.
But at the same time, we need sane positive new ideas from government. Who cares if we mix up socialism and capitalism a bit if we can get things moving. Let me illustrate what I mean by sketching out three proposals:
First, partnership in industry.
The key to industrial recovery in Britain does not lie in the vaults of City banks but in the capable hands of the managers and employees of our companies. There is a wealth of energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness waiting to be unlocked.
How do we turn the key? By transforming each employee from a wage-slave into a partner in his or her enterprise. As John Stuart Mill put it, ‘by accustoming them to the comprehension of joint interests, the management of joint concerns - uniting them instead of isolating them from one another.’
Partnership is an idea whose time has came, and only our partnership of the Alliance can introduce it because it threatens the whole basis of Conservative and Socialist ideology. They want a struggle between the two sides of industry. We want a successful joint concern, a share economy.
The Conservative government remains firmly opposed to legislation for employee involvement. They thought they could get away with a vague requirement for companies to report on their employee involvement policies each year.
However, a recent study of 100 company reports by the Institute of Directors has demonstrated convincingly that even this limited approach is not working. The survey found that only 9% of the companies provided any information.
I cannot help wondering why the Government is dragging its heels.
Employee involvement not only improves business efficiency, but also improves employee responsibility and job satisfaction. But we want to go further. I’ve spent some time in the last year visiting companies who’ve been a bit bolder in this field.
At Jaguar in Coventry I was impressed by the remarkable recovery the company has achieved in the last few years. The introduction of an incentive scheme, an employee share ownership scheme and improved communication, were central to their recovery plan.
At the National Freight Consortium, an organisation which spans the country, more than 82% of all shares are owned by the workforce - and two-thirds of the employees now have some stake in their company. Trading profit has more than doubled since the buy-out in 1981.
The Baxi Heating Company near Preston - one of whose works council meetings I attended last month - is even more remarkable. They have long believed in employee participation. They operate a cash profit sharing scheme and in 1983 the old family company was converted into a partnership, making Baxi the largest manufacturing group in Britain to be wholly owned by its employees. The entire workforce from top management to the shop floor have become owners. Supervision is kept to a minimum. Jobs are rotated on a regular basis. Everyone eats in the same canteen.
Independent researchers have been consistently surprised by the strength of the commitment and morale within the company. Labour-management relations are good, job satisfaction is high and the company is successful financially.
Firms like these should be an example to us all. Employees should everywhere be treated as full partners, their contribution valued and respected and this way the trench between labour and management can be finally bridged. The CBI this morning has warned that pay rises in the private sector should be held to about 4% and they are probably right, but what about profits? They say employees are ‘showing an increased understanding of the need for profits.’ Wouldn’t the employees show even more understanding, if on top of the 4%, a share of those profits was going into their pockets?
For the nation’s economy profit sharing could reduce our susceptibility to wage-push inflation. Our Alliance government will insist on it as part of our comprehensive incomes strategy and so help to create jobs.
All this sounds plain commonsense. But don’t think you’ll get industrial partnership out of a Labour government or a Conservative government. They won’t do it because they can’t do it.
Second, a partnership to regenerate our inner cities. If ever there was a problem which needs sane new thinking it is their plight - as the events in Handsworth last week so tragically reminded us.
I have no doubt there were criminal acts and they should be dealt with by the law. But criminals alone do not produce riots. The riots in British cities which we have seen too often in recent years, whether sparked off by criminals, agitators or simply by aggressive and frustrated young men, depend on the dry stubble of despair to get the blaze really going.
My eyes were really opened this summer. I spent a week in Liverpool. I saw its sunny side and its slummy side. On the sunny side was a cellar jazz club in a renovated dockside warehouse. On the slummy side were boarded up shops and broken glass. On the sunny side was the housing co-operative in Vauxhall who invited me in to one of their community meetings planning the next stage of their development for 200 families. On the slummy side were the semi-abandoned tower blocks; on the sunny side was the cheerful welcome of the black self-help group; on the slummy side was the devastation of hard drugs.
One drug addict I talked with put it bluntly. He said they saw no reason for giving up drugs. What was there to give up drugs for? Where was the job? Where was the hope? For them rather the unreality of drugs than the reality of the life on offer.
What is needed in our inner city areas is a ferment of new ideas. I found some on the sunny side. People working together to get things done for their own communities. And that must be our starting point. It is no good telling them to get on their bike and go elsewhere. It is precisely the people with initiative, the self starters, who must be persuaded to stay if these communities are to thrive. Otherwise, we shall be left with a permanent underclass of those who cannot escape - the single parents, the unskilled, the ethnic minorities, the elderly - eking out a frightened existence in the twilight zones.
We must make the inner cities fit places to live in, to encourage back the talented who have left and to bring in new blood. It is not the faceless concrete monuments to municipal socialism that we need; not the Eastern European-style banners disfiguring the finest public buildings in Liverpool or Edinburgh or Islington; it is a programme of detailed small scale investment in renovating and brightening up run-down housing, in planting grass and trees on the waste sites, in building low cost housing that young people can afford and in incentives for the creation of thriving small businesses.
We must also give the people a stake in their communities with elected neighbourhood councils; we must bring together the police and the public in a combined effort to defeat criminals and protect the community. I believe it is the local community itself which, if democratically organised, will be the best planner for its own needs.
Most important of all, we must give people something to do. The unemployed individual becomes bored and frustrated; television brings into the home a world which is full of enticing goods and lifestyles which the unemployed cannot afford. No wonder bitterness sets in and sometimes boils over.
Our Alliance government will match the people waiting for something to do with the tasks waiting to be done.
I now turn to a third area where the partnership approach will help us. Using new ideas to solve old problems is nowhere more relevant than in generating capital investment for our run-down economy. Make no mistake, if we win the election our Chancellor will find the public expenditure cupboard is very bare indeed. Government borrowing will worsen by the £3 to £4 billion per year of privatisation asset sales no longer available. Nigel Lawson is currently cooking the books by calling these reduced spending. In Richard Wainwright’s memorable phrase he has been selling the furniture to pay the housekeeping bills.
The massive oil revenues, worth nearly £13 billion during the Thatcher years and so tragically frittered away, will be falling fast.
The strains on the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement will be immense. The Alliance must not over-promise.
As we showed in our excellent economic motion yesterday, we do not propose to solve our economic problems by massive commitments to extra public spending.
We must find ways instead to use public funds to unlock private investment. There is a wealth of private investment money, both here and from abroad, looking for a secure return. Socialists turn up their noses at private investment and Tories, as we have seen, are opposed to public investment on equally doctrinaire grounds.
What the Alliance must do is to discard these shibboleths and initiate a new partnership between public and private investment, using public funds to prime the private pump. Relatively small investments by the government can stimulate massive private investment, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
For instance Industrial Development Bonds in the United States offer tax relief to the private lender on the interest paid on loans for construction and other industrial investment projects. This incentive also serves to lower the rate of return the project has to yield and thus encourages risk-taking.
In the State of New Jersey alone billion dollars of new private investment has been stimulated in this way, creating around 100,000 new jobs. A recent study in Massachusetts found that annual growth in new jobs in companies using IDBs was over 24%. More jobs.
This is the sort of gearing of public and private money we need. Government grants to regional and local enterprise agencies. More jobs.
Last year the government turned down nearly 100 million pounds in Derelict Land Grants. Yet every pound of grant produces £6 of new private investment. We will use those grants to the full. More jobs.
Home Improvement and Repair Grants should be expanded yet the government is cutting them back - a curious decision in all conscience when new housing starts are at such a low level, and half a million homes in Britain lack sanitation. Even more indefensible when you reflect that each pound of home improvement grant can generate up to £30 of private investment. More Home Improvement Grants, more jobs.
Government could help our exporters too by an effective partnership, where soft loans and guarantee finance were readily available for large overseas orders. What about the government paying for feasibility studies, as the USA did in Hong Kong before winning the order to build the new airport, with lucrative orders for a consortium of American companies? Here of all places Britain should have been on the inside track. More help to exporters, more jobs.
This partnership approach between government and the private sector is the way to generate investment. It is the Alliance approach. More financial partnership, more jobs.
The Alliance government will roll up its sleeves positively to help regenerate the economy, rather than stand back and wring its hands like this government.
The Alliance government will work with industry instead of threatening them with direction and penalties as Mr. Hattersley would like to do. In short, the Alliance government will be an enabling government, not, like Labour would be, a disabling government. That is what I mean by becoming partners in one nation.
The Alliance is not static and it cannot be so. We are moving closer, working together better and sparking off ideas on each other.
We have substantial joint policy efforts which are now feeding into the deliberative processes of the two parties. Joint economic and constitutional proposals; a thoughtful and well-considered document from the joint commission on Northern Ireland; and next year we expect to have the Report of the joint commission on Defence and Disarmament before us.
Do not imagine, as you sometimes read in the press, that the purpose of these Commissions is to find the lowest common denominator of agreement between two inflexibly opposed positions. Their purpose is not to negotiate but to reason together. It is to deploy new thinking and new expertise with the help of distinguished Commission memberships from inside and outside the parties. We need that stream of new ideas and we should welcome it. It will strengthen the Alliance.
And don’t undersell one of the greatest virtues of the joint leadership of our Alliance. A Prime Minister with a deputy PM who is leader of his own party will bring to an end the quasi-Presidential system of government where one person’s views, prejudices and constant meddling interfere with the judgement and collective responsibility of a strong cabinet team.
When we win power you will have to go back to 1906 to find a parallel occasion when the cabinet consisted of so many people who had not held office before. Yet what was the verdict on that government? ‘There has not been throughout British history a more talented team of men in government,’ wrote one historian adding: ‘four became Prime Ministers’ - that should be enough to keep everybody happy.
There should be no confusion about the Alliance aim: we want to take power, to share power, and to use power.
- to take power away from those who have misused it for so long and put it back in the hands of the majority of the British people;
- to share power in every community, throughout the nation and with those in Parliament who seek the common good;
- to use power to help the helpless and to give new hope to the hopeless, both within and beyond these shores.
That is our aim.
The recovery of the country now rests with our Alliance.
When the French revolutionaries raised the battle cry of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity,’ they stirred the whole of Europe.
Since then many millions of words have been spoken and written on liberty. It is a central concern of ours.
Volumes have been produced on equality. It too is a concern of ours.
But what has happened to fraternity? That is what has been trampled underfoot in Britain for so many years. That is what we alone can recapture.
John Stuart Mill - in what might have been a premonition of Thatcherism and Socialism alike - wrote:
'A state which dwarfs its men in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.'
Our task is to enable every individual to flourish, to grow tall, to join us in achieving great things. We will have to redouble our efforts. I say to those who’ve been watching over these last two weeks at home – don’t just sit on the sidelines and cheer us on. Come in and join us now because
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
The tide has been out - for Liberalism and for Britain - for too long. Our nation has been beached, strewn with the rocks of class conflict, our economy left high and dry by our competitors, our institutions stagnant and our people stranded. But now we can all sense the change and take heart. Our message to Britain is:
Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn of the tide.