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英国首相布莱尔98系列演讲之Speech at State Department - Washington - 6 February

2006-05-26 15:37

  I want to tell the American people about a new Britain.

  For years, we were known more for what we once were than what we could be. For years we were content to rest on former glories, rather than the self-confidence of present day achievement.

  I know what many used to think of us: we were "quaint", a little "old fashioned". A country of pageantry and ceremony, bowler hats and stiff upper lips. Now, I love British pageantry and the phlegmatic strength of the British character. But Britain today is defined by a lot more than its history. Today, the British people are breaking down old fashioned class barriers, seizing new opportunities, creating new products, building strong communities.

  Today the British people are characterised by creativity, ingenuity and imagination. There is a new dynamism in our country.

  Britain is a multi-racial society that works.

  Britain is a giving country.

  Britain is a country of passion and compassion.

  Britain is a nation unafraid of change. Confident. Looking forward.

  We are never going to be as powerful, certainly in military terms, as we once were. What we can be is a shining example to all of what a modern state should aspire to.

  Britain is home to world beating pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications companies. It has the most competitive car industry in Europe. In aerospace and new technology, we are at the cutting edge. We are first in Europe and second only to the US for international direct investment. We lead Europe in financial services with 520 overseas banks in London from 76 countries. A third of the world's foreign exchange business comes through London. We are a nation of 90 Nobel prize winners in science. When the land speed record was broken, it was a British team that triumphed.

  When people want creative designers, architects, film makers, musicians, they turn to Britain.

  Yet there is still much more to do.

  We can still do a lot better. And it will be tough whilst doing it. Let us be clear about our inheritance. Yes, there was some good in it. But there was also inflation back in the system, a structural public deficit that had hit record debts, and an education and welfare system incapable of matching Britain's needs.

  To turn it around takes time. There will be two tough years. And whilst we are in what I call the post-euphoria, pre-delivery stage, it will be frustrating. But do it we will. I am an unashamed long-termist. It is the only sort of politics that's worth it.

  Running throughout the changes we are making, is a unifying thread of ideology. There is a new radical centre politics being born. When I spell out the key themes of the British government, there will be familiar echoes to much of what you are doing here. And these same echoes can be heard, sometimes faint, sometimes louder, around the western world.

  First, new Labour is the Party of fiscal and financial prudence. We are set to cut out our structural deficit completely. In time, we too will balance the budget, no mean achievement for a country that a few years ago was running a deficit at 6.5 % of GDP. We have given over the setting of interest rates to the Bank of England.

  Monetary policy has been tightened to squeeze out inflation. But we are going to end boom and bust in Britain for good. We are not a tax and spend Government, and never will be.

  Beating boom or bust is the essential pre-condition for long-term investment and economic strength. It has been hard for our people now but it will work.

  Second, education is our number one domestic priority. That is the key to economic success and to social justice. We have launched a huge programme of reform. Nursery education. Raising of literacy and numeracy standards in primary schools. Education Authorities that fail schools taken over and changed. Teacher training reformed and new qualifications and grading for teachers and head teachers. Class sixes to be cut. New technology to link up every classroom to the benefits of the Internet. A ??1.2 billion schools building repairs programme. Extra investment. Student finance for higher education radically re-shaped and expanded. Adult learning programmes underway.

  Third, painful and difficult though it is, we are going to reform the welfare state, cutting dependence, getting the help to those that really need it, promoting work and a viable system of security for old age. A system where spending is up, and poverty is up, a system that is not working. Education, work and reformed welfare as well as a tough policy on crime are the keys to re-building decent civic society, where crime is reduced and an underclass of people no longer drifting apart from society's mainstream.

  Fourth, we are back as a country engaged and constructive in Europe. Internationalist not isolationist in perspective. There is no future in isolationism in today's world.

  Finally, we are re-fashioning our constitution and system of Government. Decentralising power, reinventing Government, promoting a new partnership of public and private sector.

  It is indeed a third way, not old left or new right but a new centre and centre left governing philosophy for the future. It is based on the values of freedom, progress and justice. It seeks to modernise Britain but for a purpose; to create a one-nation Britain where all share in our country's prosperity, not a privileged few.

  We have changed the Labour Party. Now, step by step, we are changing Britain for the better. And a new and more confident Britain will play our part, along with our allies, friends and partners in the USA, in shaping a better world.

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