Good morning everyone.
As you know I’ve just come from Buckingham Palace where the Queen has asked me to form a new government which I will do.
It’s a tremendous honour and privilege to be elected for a third term and I’m acutely conscious of that honour and that privilege.
When I stood here first, eight years ago, I was a lot younger but also a lot less experienced.
Today as well as having in our minds the priorities that people want, we – I – the government, has the experience and the knowledge, as well as the determination and commitment to deliver them.
But the great thing about an election is that you go out, you talk to people for week upon week and I’ve listened and I’ve learnt and I think I’ve a very clear idea of what the British people now expect from this government for a third term.
And I want to say to them very directly that I – we – the government, are going to focus relentlessly now on the priorities the people have set for us.
And what are those priorities? Well first they like the strong economy but life is still a real struggle for many people and many families in this country.
And they know that there are new issues. Help for first-time buyers to get their feet on the first rungs of the housing ladder.
Families trying to cope with balancing work and family life. Many people struggling to make ends meet. Many families on low incomes who desperately need help and support to increase their living standards.
Businesses who, whilst they like the economic stability, want us also to focus on stimulating enterprise, on investing in science and skills and technology for the future.
It is very clear what people want us to do and we will do it.
Public service reform
Secondly, in relation to the public services – health and education – again people like the investment that has gone in to public services – they welcome it. I found absolutely no support for any suggestion we cut back on that investment.
But people want that money to work better for them. They want higher standards both of care and of education for the investment we’re putting in.
And so we will focus on delivering not just the investment but the reform and change in those public services.
And I will do so with passion because I want to keep universal public services but know that the only way of keeping the consent for them, is by making the changes necessary for the 21st century.
And third, people welcome that so many more people are in work and have moved off benefit and into work. But people still know there are too many people economically inactive who should be helped off benefit and into work.
And they also know that on pensions today, whatever help we’re giving for today’s pensioners, tomorrow’s pensioners are deeply concerned as to whether they’ll have the standard of life that they want.
People expect us to sort these issues – we will do so.
Lack of respect
Fourth, I’ve also learnt that the British people are a tolerant and decent people.
They did not want immigration made a divisive issue in the course of the election campaign. But they do believe there are real problems in our immigration and asylum system and they expect us to sort them out and we will do so.
And fifth, I’ve been struck, again and again, in the course of this campaign by people’s worry that in our country today, though they like the fact that we’ve got over the deference of the past, there is a disrespect that people don’t like. And whether it’s in the classroom, or on the street, or on town centres on a Friday or Saturday night, I want to focus on this issue.
We’ve done a lot so far with anti-social behaviour and additional numbers of police, but I want to make this a particular priority for this government – how we bring back a proper sense of respect in our schools, in our communities, in our towns, in our villages.
And arising out of that will be a radical programme of legislation that will focus exactly on those priorities; on education; on health; on welfare reform; on immigration; on law and order.
In addition I know that Iraq has been a deeply divisive issue in this country – that’s been very, very clear.
But I also know and believe that after this election people want to move on; they want to focus on the future in Iraq and here.
And I know too that there are many other issues that concern people in the international agenda and we will focus on those; on poverty in Africa, on climate change, on making progress in Israel and Palestine.
So there is a very, very big agenda for a third term Labour government. And as I said to you earlier, even if we don’t have quite the same expectations that people had of us in 1997, yet now we do have, I believe, the experience as well as the commitment to see it through.
And one final thing, which is that I’ve also learnt something about the British people, that, whatever their difficulties and disagreements with us and whatever issues and challenges that confront them, their values of fairness and decency and opportunity for all and a belief that people should be able to get on, on hard work and merit, not class or background – those values are the values I believe in, the values our government will believe in.