FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DELIVERS REMARKS AT 2012 CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered at the International Convention Center in Birmingham, England this morning:
“Thank you. Thank you. Well thank you very much. I will say I have a great position to be speaking between some Olympic medal winners and a gold medal Prime Minister.
“Now, for Sebastian – I hope he’s still here – I wasn’t thrilled the last time I saw Sebastian in Singapore when he led the London bid over New York’s. But I will say that he and the people of Great Britain and of London deserve enormous amount of credit. They staged one of the most magnificent Olympic and Paralympic events ever, and all of the world is a beneficiary of it.
“Now it really is a pleasure to be here, and thank you for letting a Yank crash the party. I was actually thinking about jumping out of a helicopter with Boris and parachuting in with him, but the last time Boris suspended in air it didn’t work out so well.”
“And it’s great to be back at the Conservative Party Conference. I was with you in 2007 in Blackpool. My former wife grew up not too far from Blackpool – in Yorkshire – although she would say it was very far from Blackpool.
“Her father was an old RAF wing commander, and during the War, my mother-in-law was a radio operator for the RAF. Now, I’m not whether sure she could tell the difference between a German fighter plane from a Canadian goose, but somehow we did managed to win the war, so all’s well that ends well.
“Over the years my ties to the U.K. have remained strong. My two daughters have British passports, and my company, which currently employs 2,600 people across Great Britain, is building a new headquarters, designed by Lord Norman Foster, right in the heart of the City of London. So that special relationship that has always existed between the U.K. and the U.S. is something that I’ve experienced in a very personal way.
“And one of my political heroes has always been – I’m very proud to say – the son of a New York City native, Sir Winston Churchill. Now Churchill belonged to two parties in his lifetime, while always being an independent, and having been a Republican and a Democrat and an Independent in New York, I can relate to that. Putting the common good ahead of party politics and the next election really was at the core of Churchill’s approach to leadership. It was an approach I’ve always believed we need more of at every level of government all around the world, especially now.
“We all know these are difficult times. The shifts in the global economy have presented leaders with tough choices on spending and taxes, on managing deficits and on unleashing the forces of innovation. From everything I’ve seen, the U.K.’s first coalition government since Churchill is meeting these challenges head on. In the face of the most challenging economic times we’ve experienced in decades, this is a government that is clearly not afraid to lead.
“And in 2010, when David Cameron entered 10 Downing Street, the British economy and the entire European Union was in dire straits. Since then, as we keep reading, most national governments have tried to ride out the storm by simply battering down the hatches and hoping that clear skies will return quickly. But very few governments have charted new courses that will lead them to clear skies. And I think the United Kingdom has been an exception and the Conservative Party has been the reason.
“Prime Minister Cameron – together with his Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne – are creating a new course for Britain. It’s not easy work, and I can appreciate how hard it is to step into a crisis and make the tough decisions to overcome it. I first took office three months after the attacks of 9/11. We lost people that day from more than 90 countries that day, including 67 citizens of the U.K., and we will always be grateful for the support you gave us in the weeks and months that followed.
“It’s easy now to forget now, but back then, people said New York City’s best days were behind us. But we didn’t accept that. We believed we could build a stronger future, and we made the tough decisions we knew were necessary to do it. That meant raising taxes and cutting spending. And let me tell you: that didn’t make me the most popular man in New York.
“But those who confuse popularity with leadership sacrifice progress for power. We see that all too often in politics, but fortunately for Britain, not with Prime Minister David Cameron. He understands that if you do what you believe is right, over time, even if people don’t support a particular policy, they’ll respect you and support you.
“It’s like a former mayor of New York City used to say: ‘If you agree with me on eight out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12, go see a psychiatrist.’ Leadership is not about a checklist of issues. It’s about taking on big challenges and pushing bold ideas that in the end make society stronger, safer, and more economically secure.
“You don’t have to agree with every idea to recognize that David Cameron is taking on those big challenges. And he’s providing leadership in three areas that I see clearly, even from the other side of the pond.
“First, he’s refused to take no for an answer when it comes to government reform and accountability. I’m talking especially about his education reforms, his NHS reforms, his welfare reforms and his police reforms. For too long, governments just threw money at these areas, and when that didn’t work, the answer was always more money. But we’ve learned from experience that governments must focus on the product that comes out of an agency, not on the tax revenue that goes into an agency.
“In New York City, we’ve seen how accountability and innovation have led to transformations in public safety, public education, and public assistance. Crime in New York City is down more than 30 percent compared to a decade ago. High school graduation rates are up 40 percent. And the welfare rolls are down 25 percent. And that didn’t happen just because we spent more money. It happened because accountability and innovation have become an integral part of the work.
“Now, implementing these reforms was not easy. I don’t think the reforms have been easy here, either. It never is. There will always be doubters, detractors, and doomsayers. But I also know that tough problems are not solved by waving a magic wand, and that charting the right course rather than the easy course takes courage. And I don’t have any doubt that David Cameron has the courage of his convictions, and I believe that he is charting the right course for Britain.
“The second area where his leadership has been especially strong is in making government more business-friendly. And here again, simply spending more money is not the answer. The best way to spur economic growth is not by ramping up government spending – it’s by knocking down barriers to private sector investment.
“And Conservative Party’s work to simplify regulations will create jobs at no cost to taxpayers. The same is true of your work to reform planning laws to expand opportunities for investment. Both of those strategies have been important priorities for New York City – and they’re part of the reason why we’ve been outpacing the rest of the U.S. in job growth.
“In New York City, we’re also working to attract more R&D investment in technology and bio-science – and your plan to expand tax credits for R&D is a smart investment in the future. Of course, the first rule of economic management is the same as it is in medicine: Do no harm.
“So I couldn’t agree more with your opposition to the tax on financial transactions. If you want to send financial firms out of the country, a tax on transactions is as good a way to do it as any. That may not be the popular thing to say – but in a global economy, it’s the reality. And you are right for standing up and saying it.
“Third, and finally, David Cameron has been a leader in creating a government that lives by the values it preaches. That’s all too rare. Too often, we hear those in governments around the world preach of fiscal responsibility, but then run up huge deficits. We hear them preach of personal responsibility, but then blame everyone but themselves. We hear them preach of making the hard decisions, but when it comes time to spell out the details, they then kick the can down the road.
“Not David Cameron. He has governed with integrity. He has not just promised change, but he has delivered it, and he’s been a Conservative in the very best sense of the word. David Cameron has refused to buy into the ‘something for nothing’ philosophy that is so common world politics, and he’s refused to saddle the next generation with debts they cannot afford. As a result, you are making real progress on the very toughest issues – determined, hard-earned progress – and you should be proud of that.
“The United Kingdom and the United States have weathered many a storm in our shared histories, and we will both weather the current economic crisis. We are rooting for this coalition government to succeed because America succeeds when Britain succeeds, and vice-versa. We may be economic competitors, but we’re in this together. And we will always be allies first, through thick and thin, and through war and peace.
“The tough decisions you are making honoring Churchill’s legacy of putting national interest ahead of party politics, and that, I believe, you will lead you to a better and brighter tomorrow.
“Thank you, and good luck. You’re lucky to have David Cameron.”
Marc La Vorgna / Julie Wood (212) 788-2958
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