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Francis Maude: We know the country's ready. Together we can win.

In his speech to Party Conference 2007, Francis Maude said:

We're now at the end of this conference's debates about policy. They have been a credit to the modern Conservative Party. Conducted with courtesy, thoughtful and considered, our debates have been founded on months of sheer hard work by hundreds of people. Hard-edged, deep analysis, searing, sometimes uncomfortable honesty; imagination; creativity; breadth of knowledge; generosity of outlook.

And what a credit to the policy review's own presiding genius, Oliver Letwin. Oliver has done and will do so much more than this for our party and our country. But history will accord him a special place for this work alone; for overseeing the most wide-ranging, most innovative and deepest intellectual revival our party has seen since in the seventies and eighties when Margaret Thatcher's team made us the party of the future.

What's driven these debates is a passionate desire for our party to be able to serve our country and our communities. A passionate desire that Britain should be the best that it can be. A country greener and safer. A country where people and communities can have more control over their own lives. And a country where families can be stronger and society more responsible.

These are themes - important conservative themes. And this week the country has seen how we're putting the substantive flesh on those words. Coherent, contemporary, Conservative: this programme for government is real. It's real and it's realistic. It has to be. This is not just a programme to get us into government. It's a programme for government.

We won't make the mistake at the heart of the Blair and Brown failure. They had a great plan to win the election - but they had no kind of plan for how to deliver. Today Tony Blair freely concedes that they were lamentably unprepared for the responsibilities of government. That huge majority; a vast fund of goodwill; all the brave and radical words about reforming welfare and public services. All squandered. What a criminal waste. For Labour, winning the election was simply to get into office; being in office was simply to win the next election.

We won't make that mistake. If the public place their trust in us, we will be ready to govern; prepared so we can deliver. Today's Shadow Cabinet has more than twice as much ministerial experience as Tony Blair's team when they were elected. William, David Davis, and many more of us know what it's like to get things done in government. It's not easy - and it has to be got right.

But we're not going to rest on that experience. David has asked me to lead an implementation team that will ensure that we are as well-prepared as any incoming government has ever been. Our priorities rigorously sorted. Our teams armed with the knowledge and capabilities that will enable new ministers to start making a difference from day one.

And the way we govern will be different. No more of the old politics that Gordon Brown embodies. Tony Blair rightly gets blamed for sofa government. But never forget that it was Gordon Brown who set the gold standard for cronyism in Whitehall. He wants us to believe today that somehow the last ten years were nothing to do with him. He airbrushes himself out of the picture with the same ease with which James Purnell airbrushes himself in.

But it won't work. His cosy cabal of crony advisers made for bad government. Now I know civil servants aren't always the most popular of people. But our system of independent and impartial public servants dedicated to implementing the programme of the elected government - that's one of the jewels in our time-tested constitution.

New Labour has treated them with contempt. Politicised, sidelined, no wonder Civil Service morale is at an all time low. We will change that. We will seek the advice of our civil servants. We will listen to it. We will respect it - and we will not always take it. Our programme for government must be delivered. But we will do it in a way that respects the best traditions of British governance.

We take this task of preparing for government immensely seriously. We know we have to. Because we know that whenever Gordon Brown has the guts to call it we can win the election. Our organisation is strengthened. Our target seats operation is the best we've ever had. Campaign North has doubled our professional strength in the north of England. We have outstanding candidates in place, more than ever before at this stage, and for longer than ever before. I've seen at close quarters how hard they're working and the impact they're making on the ground. And our candidates are supported in their constituencies by more agents than we've had for many years. We are a party revived, renewed, invigorated; straining at the slips to get out and give Labour the fight of their lives. To win not for us but for our country - it's a fight we have to win.

I want to talk about one more thing. Leadership. Yes we have a serious programme for government. Yes we have an experienced and talented team to staff that government. But governing is not just about running a competent and successful administration. It is about giving leadership to a great nation.

As Conservatives we know better than anyone that there are limits to what government can achieve. But as Conservatives we know there are no limits to what our country can achieve. The people of this astonishing country, striving, compassionate, generous and warm, when they are united and when they are inspired, can move mountains.

In David Cameron you chose not just a great party leader. You chose someone who can be a great leader of his country. Leadership means making choices. When you elected him he didn't hide that our party needed to change. He led that change, change that was necessary and change that was right. It's meant we're now better placed to win than at any time for fifteen years.

It involved hard choices. It hasn't always been popular or easy. I know that. But it was needed and it was right. After all, a great party, like any other great movement, needs constantly to renew itself. A party that stops being the party of the future is a party that stops winning.

The path ahead won't always be easy for us. There are tough choices for us and for our country. Of course there are great challenges. United and inspired we can meet them and rise to them. Optimism, intellect, honesty, with steel in his backbone and principles built to last; these qualities in David Cameron have inspired us all. So go on David. Lead us into the great battle that lies ahead. I know you're ready. You know we're ready. We know the country's ready. Together we can win. Let's just get on with it.

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