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Howard: This is our manifesto

Speech at the 2005 manifesto launch, Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"I'm 63 years old.

I've fought many battles in my life.

I battled the union bullies that once crippled our economy.

I battled the judges and the legal establishment that said crime couldn't be confronted and beaten.

I battled to get where I am from a state school in a small town in South Wales.

So if you think I'm not determined to change our country for the better, think again.

I could easily decide to hang up my boots, enjoy my retirement and spend more time with my grandchildren.

But I'm not going to do that.

Because there's another battle I have to fight.

I love my country and I know it can be a much, much better place to live than it is today.

So I'm going in to battle for Britain.

You can't make things better simply by talking about them.

Talk is not enough.

Goodness knows the last eight years have shown us that.

This is our Manifesto.

It doesn't have a picture of me on the cover.

It doesn't have anyone's picture on the cover.

On the cover are the simple longings of the British people - people who feel forgotten and ignored.

They don't ask for much.

They long for hospitals that are clean. I mean, how hard is it to keep a hospital clean?

It's a good question. If only we had a government that could give a good answer.

People long for more police on the streets, to enforce respect, discipline and the law. They just don't understand why this seems so difficult.

But it's completely beyond Mr Blair.

People long for their children to be taught in disciplined schools. It's not unreasonable. It shouldn't even be an issue.

But somehow you just know it's never going to happen as long as Mr Blair's around.

Mr Blair's been in charge of our immigration system for eight years. And it's been eight years of chaos.

Surely it's not that hard for an island nation to control its borders? People are longing for controlled immigration, a fair system that stops the abuse of our country's generosity.

People are longing for a government that gives them value for money and lower taxes. Mr Blair's government is taking more and more of people's hard-earned money, and wasting it.

People are realistic about tax. They don't mind paying it, as long as they get something in return. With Mr Blair, it seems that all they get in return is more pen-pushing, more bureaucracy, more waste.

Above all, people are longing for politicians to be accountable.

Ministers who tell the truth, do what they say, and admit their mistakes.

Who suffer the consequences if they do something wrong.

It's how every responsible parent expects their children to behave.

But it's not how these ministers behave. It's not how this Prime Minister behaves.

Well, we live in a democracy.

And the wonderful, eternal truth about democracy is that you don't have to settle for how things are done today.

You don't have to settle for second best.

Your vote can change things.

If you long for cleaner hospitals, more police, school discipline, controlled immigration, lower taxes and accountability - you can vote for it, on May the fifth.

On May the fifth you can bring an end to the years of let-down, and start sorting out the things that matter.

On May the fifth you can let the sunshine of hope break through the clouds of disappointment we all feel.

We've got so much going for us in this country.

I believe these islands are home to the most talented, creative, hard-working and decent people on earth.

Twenty-first century Britain should be a place of optimism, dynamism and unprecedented progress.

It may not feel like that today, but there's no reason it can't feel like that tomorrow.

All we have to do is remember the values that make our country great and govern accordingly. To focus on the things that matter. It really isn't rocket science.

We have to reward responsibility and hard work. Over the years, British people who work hard, who pay their taxes and who do the right thing have achieved fantastic things for their families, their communities and their country.

In the twenty first century, the quality of the lives we all lead will depend on the hard-working values of the British people: people who play by the rules, respect others and take responsibility for themselves and their families.

These are the values I was brought up with and they are the values that will drive everything a Conservative government does.

We have to stop seeing government as a PR machine, there to try and please every passing special interest group.

Over the years, government has worked best when it gets a grip on the big issues.

In the twenty-first century, the success of our economy and our society require a government that sets the right priorities, and acts with guts and determination.

So I will battle relentlessly to sort out the problems that stand in the way of Britain's progress.

Today, I lead a changed Conservative Party.

Open to all, focused on what matters, with the courage to speak out and address the issues that others want to sweep under the carpet.

Full of determination to make our country a better place to live for everyone.

Read this manifesto, and see how we've changed. And then think carefully about how you vote.

A vote for Mr Blair is a reward for eight years of broken promises and a vote for five more years of talk.

If Mr Blair is re-elected, what hope is there that things will get better?

If Mr Blair's got what it takes to sort out the things that really matter why hasn't he done it by now?

If you vote for the Liberal Democrats, the message you'll be sending Mr Blair is simple: "Carry on, please, you're doing just fine."

It's a vote for higher taxes, more immigration and softer sentences for murderers and rapists.

I don't think that's the message people really want to send Mr Blair. So don't let him get away with it again.

Imagine five more years of it: five more years of smirking; five more years of failure; five more years of talk.

Imagine waking up on May the sixth to see Mr Blair re-elected. Imagine how you'd feel.

You don't have to settle for that.

Use your vote to tell Mr Blair that it's just not good enough.

Use your vote to take a stand.

It's time for change.

It's time for action."

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