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Ancram: Winning again in Wales

Speech to the Welsh Conservative Party conference

"It is always great to be back in Wales. And it's even greater to be back in Wales to win.

Yes, to win. To win because we need to win. To win because we want to win. To win because we can win.

I read the pundits who tell us that we can't win this time, that it will take two elections to overturn Blair's majority. Why should it take two elections? They won it from us in one and we can win it back from them in one.

Let me tell you something. I have watched with admiration the triumphs of your rugby team this year. Triumphs in particular against England and France. But triumphs against the pundits and the odds as well.

You weren't going to beat the English, I read - but you did. You weren't going to beat the French, I read - but you did - and how!

And you did so because your team believed in themselves. They believed they could win. They had faith in their skills, and they wanted it badly enough.

We now must do the same. It won't be easy, but the prize is there for the taking. If we want it enough, we can get rid of Tony Blair and his discredited bunch and restore honourable and trustworthy government to our great country again.

I believe passionately that we can do it. I have faith in our principles. And I want to win so badly that it hurts.

And here in Wales you can lead the way. You have great champions. Nick Bourne and his first class team have put Conservatives right back at the centre of politics in Wales. I watch their work in the National Assembly and I am proud to be a Conservative.

Jonathan Evans who has done so much to establish the forces of conservatism in the European Parliament and to whom in so many ways we all owe so much.

And of course Bill Wiggin, with all the strength and energy he has brought to his job as Shadow Secretary. He still leaves us breathless in his wake.

They are driving us along that hard road back to power. They are inspiring us with the hunger to win again. And win we must.

Although we will vigorously fight Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, at this election the central issue will be Tony Blair and at the centre of that issue will be the question of trust.

A trust that Mr Blair has systematically eroded over these last eight years. While he promised to 'listen', he has shown total contempt for the views of the British people.

While he invited honesty, he has ruthlessly smeared and even broken those who have dared criticize him.

While he promised to restore 'the bond of trust between the British people and their government', no Prime Minister in history has done more to destroy it.

And while he promised 'no more lies and no more broken promises', these are now the common currency of his Government.

Broken promises to taxpayers who were promised no increases and have been clobbered by stealth taxes.

Broken promises to pensioners who quite simply have been forgotten and left behind..

Broken promises to students who were promised no top-up fees but have got them in spades.

Broken promises to the sick - '24 hours to save the health service'. Tell that to those on the waiting lists eight years later. And no, Mr. Blair, it's not the NHS and its hardworking and dedicated nurses and doctors that we critcise, it is the way you have distorted and mismanaged it.

Broken promises to the victims of crime where he promised to be tough on the causes of crime and then forgot that the cause of crime is the criminal.

Broken promises to the travelling public, who were promised an integrated transport policy and instead have been given a chaotic standstill one. And broken faith with our friends abroad.

Broken faith by trying clandestinely to sell out the British sovereignty of the people of Gibraltar.

Broken faith by turning a blind eye to Zimbabwe as Robert Mugabe sets out with violence and dishonesty once again to steal the elections at the end of this month.

It's ironic that fair elections in Iraq and Ukraine matter to Tony Blair, but in Zimbabwe apparently not.

Let me tell you this; that where on my map of Africa there is Zimbabwe, on Tony Blair's there is a gaping hole.

No wonder the trust is gone - and that is why we can win this election. We must win this election. There is so much at stake.

Over these last eight years I have seen so many of the intrinsic standards and values which set Britain apart and made us great being mocked and undermined and destroyed. It has been a deliberate politically motivated move to dismantle the ethical base from which our past strength has sprung.

Not a revolution; but a defining step from one kind of Britain to another.

From a Britain of values and beliefs to a Britain with no values, no responsibility and no shame.

From a Britain where apparently we can only apologise for the sins of our fathers - but never our own.

We must not allow our great country to sleepwalk into another five years of this irreversible destruction of so much of what we hold good.

We must wake up to what is happening around us.

Wake up to the ever-growing evils of Spin, of half-truths and of blatant deception which now poison the well of truth.

Wake up to the whiff of corruption and cronyism at the very heart of government itself.

Wake up to the way that our once independent civil service has been intimidated and politicised.

Wake up to the subservience of many of our public service broadcasters to New Labour's agenda.

Wake up to the contemptuous sidelining of our democratic institutions upon which the defence of our liberties should depend.

And you already know what Labour has done to you in Wales.

You know what they've done to your health service, to your security, to your taxes and to the value you get for your money.

We can change all that. We will cut waiting lists and clean up your hospitals. It is an outrage that today there are folk who are scared to go into hospital for essential treatment for fear that they will come out even more ill - if at all.

We will put more policemen on your streets to cut crime. It is an outrage that today so much police time is taken in filling up bureaucratic forms and so little at the coalface of crime prevention and apprehension.

We will put discipline back into the hands of those who run our schools. It is an outrage that today the system allows a single disruptive pupil to wreck the education of a whole peer group.

We will end endemic waste and use the savings to improve frontline services and to lower taxes.

It is an outrage that billions of extra taxpayer's money has gone into the NHS over these last eight years which have been spent not on improving patient care - or even making the lives of hard worked medical professionals within the NHS more rewarding - but simply on increasing bureaucracy.

We are told that this government has created a million new jobs. Most of them non-productive public sector administrational jobs. Not jobs that make anyone else's' lives any better - and at what cost to the taxpayer.

We will end the chaos in immigration and asylum created by this government and bring them under control.

We will help pensioners out of the poverty to which Labour has consigned them.

And we will not break faith with those who trust us.

We will never betray the people of Gibraltar by selling out their sovereignty to Spain over their heads.

We will never abandon the suffering people of Zimbabwe who look to us for help.

And unlike Labour we will never take the people of Wales for granted.

We will trust you to make your own choices about your own future - including the future of the National Assembly.

And we will rebuild pride in Britain again.

Pride for what we have achieved in the past; and pride in what we can achieve in the future;

I will not be told by the political correctness brigade that it is anachronistic to be proud of my country. I am proud of my country and I will never fear to say so.

But we need a country to be proud of. And Britain is under greater threat today than at any time in our history.

The wretched European Constitution which Tony Blair is trying to thrust down our throats would if accepted mark the beginning of the end of a country called Britain and the beginning of a country called Europe.

The German Minister for Europe described the Constitution as 'the birth certificate of the United States of Europe'. The Spanish foreign minister said that it was the beginning of the end of national parliaments.

Scary, but they at least dare to tell the truth to the British people which Blair so desperately tries to hide.

The truth is that this Constitution is the gateway towards that country called Europe, a country where we do not want to go.

With its surrender of essential British rights of self determination, over our laws, our taxes, over our welfare system, our immigration and asylum policies, and in time over defence and foreign policy, it spells the end of the Britain of which we can be proud.

That is why when elected we will hold an early referendum and fight with all our strength and conviction for a comprehensive rejection of this surrender of our sovereignty.

And that rejection will send Europe's leaders back to the drawing board. And it will come at a time when we will be able to dictate the agenda for the negotiations which will inevitably follow.

And at the heart of our agenda will be reform. To create a more flexible, less regulated, more outward looking, less centralizing Europe which can meet the genuine aspirations of its peoples in the years ahead.

We will change the direction of Europe to reverse the conveyor belt so that instead of powers always going from national parliaments to Brussels, they will start coming back.

We will make Europe a genuine partnership of sovereign nations within which Britain can hold its head high and to which the US is a partner and not a rival.

We will enter those negotiations determined to succeed. You don't get anywhere in Europe by doing a Blair, and constantly caving in. You get what you need through the toughness of the French, the obstinacy of the Spanish and the grim determination and conviction of Margaret Thatcher. We will have all of those.

I think that's a pretty good recipe for at last turning Europe towards what it should be, a partnership working for its peoples and not for its elites.

Above all we will retain the reins of our own destiny. That is what Conservatives stand for.

In fact we are now the only party that really stands for anything.

Listening to Charles Kennedy waffling this morning, I realized that he has never believed in anything except being all things to all men at all times.

Listening to the rattled Blair yesterday, he may have believed in something in the dim distant past. But not any more. He certainly doesn't believe in the truth. Only in his own survival.

In contrast Michael Howard has set out his beliefs, which are our beliefs, in people, in the family, in rewarding hard work, in doing the right thing, and in speaking up for the forgotten majority.

And of not being afraid to be proud of our past.

I am proud of our past and of those British characteristics which are our strength.

And the greatest of these is our love of freedom, a freedom which as Michael Howard said should be defended "at any time, against all comers, however mighty". That is a pretty good battle cry for the coming fight.

We have waited so long for the moment with which the coming general election provides us.

For too long in opposition we have ground our teeth in frustration as we have watched this arrogant authoritarian mob ride roughshod over so many things which mean to us so much.

Ladies and gentlemen, the days of frustration are almost over. The smell of battle is in the air and the blood is beginning to sing in the veins. The time will soon be at hand.

The time to send the removal vans to Downing Street.

The time to sweep this seedy, spin-ridden, self-seeking, self-serving bunch of second-raters out of government and into the political wilderness where they can no longer do our country harm.

This is our time. This is our destiny. Together we can go out from here and win."

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