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Caroline Spelman: Take note Mr Brown - we are ready

Addressing the Party Conference today, Conservative Party Chairman, Caroline Spelman, said:

"Ladies, Gentlemen, Conference,

As this is my first speech as Chairman I would like to introduce myself and say a few words about how I see the way forward.

I am a business woman, having started my career in agriculture and ended up in biotechnology. I am a mother and a passionate politician. This is one woman who did get on her bike!

This Essex girl…let me qualify that…I am half Scot, cut her political teeth in the Nottingham mining constituency of Bassetlaw.

Back then the majority was 20,000. Labour's majority has halved and last year for the first time in history we took control of the Council. No council result has given me more pleasure.

So let me pay tribute to my friends in Bassetlaw.

They taught me everything I know…how to survive in politics and still to have fun, but, most of all, they taught me about perseverance.

My Meriden constituency knows what perseverance is, especially when we won in '97 with a whopping majority of… 582 ….. (and that was after a second recount!).

By sheer hard work, we grew that to over 7,000…perseverance!

I have never had the luxury of taking anything for granted.

And let me give you this assurance - as long as I am Chairman of this Party I will never take you for granted.

All elected politicians, MPs and Councillors alike - know that it's the voluntary Party that get us here.

You launch careers; you sustain careers and too often it goes unsaid.

This Party values you and values the work you do.

We value your support and we value your opinion.

That's why we're here in Blackpool to consult directly with you about what you want to see in our manifesto.

By Wednesday afternoon you will have clarity and people will know where we stand on the issues that concern them most - making our streets safer, our families stronger, protecting the environment and strengthening our public services - you will know where we stand.

That's what this conference is about.

Giving us the tools we need to sell our product on the doorstep.

The Way Forward

The clock is ticking to the next election, it's palpable.

You will, are, rising to the challenge once again. So are we.

David took me aside in July and said, "Caroline. I'm sorry to do this to you - but no summer holiday. I need you to get stuck in and get us prepared for an election."

I'm lucky, my husband and kids understood and have supported the new demands on my time.

As all working mums know, if you don't have that back-up and emotional support, well, we can't fulfil our true potential.

On a personal note - Mark, Ellie, Dave and Jonny, a big thank you.

Because we value families, this week we are holding a charity auction with eBAY between now and 11am on Wednesday to raise money for two award winning charities - Save the Family and Time for Families - both dedicated to helping families in difficulty.

There are some great prizes; check them out at the Stand Up Speak Up stall.

Conference, from my first day in the job, I have made it my mission to bolster our staff, to value them.

Too often people fall into the trap of laying the blame with Central Office when things go wrong.

The guys and girls work incredible hours and for not quite the market rate.

We are lucky to have them working for us.

They do it for you, for the party and for the country.

And thanks to them we're geared up for the election campaign.

The Conservative Research Department is back under one roof and formidable once again.

They'll keep Labour on the back foot over issues like out of hours GP services, the crisis in housing and gun crime on our streets.

The Conservative Party is so much more than just 30 Milbank.

It's a vibrant body of people and resources working throughout the country - hungry for power and focussed on the challenge. We've set up regional campaign centres to give you the support you need.

I just opened our Bradford Campaign Centre. Check out our website for a look at the facilities…if you can, visit and be inspired. Diane Clarke is at the helm there and is doing a brilliant job.

Organisation is one thing but pulling power is another.

Forget Gordon Brown and his political point scoring. This week, a Labour councillor of 21 years from Brent, Bertha Joseph beat a path to my door and said, "I'm joining you". She made that choice because under David Cameron we are the party for change. The Labour party is just more of the same. Reheated messages, uninspiring old policies.

Well this just shows that we are drawing in people who in the past, well, would not admit to voting Conservative.

But, they are now.

Let's nail the myth that the Conservatives are a party of South East England. Nothing could be further from the truth:

- We control more councils across the North West and Yorkshire than Labour or the Liberals.

- We are the second largest Party in Wales.

- And we have now over-taken the Liberals in Scotland.

This shows us that although we are varied countries with varied histories, we are one Union.

I believe passionately in our Union and what our Party can do for the Union.

That is why I wanted a session at this conference devoted to addressing that issue.

SO - to summarise, you're looking at a person whose job it is to get the machinery ready for this election.

Take note Mr Brown: we - are - ready."

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