Speeches recovered from the Conservative party‚Äôs online archive More…

Cameron: A voice for hope, for optimism and for change

Speech after being announced as the new Conservative Party Leader

"It's a huge privilege and honour and a great responsibility to take on this job. I will do it with everything I have to the best of my ability for my party and my country. Between us we must give to this country a modern and compassionate conservatism which is right for our times and our country.

I thank all the other participants in the leadership election especially David Davis for the very civilised, decent and reasonable way it was conducted. It has been good for our party. It has shown that talent, ideas and above all optimism in the future of the Party and our country and I congratulate David.

He will be a vital part of the team in the future.

I would also like to thank Michael Howard.

Michael, you have given this party a sense of discipline, a sense of professionalism, a sense of purpose and we thank you for that and we mustn't ever lose you.

It has certainly been a long contest. There was a cartoon halfway through which showed if it goes any longer David Cameron will be too old. I sympathise.

But it has been good for us. I said when I launched the campaign that we need to change in order to win. Now that I have won we will change. We will change the way we look. Nine out of ten Conservative MPs are white men. We need to change the scandalous under-representation of women in the Conservative party and we will do that. We need to change the way we feel. No more; grumbling about modern Britain. I live in a world as it is not how it was. Our best days lie ahead. We need to change the way we think.

It's not enough just to talk about tackling problems in our inner cites, we have to have all of the right ideas for turning those communities around.

And we need to change, and we will change, the way we behave.

I'm fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster, the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing.

I want and I will lead a Conservative Party that when the Government does the right thing, we will work with them, and when they do the wrong thing we will call them to account and criticise them.

We won't play politics with the long term future of this country, we will work to get it right.

And I want us to change because this country faces huge challenges.

They are not challenges you can put in individual boxes, they're complex, they're interconnected, to deal with them takes hard work, complex research, deep thinking and I want us to get it right.

I don't want us to invent policies for newspaper headlines, I want us to get it right for the long term.

The challenge of economic competitiveness - today there are nearly three quarters of a million eight-year-olds.

At the end of what I hope will be the first term of a Conservative Government they will be 18.

I want them to have well paid jobs and good careers.

And that means a full-bodied economic policy not just a tax policy.

It means well-funded universities and saying how we'll pay for them.

It means a transport system that works with new roads and how we'll pay for them as well.

The second big challenge is to reform our public services.

Today there are 68,000 people training as teachers, doctors and nurses.

I want them working in public services that are well funded but over which they have the freedom to control and deliver the service the public wants.

So we have to meet that challenge and end the opt-out culture of helping a few more people to escape public services.

We need to improve public services for everybody in this country.

The next great challenge is the quality of life.

I want my children, your children, to grow up in a country where the streets are safe, the public space isn't filthy, where it isn't a hassle to get around, you can own your own home and where climate change and the environment aren't an afterthought.

That means setting targets for reducing carbon but it also means taking tough decisions to make sure we meet them.

I tried to make a start this morning by biking to work.

That was a carbon neutral journey until the BBC sent a helicopter following me.

The fifth big challenge is national and international security.

In 10 years' time, there will be 13 and a half million British citizens over the age of 65.

I want to pledge to them that their safety, their dignity in old age will be our priority.

That means re-civilising our society, with school discipline, with strong families, and with cultural change.

It means, yes, having a tough law and order policy, but it also means reforming the police, and ending the nonsense where it's so impossible to sack an officer who isn't doing their job properly.

And we need to look at the problems of international terrorism, and I can promise that I will never play politics with that issue, I will do what is right for the country.

The sixth and the final challenge is at the heart of all the others, it is having social action to ensure social justice, and a stronger society.

I want to set free the voluntary sector and social enterprises to deal with the linked problems that blight so many of our communities, of drug abuse, family breakdown, poor public space, chaotic home environments, high crime.

We can deal with these issues, we can mend our broken society.

I want to develop my idea for a national school leaver programme, that says to young people, let's do something, that is about public service, about building self esteem, self respect, for the good of our country and the good of our communities.

There is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state.

I don't believe that Labour can meet these challenges, they are yesterday's men, with yesterday's measures.

I want us to sweep away their command and control state, the quangos, the bureaucracy, the regional government, which is not bringing real change in our country.

I want us to be the party that meet those big challenges, but we have to change in order for people to trust us.

We have the right values. Britain needs a strong Conservative Party with those values.

At the heart of what I believe are two simple principles, trusting people, and sharing responsibility.

I believe that if you trust people and give them more power and control over their lives, they become stronger, and society becomes stronger too, and I believe profoundly that we are all in this together.

We all have a responsibility, as individuals, as parents, as families, as businesses, as Government, as Members of Parliament, we all have a role to play.

And it is by bringing those values to play that we can do good for our country again.

I won't do it on my own, I need the support of every Conservative Member of Parliament, of every Conservative local councillor, now the biggest party in local government, of all of our voluntary party, and I want it to be so much bigger.

People in this country are crying out for a Conservative Party that is decent, reasonable, sensible, commonsense, and in it for the long term of this country.

And that is the party we are going to build, and I want everyone to join in.

To those watching at home, if you have a passion for positive politics, come and join us.

If you want to build a modern, compassionate Conservative Party, come and join us.

If you want me and all of us to be a voice for hope, for optimism and for change, come and join us. In this modern, compassionate Conservative Party, everyone is invited. Thank you."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech