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Redwood: We believe in trusting people more and governments less

Speech to Conservative Party Conference 2005

"I would like to thank you all for coming here today for the time, effort and money you put into our cause.

You don't have to give up a week of your holiday to be in Blackpool in October. You don't have to take to the streets to deliver In Touches or spend your evenings baking for the next Conservative function.

You do so because you believe in our cause and because you believe in serving the public.

Many of you do that as Councillors, some of us as MPs. We have won the last two European elections. We have become the largest party in local government.

We have shown that even in opposition we can speak for the majority and shift the political landscape

It has been Conservative voices and votes that have kept the pound safe.

It was a Conservative led campaign that persuaded the government to a referendum on the EU constitution, a referendum they never dare hold.

Our country needs the Conservative party. We will give our best to serve it well. I would like there to be more of us.

I am glad we are the largest democratic party in the UK. I think we need to recruit more to help us. The way to increase our membership is to encourage and support all those who already belong, whilst reaching out to those who might join us.

This summer long standing cricket fans like me experienced the joy of watching a superb winning team.

Success is infectious - we were joined by many new fans equally thrilled at the skill and good humour of England.

We Conservatives can learn from how they did it. Did you notice how generous they were to each other?

How they wanted the most talented members of the squad to do well and praised them when they did?

Did you see how when one of them failed the rest of the team rallied to support them?

They didn't run the wicket keeper down when he dropped the odd catch or pick on the number four batsman when he didn't hit many runs. There's a lesson for us. They certainly didn't blame the coach when they lost at Lords or spend time undermining the team captain.

Successful teams use all the talents available and support each other when times are tough.

This Conservative party has considerable depth and breadth of experience and talent.

There are many things of which we can be proud.

We are all part of this Conservative team. We all believe in our country and its democracy. Which is why we give so much of our time to it.

Government is meant to be your friend. It should be on your side when you need help.

It should support the law abiding, tough on those who disrupt communities; tender to the sick, the disabled, those down on their luck.

Instead, today, many law abiding people fear this government. They do not expect it to be fair or even handed. They know it will keep sending them bigger bills, but won't spend their money wisely. They know it will pass more and more laws, but all so often they bite the honest and fail to deal with the law breakers. People fear the Inspector who comes to call, the regulator at the gate, the taxman at your purse or wallet.

The elderly vicar is sent to jail for refusing to pay an excessive increase in his Council tax. What a contrast with the drug dealers still at loose on ASBOs. For many these snapshots of life under Labour sum it all up.

Before the last election I had the pleasurable task of telling the country just how a Conservative government would bring the regulators to heel. I said we would:

-Remove many quangoes - the source of so much unnecessary guidance and control

-Repeal 54 different pieces of regulation in our first Deregulation bill

-Renegotiate in the EU to stem the flood of legislative ink in Brussels

-And make any department wanting a new regulation identify old ones it could repeal Under the Conservatives the overall burden would go down each year

The government was certainly listening. What I knew the public wanted from my postbag and doorstep conversations the government found from their polling and focus groups.

People feel far too bossed around. They want some relief. My post bag is not full of letters and emails demanding more laws or more government activity. Most of the correspondence is asking me to stop the government changing things for the worse.

No sooner had I sat down after last year's conference from revealing our programme than the government announced that it too would deregulate.

Indeed, not to be outdone, they said they would have two deregulation bills where I offered one.

The only snag is they will be a little different from the one we wanted. hey will not contain any repeals, they will not remove a single piece of meddlesome regulation from the Statute book

Very new Labour - tough on deregulation, tender on the causes of over-regulation.

No sooner was our intention to renegotiate in Brussels made clear; than the government announced that they would make the UK Presidency in the second half of 2005 a deregulatory presidency - Who said Gordon Brown doesn't have a sense of humour?

Labour's idea of deregulation in the EU does not run to a single repeal of any major piece of EU regulation. They tell us they will deregulate whilst they are still busy negotiating on how to tie lots more industries up in regulatory knots.

Again very new Labour - not isolated in the EU because they are not trying to do anything difficult in the EU. They mouth the words because words are easy but don't push for the deeds, because the EU isn't coming our way.

When I said we would want to repeal the regulations which attack herbal remedies and food supplements. Labour claimed the European court would probably take care of it. When the court didn't, Labour said the regulations weren't so bad after all. Try telling that to the millions in this country who want to carry on buying the products.

When I said we would shift our road safety policy away from relying on speed cameras, tackling instead the more serious causes of accidents. Labour told me I was wrong. Now they brief they want to go into reverse on it.

When we Conservatives called for an end to the best value and comprehensive performance regimes that so burden local Councils and force the Council Tax up Labour said there was no problem with the Council Tax. Now they tell us they have thought better of it have announced a review and put off increasing the bands this year.

There is a groundswell against so much political correctness, so much tomfoolery. We do not need a regulator to tell people how to make jam or to warn people that standing in between the doors of a lift could be painful when the doors close

Now we have a Regulator to regulate the Regulator. Labour have invented the never ending complaint which goes round and round ever more Ombudsmen.

It's just like those infuriating telephone answering services which just give you another list of options and won't let you sort your problem out.

So Labour's complaints system transfers you to another Regulator to complain again.

Each one politely tells you, you may be disappointed in their answer but never mind, there is always another regulator around the corner.

We have a madcap safety culture which warns you about the obvious but fails to protect you against the devious

We now have a lunatic pensions regulatory system. Set up because the Treasury decided to pillage our pension funds

Why are our pension funds short of money? Because the government takes so much away from them each year in tax. Can the Regulator insist the government puts the money back?

Of course not.

Instead the government now intends to impose an extra tax on all funds. Each fund will not only have to make good their own deficit. Brown's taxes have helped create, but they will also have to pay a levy to help others. Where do they think all this money will come from?

I have given up trying to parody this government. They do it so much better themselves for real.

They are more Bremner than Rory himself.

Or take the government's approach to aid and trade. The government quite rightly tells us fair trade is the best way to lift developing countries out of poverty. We agree.

So when China starts to do so the EU Commissioner responsible, Tony's close friend and ally,

slaps quotas on to stop the Chinese doing exactly what the UK has been telling them to do!

You couldn't make it up.

And we are still paying the bill for all the fine wining and dining the government put into its fair trade message just a few weeks ago at Gleneagles! Trade regulations are yet another example of regulations we, and the world, could do without.

We believe in trusting people more and governments less. We do not think there is a governmental answer to every problem. We do not believe that regulation can protect you from every risk

I have more government than I want. More government than I need. More government than I can afford. Only a Conservative government will change that.

The poor electoral performance of Labour in 2005 shows that people have rumbled them

Now we need to offer them something better. Tony Blair has learnt a thing or two in office.

His speech last week set out some very good Conservative ideas. He was right to offer more choice of school, right to introduce private money and organisation into the NHS, right to call for more neighbourhood policing.

He's given us the highest accolade - stealing our clothes. The sadness is he's not wearing them. His party won't let him. Gordon Brown will get in his way.

I want us to end educational apartheid, that lets the children of the rich go to an independent school and everyone else to a comprehensive. Let's make all schools independent and give parents and pupils more choice. Just as we empowered people to buy their own homes in the 80s.

So this century we should empower them to go to good schools. It is we who are the party of the future.

The party of wider ownership.

The party that believes in giving power to people.

The party which wants to bring to the many.

The luxuries of the few.

We want to see our country governed better.

We want the right to govern ourselves.

We want government to do less.

We want more decisions to be taken by elected politicians.

Who must be answerable for their actions.

The Conservative party has never been more needed than today.

Our economy is being weakened.

Our democracy is being undermined.

Our country is being stolen away from us.

If we tell the truth to the electorate.

And stick by each other as we do so.

We can make a difference.

We can strengthen our democracy.

We can rescue our country.

The Conservative party has never been more needed."

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