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Howard: It's time for action in Scotland

Speech at the launch of Scottish Conservatives general election manifesto

"It's great to be back in Scotland again so soon after our Scottish Conference.

Scotland has everything going for it:

- Creative flair;

- A talent for enterprise; and

- Hardworking and industrious people.

But today Scotland is taken for granted by Mr. Blair and the Labour Party.

So the choice before voters on May the fifth is very clear.

They can either reward Mr. Blair for eight years of broken promises, and vote for another five years of talk.

Or they can vote Conservative, to support a party that's taken a stand and is committed to action on the issues that matter to hard working Britons.

Some people may be thinking about voting Liberal Democrat or Scottish Nationalist.

But no matter what you think of your local candidate, when you vote you're not just voting for someone to represent you locally - you're voting for a national government.

So if you think that crime's too high, immigration is out of control and Mr. Blair has hit you with too many stealth taxes - then you need to send him a very clear message.

Enough is enough.

And you can't do that by voting Liberal Democrat or SNP.

You can only do it by voting for your local Conservative candidate.

Now I appreciate that many of the issues I will be debating at this election are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

I want devolution to work, to deliver for the people of Scotland.

At the same time, the decisions taken at Westminster over the next five years will have a profound effect on people's lives here.

So the Manifesto Peter, David and I are launching today sets out the action Conservatives will take at Westminster if we are elected on May the fifth and our priorities for Scotland as we look forward to the next Holyrood elections.

At this election there is a chance for us to be optimistic about our future again.

People have been let down by a Government that has lost touch with them.

On May the fifth they can elect a Government that focuses on the things that matter.

A Government that acts - and delivers results.

A Government that does exactly what it says.

We will be ambitious for our country - a Conservative Government will aspire to give everyone the chance to make the most of their lives.

We will govern on behalf of the forgotten majority, the people who make up the backbone of our great country: people who word hard; save to buy their first home; and take responsibility for their families.

People who do the right thing should be rewarded, not punished.

We will extend choice - Conservatives will give individuals more control over their own money and over the public services we all depend on.

We will devolve power from the centre to our communities - Conservatives will trust professionals and enable parents and patients to shape services according to their needs.

We will secure the foundations on which all opportunity is built - Conservatives will tilt the balance of the justice system in favour of the victim, and will restore control to our borders. And we will settle our relationship with the European Union by bringing powers back from Brussels to Britain.

We will take pride in our traditions and our institutions. Mr Blair's plans to scrap Scottish regiments are a stab in the back for the men and women he's sent into the line of fire.

Conservatives value our soldiers.

We respect their traditions.

And that's why we will keep Scotland's regiments.

The British people should feel confident that they can get on with life while their Government concentrates on tackling the things which matter.

That is why Conservatives have a clear Timetable for Action which focuses on people's priorities: cleaner hospitals; school discipline; more police; controlled immigration; and lower taxes.

I'm in politics to give something back to the country which gave so much to me.

As the child of immigrants, as a state school pupil, as the first person in my family to go to university, I am driven by a profound sense of pride in Britain.

For me the heart of politics is all about people - their hopes and aspirations.

People want the freedom, security and opportunity to get on in life.

They want the freedom to take the important decisions about their families and to keep more of the money they earn.

They want the security that goes with owning your home, saving for your retirement, living in a safe neighbourhood.

They want the opportunity provided by a good education and a thriving economy.

And they expect fair play.

I believe that to be treated equally is a birthright, and that discrimination is wrong.

A Conservative Government will govern in the interests of everyone in our society - black or white, young or old, straight or gay, rural or urban, rich or poor.

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.

My Party is full of determination to make our country a better place to live for everyone.

People are tired of politicians who talk and talk but fail to deliver.

They're tired of politicians saying one thing before an election and doing something else afterwards.

So the next Conservative Government will not only make a difference: it will be different.

We won't say one thing before an election and do something quite different once the votes have been counted.

We only promise what we know we can deliver.

And what we start, we will follow through.

Accountability will be my watchword.

This Manifesto sets out clearly our priorities for what we will do, how we will pay for it, and the values by which we will govern.

People have had enough talk.

It's time for action."

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