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Duncan Smith: For too long, we've allowed the LibDems to get away with murder

Speech at the Dorchester to the Carlton Club Political Dinner

"I know that we can win the next general election. And I want to tell you how.

Today we are in the best position for eleven years…the largest and fastest growing party of local government, with levels of representation as high as in Labour's winter of discontent in 1979.

Tonight I want to explain how that has come about…how we will build on that to create a real lead over Labour by the next election.

Already, people are sick and tired of Labour.

The 70 per cent increase in council tax. Sixty new tax rises. Failing schools and hospitals. Rising gun crime. Labour's lies about the war.

But we also need to expose one of the biggest lies in British politics today.

For too long, we've allowed the Liberal Democrats to get away with murder:

…sending different messages to different groups.

Pretending to Conservative voters that they are a moderate party and a suitable alternative to Labour.

From Guildford to Hereford, from Newbury to Aberdeenshire, we need to remind voters what Liberal Democrats are saying in seats like Brent.

On Saturday I made a strong attack on the Lib Dems. It wasn't a tactic in response to Brent. But the beginning of a major campaign. A campaign we will take to every doorstep in Britain - and has already produced results on the front pages of the Sun and the Times. As those papers have proved, the Lib Dems are not moderates.

In Brent, they campaigned on a platform of anti-Americanism and even higher public spending. At their conference this week, they are voting to abolish the monarchy, ban smacking and impose compulsory sex education for seven year-olds. They've moved from weak Left to loony Left. Red Kennedy isn't an alternative to Tony Blair - he's his echo.

Blair's soft on soft drugs - Kennedy's soft on hard drugs too. He wants higher taxes, weaker asylum rules, fewer burglars in prison and an end to our national currency.

Now I know that everyone here - and everyone in the wider Party - sees straight through Tony Blair and his government of liars and incompetents. We want him out today, and we can't quite believe that he's still in No. 10.

But I have to tell you something. Not everyone in the country has felt like that for as long as we have. Most people have been willing to give Tony Blair the benefit of the doubt. But that has now changed. Most people now believe that Labour's policy on the public services - the policy of throwing untold billions at them - is failing and will always fail.

As we have seen over the summer, trust in Mr Blair has collapsed. And I can tell you that in the things which matter - on schools, hospitals, crime and transport - people are beginning to trust the Conservatives.

People are disappointed and they are angry. And now the Conservatives must be their champions. Earlier this month we published Total Politics, a critique of Labour's record of centralization of the public services. That paper contains the policy framework for the next Conservative government, a government committed to a fair deal for everyone.

Next month at Blackpool, we will fill out the details of that framework. Policies to put parents and patients first…to return power to front-line professionals…and to deliver what Labour is congenitally incapable of delivering: taxpayer value for money.

We've never been more advanced in the parliamentary cycle. We have the policies in place. We have the organization in place. And we have a full eighteen months to take the fight to the government. To convince people that there is an alternative to Labour. And at the same time - to finish off the Liberal Democrats.

After 11 years, many defeats and huge difficulties we gather here today all of us knowing in our hearts that it is different now. That the prize is before us.

But knowing it's different is not enough. We need to want to win more strongly than anything else. We need to set aside all else but this. To wake up every morning with the sole and over-riding ambition to drive Tony Blair from office.

I have that ambition. I know you do too."

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