There are just a few months to go until the General Election.All across the country, many thousands of people are still making up their minds about how they will vote.
Many like Julie and Ian and Danielle have never voted Conservative before.
They know that Labour has let them down. They know they don’t want another five years of Gordon Brown.And in the modern Conservative Party they see values, ideas and policies that they believe would help get this country back on its feet.
Danielle sees our commitment to communities and to mending our broken society and says ‘yes, I'll vote for that.’
Ian sees our policies to cut the deficit and boost enterprise and says ‘yes, that’s what we need to sort out the economy.’
Julie, as you’ve just seen, believes that our plans to make Britain more family-friendly are absolutely right for our country’s future.
None of these people are traditional Conservatives.But as Eric said, this election is too important for people to just go along with voting how they’ve always done, or how their family has always done.We’ve got big problems in this country, and we need to make big changes to solve them - and that’s why we’re saying to people who have never voted Conservative before:“We are not the same old Conservative Party.We have changed.We are a party for the mainstream majority in our country, and we need your help to stop five more years of Gordon Brown and to make the changes we need to get the country back on its feet.”
There are people with us today who have already made that decision.People who have never voted Tory before.
Six former Labour Councillors – including three from Ealing.
Five former Liberal Democrat councillors – including Steve Whittaker who joined us just last week.
And by their side are people from Hampstead and Kilburn...…from Holborn and St. Pancras, Gillingham and Rainham, Poplar and Limehouse...
... Harlow, Battersea, and Sutton and Cheam.
We’ve even got three candidates here, candidates for parliamentary elections standing as Conservatives – George Lee, Gurcharan Singh, Rehman Chishti – who will themselves be voting Conservative for the very first time.
And here with us today is a man whose support really means a great deal to me.
He’s the former Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Mirror.
He wrote this a few weeks ago in an incredibly powerful article:“I was brought up to believe the Labour Party was the best hope for ordinary people to make a better life….The truth is that Old Labour principles of fairness and equality and support for the working classes seem to have evaporated under this Government.”
Mike Molloy: we share your anger.But that dream of a stronger economy and a fairer society......that isn’t dead just because Labour haven’t delivered.It is alive with us today.LABOUR FAILUREThat dream is alive not just because in the modern Conservative Party we share those progressive aims of building a fairer, safer, greener society where opportunity is more equal.But we understand why Labour, despite good intentions, failed to deliver.We understand why Labour, after they spent so much, passed so many laws, launched so many initiatives...…almost a million more people have been pushed into deep poverty.
Almost a million young people have been dumped on the scrapheap of unemployment.And the rich have got richer and the poorest have actually got poorer – all on Labour’s watch.We will be different. Why?Because we won’t just deal with the symptoms of poverty, inequality and social breakdown, like Labour have done.We will start attacking the root causes.In the end, this is where I believe Labour went wrong.It was all too short-term, too superficial.
They thought they could beat child poverty without backing families and without backing marriage – and even encouraged parents to live apart.They thought they could improve schools without insisting on the things that a good education needs like discipline, standards, a culture of high expectations for every child in every school.They thought they could get people off welfare without saying really clearly: if you can work, you should work – and if you won’t work you cannot go on getting all your benefits.
So now people are asking new questions.With a Conservative government will things really be different?Has this Conservative Party really changed?Will they protect the things that matter to me?Today we’re showing that that we have the right answers to those questions.Just look at the way we’ve changed our Party.Some people said we couldn’t do it – but as we go into this election, we’ve got more women candidates than ever in our history, not just in all seats but in the seats that we need to win to form a majority......and almost the same proportion of black and minority ethnic candidates as there are in the country as a whole.
I’m really proud that young black men and women in Britain today wondering if this really is a society in which they can get to the very top, that they can look at Tory Party......yes the Tory Party with Shaun Bailey in Hammersmith, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones in Chippenham, Kwazi Kwarteng in Spelthorne, Helen Grant in Maidstone and now Sam Gyimah in Surrey East......and say yes, they made it to the top, I can make it to the top too.
I’m so proud that young British Muslims who may too often these days feel that instead of doors opening for them they’re being shut in their faces......that they can look at the Tory party, the Tory party with Sayeeda Warsi in the Shadow Cabinet, Sajid Javid in Bromsgrove, Zahid Iqbal in Bradford West.......and say yes, I am a Muslim, I’m British and I’m as welcome at the top of this society as anyone else in Britain.And just in case there is anyone out there who still thinks that the work we’ve done to get more women candidates, more black and minority ethnic candidates......that this is some kind of political correctness that Conservatives should avoid.I would say no. You’re wrong. It is in the best traditions of our Party......the one nation tradition of Benjamin Disraeli, and it should inspire us again today. Unless you can represent everyone in our country you cannot be a one nation party.And that one nation tradition lives on in the Conservative Party not just in the candidates we’re selecting but in the issues that we’re addressing too.
Our plan for change addresses not just the economy, crime and national security......but poverty, the environment and our number one priority – the National Health Service.
We know how much families rely on tax credits, Sure Start, the minimum wage......so we will keep these things and where possible improve them to help families who need it most.Our vision of modern, progressive Conservatism is right for these times and right for a new generation of people who know that Labour haven’t delivered and who want a serious alternative.Our approach: applying those Conservative values of strengthening families, encouraging responsibility and giving power to people...
...is today the right way, the best way to achieve those progressive aims that we all share of fighting poverty, improving well-being and making opportunity more equal for everyone in our country.And today, we are announcing a bold and radical new reform which shows clearly how it is now the modern Conservatives, not Labour, who have the plans that will help working people to build a better life for themselves and their families.
POWER TO PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERSI know that there are millions of public sector workers who work in our public services and who frankly today feel demoralised, disrespected and unrecognised.We will not only get rid of the targets and bureaucracy that drive you so mad.We will give you power in a way that is as radical as the right to buy your council house.We will give you the chance to set up employee-owned co-operatives to take over the services so you can be your own boss and offer the public a better service......the way you think it should be done, not the way some distant bureaucrat thinks it should be done.So instead of government controlling every aspect of public service in our country, we would say to people who work in Job Centres, in the NHS, in social work, in call centres, right across our public sector......“here is your budget, deliver this service, and if you do it more efficiently and more effectively, you can keep some of the savings that you make.”
It will unleash, I believe, a new culture of public sector enterprise and innovation – and public sector workers will have a real stake in their success.All the evidence shows that this kind of co-operative, bottom-up partnership leads to high productivity, low staff absenteeism, and much high staff morale.And it has the potential to radically reform the way that we do government.Creating new jobs and opportunities......and opening up a better life for public sector workers with more rewarding careers.
Put alongside our plans to protect frontline spending by scouring out waste and bureaucracy……to stop ministerial meddling and give people more power over their lives……it’s a new and powerful reason for everyone in the public sector to vote Conservative, irrespective of how they have voted before.
CONCLUSIONSo today our argument comes down to this:We know that the country can’t afford another five years of Gordon Brown.We know that we need change to get the country back on its feet.We know that it’s time for responsibility; time to stop spending money we don’t have; time to stop thinking we can run everything from Whitehall.Those age-old Conservative values live strong in the modern Conservative Party, as we apply them to the issues and problems of today.So yes, the modern Conservative Party has the strong values and the radical policies to make this a fairer, safer, greener country where opportunity is more equal.We will strengthen families.
We will sort out the economy.We will give people the power to help mend our broken society.So like Danielle, like Ian, like Julie...
...like all the people in this room who have never voted Tory before......come and join us and help bring the change that our country so badly needs.”