No complacency, Spelman warns Tories

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The Tories are on their way back to power but still have a "long way to go," party chairman Caroline Spelman said today.

At the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Mrs Spelman set out a five point plan to win the next general election.

She stressed the need to stick to the centre ground and stay united in the face of Labour "infighting and introspection".

As the conference got under way, Mrs Spelman insisted: "We've got the ideas to ease the pain of the downturn and improve the economy for the long-term."

Hailing the last 12 months as a great year for the Conservatives, she said: "They said we couldn't break a 40% share of the national vote - and we have.

"They said we couldn't win London - and we have. They said we couldn't make gains in the north and we have.

"Together we are coming back. But we still have a long way to go. It may be sometime before Brown finds the bottle to call an election.

"So today I want to set out five steps to success in the coming years - five steps to winning that election."

Mrs Spelman told party supporters the first step must be "absolutely no complacency" because this was the "enemy of action".

Activists must never kid themselves that the election was "in the bag".

Secondly, the party must stick to the centre ground as Labour had "lurched to the left and forgotten what people really care about".

The third step to success, she said, was staying united. "Last week's Labour conference was a feast of in-fighting and introspection.

"They are more concerned with their own share price than the fortunes of our economy.

"We are the strong, united, positive alternative to Labour and we've got to stay that way."

Mrs Spelman said the fourth step to success was setting out the party's clear plan for change, to "reconstruct our battered economy, to renew our bureaucratised NHS and to repair our broken society".

Shadow chancellor George Osborne would tomorrow outline why Government must live within its means, get control of the national debt and make Britain more competitive.

Fifthly, she said, it was not enough to have the plans and policies. "Great parties win elections when they win the battle of ideas, when they have a sense of mission and purpose."

It wasn't enough to fix the country's "broken" economy. "Our challenge is to fix our broken society too."

She added: "This is our mission - to fix our broken society as well as our broken economy. This is our time - to set out our plan for change."