'We are ready to govern for all the people'

Keynote address
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Indy Politics

This is an edited version of the speech by William Hague, the Conservative Party leader.

This is an edited version of the speech by William Hague, the Conservative Party leader.

"This has been the best, the most upbeat and the most successful Conservative conference in years. This week the people of Britain look to us to see if we are ready to be a government. And with the policies we have presented and the purpose we have demonstrated, we have shown beyond doubt that we are ready for government. And with brilliant platform speeches we have shown beyond doubt that this Shadow Cabinet, with its breadth of vision and its depth of talent, is the best team for Britain.

"We're ready for that election whenever Tony Blair now dares to call it. We're ready for it next autumn, we're ready for it next May, we're ready for it now. Go on Tony, call it now.

"New Labour was not a philosophy, it was a fashion. And nothing is more unfashionable than a fashion that's out of fashion. We saw them last week, divided, arrogant and out of touch. What a bunch they are - this soap opera of a government. No ministers in recent times have lost touch so rapidly with the people who elected them.

"Cocooned in Whitehall they have retreated into a world where they never have to make do with a failing school, or witness a crime, or pay for a tank of petrol.

"For all the people who are sick of the spin and the waste and the lies and the cronies and sycophants, sick of the arrogance and high-handedness, sick of the contempt for our traditions and for our Parliament, sick of a Chancellor too out of touch to listen and of a Prime Minister too arrogant to apologise, for all those people - we're all in it for you. These people who look to us to give them back their country. And we will not let them down.

"When Tony Blair declared war on the forces of conservatism, he declared war on all these people.

"We really do have a Prime Minister who is prepared to say whatever will please his audience without the slightest consistent thought or principle entering his head. What will bring this Government down is its arrogant contempt for the views of real people.

"You've seen how New Labour said the Dome was going to be a success and poured your money into it, put their cronies in charge, denied there was a problem - and how at the end it was the people of this country who had to pick up the bill. That is New Labour. That's what they're doing to our schools. That's what they're doing to our hospitals. That's what they're doing to our police force.

"With the Dome it's taken nine months to see that these interfering busybodies didn't know what they were doing.

"In his speech last week, Tony Blair announced again, 'I will act'. Well, of course, he will. It's all been an act. It's only ever been an act. He's the biggest actor in town!

"The only person in the country still stuck in the fascination stage with New Labour is the leader of the Liberals. So people now look to us. They want to know if we're ready. They want to know what drives us, what motivates us, what we would be like in office. And they want to know what motivates me. The people I grew up with, and millions like them, are the mainstream of our country. They are the people who motivate me.

"We will govern for hard-working families. We will govern the people of every community and background. The Conservative Party in government will direct its energies to improving schools that are the most hopeless, bringing life to inner-city areas that are most bleak, helping the least well-off pensioners, tackling drug problems, addressing family breakdown in dislocated communities and improving health care for the most dependent on the NHS.

"We're going to govern for the families who've earned every penny they've got and need every penny they earn and want a government that will cut taxes. Wanting to pay less tax is not greedy. They just feel betrayed by a Government that promised no tax increases at all.

"We're going to make sure billions of pounds in surplus taxes raised by Chancellor Gordon Brown will go back to taxpayers who earned it.

"We're going to reduce the number of ministers, cut the size of the House of Commons, halve the number of political advisers and cut the size of Whitehall so that there aren't so many politicians going around dreaming up expensive meddling schemes to interfere in everybody else's lives.

"The British people know we can have lower taxes and better public services if we spend wisely. We're going to govern for the people who rely on the state pension and the National Health Service and think everyone should share inthe growing prosperity of our country.

"Our pensioners should be treated with dignity and respect. We're going to match Labour penny for penny on the NHS and sweep away Labour's dogmatic opposition to private provision.

"It's time we halted the march of political correctness. We are going to give full force to the commonsense instincts of the British people and we're going to win the war against crime.

"The people who live on these council estates have never looked to the Conservative Party for support, but I believe passionately that we still have a duty to help them. We are going to reclaim their streets from the drug dealers and car thieves.

"We are going to bulldoze the worst of the concrete tower blocks and ensure there are new low-rise homes where the criminals won't be welcome.

"Only the most out-of-touch, metropolitan élite could regard the attack on our rural life and the desperate plight of our farmers as a source of amusement.

"Yet, in speech after speech and joke after joke in Brighton last week, New Labour poked fun at the anger and hardship of the people of the countryside.

"This Government thinks it is attacking only a small rural minority. In fact it is attacking the values of tolerance and respect, the values of the mainstream majority. For we are ready to govern for all parts of the country - and by country I mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

"This Labour Government is taking us down the road to a European superstate. Now we must champion the cause of a flexible, free trading, low tax, lightly regulated Europe - a Europe that goes with the grain of the new global economy, in which nations combine in different combinations for different purposes. We will be the champions of that flexible Europe. And we will be the champions of Britain's right to govern itself. For we believe in being in Europe, not run byEurope.

"I don't promise the earth.

"I don't think we'll solve every problem.

"I don't think we'll avoid every mistake.

"I won't try to start new fads or fashions.

"I won't claim to be creating a new era.

"I just want to govern with the commonsense instincts of the people of this country.

"I just want to govern with the commonsense instincts of a proud people who believe in Britain.

"I just want to bring to a people so deeply disillusioned by its Government a party that understands their concerns, a party that shares their values, a government that believes in our country, a Conservative government, ready to govern for all the people."