David Davis: 'I lived on a council estate, but life wasn't bad'

From a statement by the shadow Home Secretary, launching his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party, delivered in Westminster
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The Independent Online

People feel that the country is going in the wrong direction, but they also feel powerless to change the system. I believe that the modern Conservative Party must have the courage to commit itself to radical change - because only this commitment can truly change the system, meet the challenges of the modern world and turn Britain in the right direction. The heart of this change must be to empower people and let them realise their full potential.

But in order to be able to change our country, the Conservative Party itself must change. At the last election, we campaigned hard and gained a new generation of MPs. But our share of the vote was virtually the same as our second landslide defeat in 2001.

Less than a quarter of women under 55 voted for us. Our middle-class support has actually fallen since 1997. We delude ourselves if we believe that more of the same will be enough next time.

Modern Britain is a non-deferential, largely urban, diverse country. We need to reflect this reality within our own party if we are to build wider public support. A lot is made of my background, but actually I was very fortunate. I lived on a council estate, but life wasn't bad. I went to a good local school and I was taught well. I got into university and made my way in business. Life gave me a chance and I was able to take it. But I went into politics because I saw that others never had that chance.

I haven't lost my anger at the injustice, complacency, bureaucratic inertia, and barriers that stand in people's way. I haven't lost the idealism which drove me to reject the socialism which lets people down, and took me into the Conservative Party.