Francis Maude: 'Our party has no God-given right to succeed'

From a speech to the Conservative Party conference by the Tory chairman
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The Independent Online

Soon you'll elect a new leader. Buton its own, it won't be enough. We need to show that we know and understand and can reflect today's Britain. Today we don't.

Three times now, we've asked people to elect us. And three times they've said: "Thanks, but no thanks." Our share of the vote overall rose by less than 1 per cent - yes, that's right: less than 1 per cent. So what's the problem? For me, it's one simple word. Values. Honesty, generosity, respect for all, compassion, fairness are all good values; that's how we try to live our own lives. But people don't see these values in our party.

Our party believes in diversity, not uniformity. We should be the natural home for the millions of Britons of immigrant origin. But we're not. Because too often we've sounded like people who wish they hadn't come here at all.

Our party's committed to tackling failing schools and cutting crime. We should be the natural home for people in our cities. But we're not. Because too often we've sounded as if we're just a countryside party.

Our party believes in letting people make their own choices and live their own lives. We should be the natural home for younger voters. But today we're not. Because too often we sound like people who just don't like contemporary Britain.

Our party believes in the family. We should be the natural home for young mothers. But we're not. Because too often we sound like people who think the only good mother is a married mother.

If we want to change what people think of us, then we have got to change. Change the way we behave, change the way we talk. We can't sit back and do nothing when we're incapable of carrying our message and our purpose into large parts of the country. Our party has known great, great days. But we have no God-given right to survive, let alone to succeed.

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