Sayeeda Warsi: Spring Conference 2011

Speaking in Cardiff at the Conservative Spring Forum, Sayeeda Warsi said;

(check against delivery)

8 Members of Parliament. 13 Assembly Members. 171 Councillors.

Coming first in European elections. 380,000 votes in the General Election.

One of the biggest swings in a century.

Our best results in two decades.

This is the Conservative Party in Wales.


Now Conference, you know that I speak my mind.

I tell it as it is.

And today, because I’m here with my Conservative family,….

….I know I can be frank about the government that I am in.

This government is led by a Conservative Prime Minister…

…and we are delivering Conservative priorities based on Conservative promises.

Let me tell you what I mean.

We’ve scrapped the jobs tax.

We’re cutting corporation tax.

We promised we’d protect NHS spending – and we have.

A Cancer drugs fund.

A regional growth fund.

More loans to small businesses.

Tax breaks for new businesses.

I could go on – and I will!

We’ve taxed the banks.

Capped immigration.

Put a block on more power to the EU.

50,000 new apprenticeships.

200 new academies.

Cut ministerial pay.

Blocked a third runway.

No more sofa government.

No more spin government.

A national security council.

More power to local councils.

Our freedoms restored.

My point, Ladies and Gentlemen, is this:

In one year alone we’ve achieved more than Labour did in thirteen years.

Because this is one of the most radical, reforming, progressive, conservative governments this nation has seen in decades.

Conference, let me take you back to a year ago.

When we were pounding the pavements, day after day, come what may..

…did we want a government which would live within its means?

Yes we did.

And are we delivering that promise?

Yes we are.

And when we signed up as Conservatives, and when we stood for elections, and when we pinned on our blue rosettes with pride…

…did we believe in a fair welfare system…

…where if you can work, you should work, and work should always pay?

Yes we did.

And are we delivering that promise?

Yes we are.

And I ask you conference, when we thought what would make us proud as Conservatives…

…did we believe we’ve got to give dignity to our pensioners by restoring the earnings link to pensions?
Yes we did.

And are we delivering?

Yes we are.

And did we campaign to stop more power slipping away to the EU…

…did we campaign for less obsession with health and safety and for businesses to face less bureaucracy…

….and did we know that immigration was out of control?

Yes we did.

And are we delivering?

Yes we are.

And this is why I say to you with such confidence:

These are our promises, our policies, our values, our government.

Conference, you cannot exaggerate the scale of our ambition.

We want people in one generation, two generations, three generation’s time…

….to look back at this government and say…

“yes it was tough, yes things were difficult, but they put this country back on its feet.”

So as we deal with the opportunism of our opponents….

…as we face the mass power of the union barons….

…take hope that we are doing the right thing for our country….

…making this one of the most radical, reforming governments the country has ever seen.

And when it gets tough….

…..when it gets so hard you want to give up….

…..just remember what is at stake.

Not just the prosperity of this generation.

Not just the inheritance we give to our kids.

It is the fabric of our economy.

It is the future of our public services.

It’s the success of our country for decades to come.


This is the argument we need to take to the country.

And that starts with Campaign 2011.

On May 5th we’ve got elections for the Welsh Assembly….

…elections to the Scottish Parliament….

….and elections for more than half of all English council seats.

And let’s remember where we’re starting from.

We hold almost half of all English seats…

…gaining many when Labour were rock bottom in the polls.

So we have a high base to defend.
And let me be absolutely clear:

We are going to be fielding candidates in every corner of the country.

And yes, against every party in this land!

And our message is clear:

Labour councils waste your money.

Conservative councils deliver more for less.

So if we pull together, we can fight a strong and successful campaign!


Now I believe in our democracy.

I believe in our voting system.

I am passionate about First-Past-the-Post.


Because it’s based on a fundamental British belief…

…a belief that has been the beacon of British democracy for centuries….

…a principle that has inspired millions of democrats around the world and continues to do so….

…the idea that one person should get one vote and every vote should weigh the same.

Let me tell you what’s wrong with AV.

“It is the stupidest, the least scientific and the most unreal” voting system.

It means that elections “will be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates.”

Conference, not my words – the words of Winston Churchill eighty years ago!

He knew then – like I know now – that AV is wrong for Britain.

It’s wrong that candidates who come third can win elections.

It’s wrong that your fifth choice can count as much as my first.

And it’s absolutely wrong that elections can be decided by the eccentrics who vote for the Monster Raving Looney Party….

…or even worse, the extremists who vote for the BNP.

We must win this referendum.

But it is not going to be an easy fight.

I need each and every one of you to join the campaign!

Of course, on May 5th, I want you to defend the seats we hold.

Of course, we’ve got to take the seats we can.

But above all on May 5th, we need to win the one election which will affect every single general election to come!

So join the campaign – and meet the No2AV team.

Join the campaign – and find out who your local campaign organiser is!

If you’re a candidate – join the campaign and put No2AV messages on your literature.

If you’re a councillor – join the campaign and turn out the vote in your ward.

And if, like me, you know we absolutely have to win this battle…

…deliver those leaflets…

…make those phone calls….

…and fight harder than ever before to win this campaign!


Now on the subject of getting second best, I want to say something about Ed Miliband.

After all, he is the best advert for AV.

He wasn’t the first choice of Labour MPs.

He wasn’t the first choice of Labour activists.

For all I know, he wasn’t even the first choice of his own family!

But because Labour use AV, he’s now running the Labour Party!

And since he’s been in the job, he’s made it perfectly clear:

That he’s not really clear about…


Last month, he published a book of his policies.

It ran to 35 pages….

…and it was totally blank!

This tells us everything we need to know about Ed Miliband.

No plans for the present.

And no vision for the future.

But what about his part in the past?

He was there when Gordon Brown wrecked our economy.

He was there when public spending got out of control.

He was there when Brown raided billions from Britain’s pensions.

He was there when Brown sold the gold.

And all he does now is snipe from the sidelines:

Denying the deficit.

Attempting to rewrite history.

Taking the British public for fools.

But it was Labour who doubled the debt.

It was Labour that gave us the biggest budget deficit in peacetime history.

And it is Labour that has caused these cuts.

These cuts are Labour’s legacy.

I know you might have heard this before.

But frankly Labour spent 13 years complaining about 18 years of Tory government…

…a government which in 1997 left them a buoyant, thriving economy….

….and they brought Britain back to the brink of bankruptcy….

…and I for one will never let them forget it.


You know, it’s not always easy being Party Chairmen…

…especially when you’re surrounded by Secretaries of State…

They are followed by flunkies and get driven in special cars….

…and I don’t even get a coat hanger when I visit Downing Street…

…I have to use the railings outside No. 10!

But Conference, since Andrew and I started this job ten months ago, our mission has been all about one thing:

Bringing the Conservative Family Together.

This is a hard-headed, long-term strategy.

And it’s based on some core values.

– That the voluntary party is an essential part of our party.

– That as a party, we do better when we grow our grassroots.

– And that when we work together as one family, we’re not just more successful, we’re also truer to our values!

Later today, we’ve got a Meet the Chairmen event.

Andrew and I have held lots over the last few months.

And this is what we have learned:

You said you wanted us to stay in touch with you…

…and so we hope you’re receiving our new membership magazine.

You said you wanted CCHQ to listen to you…

…and through our new Office of the Voluntary Party, we are.

You deserve to know how we spend the money= we raise…

….so in our Meet the Chairmen events, come and ask us!

Above all, I know you want to be heard on policy….

….and thanks to the new Conservative Policy Forum, you will.

We are listening and learning…

….and we know we are stronger together….

…..stronger when we have one purpose….

And when we work together,

We prepare better,

We fight better,

And together, we win!


But conference, you know what really unites our family?

The vision we have for our country.

Because being in government is not just about balancing the books – although that’s crucial.

It’s not just about paying down our debts – although it’s vital we do.

And it’s not even about delivering more for less.

We’re doing all this because, as a family, we believe in a fundamental principle:

That no generation has the right to bankrupt the next!

We see a country where jobs are created…

…where businesses are thriving…

…where our hospitals are the best in the world.

A strong country, where we live within our means and pay our way in the world.

A fair country, open to the dreams and aspirations of everyone, no matter their background or where they were born.

A responsible country, where we reward hard work and fair play and back those who do the right thing.

Applying our vision was never going to be easy.

No one said this was going to be pain free.

But because we believe in a country where we all pull together…

…where everyone knows their neighbour and does their bit…

….where families feel that they can save up and get on in life….

….where we give the best possible opportunities to all our kids….

….then that makes the prize worth fighting for.

(7th March 2011)