Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will not be making polite interjections from the sidelines: we will be hammering on the doors of power.

Ming Campbell launched his campaign to lead the Liberal Democrats earlier today

Today I am proud to launch my campaign to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Today I am proud to launch my campaign to be the next leader of the party which has dominated my life since I was a student.

I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from Liberal Democrats across the party.

You have heard today from some of the brightest and best in British politics and British public life – since this is a campaign that unites the whole party and reaches beyond it.

I am serious about politics and so is this party.

Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will not be making polite interjections from the sidelines: we will be hammering on the doors of power.

The removal van may not yet have arrived at Downing Street but the house of Blair will not be here for much longer. Already British politics has moved on, in search of a new home. And that home will be built on liberal ground.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats will have to compete head to head with Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

In every era the glittering talents colonise one political party. It is our fortune that this bright generation has chosen the Liberal Democrats.

My mission, as Leader, would be to harness their ability, to ensure that it is our party that becomes the rallying point and the catalyst, of this new political era.

I am passionate about my politics, determined to lead this party, not for my own sake but for what liberals and liberalism can achieve.

I believe that there should be no glass ceiling for our party, no limit on our aspirations, and no anchor on our ambitions.

I am determined to lead a progressive liberal party, even more determined than when I entered politics in the 1970s and even more energised than when I entered Parliament in 1987.

Next week, I shall be launching a detailed manifesto. But here are the five key areas I will address.

  • I will pursue the war on poverty. Labour has not done enough to help the weakest in society. We must lift those on the lowest incomes from tax and help more women who bear the brunt of low pay, poor pensions and inadequate childcare.
  • As an instinctive liberal, I will be a passionate advocate of civil liberties, equal opportunities and political reform. Parliament, fairly elected, must be able to hold the Executive to account with a stronger Commons and an elected Lords.
  • As a committed environmentalist, I will be relentless in my emphasis on tackling the environmental crisis we face. At home we must give a boost to energy saving technology and use the tax system to give incentives to change individual behaviour.
  • As a passionate internationalist I am determined that Britain must co-operate to ensure a safer and more secure world. Globalization has erased the distinction between domestic and international politics. Britain has a unique role to play at the heart of our international system and we must restore political confidence in international institutions and the international rule of law.
  • As a lifelong advocate of local democracy, I will seek to reduce the power of an over-mighty state with community services, locally provided, democratically accountable. Locally elected people should be responsible for local schools, local hospitals, local police and local transport. This will herald a revolution in the way our public services are funded and organised.

So this is my vision for the Liberal Democrats.

  • To promote social mobility and nurture the aspirations of all.
  • To defend the cause of civil and individual liberties.
  • To cherish our shared environment.
  • To shape events in the wider world.
  • To empower people and communities, not the state.

All of these objectives set us apart from other parties.

My role as leader will be as Captain and Coach a bridge to the future. I will seek to deliver our liberal message with renewed credibility, authority and unity.

A leader of a strong, distinctive, principled party.

Under my leadership we will think strategically, work professionally and campaign exhaustively.

We are impatient for national power and hungry for the fight.