One of Tony Blair’s worst legacies has been to drive values out of our politics. And now David Cameron is following him down the same road.

It is terrific to see such a large crowd here today.

Much better than the time when I was invited to speak and only the Chairman and I turned up.

“I don�t understand it,” said the Chairman, “your name was on all the publicity leaflets.”

It is great to be back in Yorkshire and I want to acknowledge and congratulate you on your excellent efforts in the election and in particular the great success in winning Leeds North West.

This builds on the strong results in council and European elections that the party has had in recent times.

A strong base on which to build.

I am serious about my politics and so is this party.

I have always worked hard � as an Olympic athlete, as a Scottish lawyer, as a National politician.

I know the value of hard campaigning and hard work � it took me three elections to win my seat.

It took three elections to move from 4th place to 1st place.

Building up strength on the ground � taking control of the Council, recruiting members and energising supporters.

Winning through campaigning.

As you know there are no short cuts to success.

So I will use this – my experience, my authority, my energy – to work with you, campaign alongside you as part of a formidable team.

In every generation the shining talents choose one party to make their home.

We are fortunate that this generation has chosen the Liberal Democrats.

Under my leadership talent will be nurtured from all sections of the party in Parliaments, in councils and in the nations and in the regions of Britain.

In this part of the world we have to be strong enough and credible enough to beat Labour in the towns and the Tories in the rural areas.

Working with a re-energised party we will break the old Labour-Conservative duopoly.

I am passionate about that, passionate about my politics, determined to lead this party, not for my own sake but for what liberal democracy can achieve.

We have exciting new opportunities as a party. As Tony Blair fades from the scene � why would people turn to David Cameron, the new Tony Blair? As Tony Blair fades � why would people turn to Gordon Brown, the same old Gordon Brown?

I believe that one of Tony Blair�s worst legacies has been to drive values out of our politics. And now David Cameron is following him down the same road. Both of them offer a managerial and technocratic brand of politics, which forgets about people.

And Gordon�s contribution? Like a Sudoku puzzle he merely adds some numbers to that bland managerialism.

So we must take our unique values � liberty, equality, and community � more relevant than ever and set the new agenda for progress in this century.

We must be the party of ideas, to re-awaken our stale politics and make the twenty first century the liberal century.
That is why I have set out five key areas for our future direction.

First, I will pursue the war on poverty.

We must lift those on the lowest incomes from tax and help women who bear the brunt of low pay, poor pensions and inadequate childcare.

Second, I will be a strong advocate of political reform, civil liberties and equal opportunities.

Parliament, fairly elected, Commons and Lords, must hold the Government to account

Third, I will be relentless in my focus on tackling the environment and energy crisis we face.

At home we must give a big boost to energy saving and encourage people and businesses to play their part.

Abroad we must work to persuade the United States to take climate change seriously and work with developed and developing nations to take positive action � this is one of the most pressing issues for British foreign policy.

On energy we must invest dramatically in renewables and new technology so that we can say no to nuclear power.

Fourth, I am determined that Britain must co-operate with other nations to ensure a safer and more secure world.

Make no mistake – I want to bring our troops home from Iraq as soon as possible.

But I am clear that that process should be driven by events on the ground in Iraq, not by arbitrary deadlines marked on a calendar in London.

We have seen how Paddy Ashdown has managed this same process in Bosnia.

There, the release of international money and the withdrawal of international troops were conditioned at every stage on real progress being made in strengthening the country�s democratic institutions.

The faster the Bosnians reformed, the quicker the international presence was wound down.

Paddy has been able to progressively reduce the troop presence from 60,000 at the end of the war to 6,000 today.

And we � the international community – have left behind us a stable, democratic state that is increasingly at ease with itself and at peace with its neighbours.

So let us never lose our hard-won position as the party of credibility, authority and judgement on critical issues of foreign policy.

Fifth, I will reduce the power of the over-mighty state � with community services, locally provided, democratically accountable.

In short, here in Leeds locally elected people responsible for local schools, local hospitals, local police and local transport.

It is time to trust people in Leeds to make the key decisions about services for themselves rather than wait on bureaucrats in London.

If it is good enough for the people of Scotland, it is good enough for the people of Leeds and Yorkshire.

My leadership � about values and integrity, judgement and credibility.

Taking our values and restating them for our time.

Defending civil liberties.

Cherishing our environment.

Promoting opportunity for all.

Decentralising power.

Spreading democracy.

Playing a leading role in our world.

A strong, distinctive, principled party.

Working together, going forward.

Not looking inwards, but reaching outwards.

Not a debating society but a party of local and national power.

Nothing less will do � not for our sake, but for Britain.