People are not going to be taken in by David Cameron’s New Tories and they are fed up with Tony Blair’s New Labour.

Ming Campbell MP delivered the following speech to the hustings in Slough on February 11, 2006

I am delighted to be here today.

Isn�t a week a long time in politics?

I said at the first hustings with Simon and Chris in Plymouth that our party � had spent a century and a half fighting for Liberalism and Liberal Democracy and would come back strongly after all our difficulties.

As Acting Leader � heading up the Liberal Democrat team � that has been my task.

Dunfermline and West Fife was a magnificent win for Willie Rennie. Willie is a great friend and will be a great MP.

This win sends a strong message.

People are not going to be taken in by David Cameron�s New Tories and they are fed up with Tony Blair�s New Labour.

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.

They are both worthy opponents.

Indeed � I hope the next time that you see three leaders on the stage in a political debate will be for the TV debate at the General Election.

I will relish the opportunity to take on Gordon Brown and David Cameron � head to head � I say � and I say even more loudly after Dunfermline and West Fife � bring them on!

Like many in this audience I was first inspired as a student to join the then Liberals.

I was excited by a party that embraced new thinking and new ideas, a party that cherished its principles and refused to sacrifice its values.

Where I grew up in Glasgow most people, like their parents and grandparents supported Labour or the Conservatives.

But that was not for me.

I knew I was a Liberal � open-minded and tolerant, for pluralism and diversity, economically liberal and socially liberal.

Those are the values of our party, the Liberal Democrats.

Not for me now the Liberal Democrats as a little echo of Tony Blair � we can leave that to David Cameron.

Not for me now the Liberal Democrats as the party of consolidation and caution � we can leave that to Gordon Brown.

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

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

We are able when we campaign as a united, credible and professional team win anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

I will 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.

We must renew our liberalism in the context of the world we are in.

First, as a principled radical I will pursue the war on poverty.

Britain is more unequal than in 1997.

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 pensions.

Second, 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 both with a stronger Commons and an elected Lords.

A fairly elected Parliament � representative of Britain � would never have supported the poll tax or voted for a war in Iraq.

Third, as a committed environmentalist I will be relentless in my emphasis on tackling the environmental crisis we face.

The tax system and user charges must be used to create the necessary incentives to change behaviour.
Environmental concerns must be centred in the Treasury, not regarded as some sort of departmental add-on.

As leader, I will argue for an Environmental Incentive Programme in the Treasury to promote tax incentives for good environmental behaviour and tough sanctions against polluters.

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

We must also give even greater priority to the global fight against poverty. It is a scar on humanity that a Zambian has less chance of reaching 30 than someone born in England in 1840. It is a scar on humanity that 1 billion people are trying to survive on less the $1 a day. We have to do better on that and Britain has to take a real lead.

Britain has a unique role to play at the heart of our global system and we must restore confidence in international institutions and the international rule of law.

Gordon Brown and David Cameron supported the Iraq War. We opposed that war underlining our support for the rule of international law. We stood by our belief in the United Nations and what it stands for.

We showed then our unity and our strength of purpose, we stood by our liberal principles.

I will never play politics with our defence and security and equally I will never compromise on opposing illegal and ill-founded military action.

I want the troops home � but through a considered and coherent exit strategy � not an arbitrary date put on a calendar in London.

Fifth, as a lifelong decentraliser and advocate of local democracy, I will reduce the power of the over-mighty state � with community services, locally provided, democratically accountable.

In short, 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.

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.

I have the determination, energy and desire to lead our party and to serve our country.

I am impatient for national power and hungry for the fight.