I am going to ensure that Liberal Democrats are the party of ideas and inspiration for Britain.

Ming Campbell celebrates his election as leader of the Liberal Democrats (Photo by Alex Folkes / LDDPics)
March 2, 2006: Ming Campbell’s address following the announcement of the result of the Liberal Democrats leadership election:

Thank you Mr Returning Officer and all of your staff and all the counting staff for all their hard work in ensuring an efficient count.

Thank you to everyone who voted and who took part in this election.

A particular thank you to those whose votes ensured this result.

The challenge now for all of us is to lead this party back towards government at the next election.

Today is not a victory for me; it is a victory for all Liberal Democrats.

Once again in these last few weeks we have confounded our critics and the commentators, all of whom wrote us off. Yet thousands of people in Dunfermline and West Fife elected Willie Rennie as the 63rd Liberal Democrat MP.

A victory in Labour’s heartlands and a victory which bursts the bubble of Cameron’s Conservatives.

A victory that points the way to a contest against those twin forces of conservatism.

A victory which underlined the remarkable legacy we have from Charles Kennedy.

Now let me say a few words to my opponents in the Leadership election.

To Simon let me say, I never cease to admire your tireless efforts to promote the cause of liberal democracy. I look forward to continuing that work together with you as a valued friend and campaigning President of our party.

To Chris let me say, you are a formidable asset for our party and will be a big part of our future. I look forward to working with you and the others of the brightest and best generation in politics to develop and strengthen our party.

Let me tell you how I am going to lead the Liberal Democrats.

I am going to modernise our party so as to make a reality of three party politics in Britain.

I am going to ensure that it is the Liberal Democrats who are the party of ideas and inspiration for Britain.

I am going to encourage the brightest and the best from every walk of life and every part of the country, women and men of every class and creed, every background and religion, to join in making Britain a better country.

I am going to lead the party to crusade against poverty – the poverty of income and the poverty of aspiration. Fairness and freedom are the inalienable right of every citizen.

I am going to ensure the party champions environmental protection, through radical tax policies and global effort. We have a duty to pass on a world fit for our children and grand-children.

I am going to make the Liberal Democrats the party of democratic revolution – combating the un-elected quango State, the unaccountable power of central government and the secrecy which still pervades too much of Britain.

I am going to make the Liberal Democrats the party which looks beyond our shores, which recognises that prosperity, security and sustainability are all dependent on using our influence to shape and participate in effective international action.

I am going to make the Liberal Democrats the party which wants to take power from Westminster and Whitehall and give it to men and women in their own communities to determine how they run their schools, hospitals, police and transport.

Leadership will mean tough questions and difficult answers, as we embrace the opportunities created by the new political landscape.

But the prizes can be the most exciting for liberals and progressives in 100 years.

We have the brightest political generation in our ranks.

Who would not relish the chance to lead in these circumstances?

Who would not relish the task of taking on both Labour and the Conservatives?

The task is to build a strong, effective, powerful Liberal Democrat party with the objective of ensuring a greener, fairer, decentralised and democratic Britain at peace with itself at home and admired abroad.