Archive for the 'Speeches' Category

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

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

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.

The Liberal Democrats – a party on the up; a party confident about the future; a party which knows the best is yet to come.

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Ming Campbell speech to Campaign Team in North East Fife, 24 February 2006

It is an enormous pleasure to be back in North East Fife as we reach the final phase of the leadership election.

I know how hard you have all worked and I have been humbled by the efforts of hundreds and hundreds of supporters across the country to elect me as leader.

I knew in a contest against Simon and Chris that nothing could be taken for granted and that there would be no room for complacency.

I have been heartened by the overwhelming support of MPs, Peers, MEPs, MSPs and AMs – more than both Chris and Simon combined.

I have been heartened by the support of more Council Leaders than either Simon or Chris.

I have been heartened by the support of figures of real stature like Paddy Ashdown, David Steel, Tom McNally and Shirley Williams.

I have been heartened by the reception people have given me at hustings after hustings, meeting after meeting, conversation after conversation.

There is no complacency but it is looking good.

I also know that people understand that I want the party to be modernised, to be professional, and to be credible and united if Liberal Democrats are to make a reality of three party politics.

I also know that my message of a fair, green, democratic, decentralised Britain with an ethical foreign policy chimes not only with our party but with our country.

In my very first interview I argued that we needed to make a priority of the environment as an issue of conscience and necessity – not just for our generations but for all generations. That will mean changes in all our behaviours – individuals and governments alike.

I have consistently stressed the need for a democratic revolution to make government accountable to the people with fair votes for Westminster, an elected Lords and real Freedom of Information.

Our society has to do more to allow all – not just a privileged and wealthy few – to have the chance to make a success of their lives.

In a fair society we will help the poorest out of poverty. We will help them to keep more of their own money; to go to good schools and great universities; to raise a family and live in a decent home and so achieve their dreams.

I want for every child what I was able to have – good education and a chance to use my skills in my chosen fields. For me it was athletics, then law, then politics – for others it will be other fields, but the key is to build ladders of opportunity so that all can prosper.

I have long been a champion of devolution so that real power is as close as possible to the citizen. I want every part of Britain to be governed locally so that decisions about our schools, our hospitals, our policing and transport can be made by local people for local people. Let’s get central government out of the way so that local government can thrive and serve the local community.

Finally I have stressed the need for internationalism. We must play a more positive role in the world – not hang on the coattails of George Bush. International co-operation is vital to our economic success, our environmental sustainability and our very security. Let us as a party not throw away our hard won reputation for credibility and consistency with easy slogans and simple soundbites.

It has been a few tough weeks but the party is now bouncing back.

Willie Rennie’s victory showed that there is no safe seat left for Labour.

Dunfermline and West Fife showed that Liberal Democrats can defeat both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

My task as leader is to build on the legacy of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy.

My task as leader will be to harness the great talents – in and outside Parliament – so that every corner of Britain hears a proud and strong Liberal Democrat message.

My task as leader is to proclaim the message – the Liberal Democrats – a party on the up; a party confident about the future; a party which knows the best is yet to come.

An ambitious party – ambitious for Britain because Britain deserves better.

Our real fight is not against each other, it is a fight to promote the great cause of Liberal Democracy, a fight for a better Britain.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

February 23, 2005: Ming Campbell’s address to the London Hustings

As my good friend and constituency neighbour Willie Rennie MP has observed, this party seems to do pretty well without a leader.

Perhaps your journey tonight has been unnecessary.

Perhaps we could soldier on as we are, leaderless but regularly trouncing our opponents at by-elections.

Let it be clear tonight, whichever of Simon, Chris or I win – our real fight is not against each other, it is a fight to promote the great cause of Liberal Democracy, a fight for a better Britain.

We need unity certainly. But we also need clarity.

I know what I stand for and I’m determined that the country knows too.

A fair, green, democratic, decentralised Britain with an ethical foreign policy.

Values, beliefs, policies that chime with the vast majority of people in Britain.

(more…)

All Gordon Brown and Labour promise is more of the same unfair, unjust, unloved policies.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

It is a great pleasure to be with today in Tunbridge Wells in the year of your 400th anniversary.

Everywhere the three of us go record crowds turn out to hear the debates – which has humbled us all.

I want to thank you and all the Liberal Democrats in Kent for all that you do for our cause.

The South East of England is the only region that has returned two Liberal Democrat MEPs for two consecutive European elections.

We all admire Emma Nicholson’s unstinting efforts in the areas of foreign affairs and human rights. I know that Sharon Bowles has made a tremendous impact since she took over from Chris.

Here in Tunbridge Wells, you have some exciting and challenging local elections coming up in May.

I want you to know that as Leader I will fight shoulder to shoulder with you to regain control of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

My view is that we must fight these May elections as hard as we fought the general election.

We’re now coming into the home stretch of this leadership campaign.

Over the last few weeks, I have travelled all over this country, meeting and listening to hundreds and hundreds of people.

People tell me they feel let down by a government that has turned its back on them.

People feel angry at the promises that have been broken and the way they’ve been spun to and fobbed off.

People feel threatened by a government that has forgotten about the most basic values of freedom and justice.

People are crying out for change.

We know what sort of change Labour offers. When he finally becomes Prime Minister, Gordon Brown will try to tell us that everything has changed and that we really have a new government.

Mr Brown will ask us to forget that he has been joint Prime Minister since 1997. He will ask us to forget that when it really mattered, he stood behind every decision this government has made.

It was Gordon Brown who wrote out the massive cheques to pay for the war in Iraq.

It was Gordon Brown who raided the pension funds and in so doing helped to bring about the collapse of occupation and personal pensions.

And it was Gordon Brown who gave us the complicated and unfair tax system we have today. He lets the richest 10% of the population pay a smaller slice of their income in tax than the poorest 10%.

And now the ultimate injustice.

On a par with Gordon Brown’s mean spirited 75p rise in pensions a few years ago.

Last year the government gave every pensioner £200 off their council tax bill.

This year Treasury Ministers have told Parliament they have no plans to renew this.

So for this Government – pensioners matter more before the election than they do after the election.

No wonder there is cynicism about politics and politicians.

I believe it is time to stop central government meddling in local taxes – it is time to scrap the unfair, unjust, unloved Council Tax.

The truth is, all Gordon Brown and Labour promise is more of the same unfair, unjust, unloved policies.

But what should we make of the Conservatives?

David Cameron asks us to take him on trust.

Yet he was the man who wrote the Conservative manifesto for the last General Election. When he had the chance to set out a positive vision for our future, all Mr Cameron could come up with was a calculated appeal to prejudice and fear.

But now, “Dave” tells us he has changed.

He’s a liberal.

Interesting.

Does “Dave” now support proportional representation?

Does “Dave” now support free personal care to our elderly?

Does “Dave” now support opposition to nuclear power?

No, no, no.

“Dave” is no liberal; “Dave” is a Blairite. I believe that Britain deserves better than that.

The Liberal Democrats have exciting new opportunities ahead. After all the empty policies of Gordon Brown and the empty words of David Cameron, the people of this country will seek a fresh alternative.

We must provide the new alternative, the real solutions.

If I am elected as leader, I will make sure that we will live up to that responsibility and make a real difference in this country. That is why I have the support of people like Paddy Ashdown, Shirley Williams and David Steel, as well as over half of our MPs.

Let’s be clear – this election is about change, in our party and in our politics.

And we’re not going to get positive change by just criticising Labour and the Tories.

We have to do a better job of addressing the real problems of real people and explaining the liberal vision for the future and what it means for them.

Our vision is based on the liberal principles of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.

I want a fair, green, democratic, decentralised Britain with an ethical foreign policy.

When Liberal Democrats talk about freedom, we stand up for the rights and liberties that have been fought for and defended over centuries.

We stand firm against Labour plans to detain terrorist suspects without trial and we reject their ID cards scheme.

If I am elected as leader, we will carry on that work without hesitation or equivocation.

We stand firm against Labour extradition laws which allow America to extradite British citizens on weaker grounds than Britain can extradite American citizens.

This is another example of the Blair-Bush “special relationship” being all about what President Bush wants, he gets.

It is time that we once again became the candid friend of America and were prepared to tell them when they were wrong.

When Liberal Democrats talk about fairness, we mean that it’s time to give people on the lowest incomes some tax relief.

If I am elected leader, I will work to make taxes simpler and fairer; this will be part of a package of tax reforms to promote opportunity.

I am also clear that if we are to combat poverty and injustice, we will need to combine fair taxation and creative local policies to provide homes for the homeless.

When Liberal Democrats talk about opportunity our priority is to make sure that our people can have world-class skills and world-class education.

I agree that we need a more flexible secondary curriculum, so that young people are encouraged to stay on – learning and developing skills needed in a modern economy.

We should provide affordable pre-school for every child whose parents want it. We have always been the party that puts education first. I want us to reclaim this ground and develop new solutions.

When Liberal Democrats talk about decentralising that means we want to give local people the power to decide how their public services are run.

That is why as leader, I will work to make our public services locally provided and democratically accountable.

Labour cannot offer the real choice take flows from local democracy, because above all else they want to keep power in Whitehall.
So do the Conservatives.

Liberal Democrats reject that.

We believe in localism.

We are clear that local democracy is the best guarantor of local choice and local freedom.

Only through local democracy can communities make real choices for the good of all.

The people of Tunbridge Wells must have the power to make decisions about how the local schools, hospitals and policing are run.

When Liberal Democrats talk about democracy we mean bringing the quango state under democratic control, ensuring that both Houses of Parliament are elected by proportional representation and giving every citizen real power.

When Liberal Democrats talk about our environment we do so with a record of consistency and passion.

If I am elected as leader, I will be relentless in my emphasis on tackling the environmental crisis we face.

We must give a big boost to energy saving technology and use tax reforms to give incentives to change individual behaviour.

By investing more in renewables and clean coal, we can say no to nuclear power.

When Liberal Democrats talk an ethical foreign policy, we do so as unashamedly an internationalist party.

We understand that Britain must co-operate with other countries to ensure that we have a world that is secure, fair, prosperous and sustainable.

So this is my vision for the Liberal Democrats.

A strong, distinctive, principled party.

Standing up for freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.

The principles that have sustained us for decades, with new ideas for the twenty first century.

This election contest has shown everyone the strength of our party.

Willie Rennie’s victory in Dunfermline and West Fife showed everyone what we can achieve when we put our minds to it.

We can take on Gordon Brown and win.

We can take on David Cameron and win.

We can go on to win more victories and have even more triumphs.

We can win more votes and more seats than we ever have before.

Our best days still lie ahead.

Britain simply deserves better.

Under my leadership, the Liberal Democrats will make sure that Britain does better.

I want us, the Liberal Democrats, to be the champions of the constitutional revolution our country desperately needs.

Monday, February 20th, 2006

I am very pleased to be back here in the North West, speaking again in this famous Town Hall.

Before I start I am sure you will want to join with me in sending our best wishes to Sir Cyril Smith who is recovering after a recent fall at home.

Like Sir Cyril I am an instinctive liberal.

Yet over the years people as diverse as John Patten remember him? and John Smith who could forget him have tried to tempt me away.

But I have never been tempted, since I have always has confidence in our open, tolerant, optimistic liberal message. In the North West and across Britain I know our best days are yet to come.

Here we have so much on which to build. In the last election this was the party’s most successful region. You doubled your numbers, sending six MPs to Westminster.

We need more of that.

Lots, lots more!

Less than two weeks ago all the London pundits were writing off our party’s chances. Prospects for the local elections looked grim. Indeed many questioned the very survival of our party.

Our party, our movement is not going to be buried under newspaper headlines however unwelcome- we have too much work to do.

And now thanks to voters in Dunfermline and West Fife – we look to the future with enthusiasm.

The Conservative leader David Cameron is desperate to bring about a return of two party politics. He wishes us out of the way. But here in the North West we will prove in the local elections that Tory wishes don’t often come true.

Liverpool will stay strong in capable Liberal Democrat hands.

Here in Manchester, 28 years after Audrey Jones became our first Liberal councillor; we are poised to take control.

And nowhere is there room for the Conservatives Dave may come here for a day and smile for the cameras, but it is us, Liberal Democrats, who do the work, day-in, day-out.

We run now two of Greater Manchester’s 10 councils.

We are within touching distance of taking control of a further three.

Think of that. In a great urban metropolis of two and a half million people the Liberal Democrats are set to become the main political force.

I wonder what the London pundits make of that?

It’s a dream for us, and a well deserved nightmare for our opponents.

But much though I welcome our council progress here and elsewhere it is of limited value if we continue to have governments determined to centralise power.

I want to win power, so that we can give power away.

I want us, the Liberal Democrats, to be the champions of the constitutional revolution our country desperately needs.

I want us to be the champions, again, of people power.

Proportional representation for each and every election.

A fully elected House of Lords.

A robust Freedom of Information Act.

A Civil Service that has its independence guaranteed.

Local government able to make decisions over the running of local schools, hospitals and transport.

Citizens able to initiate inquiries; ask questions direct of decision-takers and have petitions debated.

In short, people power to replace unelected quango power so that government is servant and not master.

In order to break the political mould and bring about this revolution we need more votes and more seats at Westminster.

I don’t simply want you to double the number of your MPs at the next election, ambitious though that may be. I want you to do much better than that.

The party needs to look to you, here in the North West where you have already proven that you know how to win, to make a real breakthrough at Labour’s expense.

Let’s build on our council successes by securing many more parliamentary victories.

Lets ensure that we have a Parliamentary party to represent Britain because it is representative of Britain.

Lets work as a strong united team in Westminster and in the country so that we can show that Dunfermline and West Fife was the beginning of the end for the old, failed two-party system.

As you will be aware I have outlined my themes, my values and my policies for this campaign.

Summed up as a fairer, greener, democratic, decentralised Britain with an ethical foreign policy.

Let me today give some more details on my views on transport.

In the week that it was revealed that the North West has Britain’s most congested road between the M56 and M6 – we have to think again about this country’s transport policies so important to both our economy and our environment.

Building new roads is no real answer.

New roads change travel patterns and generate more traffic.

Indeed we have to allow councils to be as bold as in London with the congestion charge with the ability to use new revenues for local transport improvements.

We have got to start looking to the long term and planning for the future.

We allow the problems to get worse.

Out of town stores and out of town housing estates are built across the country with no thought to transport needs.

This must change.

Our planning policies must be fundamentally rethought.

The principles of sustainable development must be put into practice.

There will be no quick answers or short term solutions, but every council and every planner must be required now to start the process of shaping towns that reduce car use.

People say, “I would use public transport if only it was efficient and available.”

Well it could be.

Look at Zurich for inspiration – a city where car ownership continues to rise but where car usage is actually falling.

In three years, between 1844 and 1847 the Victorians in this country built 7,000 miles of main line railway.

During the 18 years of Conservative Government what did we get?

We got one mile of urban tramway, the Metrolink line at the back of this building.

When Labour came in we looked for leadership, but what did we get?

The Metrolink expansion programme slashed to ribbons.

The Merseyside tram proposal knocked back at the start gate.

Now even the famous Blackpool tram line, the oldest of its kind in the world, is set to close because the Government will not pay for its renewal.

As ever, this Government talked a good game, but just hasnt delivered and just wont allow towns and cities to deliver.

And on the railways, busier now than before Beeching, in a region of seven million people which is bigger than ten EU member states, what did we get?

In the North of England not one single major improvement plan has been given approval.

This cannot go on.

There must be rail investment and expansion in our urban areas.

We need to follow our continental cousins in building a brand new North-South high speed line to connect the North of England with the North of France.

Finally, let’s look at our airports. Both Manchester and Liverpool are success stories, but their growth comes at an environmental cost.

If the expansion of air travel continues as planned it will wipe out all the savings in CO2 emissions achieved through other means. The consequences of global warming are too high a price for the world to pay so that a few can pay a weekend visit to their second homes abroad.

So I put forward a simple principle.

We can accept an increase in air travel, but the growth in passenger numbers must not exceed the savings in CO2 emissions achieved through technological improvements.

We must take measures nationally and through the EU to ensure that the target is met.

So transport will under my leadership be an area for radical change based on the clear premise that it must make a real positive contribution to both economic success and environmental sustainability.

I want to lead this party; I want to lead a strong team into battle to take on Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

My message is that this leadership contest has shown the strength of this party.

The time to come together to take on New Labour and the Old Tories or is it Old Labour and the New Tories is fast approaching.

In doing so let us have no ceiling on our ambition, no anchors on our aspiration.

We must have an elected House of Lords, greater Freedom of Information and a culling of unelected quangos. We must also have more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Today is a proud moment for me.

I was inspired to go into politics by Jo Grimond.

And here I am today a Scot standing for leader of our great party speaking to a great gathering of Scots.

As our position in the Scottish Executive, our strong electoral support across Scotland and the great win in Dunfermline and West Fife shows we are the party on the rise and on the up in Scotland.

We have come a long way in a comparatively short time.

Transformed in my time in politics we have much to thank those great Scots David Steel, Malcolm Bruce, Jim Wallace and Charles Kennedy for.

Consider what they used to say of us Liberal Democrats?

Think now what they say of the other parties here in Scotland?

The SNP a party of protest, a one-man band.

The Tories they can promise anything because theyll never be in power.

Labour the trouble is we just dont know what they stand for.

I am serious about politics and so is this party.

My mission is to spread the Scottish success of our party to the whole of Britain.

Not just the political success, not just the policy success but the government success.

Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats we will be hammering on the doors of national power.

The general election result the best in eight decades, raised the standard this party expects and I intend to deliver.

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 liberalism.

That liberalism can dominate our politics and inspire our country.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats will have to argue the liberal case head to head with Gordon Brown and David Cameron, and of course here in Scotland with whoever happens to be leading the SNP at the time!

I relish the fight we had a dry run in Dunfermline and West Fife “Dave” came to see us once, smiled and left.

Gordon lives there and masterminded the Labour campaign, didnt smile and lost.

We fought as a united, campaigning and radical party, smiled alot and won decisively.

So I say bring them on.

I am ready to take on both David Cameron and Gordon Brown anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

So we now have a fantastic new Scottish Liberal Democrat MP, in Willie Rennie, to join the ever growing ranks of Scottish Parliamentarians who now play such a key part in our public life.

In every era the glittering talents colonise one political party.

It is our great fortune that this bright generation has chosen the Liberal Democrats the new Scottish colleagues in Westminster underline this Jo Swinson, Danny Alexander and only last week Willie Rennie.

My mission, as Leader, would be to harness their ability to ensure it is our party that becomes the rallying point, 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 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.

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.

As a radical I will pursue the war on poverty. Britain is more unequal than in 1997. We need an urgency on issues like housing, local economic regeneration and pensions that we simply have not seen from this Government. This Government has promised much but it us who will have to deliver.

As a liberal I will champion constitutional reform proportional representation for each and every election in Britain so that every vote will finally count. We must have an elected House of Lords, greater Freedom of Information and a culling of unelected quangos. We must also have more powers for the Scottish Parliament. This Government has promised much but it is us who will have to deliver.

As an environmentalist I will be relentless in my emphasis on tackling the environmental crisis we face. At home we must give a big boost to energy saving technology and use the tax system to give incentives to change individual behaviour. By investing in renewables and clean coal we can say no to nuclear power. This Government has promised much but it is us who will have to deliver.

As an internationalist I am determined that Britain must co-operate with other nations to ensure a safer, more prosperous and more secure world. Britain has a unique role to play at the heart of our international system. I still want the ethical foreign policy that Robin Cook talked about. This Government has promised much but it is us who will have to deliver.

As a decentraliser, I will reduce the power of the over-mighty state with our great public services locally provided and democratically accountable. I stand by the key principles for Scotland of greater fiscal autonomy, reward for good governance and an end to the dependency culture. This Government has promised much but it is us who will have to deliver.

So this is my vision for the Liberal Democrats.

A fairer, greener, more democratic Britain.

A strong, distinctive, principled party.

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

Let a vote for the Liberal Democrats be a powerful vote a vote for change, a vote for reform, a vote for a better Britain.

Let us move quickly from the leadership fight to the real fight.

A fight for Britain and a campaign which is ambitious for the Liberal Democrats, but more is ambitious for Britain.

Over one million children live in bad housing in our country – the poorest in our society suffer the most. Labour should be ashamed of this.

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

It was during the 1997 election that I heard the best ever line from a Labour party spin doctor.

Talking about Tony Blair and his speeches.

He said today Tony Blair will be passionate, tomorrow he will be spontaneous!

You couldn’t make it up!

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

I know I speak for Simon and Chris as well by saying that the huge turnout to these hustings has shown the strength of the party up and down the country.

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.

I know this party, I have lived and breathed this party all my life, and I want to lead this party.

I am passionate about this, passionate about my politics, I want 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 Dunfermline and West Fife showed there should be no limits to our ambitions and our aspirations.

But 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?

Liberal Democrats 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.

A time when we can make our politics and our country – fairer, greener and more democratic.

That is why I have set out five key areas for our future direction.

First, I will pursue the war on poverty.

I have made housing a theme of my campaign.

Homelessness has doubled under Labour – 1.5 million await a council house whilst 750,000 homes are empty. Labour should be ashamed of this.

Over one million children live in bad housing in our country � the poorest in our society suffer the most. Labour should be ashamed of this.

In urban and rural areas millions of young people unable to find a house which they can buy or rent. Labour should be ashamed of this.

So Liberal Democrats must be radical. One idea – remove VAT on house repairs which would encourage empty houses to become homes once again. With over 90,000 empty houses in the public sector government must be more determined to tackle this.

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

It is time to make it clear that the Liberal Democrats believe in a democratic revolution – proportional representation for the Commons, and a fully and fairly elected Lords would really hold the Government to account.

We must be clear that people will only trust Politicians and Parliament when there is a fair voting system for both Houses of Parliament.

We have been too silent on this for too long and now is time to reclaim the ground of democratic reform.

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 Bosnian�s reformed, the quicker the international presence was wound down.

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 Coventry locally elected people responsible for local schools, local hospitals, local police and local transport.

It is time to trust people in Coventry 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 Coventry.

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

Taking our values and restating them for our time.

Fairer.

Greener.

Democratic.

A strong, distinctive, principled party.

Working together, going forward.

Not looking inwards, but reaching outwards.

Taking our message not to a few seats but every seat – to every town and village, every city and metropolis.

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

In the battle against poverty, I want people to know where the Liberal Democrats stand.

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

It is great to be in St Albans and to celebrate with you the local council success that you have had here and the advance that Michael Green made in the 2005 general election.

Thinking of Chris and Simon and I going round the country – I was reminded of the contest for the Republican nomination in 1976.

Ronald Reagan was running against Gerald Ford and he used to say in every speech to illustrate that his opponent was a Washington insider that ‘Gerald Ford has been a Congressman for 35 years.’

After too many speeches one day he surprised his audience with the claim, ‘Gerald Ford has been a communist for 35 years.’

I’ve been thinking in the last few days about how quickly politics can change.

In a matter of hours, the political world can be turned upside down, all the certainties of newspaper columnists demolished in an instant.

Dunfermline and West Fife – underlines that old saying a week is a long time in politics!

Let me remind those same commentators who wrote us off – a few weeks of bad publicity will not destroy a political tradition that has thrived for one hundred and fifty years.

What Dunfermline has confirmed is that our underlying political values and appeal are not only very resilient but with the right lead and right campaign – very popular as well.

And yet how often do we actually go out and talk about our values to the public?

How often does any party do that?

All too often, politics is seen as a value-free zone. Politics and politicians are seen as grubby and self-serving.

You’re all the same� is an all too regular accusation.

With values being driven out of politics, by Messrs Blair and Cameron, perhaps it�s no wonder people come to that conclusion.

But you know, and I know, that politicians aren’t all the same.

The Liberal Democrats do offer a different choice because we have different values.

So I believe passionately that our task in politics is to take our values to the British people – not just in 60, 70 or 80 seats but in every seat.

We have to set out why those values are the right ones for the twenty first century.

The message of a fairer, greener, more democratic Britain is a powerful one which I relish the chance to deliver.

There is no point in us being just another managerial option.

There is plenty of that on offer from Blair and Brown and Cameron.

For them, politics doesn�t seem to be about different visions.

They see politics as being about different management techniques.

And they seem to think that if you tweak a bit here, fiddle a bit there, then people may just decide that their form of managerialism is the way forward.

We need to offer a much starker choice.

A choice which challenges the powerful vested interests, the dominating monopolies and the unaccountable quangos.

Challenges not by quick fix policy solutions.

I do not believe there are simple answers to be found in pinning all our hopes on one tax rate or another or on some superficial slogans that will be ripped apart by our opponents.

But challenges by having a powerful and compelling political message.

The fight against poverty at home and abroad.

The need to tackle climate change.

The state playing fast and loose with civil liberties.

The centralisation that leaves local communities with no say over their hospitals and schools.

The arrogant nationalism that sees powerful countries taking the law into their own hands.

Beveridge talked of the five giants stalking the land when he published his report in 1942.

Want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

He inspired the nation by drawing the battle lines starkly.

In doing that he paved the way for great reforms.

I tell you today that I am determined to draw those battle lines just as clearly in the twenty-first century.

When Jo Grimond said that he would lead his troops towards the sound of gunfire, he inspired me and an entire generation of Liberal activists.

But today, we have to be making the sound of gunfire ourselves.
We must be leading the attack and firing the first salvos.

In the battle against poverty,
I want people to know where the Liberal Democrats stand.
I want people to understand that we regard poverty as a disgrace in one of the world’s richest nations.
I want people to know that we think it is a scandal that 40,000 children go to secondary school every year not being able to read.
I want people to know that we are appalled by the desperate conditions which put one and half million families on the waiting list for a council house.
New Labour boasts they roar like a lion � too often they squeak like a mouse.
If we are to fight that war against poverty and injustice there will have to be both redistributive taxation and creative local policies to tackle problems like housing.
That way, people will recognise us as the champions of social justice.

In the battle against climate change, I want people to be in no doubt of this: that the planet we share is the most precious inheritance we can pass on to future generations.
Liberal Democrats will have no truck with those whose actions lead to irreversible damage.
Then I want the public to know that we will take tough action to change behaviour � both at home and abroad – so that there is a habitable planet to pass on.
That way people will recognise us as the champions of sustainability.

On civil liberties, we must lead the charge because we are the only party with consistent credentials on rights and diversity.
This debate has for too long been an abstract one, but we now know where an illiberal government leads.
It leads to plans to take away people�s rights for months on end without trial.
It leads to the most invasive and intrusive scheme on ID cards ever seen in peacetime Britain.
And tragically, it leads to an innocent man being shot on the London Underground.
I have argued for strong measures to counter the real terrorist threat � like telephone intercepts – because I never want us to be accused of being soft on terrorism.
But I know this can be balanced by defending people�s liberties, against the government ministers who want to take them away.
That way, people will recognise us as the champions of security and liberty.

We must also take our values to the great debate on public services.
Where we stand on this must be clear: we want real local choices for all.
Labour cannot offer the real choice which flows from local democracy, because above all else they are a centralising party. So are the Conservatives.
We reject that. We believe in localism. We invented community politics.
We stand firm in our belief in local democracy as the best guarantor of local choice.
Only through local democracy can communities make real choices for the good of all.
The people of St Albans must have the power to make decisions about how the local schools, hospitals and policing run.
Our belief in democratic localism must be the vision that emerges triumphant.

Finally, we are the internationalist party in British politics.
When the others are so worryingly nationalist, we must be the party that argues for international law.
The party that understands that international cooperation, through Europe, the UN, and the WTO, is the way to tackle the problems we face as a global community.
I want the troops home from Iraq.
But I also want us to have a phased exit strategy like in the Bosnia not an arbitrary date plucked from a London calendar.
And I am passionately committed to continuing to make that internationalist case.

So when we look back at twentieth century liberalism, we can draw strength from our past
and look forward to our future with vigour.
Beveridge had his five giants.
So do we: poverty, climate change, centralisation, terrorism and nationalism.
These are our enemies.

In facing them and defeating them, there is only one course we can take.
Let us be proud of our values: social justice, sustainability, localism, security and liberty, internationalism.
And let us proclaim them to the British people.

Liberal Democrats under my leadership would vote against any Queens Speech without a clear and unambiguous commitment for proportional representation

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Its always a pleasure to be in Cambridge, and never more so than this evening.

This city, its university and its people have been an inspiration to Britain and the world for many years, and now the city boasts its first Lib Dem MP in David Howarth. I am proud to have David in Parliament as part of an ever growing team.

We celebrate Cambridge today above all because it is a beacon to the world for scientific and technological endeavour.

Not only is Cambridge, with its 1,000-plus hi-tech companies the Silicon Valley of Europe, but right now, a City which leads for us all.

There is a team of university scientists working at the Addenbrookes Hospital who have developed the worlds first quick and simple test that enables doctors to know immediately whether a new-born baby has the HIV virus.

Medecins sans Frontieres have said that this diagnostic breakthrough could revolutionise the world of Aids treatment.

It is indeed a beacon of hope that has been lit here in Cambridge, and it serves to remind us of the desperate poverty that exists in Africa and many other parts of the world, where 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day.

It also reminds us that our country must continue the fight to make poverty history.

But make no mistake, there is poverty in Britain too even here in Cambridge. And poverty is at the top of my personal list of priorities.

It is deeply shocking that the gap between rich and poor is now greater than it was when Labour came to power in 1997.

The party that I will lead into the next General Election and beyond will tackle the root causes of poverty by reducing health inequalities and raising educational standards.

We will also massively expand social and affordable housing so local people are able to buy and rent houses in their own communities a key issue here in Cambridge and right across our nation.

The second crucial issue that I want to pursue as your leader is the environment and the energy crisis. At home we must give a big boost to energy saving and use the tax system to encourage people and businesses to play their part. Abroad we must work to persuade the United States to take climate change seriously.

On energy we must invest dramatically in renewable energy and new technology so that we can reduce our dependence on oil and say no to nuclear power. Again, the laboratories of Cambridge may play a crucial role in making that happen.

It just cannot be right that we tax jobs and income excessively whilst taxing pollution and congestion so leniently.

Thirdly, I am determined that Britain must work with other nations for a safer 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.

And I have to say that the latest news of the Basra authorities being reluctant to work with our soldiers after the release of that appalling video makes all this considerably more urgent.

But under my leadership there will be no panic measures, no arbitrary deadlines. We must never lose our hard-won position as the party of credibility, authority and judgment on critical issues of foreign policy.

My fourth priority is to reduce the power of the over-mighty state with community services, locally provided, and democratically accountable.

That means locally elected people here in Cambridge being responsible for your schools, your hospitals, your police and your transport services.

Labour talks about this a lot now. But it strikes me that they suffer from what Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister described as the Law of Inverse Relevance the less they intend to do about something; the more they talk about it!

Last, but by no means least, we must have a genuinely liberal approach to civil liberties, equal opportunities and political reform.

We will keep campaigning for a fairer voting system. As I have made clear in the event of a hung Parliament, which I will never campaign for – Liberal Democrats under my leadership would vote against any Queens Speech without a clear and unambiguous commitment for proportional representation. Anything less would be a betrayal of our principles, our party and our country.

We will be vigilant against every kind of discrimination. And we will stand firm against this governments attempts to circumscribe our freedoms, whether by detaining terrorist suspects without trial or introducing ID cards without any objective evidence that they will serve any useful purpose.

Gordon Brown made a speech this week defending ID cards. He is now part of a dual Premiership with Tony Blair. Perhaps at Prime Ministers Questions I should ask questions of Brown and Blair?

There are questions to ask Gordon Brown.

Will the Chancellor confirm that as Prime Minister he will run Labours election campaign with all the skill and determination he displayed in Dunfermline and West Fife?

And pray let the answer be yes!

And what of Tory wonder boy David Cameron?

Well, credit where credits due: the Prime Minister did a great job last week characterising him, with wounding accuracy, as a flip-flopper, a man prepared to say anything to win votes.

Hes been on the road to Damascus so often he clearly needs a season ticket!

But this should not surprise us.

When young Dave was a PR man for Michael Green at Carlton Communications, this is what the business journalist Jeff Randall said of him: “In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair.”

I dont think the British public will fancy such an inexperienced prospect a leader with L-Plates.

I think rather than the new spin of Cameron and the old spin of Brown voters will want substance, values and integrity, judgment and consistency.

With your help, I will use my experience, my authority, my energy to marshall the remarkable array of talent that exists in this party.

The election contest has shown the voters the strength of our party.

The by-election has shown the voters the seriousness of the party.

We now have to show the voters that we stand for a better Britain fair, green, democratic.

Last week we showed what we could do in Gordon Browns back yard, in my back yard in Dunfermline and West Fife.

At the last General Election you showed what we could do in Cambridge.

With your support Liberal Democrats can at long last break the mould of British politics.

That is my commitment to you.

That is my commitment to the party.

That is my commitment to Britain.

All I ask is for a chance to deliver.

The Liberal Democrats must do much much better in reflecting the diverse nature of our society at every level of the party

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

I am delighted to be here.

I want to modernise our party thats why I want to be leader.

I believe the Liberal Democrats must do much much better in reflecting the diverse nature of our society at every level of the party.

The current position is just unsatisfactory it damages our credibility and it undermines our claim to government.

I believe this is a leadership issue and that the party leader must take a lead.

If we are to achieve a society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, as our constitution states, then we must ensure that no one in our party is disadvantaged or suffers discrimination.

Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of promoting equality and anti-discrimination legislation in our society. But we cannot accept that our own party has done enough.

I want everyone to be in the mainstream of our party, I want people from all communities, religions and cultures to feel that the Liberal Democrats are the party to join and be active in.

So that is why I support the specific goal as a minimum of at least 1 new black or minority ethnic MP and 40% of new MPs and 25% of the Parliamentary Party being female after the next election.

This I will make happen through a programme of positive action.

Positive action means looking at all our procedures and practices to ensure that there is no discrimination. There are too many examples that I have been told of wrong practice and wrong questions at selection meetings.

Positive action means identifying role models in the party.

Positive action means a positive lead from a positive leader.

So that is why I will ask every MP, every MEP, every MSP and every AM to mentor one potential candidate who is a woman and one who is from the ethnic minorities. I want them all to identify people from within their own constituencies and report back to me.

I repeat every MP, MEP, MSP and AM.

So that is why I will at Harrogate give a lead by making it clear that I endorse the motion before the conference to set up an Ethnic Minority Election Task Force on a comparable basis to the Gender Balance Task Force.

This motion is a direct result of work undertaken by Navnit Dholakia, who is a Vice-Chairman of my campaign, and with others pulled together the paper on Diversity, Racial Equality and the Party.

This document, approved by the Federal Executive, has been described as the best document to emerge from a political party by Operation Black Vote.

I will then want to see the party allocate sufficient energy and funds and resources to this.

Part of specific funding must be to help candidates to get selected. I want to task a small group to raise specific money to provide bursaries for candidates to win selection and then start their campaigning.

As leader I will certainly put my own energy and authority into making sure that we walk-the-walk as well as talk-the-talk.

That is why I will ask the candidates office to give me a monthly report on how many ethnic minority candidates we have and how many have been selected and in what seats.

Part of how we attract people from all faiths and all cultures to be part of our party is not through PR-gimmicky we can leave that to David Cameron; nor through assumptions of support we can leave that to Gordon Brown but through engaging on the right issues.

The Leader chairs the Federal Policy Committee.

I will ensure that all our policies receive an equality audit.

I will ensure that as we review policies that whether it is schools, welfare reform or health-care that we recognise how our policies impact on all communities.

I will ensure that we draw in expertise not least from our local council colleagues to help us better focus our policies and campaign with vigour.

Our principled Opposition to the Iraq War which Charles Kennedy and I led did attract voters at the last election and I want our policies a fairer, greener, democratic Britain to appeal as strongly next time as did that opposition to the war last time.

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.

This hard headed position allows us to be credible when we speak of a two-state solution in the Middle East or our encouragement of India and Pakistan to resolve the issue together of Kashmir or our continuing demands to make poverty history.

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

On the domestic front, I think the issue of a fair society with a strong attack on poverty and disadvantage will appeal to people from ethnic minorities. Of course it will appeal more widely but I know that the values of hard work, enterprise and self reliance will resonate amongst our ethnic minority communities.

So let me make it clear – our welfare system Gordon Browns welfare state has failed Britain it traps people in poverty instead of freeing them.

It makes people dependent instead of providing them with opportunities and second chances.

It penalises work instead of rewarding it.

It complicates tax rather than simplifying it.

We are the most unequal society amongst the major economies and that has worsened since the 1970s.

We must take the poorest out of tax whilst rewarding those who want to be helped into learning and jobs.

I want to encourage self reliance not dependence.

I want to help those who can help themselves by championing effort, enterprise and entrepreneurs.

Too few of our young people continue with learning post-16 and our curriculum is weak on creativity, team working and communication the key skills of the next decade.

Some Muslim communities Pakistani, Bangladeshi are more at risk of social exclusion and poor school performance compared to Indians and Chinese communities.

I will always speak out against disadvantage and discrimination; I will be fearless in my view that Liberal Democrats should be for all faiths and all communities and all of Britain.

We cannot allow our Muslim communities to feel apart and left out Liberal Democrats must champion equality, freedom and opportunity across all communities.

I will want us as a party as a nation to celebrate the contribution that all ethnic minority communities make to our society, our country and our prosperity.

This contribution which enriches us all – is not recognised or celebrated enough.

But we have to do better as a party to attract, retain and develop the talent in all our ethnic minority communities.

If elected I will make this a priority.

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.

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

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.

Let the message go out to Gordon Brown and David Cameron – we are ready – we are ready to take you on.

Friday, February 10th, 2006

I am delighted to be here in Cheltenham. I was privileged to spend time in Parliament with Nigel Jones – a man of remarkable character and courage. Cheltenham was fortunate to have Nigel as MP and the party was fortunate to have Nigel in Parliament. As Nigel knows and you know, Martin Horwood is a worthy successor with a bright parliamentary career ahead.

The remarks from Jenny were too kind.

Thank you.

Jenny is one of the great talents of our parliamentary party and I’m so pleased that she is on my team!

In the early hours of this morning – the party and the country had reason to celebrate.

Dunfermline and West Fife – Liberal Democrat gain!

A fantastic victory for Willie Rennie and a fantastic victory for the Liberal Democrats.

A victory which marks the end of the road for the Prime Minister and the beginning of a difficult road for the Chancellor.

After all the boasts of the Tories and all the bluster of Labour it was the Liberal Democrats united, credible and professional who showed how to campaign and how to win.

We are back in business and let the message go out to Gordon Brown and David Cameron � we are ready � we are ready to take you on � because we can win anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

I was going to say something more about David Cameron – but for once I agreed with the Prime Minister who this week characterised the young man as a “flip-flopper”.

One minute a Conservative to his very core – the next minute a liberal Conservative.

One minute the conscience of Michael Howard – the next minute the friend of Ken Clarke.

One minute the heir to Tony Blair – the next minute the flag carrier of Norman Tebbitt.

Well, I think that at the next election people will not want a party of spin and inconsistency; they will want a party of principles and values.

So I look forward to spending my time over the next few years contrasting liberal democrat principles, values and consistency with Conservative U-turns, flip-flops and inconsistency.

Tonight, I want to say a few words about Labour.

This week�s exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions on police restructuring highlighted what I believe is one defining feature of Mr Blair�s government – centralisation.

And as and when Mr Brown takes over, centralisation will be the defining feature.

We know from his time at the Treasury that Gordon Brown is centralising and target-driven.

Mr Blair has often behaved as Britain’s first president – taking ever more power to number 10.

Under Mr Brown matters will get even worse. His stewardship has seen the tentacles of the Treasury extended into welfare policy, health policy, education policy, police policy.

Whatever the area, the government’s mantra is not one-size-fits-all; it is ‘any size, as long as it’s bigger.’ This is true for police authorities, primary care trusts, fire control centres, ambulance trusts and strategic health authorities.

Centralisation is eroding our democracy and undermining personal responsibility.

Under Labour, accountability has decreased as centralisation has increased. When did a Minister last resign because of incompetence in their department? Yet this government has presided over the fiasco of the tax credit system and the disaster that is the Child Support Agency.

Local government has been emasculated as councils have lost control over their budgets and have to meet targets set in Whitehall.

The government talks about wanting to promote personal responsibility, but their nannyish behaviour has the opposite effect.

None of this will change under Gordon Brown, or indeed David Cameron. Both are competing solely on the basis that they can be better managers of a centralised state.

John Prescott is even rumoured to want to abolish next year’s local elections! I wonder why?

By accruing ever more power in Whitehall, Labour behaves as if the state always knows best how people should run their lives.

There are targets, Tsars, delivery units, strategy units, spin doctors, personal advisers, executive agencies and national quangos – all arms of the central state – all designed to extend central control.

For this is the Prime Minister who relies on advice from people who have never been elected by anybody to anything.

For this is a Prime Minister who seeks to marginalise the Cabinet and exclude Parliament.

For this is a Prime Minister the mantra is “modernising” and after nine years in power we know that his modernising is centralising.

And all this from a Prime Minister who promised a “new politics – because Britain deserves better.”

And now the Prime Minister wants a legacy.

He has one.

History will record that Tony Blair headed a centralising government which led us to disastrous war with Iraq at the behest of the worst American President in modern times.

We need to put values back into our politics. British politics does not need a third management party. An injection of liberal values is the only way to undo years of centralisation, bring back local control and accountability, and help people to take responsibility for their own lives.

I want us Liberal Democrats to reduce the power of the over-mighty state � with community services, locally provided, democratically accountable.

In short, here in Cheltenham locally elected people responsible for local schools, local hospitals, local police and local transport.
I know it is time to trust people in Cheltenham to make the key decisions about services for themselves rather than wait on bureaucrats in London.

My leadership – values and integrity, judgement and credibility.

Positive policies.

Waging war on poverty.

Cherishing our environment.

Promoting opportunity.

Defending civil liberties.

Championing equal opportunities.

Decentralising power.

Spreading democracy.

Playing a leading role in our world.

A credible, 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.

Liberal Democrats in Government.

Nothing less will do for Liberal Democrats or for our country.

I know real liberals, Mr Cameron, and let me tell you – you are no liberal

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

February 8: Ming Campbell issued the following statement shortly before arriving in Dunfermline for eve of poll campaigning:

Yesterday, David Cameron invited local Lib Dems in Dunfermline to join his party.

Let me explain why this invitation is laughable, and will not be taken seriously here in Scotland or anywhere else in the country by Lib Dem members.

Mr Cameron has made clear his admiration for Mr Blair – sometimes it seems as though the feeling may be mutual.

Mr Cameron wishes to be seen as a liberal. Mr Blair wished to be seen as a liberal in his early years.

But being a liberal is not about what you say, but what you do. Mr Blair no longer even pretends to be a liberal.

I know real liberals, Mr Cameron, and let me tell you – you are no liberal.

In his first few weeks, Mr Cameron has shown in his actions precisely which aspects of Mr Blair’s leadership he wishes most to emulate.

Insubstantial policy statements, empty pledges, the obsession with media spin. These are the aspects of Blairism that Mr Cameron has been fastest to adopt – just when they are going out of fashion.

Why have they gone out of fashion? Because people today want their politicians to be honest about their beliefs, to make promises they can keep, and to stand up for Britain�s fundamental liberal values, not to sell them down the river for short term political advantage.

David Cameron’s flip-flops on policy expose his inexperience. He’s still a novice. A leader with L-Plates.

So while Conservatives may think that youth, inexperience, and naivete are the answer to their problems; I say they are not the answer to the country’s problems.

Tomorrow’s Britain needs leaders of experience, proven good judgement, who people know they can trust. That’s my territory Mr Cameron, not yours. And I can’t wait for the chance to put that choice to the British people.

I want the tax burden on those on lowest incomes to be significantly reduced.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

I want to start by paying tribute to the work of the Liberty Network and thanking you for all that you do.

The Liberal Democrats exist to make big changes in British politics. We appreciate that we can only make a difference if the party is able to run effective campaigns. So we are immensely grateful to all of you for your support. And we value your work in providing a forum for discussion about some of the issues in British and world politics.

Despite all the dramas of recent weeks, I am very optimistic about the future of the Liberal Democrats.

We can make a difference to politics in this country. We can make a difference in the economic debate. We can play a part in making the economic policy of this country.

One of the reasons is the quality of our team. We have in Dr Vince Cable one of the most authoritative speakers on economic matters that any party has ever been able to offer. He is backed up David Laws on the frontbench at Work and Pensions and Norman Lamb at Trade and Industry. And in our House of Lords team, we have the practical business experience and acumen of Iain Vallance, David Alliance and Colin Sharman. I want that team to come strongly together as a business and economics team.

There is another reason the Liberal Democrats will have some tremendous opportunities over the next few years. I am sure that barring a major mishap, Gordon Brown will lead the Labour Party into the next General Election. I do not know when he will take over from Tony Blair. But I am quite certain than when he finally becomes Prime Minister, Gordon Browns reputation will be tarnished.

At the last General Election, he kept on telling us that the economy was stronger than it has been for 300 years. We can all agree that we have seen good rates of growth in the last few years. But that growth has been kept up by high levels of consumer spending fuelled by over-inflated house prices – and, more recently, by growth in public spending. It is not the result of new business investment or productivity increases.

Now, consumer spending is slowing down and the share of this countrys national income that is used to service private debt has now reached 20 per cent. We are already seeing where this could lead, as mortgage repossessions and personal bankruptcies are already rising.

At the same time, the growth in public spending is due to level off; indeed, despite the fact that Gordon Brown has told us for years that he is a prudent manager of the public finances, they are now under immense pressure. One of his specific pledges was that net public debt would stay below 40% of GDP over the economic cycle. But that promise is likely to be broken over the life of this Parliament.

For years, Gordon Brown has talked about the need to address this countrys long term economic weaknesses. But productivity growth – has now slumped and investment in commercial research and development has also fallen.

Labour has run out of steam. But the Conservatives offer no alternative. We can never forget the ignominious night of Wednesday, 16 September 1992 Black Wednesday when a battered and exhausted Norman Lamont announced Britains forced withdrawal from the ERM. And who was skulking in the shadows but the chancellors apprentice, none other than David Cameron. It is little wonder that he says that the Conservatives will not necessarily speak up for business and enterprise! Otherwise, he just says that we will be like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

After the abject failures of Gordon Brown and the empty words of David Cameron, I am sure that the people of this country will soon be crying out for a fresh alternative.

I give you my word that if I am elected as leader of this great party, I will do everything I can to make sure that we offer them that choice.

I am convinced that we will be able to do so if we stand by the principles of modern economic liberalism.

  • Supporting open markets that liberate peoples talents and energies as the best way to create wealth.
  • Recognising that the government must act where peoples freedoms are endangered.
  • Building and investing for the long term
  • Ensuring that our prosperity is environmentally sustainable.

With those in mind, I want to set out three priorities tonight.

First, we must to go into the next General Election with a programme of major tax reforms. Taxes must never be punitive, and should be kept as low as possible within the bounds of what we have agreed needs to be funded from general taxation. At the same time, I want the tax burden on those on lowest incomes to be significantly reduced. I want to explore ways in which the tax system can be actively used to discourage activity that is bad and reward behaviour that is good for the environment. And after years of Gordon Browns tinkering and meddling, the tax system needs for the business sector to be simplified and less subject to change. In addition we need certainty for business not the sort of nonsense that led to the abolition of the Operating and Financial Review after business has spent years planning for it! Not least because business recognizes the obligations it has to society even if the government misses the point.

Second, we must make more tough choices in government spending. Whenever a decision is taken to fund new demands from the public purse, I want to see as much of the money as possible to come from cutting back on non essential spending. Vince is currently carrying out a major review of government spending and I will fully support him in that endeavour.

This is a matter of economic reality. Gordon Brown promised to follow the golden rule, which states that over the economic cycle, the Government will borrow only to invest and not to fund current spending. He has stretched that rule to breaking point. We have always supported the golden rule; in fact, we were the first party to follow it when assembling our own manifesto. We cannot back away from it now. In any case, there is now no great public mood to increase the overall level of spending or taxation.

Third, we need a skills and education revolution. I want a new emphasis on skills. We need individuals equipped for a world of fierce global competition and the rise of China and India in a world economy which may not be dominated by America. I will ensure that basic skills are given priority. It cannot be acceptable that 40,000 children go to secondary school every year unable to read. We need to invest in schemes like reading recovery to give children the individual attention they need. We also need a major change in lifelong learning and skills development there are too many bodies, spending billions of pounds to too little effect. I want business leaders more closely involved in how the money is spent in the towns and cities working with local councils and local colleges and universities.

So let us Liberal Democrats be bold. I want us to promote a team across Britain which exudes competence, professionalism and practical experience. I want Liberty Network and the Business Forum involved daily with that advising and shaping our agenda. The prize is one I am determined to achieve for the first time in a generation that the Liberal Democrats grasp the mantle of economic competence and individual enterprise.

We must take our unique values, Lloyd George’s values – liberty, equality, and community – values more relevant than ever and set a new agenda for progress in this century

Monday, February 6th, 2006

It is easy to lose a sense of perspective when you are in politics. Martin Bell told me a lovely story. He was in his then constituency and a man accosted him.

“Don’t I know you? You are that TV reporter aren’t you?”

“I used to be. I’m your MP now.”

“Oh…you’re out of a job � I�m sorry to hear that.”

It is great to be back in Cardiff and I want to acknowledge and congratulate you on your excellent efforts in the general election and in particular the great success in winning Cardiff Central and Ceredigion.

This is a continuing record of success with the growing base in Welsh councils – with the leadership of four councils now – and real strength in the national Assemble for Wales. A strong base from which to advance.

Although I note from reading an article in The Journal of Liberal History that Wales holds a record for our party. In 1906 the Welsh Liberals achieved an electoral performance never seen before or since. Thirty-three of the thirty-four seats were won in that election by Liberals.

So that is a challenge to us all!

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

I have always worked hard – as an athlete, as a lawyer, as a politician.

It took three elections to win my seat -I know the value of hard campaigning and hard work.

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 and I 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 Wales, Scotland and in the regions of England.

Working with a re-energised party we will break the old, failed, two-party system.

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.

So we must take our unique values, Lloyd George’s values – liberty, equality, and community – values more relevant than ever and set a 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 really 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.

Part of this will be through a massive expansion of social and affordable housing so local people are able to buy and rent houses in their own communities.

Also 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.

We must make a reality of tackling the causes of poverty � with major investment and innovation to tackle health inequalities and raise educational standards.

Second, I want a democratic revolution.

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

Here in Wales I want to see a much more powerful Assembly as the Richard Commission recommended.

Third, tackling the environment and energy crisis we face.

At home we must give a big boost to energy saving and use the tax system to 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.

On energy we must invest dramatically in renewables and new technology so that we can reduce our dependence on oil and 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.

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 Wales locally elected people responsible for local schools, local hospitals, local police and local transport.

Which means no to the nonsense of a single Welsh police force � the structure of policing in Wales should be decided by Welsh people and not by Whitehall.

As a fellow Celt I know it is time to trust people in Wales to make the key decisions about services for themselves rather than wait on bureaucrats in London.

My leadership – values and integrity, judgement and credibility.

Positive policies.

Waging war on poverty.

Cherishing our environment.

Promoting opportunity.

Defending civil liberties.

Championing equal opportunities.

Decentralising power.

Spreading democracy.

Playing a leading role in our world.

A credible, 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.

Liberal Democrats in Government.

Nothing less will do for Wales and Britain.

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

Monday, February 6th, 2006

I am delighted to be here and want to congratulate you on your efforts to make the party so successful in this part of Wales part of the growing Welsh success story for our party.

As a fellow Celt I feel at home. The beautiful countryside, the importance of the tourism industry and the real significance of farming and agriculture here.

As you and I know there are no short cuts to success in areas like this.

Building up strength on the ground winning Council seats, recruiting members and energising supporters.

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

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

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.

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

I have set out five priorities.

First, I will pursue the war on poverty.

We must make a reality of tackling the causes of poverty with major investment and innovation to tackle health inequalities and raise educational standards.

And I will massively expand social and affordable housing so local people are able to buy and rent houses in their own communities.

Second, I want a democratic revolution.

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

Here in Wales I want to see a much more powerful Assembly as the Richard Commission recommended.

Third, tackling the environment and energy crisis we face.

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

Abroad we must work to persuade the United States to take climate change seriously.

On energy we must invest dramatically in renewable energy and new technology so that we can reduce our dependence on oil and say no to nuclear power.

Fourth, I am determined that Britain must work with other nations for 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.

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

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

Which means no to the nonsense of a single Welsh police force the structure of policing in Wales should be decided by Welsh people and not by Whitehall.

I know it is time to trust people in Wales to make the key decisions about services for themselves rather than wait on bureaucrats in London.

I also know that local people do not want the unfairness of Council Tax, but the fairness of a local income tax.

My leadership values and integrity, judgement and credibility.

Positive policies.

A credible, 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.

Liberal Democrats in Government.

Nothing less will do for Wales and Britain.

I want to see a much more powerful Assembly as the Richard Commission recommended. But an Assembly with more Liberal Democrat influence that will act for all of Wales.

Monday, February 6th, 2006

It is great to be in Wrexham and I want to acknowledge and congratulate you on your excellent efforts locally not least with leadership of the Council and the great swing to us in the General Election.

Occasionally we are able to defeat the Government in Parliament but I am delighted that you do it every day on the Council here to ensure that the renewal and regeneration of Wrexham continues.

Now you are hard on the heels of Labour let me give you more encouragement.

It took three elections to win my seat – to move from 4th place to 1st place.

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

As you and I 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 Liberal Democrat team.

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

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.

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

I have set out five priorities.

First, I will pursue the war on poverty.

We must make a reality of tackling the causes of poverty with major investment and innovation to tackle health inequalities and raise educational standards.

And I will massively expand social and affordable housing so local people are able to buy and rent houses in their own communities.

Second, I want a democratic revolution.

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

Here in Wales I want to see a much more powerful Assembly as the Richard Commission recommended. But an Assembly with more Liberal Democrat influence that will act for all of Wales.

Third, tackling the environment and energy crisis we face.

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

Abroad we must work to persuade the United States to take climate change seriously.

On energy we must invest dramatically in renewable energy and new technology so that we can reduce our dependence on oil and say no to nuclear power.

Fourth, I am determined that Britain must work with other nations for 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.

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 Wrexham locally elected people responsible for local schools, local hospitals, local police and local transport.

Which means no to the nonsense of a single Welsh police force the structure of policing in Wales should be decided by Welsh people and not by Whitehall.

As a fellow Celt I know it is time to trust people in Wrexham to make the key decisions about services for themselves rather than wait on bureaucrats in London.

My leadership values and integrity, judgement and credibility.

Positive policies.

A credible, 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.

Liberal Democrats in Government.

Nothing less will do for Wales and Britain.

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.

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

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.

I want to bring our troops home as soon as possible. But the process should be driven by events on the ground in Iraq, not by arbitrary deadlines marked on a calendar in London.

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Its a great privilege to be here, and a pleasure to be in Pendle.

As you know, I am standing to become leader of the Liberal Democrats. I could certainly not avoid coming to a part of the country where we are so strong and where the roots of my party go deep into this community.

My parliamentary colleague, the Lord Greaves, is never afraid to mention at Westminster that our party runs the council and is facing up to difficult decisions.

And he will point out too that our party membership comes from all sections of this community. We still may not have got to the point where every opportunity is open to all in our society, but within our party there are no barriers to office.

That’s shown by the presence here today of our two North West MEPs, Sajjad Karim and Chris Davies, who work together in the European Parliament.

I want to make a few comments on the Middle East.

I was proud to be the Foreign Affairs Spokesman making the arguments in Parliament and the country against the Iraq war.

But the important thing now, for Iraq, and for Britain, is to look forward and to develop a coherent and achievable strategy to hold Iraq together and create the preconditions for the withdrawal of British troops.

This will not be easy.

We are still paying for the mistakes that have been made in the past three years:

for the failure to predict, and prepare for, the insurgency that followed;

for the failure to fill the power vacuum that emerged after disbanding the Iraqi security services;

and for the total failure to marginalise the spoilers, and to split them from the vast majority of Iraqis who want nothing more than to build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Iraq;

Make no mistake.

I want to bring our troops home 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 my good friend Paddy Ashdown has managed this same process in a Muslim country much closer to home 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 countrys democratic institutions.

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

And the result?

We have been able to progressively reduce our troop presence from 60,000 at the end of the war to 6,000 today. And we have left behind us a stable, democratic state that is increasingly at ease with itself and at peace with its neighbours.

So it can be done. The task now, in Iraq, is to ensure that it is done.

I also hope that Hamas which won power in the recent elections in the Palestinian Authority will recognise the strength of the international call to renounce violence, recognise that Israel too has a right to exist and accept the roadmap to peace.

Israel is entitled to a secure and peaceful existence free from terrorist attack and within internationally recognised borders. But lets be clear also the Palestinians are entitled to justice and a viable homeland. Peace will only come about when both exist.

That is a great prize in all our interests and for my part I want Britain to use our influence to further the cause of peace and progress.

In also want to applaud the contribution you all make as British Muslims to our society, our communities and our prosperity.

This contribution which enriches us all – is not recognised or celebrated enough.

I hope that in a small way my visit today shows my commitment to you and my recognition of everything you do to make Britain a better country.

It seems natural to me that we should be at the forefront of attempts to improve the EU

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

February 2: Ming Campbell met with Liberal Democrats in Brussels earlier today and addressed them as follows:

I am delighted to be able to join you here today.

The European Parliament is unique. There is simply no other Parliament in the world like it. Working in twenty different languages, legislating for a partnership of 450 million citizens, it is a daring example of representative democracy in action.

I am immensely proud of the work of our Liberal Democrat MEPs, and of that of our colleagues from Liberal parties across Europe. You are promoting a European Union which is economically dynamic, environmentally sustainable and politically accountable. A union which has liberal values at its core.

I am a lifelong internationalist. It has always seemed self evident to me that the pooling of sovereignty at international level is necessary if we wish to influence the world around us. Globalisation has made this need for collective, supranational decision-making even more pressing. The new threats to our collective security international terrorism, unstable or rogue states, weapons of mass destruction, cross border crime, and global climate change demand a coherent international response.

In seeking the leadership of the Liberal Democrats in Great Britain, I can promise you this: I will lead a party which will wear its internationalism on its sleeve.

(more…)

This movement has been fighting for Liberalism for a century and a half. Such a great cause is not going to be destroyed in a month and a half.

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Ming Campbell made the following speech at the Plymouth Hustings on January 28, 2006

I am delighted to be back in the West Country and to return to the debate about the future that our party wants and our country needs.

I want to thank you for all you have done to build up the strength of the Liberal Democrats in this region.

Once again in 2005 you led the way for the party with superb results.

We are all pleased to welcome Julia Goldsworthy Dan Rogerson and Jeremy Browne to Parliament.

They are making a tremendous contribution.

What a week.

Rocked by scandal.

Finished as a serious political force.

It is hard not to feel sorry for George Galloway.

So far 2006 has not exactly been a vintage year for Liberal Democrats either.

Some critics have been quick to write us off. But Ive got a message for the writers of political obituaries.

This movement has been fighting for Liberalism for a century and a half. A great cause is not going to be destroyed in a month and a half.

(more…)

No glass ceiling for our party, no limit on our aspirations, and no anchor on our ambitions

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Ming Campbell made the following speech in Bristol on the evening of January 27th

Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow Liberal Democrats, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak after my two dear friends and colleagues Graham Watson and Don Foster.

We all owe Graham and Don so much for showing week in, week out the value of campaigning and community politics.

Their work in this part of the country has been I know has been a real help to thousands of people in need and a real inspiration to so many Liberal Democrats.

I remember well Dons great victory in 1992 at the high tide of Toryism when he took on and defeated Chris Patten.

When the history books are written this will go down as one of the great Liberal Democrat wins a 2,009 majority in a turnout of 83 per cent.

Graham has led our European efforts in a distinguished way and now is our distinguished leader of all the Liberals in the European Parliament.

As Foreign Affairs spokesman I know what service and wisdom he brings to our party and our country in ensuring that the Liberal Democrat voice is heard on critical European issues.

I am thrilled that both Don and Graham are supporting my campaign.

(more…)

Determined that the Liberal Democrats will remain the party of the environment in Opposition and in Government

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Ming Campbell made the following speech at the Eden Project on January 23, 2005.

I am delighted to be here at the Eden project which teaches us, challenges us and inspires us about our own planet.

I am pleased to be joined today by some colleagues especially Norman Baker, our Environment spokesman, who has been a fearsome critic of government and politicians who talk but do not act. I am proud that Norman is supporting me in my leadership campaign.

If the old politics was about tax and spend; the new politics is about the interdependence of our world. The quality of life for us and our children and grandchildren depend on how we face up now to the critical environmental issues. Our prosperity, our security, our quality of life, the very sustainability of the planet, depends on it.

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

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

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.

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More than ever, Britain needs a strong liberal voice

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Ming Campbell addressed the Liberal Democrat ‘Meeting the Challenge’ conference earlier today:

I want to begin today by paying tribute to Charles Kennedy. In his resignation speech Charles displayed the dignity and courage, which made him such a success as leader of our party. He led us to new heights in two general elections. Today we salute Charles, wish him well and look forward to him returning to the front-line.

I also want to say to my colleagues Mark, Chris and Simon let us have a vigorous contest for the leadership, let us debate issues and policies – but let us remember how much unites us and let us never forget for one second that the real battle for us Liberal Democrats is against Labour and the Conservatives.

I have come here today to affirm my belief in a great cause. It is a cause that has inspired and dominated my whole life. The cause of liberty, of freedom, of justice. The cause that empowers people and liberates communities. The cause that enlightens our world and inspires our politics.

It is the great cause of liberalism. I have always been proud to be a Liberal and a Liberal Democrat and to campaign for this party since I was a student.

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