Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech at the Conservative Central Council Meeting at the International Convention Centre at Birmingham, on Saturday 1st April 1995.
We've had a great Conference here in Birmingham. Our first, but not our last.
This Central Council has often in the past been a platform for a change in our fortunes.
Three years ago -
I believed we would win -
Now we have two years, with a strong recovery at our side.
So let me tell you something loud and clear right at the start. I believe we will win again.
I have no time for faint hearts.
The next election is there to be won. By the party with the verve and tenacity to reach out to people and catch their imagination.
We did it before. We can do it again.
And I expect every single person in our Party to want it, and work for it, as hard as I will.
To those who say look at the polls, I simply say this: it is possible to look at the polls too much and your principles too little.
I have a way in life. I learned it as a boy. I offer it to you. Stick to your principles. Stick to your guns. However rough the going may be, just keep going.
So today I'm going to tell you how we're going to win back the faith and trust of the British people.
Let me take you back to five years ago when I became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Let me tell you what was on my mind. I looked back on 50 years of a boom and bust economy. Good years. Followed by bad years. If the good years coincided with elections, you won. If they didn't, you lost.
Over generations, we slipped back economically as a country. I grew up in that period. Even from the back streets of Brixton I found it depressing. And I was determined to try and change it. To help our economy to grow and to beat other countries.
For the truth is that without growth every year, no Government will be able to improve education and health, increase pensions, provide care in the community, better law and order or anything else.
But I want those improvements.
So I need long-
You know what I mean. We are the Party of low taxes. But we had to put them up. Now the economy is growing again and we can look forward to bringing them down.
We are the Party of law and order. But crime continued to rise. So we put through controversial measures to tackle it. Now recorded crime is beginning to fall -
We're the Party of personal well-
So times are changing. And so will the political climate. The country has been through a difficult period. No doubt we've made mistakes. But we have learned from them. We have weathered the storm. And now we are poised to return to our natural agenda from a position of strength. Unrestrained by the iron bands of recession, the country can look forward with confidence.
In all we've done we have been playing for the long-
No one has achieved that before. It's meant saying 'no' to short-
It did hurt. I said it would. I told people in 1989 -
The prize at stake is that, after the next election, the Government in office will inherit the soundest, most secure economy of any Government since the 1st World War. It will be able to address its social and political agenda more freely than any predecessor.
Mr Chairman, I want that Government to be a Conservative Government.
It is a massive achievement. We can be proud of it. So let's use every day and every hour and every minute of the next two years to tell people of the great future that lies ahead and once again earn their trust and support.
That's the fight ahead of us. I relish it. It is a fight we can win.
Our work is long-
And while we've been doing this, where have Labour been? In the lobbies -
Now they say they've changed. They say they're changing everything they've always stood for. They claim to be entering our world.
If they want to fight us on that ground, I look forward to it. They've been squatting here a few months. We've been living here for centuries.
Ours isn't an off-
Our policies flow from core convictions, gut instincts, beliefs and ideals we've all grown up with.
In these debates we are in copperbottomed, mainstream Conservative home territory. And no slick, sloganising, snake-
Labour today is just one more synthetic PR campaign. The workers are out. The minders are in.
Their ideas are picked up from opinion polls, techniques derived from advertisements, language copied from us.
Nothing is original. All is derivative.
And if there's one thing we've learned lately, it is that trading in derivatives is a risky business.
Let me illustrate Labour's technique for you.
Last week the Leader of the Labour Party said Conservatives don't understand duty, nor do they act upon it.
Frankly, for that comment, he deserved to be laughed at from Lands End to John O' Groats.
Duty, responsibility, self-
Perhaps, Mr Blair simply intended a casual political kick. After all, it's the sort of scatter-
The technique is old and effective -
Well, I know this Tory Party.
I grew up in it.
I am of it -
And I know we're none of the things Labour claim and we never have been. Duty and responsibility are instinctive to Conservatives as a Party, and as people.
Ask the huge number of Conservatives who run Voluntary Service, Meals on Wheels, Citizen's Advice Bureaux, Red Cross shops, and a hundred thousand charities up and down the land.
I will tell you who attack duty and responsibility. Those politicians who claim the state is responsible for everything and everyone.
Those who believe the welfare state should cope with everything.
Those who promise that whatever the problem is. the Government can cure it.
And we know who those politicians are. And they're not in the Conservative Party. They're in the Labour Party.
Mr Chairman, we Conservatives have not changed our fundamental values for 250 years. Our ambitions and hopes have moved forward. But our values have been constant.
In 1979 we promised to get Britain off its knees and on its feet. To end hyperinflation, curb old style Union power, turn round loss-
We've done that. Now we must turn to the future.
Some months ago I set in hand a massive exercise to build the next phase of Conservatism -
This work is in its early stages -
First, that most fundamental of Tory instincts, the pursuit of prosperity and security for all.
Prosperity begets security. But prosperity doesn't drop as the gentle rain from heaven. It has to be earned.
Our industry has to be competitive. Britain must mean business. Britain must believe, in business. Britain must reward hard work. And must welcome the healthy profits of success.
I'll tell you when we'll know for certain that prosperity will grow in this country. When our leading companies are world beaters. When our exports are booming. And when Britain is a magnet for foreign investment. That's when we'll create new jobs and lasting wealth.
Mr Chairman, I have news for you -
Toyota, Nissan, NEC, Samsung. Record inward investment. Attracted here not by sound bites, but by sound Tory policy.
Mr Chairman, we're here today in Birmingham, the heart of one of the great manufacturing regions of Europe. And I have good news for Birmingham. After decades of decline manufacturing is growing and expanding.
Despite automation the number of jobs in manufacturing is growing as well.
And something is happening today that I didn't expect to see for years: Britain now has a current account surplus with Japan -
This is Britain as she was -
And this is Britain as I want to see her.
Our prosperity must be built on things we make as well as services we sell.
We're looking at how to improve services to industry. To see what more Government can do to help.
Many of the things we sell will be made by small businesses. That is where the future jobs will come.
So we're looking at still more ways to encourage them.
We'll be making deeper cuts in regulation and red tape. And let no-
And that includes the Social Chapter of which Labour are so fond.
There's a world of new technology out there. We have to provide industry with the modern skills they need.
Britain must be a world leader in the new industries of media and information technology. So we will soon announce new measures to ensure it is.
Britain must have the best qualified workforce in Europe.
By the year 2000 we are aiming for over 80 per cent of our young people to have 5 or more good GCSEs or their vocational equivalent.
We want to make sure all our school leavers are good enough to get a job.
We've made giant strides forward. Creating 41 new universities; bringing in tough new vocational qualifications to enhance skills and test the mind. We've set a long-
These changes will accelerate. They are the building blocks for prosperity. The humdrum, everyday policies that improve lives and build the security we seek.
Mr Chairman, the second thing we stand for is a nation of opportunity.
For the right to own and the power to choose.
Ownership is the very core of Conservatism. We believe in a capital-
We believe in a fair reward for hard work. And we're going to carry those principles into the future.
So let me tell you again today. We're committed to continue cutting rates of income tax in the future -
We Conservatives believe in thrift, with individuals encouraged to build up tax-
I also hold dear the belief that people should be able to hand on security to their children, cascading wealth down the generations. Over the last decade we've doubled the threshold at which inheritance tax becomes payable. It's been difficult to go further in the last two or three difficult years. But I'm committed to doing so as soon as we can afford it.
I also want to provide more opportunity for people to help others. The talents and experience of pensioners are too often wasted at the moment. They should be used in ways that fulfil their lives and benefit the rest of us. It is high time that retirement was recognised as the opening up of new opportunity, not a drawing down of blinds.
All of that also means building on that explosion of giving, and working and helping others that has marked the last twenty years. Do you know that 17 million people volunteer every year -
But while they've been prattling, we've been planning.
So in June we will announce a comprehensive programme for voluntary service. It will cover all ages. It will be the most far-
Nowhere is Conservative belief in opportunity and choice more important than in housing. The Right to Buy is not a chapter of history. It's not yesterday; it's today. 70,000 families a year are still becoming homeowners as a result of Right to Buy and similar schemes.
But there's always more to do. Too many people are still trapped in grey, impersonal housing estates. Shortly we'll bring forward a Housing White Paper. It will show how we could offer a choice of decent housing for everybody -
On education, while I know this year's settlement has been tight, I can assure you -
I also want to see more Grant-
And, because opportunities start with the young, we will shortly also publish plans to fulfil our pledge to expand nursery education for all children aged four.
These are practical steps to give people more control over their lives. Taken together, they amount to a massive and irreversible shift of power and choice from the state to individuals and their families.
Mr Chairman, the third pillar of our beliefs is that we stand foursquare for decent commonsense values. That's true across the board -
When I became Prime Minister I took the view that it was time to understand a little less and condemn a little more. By that I meant that we shouldn't explain away why people commit crime. We should just say bluntly: "it's wrong".
Michael Howard has been acting on this -
He deserves 100 per cent support from all of us -
Too much of that abuse has come from Labour. They know they have to talk about law and order. But talk is all they do. They talk tough and act soft. Time and again they have voted against our plans to prevent and punish crime.
Mr Chairman, we stand for commonsense justice -
So we've asked a leading judge to look into court procedures in civil cases, to bring faster and less costly judgments.
And we are also out to streamline criminal justice. That must include a change to the rules on disclosure. These place a very heavy burden on the prosecution and police, going beyond the balance that justice demands. Informants and witnesses can be put at risk. The police believe these rules should be changed -
I expect some of you know victims or witnesses who have felt shabbily treated on a visit to court -
In the war on crime we're applying new technology. We're introducing more and more closed-
This month we're giving police wider powers to take DNA samples to help catch criminals. We will build up a national DNA database -
Thousands of people want to help our police. So we are having a national call for volunteers to increase the number of special constables up towards 30,000. And those constables will be out on the beat.
Mr Chairman, we are an open-
We are reforming the probation service -
And we will be experimenting with tougher new penalties for young offenders. It is right to have an alternative to prison. But I don't believe it should be a gentle Saturday afternoon stroll.
And, yes, we must sort out problems that have arisen in some prisons. I was as angry as anyone to read of prison officers shopping for inmates. I am not against decent treatment. But I believe privileges should be earned -
We are ready to look at anything which will deter crime and make it more likely that we will catch criminals. That's why I can also confirm that we will soon publish a Green Paper to canvass public views on possible ways to bring in identity cards. And I hope in the debate that will follow you will make your voice heard.
Fourthly, Mr Chairman, just as we stand against crime, we stand for first class public services. Back in 1990 I set out to sweep away those old patronising couldn't-
So we began a 10-
Of course, services like health and education will always be provided in the public sector. But others need not. That's why Britain led the world in denationalisation -
Privatisation has been a huge success. Perhaps that's why it's under such vicious attack from Labour. Prices have come down dramatically -
Privatisation has worked wonders. And I don't have a shred of doubt privatising British Rail will be a success. Nationalised British Rail has not delivered the service it should. It can and will be done better in the private sector.
Labour talk of reversing the public sector changes we've made. They would throw hospitals, railways and schools back into turmoil.
Dogma might win -
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Mr Chairman, we stand for the nation -
We will do everything necessary to defend our nation. In the 1980s Conservative Governments stood firm against communism. The result? The cold war was won -
Today Britain is a leader right across the world -
We treasure our links with the Commonwealth -
Our influence in Asia and the Middle East is creating new opportunities for exports and trade.
And we for our part -
Britain has a world identity. But we also have a special place in moulding the future of Europe. You know well where I stand. In this dangerous and changing world this great alliance serves our vital national interest.
Yes, we benefit from Europe -
And there's another side to our nation. We love our traditions of sport, the arts, and our national heritage. But always in the past it was difficult for those causes to compete with the great claims on national resources like health, education and defence. That's why I set up the national lottery -
Mr Chairman, I care about the integrity of our country at home as passionately as I do for its interest abroad. So that is why we'll work to expose the fantastic folly of Labour's plans for a tax-
It would destroy jobs in Scotland, saddle all Scots with a Tartan Tax and damage our influence abroad. The nation we believe in is a United Kingdom -
Mr Chairman, there is another part of our United Kingdom that is particularly close to my heart. I will continue day and night to do what I judge to be right to bring long-
Mr Chairman, we have much to be proud of, we Conservatives. But we have much more still to achieve. Today I have shared with you just a few of the new ideas on which we are working. The work of government moves on -
We have to remind people that the essential things we stand for are, as always, the things they believe in too.
The pillars of Conservatism are as strong as ever:
Mr Chairman, those are the things we stand for. The things we are working for. They are why Britain needs a Conservative Government to lead this country into the next millennium.
Yes, we have a tough fight on our hands. But I have never run away from any fight in my life. And this is one more battle that, with your help, I intend to win.