Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 11:27 UK

Election 'not in bag' - Pickles

Eric Pickles makes an appeal to Labour and Liberal Democrat voters

The Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles has opened its conference in Manchester by warning activists "the general election is not in the bag".

He said that the party still had "a mountain to climb" to win.

Mr Pickles said the Tories needed to gain 117 seats - their biggest swing since 1931 - for an overall majority.

He appealed to Labour, Liberal Democrat and trade union voters to "trust us with your votes... help us to change our country for the better".

Mr Pickles said Labour "still had an in-built majority because of the way the Parliamentary boundaries are drawn" but promised to change constituency boundaries to equalise the number of voters in each.

"That's what I call fair votes," he said.

'Earn votes'

At the opening session of the party conference, Mr Pickles said the election campaign had now started and warned against any complacency.

He said: "Now, there is a popular saying in politics that oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them. That is not enough for me, and I know it's not enough for you. And it is not enough for David Cameron.

"We are not going to sit by and just watch the Labour Party implode. We want to earn each and every vote. We don't want to get people's votes just because we are not the Labour Party.

"We want to earn people's votes. Because we want a mandate for change. We will make bold announcements.

"By the end of this week, we will have clearly demonstrated to you, and to the rest of the country, that our party, led by David Cameron has the answers to rebuild our broken economy, mend our broken society and put the trust back in politics.

"We will also lay down a clear set of tests by which a Conservative government will be judged. A test firmly rooted in social justice, measured in those communities that have been abandoned by Labour, those run-down estates, those children in sink schools, the unemployed - particularly the long-term unemployed."

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