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Conservatives Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Tories are ready for power - Hague
William Hague
Hague addressing the Tory conference
Tory leader William Hague has drawn the Conservative conference to a close with the upbeat message that his party is once again ready to govern.

Casting himself as a prime minister in waiting, Mr Hague said: "With the purpose we have demonstrated, we have shown beyond doubt we are ready for government.


We will govern for hard-working families, we will govern for people of every community and background, we will govern for the mainstream that the Labour Party has ignored

We will govern for all the people


William Hague
"That's why this has been the biggest, the most successful and upbeat Conservative conference for years."

"Our conference looks like a conference for the future, their [Labour's] conference looked like a conference from the past," he said.

New Labour was a "fashion that has now become unfashionable" and the cabinet "divided, arrogant and out of touch", Mr Hague said.

And Mr Hague challenged the prime minister to call the election, saying: "We're ready for it next autumn, we're ready for it next May, we're ready for it now."

Tories will govern for the mainstream

Building on this week's announcement of a new Tory initiative on inner cities, Mr Hague said: "We will govern for hard-working families, we will govern for people of every community and background, we will govern for the mainstream that the Labour Party has ignored. We will govern for all the people."

He also highlighted Tory plans to help pensioners, families on sink estates, the drugs problem and those living in fear of crime.

William Hague
Hague outlines his vision
"The message coming loud and clear from this conference is that we are ready for government."

And Mr Hague had some fond words for his Yorkshire roots when he explained what motivated him.

He said: "The people I grew up with, and millions like them, are the mainstream of our country. They are the people who motivate me."

He said he would govern for people disenfranchised by Labour whether it was those who dispaired at the state of schools or hospitals, he would govern for the black teenager or the poorest pensioner.

Mr Hague also took the opportunity of his speech to mock government handling of the Millennium Dome, telling Tory representatives that while he was sure they had enjoyed their New Year - but he and his wife, Ffion, had gone to the Dome.

He blasted Labour's record in government, saying tax was rising faster than anywhere in the world, hospital waiting lists were up by 87,000 and welfare bills were soaring.

Labour had failed to deliver and the country was now looking to the Conservatives, he asserted.

"And I tell them now that the Conservative Party understands their sense of betrayal... and we will govern for them."

Too many politicians

Mr Hague even turned on his own kind - the politician.

William and Ffion Hague
Hague and wife Ffion
Under a Tory government the number of ministers would be reduced as would the Commons, and half the political advisers would go "so that there aren't so many politicians going around dreaming up expensive meddling schemes to interfere in everybody else's lives".

He also vowed to take money spent on education by politicians and bureaucrats and "let the schools spend it instead - 540 for every pupil".

With all the talk of "inclusiveness", Mr Hague did not let down the Tory faithful when it came to their favourite bugbears.

He slammed political correctness, expressed horror at the state of the system that deals with asylum seekers, attacked the unions and said the next Tory government would be harder on crime than any in recent memory.

Keep the pound

Mr Hague he would champion "the cause of a flexible, free trading, low tax, lightly regulated Europe".

And if other countries wanted to give up their currencies the Tories would say "good luck, we wish them well, but we will keep our pound".

Rounding up his speech, Mr Hague said he did not promise the earth or believe that his party would "solve every problem" but he just wanted to "govern with the common sense instincts of a proud people who believe in Britain".

The conference closed with the usual rendition of "Land of Hope and Glory" as the Tory leader and his wife shook hands with Conservative representatives.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jon Pienaar
"More upbeat than they've been in years"
The BBC's June Kelly
"Pension figures are set to become a touchstone issue of the election campaign"
Michael Ancram, Conservative Party Chairman
"We are ready for an election whenever it comes"

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