Michael Howard has told Conservatives that they can win the next election by restoring trust and accountability to politics.
In his speech to the party's annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday, he said a
Tory government would have a war on crime and would get powers back
Michael Howard has assured the party that despite coming fourth in Hartlepool they could still win the general election.
What do you think of Michael Howard's speech? Do you agree with his message? Do you think the Tories can win the next election? What do you think of Paul Sykes' announcement? Will it make a difference to the Tories?
This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.
I think that the Tories have come to their senses at last, they have always been the party of low taxation, law and order and sensible polices. The Labour Party has had its chance and in my view has failed the country, covert taxation will always come back to haunt them. As a nation we are not stupid, we gave them a chance, they have failed, the Lib Dems have no real polices, neither does UKIP, so bring back a government that can do what the country needs.
Richard J Powell, New Milton UK
Britain simply isn't ready to give up on Labour yet. Mr Howard is putting on a brave effort but I still see him resigning in May 2005 after another heavy election defeat.
ML, London, England
The problem with trust is that you have to earn it. For the Tories to ask for trust without first earning it is yet more opportunism based on Tory perception that this is where Labour is weakest. They must think the public is stupid.
What I want to know is how on earth do the Tories plan on financing all these wonderful tax cuts without cutting public service budgets - answer: they can't!
Kathryn, London, UK
Judging by the some of the previous comments there are still some Conservative voters out there!
Richard Sumner, Birmingham, England
Did I hear right? Michael Howard is grateful to Britain for granting him asylum? - and now wants to show his gratitude by stopping other asylum seekers getting in? What next? A pro-hunting fox?
Glyn Williams, Sheffield UK
Howard and the likes of Liam Fox simply just sneer at Tony Blair and Labour but I don't think he's too bothered by that. They have nothing positive to offer and I'm amazed that as many as 12% in one recent poll believed that Howard will ever make it to Downing Street.
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK
Very nice to hear but at the end of the day, he's a politician like Tony Blair and old Blair has managed to finally demolish any belief that the public has in politicians telling the truth so who cares what any of them say as the majority of us know their lying anyway.
Labour is full of big gestures and empty promises - this new approach by the Tories is a brave step forward. I know who I will be voting for...
Edward James Stokes, Birmingham
A very moving speech and I feel a heartfelt one. He has put before the electorate a clear choice and in doing so guaranteed that the election will be a straight contest between Labour and Conservative. If I were Blair I would not be smiling right now - he dared Howard to show his true colours and he has. Howard has also just killed UKIP - I thought Kilroy was going to kill off the Tories? An afternoon is a long time in politics.
R.C. Robjohn, UK
Unfortunately in this time where the public are crying out for a 'new body politic', the Tories are trundling out the same old rhetoric. The only way they will get elected from such a disadvantages position is to deliver radical new ideas into the mix. What's stopping them would appear to be the fact that the Tory Party is a party of the old, and their policies have the smell of death.
Mike, Ipswich, UK
Michael Howard is right to talk about trust, but he must also talk about policy. When he became the Tory leader he told us his 10 values, and I thought they made good sense. I'd like to hear how those values translate to policy.
Mark Fulford, Southampton, UK
Excellent speech. It is the first time in years I have heard somebody say they are proud to be a Tory, and I could agree with him. No need for UKIP now.
John, St Albans
Sorry Michael, it's like every other time. What makes you think you have credibility now when I remember how well you guys messed up the economy last time? You have hidden agendas and we always end up paying the price later on. Perhaps if you promised not to implement any undeclared policies after you've been elected, we might actually give you a chance.
There's a big market out there for 'common sense' policies that don't pander to correctness or lofty philosophical ideals. Howard addressed many popular concerns in a way that will play better with non-aligned voters.
Dave, Leicester, UK
Leadership and teamwork is what the Tory party needs. In Howard, I believe they have the right leader but he needs to be more vocal and go on the offensive about what has happened to this country over the past seven years. Teamwork, or the lack of it, is what will kill off the Tories, possibly for good. Either rally behind the leadership or get out. They all need to get on the same page and fight the next election with one voice. If Labour get in again, I'm leaving the country, my children aren't being brought up in this nonsense.
Steve, Brighton UK
To say that tax should be lowered is over simplistic. Tax needs to exist, but should be raised fairly and proportionately. I believe the Tories will lower taxes for the rich, while the rest of us will suffer poorer public services.
Robin, Cardiff, Wales
Law and order, immigration/asylum seekers, education, local services.... Labour has failed to live up to its promises. War in Iraq - misled on this by Blair. Definitely won't ever vote Labour (new or old) again. The Tories must convince me they really mean what they say and will do it otherwise it's UKIP.
D Trickett, Bournemouth, UK
Perhaps Howard actually means it. They do seem to have a new approach like he promised. They're not out of it yet by a long-shot.
Edward, Philadelphia, USA
Mr Howard does have leadership and genuine good intentions for this country. Some people say we need a Tony Blair type leader...I cannot think of a more absurd comment to make. It's the very type of leadership Tony Blair has that is ruining this country. The Lib Dems have some absolutely crazy policies that have no relevance to what this country really needs.
It would be a first for any politician to keep all there promises. I am sick to the teeth of empty promises. I have vowed to vote for any party that seriously makes war on crime. We need to stop pampering the criminal and lay down heavier deterrents, and most importantly we expect a 'life sentence' to mean just that, 'life'.
V. Cooledge, Essex
All parties promise anything you want till they are voted in. Once in they then postpone their promises in favour of what they really want to do. I don't vote anymore.
Let them demonstrate their worth by unhitching their well padded and protected pensions from the taxpayers pocket and put their own money in the same pot as the rest of us, to rise or fall on the economy together.
B Turner, England
The only things we can 'trust' Michael Howard to do are to return this country to the bad old days of high unemployment, investment starved public services and social division.
Robert Johnson, Harlow, UK
Howard and Letwin offer the only possible alternative to save UK Plc. What have Labour done? They have taken income from the hard-working and given it to the hard-shirking. Stock markets and pensions have been ruined. Employment is so high because it's all in the public sector. Genuine ability students are now priced out of education. We need a government that rewards hard work, education, enterprise and innovation - not penalises it. Only the Conservatives know how to do that.
He can say what he likes, Labour are going to stay in power until the bubble bursts. They inherited a strong economy from the Tories, and have stretched it as far as possible. The Tories will then have to rescue the country from the disaster which everyone will hate them for. I just hope they do try and rescue the economy, not just copy Labour tactics of 'If we're in power it's good enough'.
Please Mr Howard, do the Tories a favour, step down, clear out the old guard and give those who are not tainted by the past a chance.
Barry P, Havant England
How can Michael Howard expect anyone to trust him? Our memories are not that short. This particular leopard could never change his spots!
Paul.H, Gillingham, Kent
I would like Mr Howard to keep reminding the people of all the broken promises of the Labour Government. They keep on about the Conservative Party introducing the Poll Tax - Mr Howard needs to remind them that they have trebled it since they came to power. It is such a bad thing why didn't they scrap it. Howard needs to attack, attack, attack and don't be nice. Good Luck.
B Shetewi, Leatherhead, Surrey. U.K.
The Conservatives have smartly identified reasons for voter apathy, and taken the offensive. Oliver Letwin has already talked about trustworthiness and high tax. This was a welcome change and I would like to believe him, but it is more likely that these are empty words from a desperately decaying party with nothing to lose (please prove me wrong). Michael Howard has an opportunity today to convince me and the rest of the nation that he really is the clear leader that is required in these dark times, and the obvious choice for government. He needs to persuade us that Letwin's ideologies can be backed up with a realistic plan. Mr Howard needs to be bold, and show true leadership qualities. This involves putting his reputation on the line and taking a risk, as we would be doing if we vote him in.
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK
As a life long Tory supporter I would like to believe Michael Howard but I just cannot. I have no faith anymore in either Tory, Labour or Lib Dem politicians. All parties have now gone from the realms of spin and twist to down right lies. In my view, all of them are only in it for what they can gain personally and then its off to the European gravy train. We do not want false promises any more. We need firm commitments and action not vague promises which disappear as soon as they get elected. Put up or stand aside we are sick of spin and lies
Alan Baker, Chelmsford, Essex
Paul Sykes has recognised that UKIP was damaging the Conservatives but neither has the country forgotten how much damage Michael Howard's last term in government did to public services.
I think it would be a first for any politician if it turned out no campaign promises were broken The only way I can see this happening in reality is if the party loses the election
We have heard all this from the Tories before. When in office, they put up fuel taxes and taxes on all other things like, car tax, cigs, etc. in every budget. They also increased the rate of VAT and introduced the poll tax, now the hated council tax. Its what they don't say they will do that worries me.
Thomas Lowry, Leeds
His speech means nothing. His party is well intentioned but placed next to New Labour appears like something from the 50s. It seriously needs to re-brand itself and find itself a Tony Blair to lead it. The Tories will sunk lower before they rise again.
Tom G, Slough, UK
The Tories say they will not cut taxes but use savings in government areas to pay for public services. But you can only save money once, then you'll have to make more savings. Like it or loathe it, tax is the fairest and most sustainable way of funding public services, it's just a question of getting the balance right. But then can anyone really see public services expanding under a Conservative government??
John B, Gloucester, UK