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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Davis tells Tories to 'walk tall'
David Davis

Front runner David Davis has made his pitch for the Tory leadership telling the party to "walk tall" and stop apologising for its past.

Mr Davis told the Conservative's annual conference in Blackpool it needed a "new idealism and sense of purpose".

He received a standing ovation, but BBC political editor Nick Robinson said he failed to deliver the knock-out blow.

The fifth and final declared runner, shadow foreign secretary Liam Fox, later urged the party to be "bold".


Dr Fox, who called for the Tories to repair "Britain's broken society", received a positive reaction from representatives after an unapologetically right wing, eurosceptic speech.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Ken Clarke and David Cameron have all impressed in leadership bid speeches earlier this week.

David Davis
CV: David Davis, 56, shadow home secretary
Key Quote: "Let's stop apologising and get on with the job."
Best joke: "Gordon Brown has given up Prudence and he's taken up with Patience but the neighbour's wife does not want to move house."
Ovations: 17 rounds of applause and a one-and-half minute standing finale, although some of the audience kept going longer
Speech length: 19 minutes, 50 seconds
Name drops: One Thatcher, one Ronald Reagan, one Churchill
Nick Assinder's verdict:Is Davis still the front runner?

Mr Davis began his speech knowing he already had the pledged support of enough MPs to virtually guarantee he makes it to the run-off vote by party members.

But there was a mixed reaction to his performance, with the BBC's Nick Robinson saying there was "a lot of chattering in the bars" contrasting the performance with well received earlier leadership speeches.

During his 19 minute address Mr Davis emphasised his commitment to traditional Tory values but also spoke of the need to reach out to minority groups and all sections of society, saying he wanted to see a "Britain utterly blind to race or colour".

He pledged tough action on crime, attacking the "utterly ridiculous" relaxation of licensing laws and said the downgrading of cannabis to a class C drug was "stupid, dangerous and wrong".

Mr Davis spoke of his humble background and stressed his commitment to traditional British freedoms and family values.

"It is in all our interests - single, married, black, white, young, old, gay, straight to keep the family strong.

"I know what it is like to live in a tough neighbourhood. I grew up on a council estate. It is 69 years this morning that my communist grandfather joined the Jarrow march against unemployment.

"So I wasn't born a Conservative. I chose to be a Conservative."

On Europe, Mr Davis said the issue "hadn't gone away and was not about to" and "the drive for deeper integration never rests".

'Too scripted'

He said the party's goal was "power, but power with a moral purpose".

Mr Davis received a one and a half minute standing ovation from party representatives.

Iain Duncan Smith, who axed Mr Davis as party chairman when he was Tory leader, told the BBC the speech was too scripted and "safety first".

Tory MPs vote on 18 October, with candidate receiving fewest votes dropping out
MPs then vote on successive Tuesdays and Thursdays until there are two candidates left
The wider Conservative Party membership then votes on which is to be leader
The winner of the process is expected to be announced in early December

Current deputy leader Michael Ancram later ruled out standing as a candidate, and ex-leader William Hague applauded all five contender speeches, saying that they had the makings of a great team.

On Tuesday Ken Clarke said the Conservatives must pick a "bigger beast" than Tony Blair or Gordon Brown to ensure they defeat Labour at the next election.

Shadow education secretary David Cameron said at 38 he wanted to change the party, to make people "feel good about being Conservatives again".

Sir Malcolm, a 50 to 1 outsider with the bookmakers - who admitted he had a "mountain to climb" to win the leadership - said the Conservatives could only win the next election from the centre ground.

Tory reaction to David Davis' conference speech


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