From the bottom of my heart - thank you.
Thank you for voting Conservative on Thursday. Every vote counts and you helped Britain vote for change.
More than that, I want to thank you for fighting and campaigning so hard for the past few weeks. I know how hard every supporter, member and activist worked during this campaign. I know how tough and gruelling it was. I know how tired you all feel now. You'll have blisters from all the pavements you've pounded; paper-cuts from the envelopes you've stuffed; bruised knuckles from the doors you've knocked on.
But I don't want you to doubt for one minute that it has been worth it. First of all, we should be proud not just of how hard we fought, but the way we fought. Our campaign was unremittingly positive and optimistic - and that's just what our country needed.
Second, we should be proud of the results we achieved. We gained more seats than at any election since 1931. We became the largest party in the House of Commons by a considerable margin. And we got two million more votes than Labour - and indeed, more votes than Labour did when they won in 2005. The swing we achieved was massive by historic standards.
By any measure, these are really impressive results and I, the Shadow Cabinet, our MPs old and new, and all our candidates owe each and every one of you a huge thank you.
But however much pride we can take in the enormous advance, we have to accept that we fell short of an overall majority. I know how much you wanted one - I wanted one too. But now we have to work with what we have. As I have been saying these past couple of days, it is vital Britain gets strong, stable and decisive government. The challenges we face - a war in Afghanistan, the debt crisis and an economy that is stuck, deep social problems, political crisis - call for nothing less. So it is in Britain's national interest that the Conservative Party rises to this challenge and works to secure good government for our country.
That's why yesterday, I made a big, open and comprehensive offer to Liberal Democrats. I want - and I believe the country expects - our two parties to work out how we can deliver strong and stable government to tackle Britain's big and urgent problems. Right now, talks are underway. Inevitably, there will be masses of unfounded speculation in the press, but I wanted to tell you my thinking directly, and I hope I'll be able to give you direct updates as we move forward.
So first, I want to make clear that I do not believe any future government should give more powers to Brussels, be weak on immigration or put the country's defences at risk. So we will stand firm on these issues.
But I also believe there are many areas of common ground between us and the Liberal Democrats - such as the need for education reform, building a low-carbon economy, reforming our political system, decentralising power, protecting civil liberties and scrapping ID cards.
There are also areas where I believe we in the Conservative Party can give ground, both in the national interest and in the interests of forging an open and trusting partnership. For example, we want to work with the Liberal Democrats to see how we can afford to reduce taxes on the lowest paid. Of course, we hope to see a similarly constructive approach from the Liberal Democrats - not least on the urgent issue of tackling the deficit.
Inevitably, these negotiations will involve compromise. But that's what working together in the national interest means. I hope we can sort things out as quickly as possible, for the good of the country. But we won't rush into any agreement.
We've got to make sure that anything that results really is the best possible outcome for Britain - that it really is in the national interest. After all, that's what this party has always been about. That's what I'm about. And I know that's what you want, and what the country wants right now too.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Posted by MANUEL DE ARAÚJO at Saturday, May 08, 2010