Patrick McLoughlin is the Chairman of the Conservative Party and MP for Derbyshire Dales.
It is an honour to have been appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party. I know there is an incredibly important job to be done to build on the party’s successes and maintain an election-winning machine that helps our new Prime Minister deliver for the country.
My predecessor summed it up quite neatly at Conservative Party Conference last year. He said: “As a Party, we exist to fight and win elections. You can only implement your policies, values and principles if you are actually in Government.” That’s as true in local government as it is nationally. And that is what it all boils down to. Theresa May has an incredibly exciting and ambitious agenda, but the Conservatives cannot work to improve the lives of the British people unless we are in Government.
I remember our time in Opposition well, and the damage that Labour did to our country. It has taken a considerable time for us to come back from that. When I think with pride of David Cameron, I always have two numbers in mind. 198 – the number of Conservative MPs in Parliament when he was elected Leader in December 2005. And 330 – the number of Conservative MPs today.
The work that they are now doing in Government is making Britain strong again. Which is why it is vital that, as a Party, we work to build on our success at the general election last year, and continue to reach out across the country to keep our membership growing so that we never end up there again. As Chairman, that is what I will endeavour to do.
Last week, our new Prime Minister stood in front of Number Ten and laid out what the Conservative Government under her leadership would stand for. I was proud to hear her express a commitment to leading a One Nation Government that delivers social justice – to build a country that works for everyone. As Theresa carries out this important work in the country, I will ensure that it is delivered in our Party.
David Cameron set an example in this area. He changed the Conservative Party and our country for the better. Under his leadership the number of Conservative MPs in the Parliamentary Party has become far more representative of the British people. We now boast of MPs from all backgrounds: mums, dads, doctors, teachers, aid workers, Armed Forces personnel, journalists, shop workers; and from all races, faiths and backgrounds. All told, a true reflection of our great nation.
And, as Theresa highlighted on Wednesday, our Government has succeeded not just in turning our economy around, but in focusing its efforts on a modern, compassionate Conservative agenda to help more people from dependency to self-sufficiency. That is what the Conservative Party manifesto set out to do – and I must pay tribute to the excellent work of my predecessor, Lord Feldman, and his team in making sure this message has been heard across the country.
In Theresa, we have a strong leader who understands people with a working class background like mine, and is committed to making our country work for everyone. I know she will take up the mantle to tackle social injustices, and carry it through with the same determination she showed on so many difficult issues as Home Secretary.
And in me, she has a Chairman who, after six years as Chief Whip, knows what it takes to bring our Party together – sometimes after somewhat bruising debates – and who, with the help of the brilliant team at CCHQ, is determined to deliver the same opportunity and equality she spoke of for our Party.
It has taken me a long way. I’ve come from the coal mines of Cannock right up to the Cabinet. I will do my utmost to make sure those same opportunities are available to those growing up in Britain today. It is undeniable that following the EU referendum, our country is going to go through big changes, but there is at least one thing that will remain absolutely constant: the Conservatives will always be the Party to stand up for working people.