Speaking today at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps today set out how the Conservative Party will help hardworking families set up small businesses and reclaim the unions for their members.
Grant Shapps will say: “Margaret Thatcher inspired me to set up my printing business and millions of others to set up shop”
“Conservatives will help the grafters, who get up early – all they want is a system that rewards hard work and a government that provides a leg up, rather than a hand-out.”
“It’s time to give unions back to their members”
“If Ed Miliband is too weak to sort the union barons out… the next Conservative government will. And here's another thing- if Ed Miliband is too weak to stand up to the union barons, too weak to turn down their money and too weak to stop the scandals that engulf his party, then he's too weak to stand up for ordinary hardworking people of this country."
What a remarkable woman. An exceptional leader. A true Conservative.
I'm enormously proud to be the Chairman of a party once led by Margaret Thatcher.
It's a pride in her that we all share in this hall. Shared by the tens-of-thousands who lined the streets of London back in April to show their respect to Britain's first female Prime Minister.
We're the oldest democratic party in world. We've had many great leaders- we've got one now, and we'll have many more.
But my friends, I know you'll agree with me when I say there will only ever be one Margaret Thatcher.
As we came into government three years ago, the challenges looked rather familiar to the ones that Margaret Thatcher faced.
A Labour government that had spent money it did not have. An economy strangled by red tape, and – as with every single Labour government in history – an unemployment rate higher when they were booted out than when they came in.
Same old Labour.
If Margaret Thatcher were here today, you know what she would have been proud of?
The 1.4 million private sector jobs created under this government. A tax cut for 25 million ordinary working people. 2.7 million of the lowest paid removed from income tax entirely.
Mortgage rates low, council tax frozen, benefits capped, the deficit down, immigration down and crime down.
That's the Conservatives in government – the true party of aspiration, delivering for Britain.
And we've achieved all these things despite having no money, no majority and living through some of the toughest times this country has ever known.
It's great to be here in Manchester. It's a city I know well.
My wife, Belinda is a Mancunian. When we first met she told me she was a die-hard red. I think she meant the football.
And, what feels like a lifetime ago, I studied business at the old Manchester Polytechnic.
I graduated right next door at the Free Trade Hall – famous for Benjamin Disraeli's One Nation Speech. It was here, whilst studying, that I walked into a print shop across the road in Albert Square.
It was hive of activity. Printing presses, technology and a small business owner who clearly loved what he did.
I can remember stepping into his store and stopping in my tracks. Turning to my friend I said; "This is it. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to set up my own printing business."
So at 21 years of age, I returned home to my parents, wrote a business plan, went to see my bank manager, asked to borrow the money. And he said no.
Disappointed, but not deterred, I researched whether there was help available from the Thatcher government.
There was in the form of the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. I applied. Got the loan. And shortly after my 22nd birthday proudly opened the door of my new print shop in Wembley.
I may have had no assets or track record, but in those early years I worked harder than I'd ever done in my life.
But there's nothing special or unusual about my story. Just like millions of Brits – the grafters, who get up early – all they want is a system that rewards hard work and a government that provides a leg up, rather than a hand-out.
Business was tough particularly as we'd opened our doors at the start of a recession. I'll never forget lying awake at night worrying about paying the bills – or going to the cinema with friends, only to find out later that I'd missed the best bits of the film because I'd been so deep in thought worrying about cash flow – the constant pressure to bring in enough print work to pay the wages at the end of the month.
But we survived and as we grew, took on more employees. Margaret Thatcher inspired me and millions of others to set up shop.
She never forgot the hard-working people of this country. Her government rewarded aspiration; allowed people to work hard, set up on their own, do overtime, become more mobile, strive for better lives own their own home, buy shares and pass their hard-earned savings on to the next generation.
When John Prescott said “we're all Middle Class now”, there's a reason for that – Margaret Thatcher.
Now, we're building on her legacy. Last year more new businesses registered at Companies House than at any time in our nation's history. As Conservatives, that's something we should all be proud of.
But none of this is a given. Last time Labour were in power, they failed to fix the roof whilst the sun was shining. Next time their plan could actually turn the lights out.
We've been busy making Britain the most attractive place to set up shop. Yet last week in Brighton – Labour came up with an insane policy to put up corporation tax.
Companies have a choice where to create jobs. If Labour have their way, they'll just go somewhere else, damaging the small-business supply chain in the process.
I'll tell you how to help small businesses. Keep interest rates low. Exempt 330,000 of the smallest from paying any business rates at all and let every firm in Britain employ someone – and keep the first £2,000 of National Insurance.
All real things we're doing to help businesses today.
Because make no mistake – it's this party – once led by a grocer's daughter – which is and always will be the party of small business.
BACK FROM THE BRINK
When we stood for election we said it was going to be tough. We asked for support without sugar-coating the future. We said – that if we cut back the over-bloated state to help reduce the record deficit, the private sector would pick up the slack.
Labour told you it wouldn't work, it couldn't work. Ed claimed there'd be a million more people out of work. You'd be forgiven for thinking they didn't want it to work. In fact, thanks to all those business start-ups, there are now more working people than ever before.
But you know – the government didn't do that. People did.
Our job is to create the right conditions.
Because we understand that no government in history has ever taxed and spent their way to prosperity. So we've focused on tearing up the red tape. Untangling businesses from bureaucracy and backing the creativity of our citizens.
Some people said – that's enough to be getting on with. Yet, at the same time, we've actually tackled issues that previous governments placed in the "too hard to fix" box. Like sorting out welfare so work always pays.
Like defusing the pension time bomb so people can retire with confidence and the country can afford it. And resolving the biggest injustice of all, where you work hard, save hard, buy a home but lose the lot to pay for your long-term care.
Conference that's just wrong. And we're putting it right.
These are the big issues we're not afraid to fix, even while dealing with Labour's financial legacy that so nearly left us like those debt-ridden countries we saw on our TV screens night after night.
Yet as this country was headed towards the brink of bankruptcy we now know that Labour were expending their energy fighting each other like ferrets in a sack.
Ordinary, decent, hardworking Britons queued desperately outside collapsing banks, concerned to rescue their life savings – while Labour's inner-circle were busy pursuing their own agendas tearing themselves limb from limb. Shameful.
Friends, it's our job to make sure we never hand the keys to Downing Street back to the despicable, smearing, scandal-ridden, squabbling, divided-party who crashed our economy in the first place.
Because Britain is better than that.
British people deserve better than that. People like a man I met in Cornwall earlier this year. He's a postie who gets up at the crack of dawn.
He's a great guy, a hard worker, proud of the family he supports, proud of his hometown, proud of his council house. His name is Scott Mann. He's a Conservative.
In fact Scott is standing to be the next MP for North Cornwall. Scott Mann is here today.
Now Scott used to belong to the Communication Workers Union. He was a member to access services like legal and professional representation.
But for him and millions of ordinary union members there's another part of the union deal they didn't quite sign up to. The union barons taking their hard earned cash and handing it over to the Labour party.
Now, Scott never remembers being asked whether he wanted to give some of his wages to Labour. But he belonged to one of fifteen trade unions who routinely use their members' money to buy influence.
What they want is power over Labour. And so far they've done a damn good job in getting it. They've already installed their chosen leader – Ed Miliband. He does whatever they want. He selects their candidates. He backs their policies. He even looks the other way when they threaten our country with national strikes.
But recently, that cosy relationship got rather out of hand. Back in July, Labour's biggest paymaster Unite was caught red-handed, trying to fix parliamentary selections.
As criticism mounted Ed Miliband panicked. He claimed he would deal with the vote rigging and see off the corruption for good.
Later that day, Ed claimed victory. But his union bosses disagreed. With the threat of £1m of union funding withdrawn, Ed changed his mind.
There was apparently nothing to see in Falkirk. He had been mistaken all along to accuse that nice Len McCluskey of parliamentary fixing. The whole affair could be swept under the carpet.
Friends, it's extraordinary that they let this happen. And it's extraordinary that Her Majesty's Opposition is so far removed from ordinary hardworking union members like Scott that they've lost sight of who they're supposed to serve.
It all confirms what we've known for years. That the Labour party – strangled by the power of the union barons – is the party of the few.
Don't you think it's time to give unions back to their members? And if Ed Miliband is too weak to sort it out, then friends the next Conservative government will. And here's another thing- if Ed Miliband is too weak to stand up to the union barons, too weak to turn down their money and too weak to stop the scandals that engulf his party, then he's too weak to stand up for ordinary hardworking people of this country.
VISION OF THE FUTURE
This is going to be an extraordinary week. Later today, we're going to hear from the best Foreign Secretary this country has known for generations. William Hague.
Tomorrow, you're going to be hearing from a man who's turned this economy around. It takes guts to do what he's done. But he's stuck to his plan, we've turned a corner, and he was right all along. Our Chancellor, George Osborne.
And you'll hear from a woman who succeeded where every other Home Secretary has failed, packing Abu Qatada off on a plane to Jordan, for good – Theresa May.
Then on Tuesday you'll hear from the people fixing education, making work pay and intoxicating London – Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson.
And on Wednesday – you'll hear from someone who's been prepared to take tough decisions, provide the leadership and the vision.
Someone who gets up early each morning determined to turn this country around for hardworking people everywhere. That's right – our Prime Minister, David Cameron.
BRITAIN'S BEST DAYS LIE AHEAD
When this conference ends, there will be just 19 months to go until the general election. And it will fall to all of us to help win it for Britain. And that means getting out there, explaining our achievements and detailing our plans.
You know, commentators suggest that – given the right leadership – Britain could be the strongest economy in Europe. Don't we owe it to the next generation to make this future their reality?
Margaret Thatcher was once asked – what was her greatest achievement? She said; ‘Tony Blair and New Labour – we forced our opponents to change.'
But just last week Ed Miliband was asked by a man in the street if he is going to bring back Socialism – he said, "that is what we are doing, sir." Socialism.
So all those things we've worked for, all that Margaret achieved, is now at risk at the next election.
This country needs you. So if you're not already volunteering, get online, join the party and sign up to Team2015 to help us deliver the message where it really matters – out there in the country.
Because we have the Prime Minister, we have the team and we have a plan. To work hard and make sure Britain's best days lie ahead.
Now it's our responsibility to get out there and deliver for the hardworking people of Britain.