STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE PARTY
A year ago the Conservative Party chose me overwhelmingly as its first democratically-elected Leader.
By electing me, the Conservative membership recognised both the need for change but also the need to take the entire Conservative Party along that road.
Over the last year I have discharged the mandate I was given to the letter.
I have embarked on the necessary and sometimes painful process of modernisation.
I have rededicated the Conservatives to improving our public services.
I have also begun to reconnect the Conservative Party with the views and attitudes of contemporary Britain.
I have never underestimated the magnitude of the task before us, but nor have I flinched from my resolve that this is a road down which the entire Party must travel.
I have sought to do all this with courtesy, decency and honesty, respecting those who would like me to move faster and those who feel threatened by our moving at all.
Over the last few weeks, a small group of my Parliamentary colleagues have decided consciously to undermine my leadership.
For a few, last night’s vote was not about adoption, but an attempt to challenge my mandate to lead this Party.
We cannot go on in this fashion.
We have to pull together, or we will hang apart.
If we are to be taken seriously as an Opposition, as an alternative government for this country, we have to work together.
I cannot allow the efforts of a dedicated team in Parliament or of hundreds of thousands of hard-working volunteers to be sabotaged by self-indulgence or indiscipline.
The Conservative Party wants to be led. It elected me to lead it in the direction I am now going.
It will not look kindly on people who put personal ambitions before the interests of the Party.
My message is simple and stark: unite or die.
5 November 2002