09th Oct 2023

Speech to Conservative Party Conference 2023

I love conference.

It is a chance to see you all. To be able to thank you for all that you do. For all that you believe in. And for being here today. And it’s important that you are. Because this is the turning point.

It is the point from which we are going to be measured.

Now, physically getting here has not been straightforward.

Mick Whelan will be very disappointed to see so many of you here.

But we’re quite used to people trying to disrupt our conference.

Whether you’re a new member and this is your first conference, or you have been a stalwart of the party for decades. You have all had to stand up to bullies.

You’ve had your offices graffitied, you’ve been trolled online, you’ve been called scum, you’ve had physical threats. Some of you have had death threats. I know that some of you in this hall today have faced sanctions and threats from hostile states. No matter what the attack, we don’t back down.

39 years ago, this conference met, in the aftermath of the Brighton bomb. Standing up to bullies is what we do.

So I know that you are a tough bunch.

Our strength comes from a deep motivation to serve, and respect for the rights of the individual. And I am glad of that courage. Because what I have to say to you today is not for the faint hearted.

Conference, we face the fight of our lives.

And our country needs us again, to stand up and fight.

Stand up and fight.

Against the odds, against the polling, against the sneering commentary, against the “inevitability-of-decliner”s and the “despite-Brexit”ers. Stand up and fight against the sanctimonious clap trap of a Labour Party who have forgotten their MRSA infected hospitals, their soaring council tax and fuel duty, mass youth unemployment and the economic mess they left us to sort out.

Stand up and fight.

Stand up and fight, because when we do, all is possible.

Now, later on, you will hear from our brilliant Prime Minister.

He is going to be talking about the future. About the long-term. And how politics needs to change for a brighter future.

But for the time I have with you I want you to cast your minds back.

Now, as you know, I’m a Portsmouth girl.

Over the years, we have been in one scrap after another, and my city still bears the scars to this day.

Many of you in this hall will remember the 1980s.

I know what you’re thinking: Mordaunt couldn’t remember the 1980s! She’s far too young.

Conference, I have to tell you, I was there!

One of my first memories was standing on the Hot Walls in Portsmouth, and I was watching HMS Hermes take the Falklands taskforce out of the harbour. And I stood proud that day.

I knew watching those men and those ships that my country stood up to bullies.

Those men and those families knew that some would not be coming back.

It was deeply moving. And it moves me still to think of it.

You see, it was the moment I realised that courage is infectious.

You see, that is what the Conservative Party is for.

That is what our nation is for.

We stand up and fight.

We are the party and the country that stood up and fought against Nazis and fascists.

We are the party and the country whose resolve enabled superpowers to end a cold war.

We are the party and country that sent my classmates’ father and ships from my dockyard to stand up and fight for the rights of the Falkland Islanders to self-determination. All against the prevailing wisdom that it could not and should not be done.

We are the party and country that has stood from the start with Ukraine. We are the country and party that stood up for democracy. Who gave our countrymen the choice to join a European trading bloc and 40 years later the choice to leave what it had become.

We are the party and country that transformed the sick man of Europe into a titan on the global stage; who stood up and fought against militant trade unions and broke their chokehold on Britain. A few brave people with courage and conviction and love of country who thought about the long term, not short-term popularity.

Who knew what needed to be done and took on the bullies to achieve it.

Margaret Thatcher.

And every single person who stood with her and fought for a better future.

I happen to know that Lord Tebbit is tuning in from home. We remember you today. Thank you.

All of you still inspire.

Never forget those who went before us. And remember that without a Churchill, you can’t have a Zelenskyy.

Conference, I’m telling you all of this because I want you to remember that our greatest moments as a party and as a country come from when we feel at our lowest ebb.

And we face such a moment now.

Unprecedented threats yield unprecedented opportunity.

Unprecedented fears provide unprecedented challenge.

So, why have I taken you all back to the 1980s?

Very simply conference, because that is where the Labour Party now wishes us to return. Make no mistake, they want to fight the battles of the past.

All that we have worked so hard to achieve is in peril.

The freedom to use our roads without protesters or politicians stopping you.

The freedom to access public services and public transport.

The freedom to build a business and create wealth.

The freedom to invest in your children.

The freedom to make of ourselves everything our talents and determination allow.

The freedom to speak one’s mind.

The freedom of political association.

The freedom to take personal responsibility.

All at risk.

Make no mistake what will happen if we fail to win at the general election.

And the biggest threat of all is that the sons and daughters of Scargill are ready for a rematch of battles of the 1980s.

No less than the repeal of all of the reforms and freedoms we have brought in.

Aided and abetted by Labour.

Fuelled by the politics of envy, identity and class hatred.

Outdated, dogmatic, irrelevant to the needs of the people.

We have seen this before. We have seen this before.

The Labour controlled city of Birmingham Council following the Labour controlled Liverpool City council into scuttling around, handing out redundancy notices to its own workers in the wake of bankruptcy.

We have seen this movie before.

They want to return us to the 1980s.

Conference, we are not for returning.

We must never again let this country be subject to the bully boy barons of militant trade unions – the Matt Wracks, the Mick Lynch’s.

People who say they are going to defend your community while destroying it.

People who say to hard-working families the best way they to make ends meet is to drive those ends further apart by going on strike.

People who tell you your cancelled operation on your national health service, that you fund, is a price worth paying to meet their agenda.

People who want to turn the BMA into the NUM.

Conference, we’ve seen all this before.

We must never again let this country be tortured by the Wrack and the Lynch mob.

They are the iron fist, the iron fist.

So now let me tell you about the velvet glove. The smooth, silky red velvet glove that would give them cover.

You see conference, I don’t know about you, but I do not trust the leadership of Keir Starmer to be able to stand up to the iron fist.


Because he is not even capable to standing up to Mark Drakeford and his plans for an independent Wales. A 20mph independent Wales.

Or Sadiq Khan and his taxes on the working poor.

Or Angela Rayner and her Trade Union Charter.

He is incapable of standing up and fighting.

He doesn’t believe in anything.

He doesn’t stand for anything.

Who is he?

A few years ago, he wanted you all to think he was Jeremy Corbyn.

He sat in his shadow cabinet, knowing full well what that would mean if that man ever got into Downing Street, what it would mean for our defences.

He watched while colleagues of Jewish heritage were driven from his party.

And at the turn of this year, he wanted you all to think he was Neil Kinnock.

He used the exact language that Kinnock used in that fantastic conference speech he made when he took on the hard left of Hatton and Heffer. And at that moment, we conservatives, we cheered. We cheered Kinnock. Because we recognised his courage. We recognised his motivation because it was ours too. It didn’t matter that he was our opponent. He was fighting for our country.

When has Sir Keir ever done that?

No, Starmer has emboldened militant trade unionism and voted against protecting the public access to the services that they pay for.

And now, in Act III, he wants you all to believe he’s Tony Blair.

Starmer will do anything and say anything to win an election. And that is where his ambition ends.

Along with the power he will cede to his union paymasters and an NEC which needs a focus group to tell them to sing the national anthem.

He will not stand up for anything or anyone.

He will not stand up for you.

More likely, he’s gonna lie down.

Lie down in the street with Just Stop Oil.

Lie down with the Lib Dems and the SNP.

Lie down with Ed Davey – the man that makes Tim Farron look like a giant.

Lie down with Humza Yousaf – the man that made Nicola Sturgeon look competent.

But, just think for a moment what they would mean for our relationship with the EU, and for the union of our precious United Kingdom.

Right at the point when our brilliant nation should be focussed on the new opportunities ahead.

When it should be thinking about the future.

Taking the long-term decisions to guarantee its success.

Be in no doubt what is at stake. These people will erase everything we have achieved. They will deny Britain all it can be.

So, if you remember nothing else from what I have said today remember this – stand up and fight.

Stand up and fight for our families.

For workers, for the protectors, for the wealth creators.

Stand up and fight for those that take responsibility.

Stand up and fight for those that voted to leave the EU and those who voted remain and accepted the result and wish our country well.

Stand up and fight for your communities, for Scotland, for Wales, for Northern Ireland, for England.

Stand up and fight for the freedoms we have won against socialism, whether it is made of velvet or iron.

Have courage and conviction, because when you do you move our countrymen, our communities and capital of all kinds to our cause.

Stand up and fight.

Because when you stand up and fight, the person beside you stands up and fights.

And when our party stands up and fights, the nation stands up and fights.

And when our nation stands up and fights, other nations stand up and fight.

They stand up and fight for the things upon which the progress of humanity depends. Freedom.

That is what Conservatives do. That is what this nation does.

Have Courage.

Bring Hope.

Stand up and fight.

Stand up and fight.

Thank you, conference.