Zac Goldsmith’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in full

zacgoldtwo“I want to begin by saying something to the members of our party, who have put their trust in me for next year’s crucial Mayoral election.

And to all my friends in local government, who have given me so much support.

Thank you.

You may remember that the constituency of Twickenham, was thought to be impregnable

Invincible Cable they called him: a seat the Tories could not possibly win.

Well…no-one told Tania Mathias that!

Tania, thank you for giving me such an inspiring example to follow.

I have always believed that the most important politics is local politics.

And our Party’s record in local Government is a proud one.

– We keep taxes down

– we keep neighbourhoods green…

– we keep people safe.

And that’s why we need a Conservative in the biggest local Government job of all.

Labour’s search for a Mayoral candidate was vicious and divisive.

By contrast, our own search was civilised and constructive.

And I look forward to working with Andrew Boff, Syed Kamall and Stephen Greenhalgh, all of them distinguished servants of our Capital city.

When my constituents gave me the thumbs up to put myself forward as a candidates, I knew the scale of the task.

I will fight with everything I have to win this campaign.

Boris Johnson defied political gravity by beating Ken Livingstone, twice.

And he also managed to defy economic gravity, by giving London the confidence, to beat the recession, to deliver record investment, and a record number of jobs.

And London’s success has been good news for all of us.

When the capital does well – the whole country does well.

But London’s population will increase by 1.5m in the next fifteen years.

There will be immense pressure, on our housing, our living environment, our schools, and of course our transport system.

The Chancellor recently dropped a hint about Crossrail 2 going ahead.

He’s not a man who says things by mistake, so – being an optimist – I’m determined to convert that into a green light!

It’s clearly essential.

But it’s only part of the story.

We are going to need record investment in our transport network, just to keep London moving.

We need finance, and we need reform.

George Osborne has started a revolution, by handing great powers back from the Centre.

And we will see better decision making, more accountability and stronger governance.

And London needs that. Which is why yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor was so welcome.

New York retains half the taxes it raises.

London holds on to just seven per cent.

It’s time for London to keep more of its own revenue.

These things: greater devolution, lower taxes, better infrastructure: can only be delivered if there is mutual trust and respect between local and national government.

And that will only happen, if we have a Conservative Mayor, working with a Conservative Government.

Some of you will have noticed that I have an interest in the environment.

Well we are blessed to have a Capital whose Parks, Commons and gardens mark it out among the world’s most beautiful cities.

But the sheer pace of change means that we must do more than merely protect our existing environment.

We must enhance it.

We need to guarantee, that every child and every family has access to a somewhere to play…to grow…to cherish.

London is the Greatest city on Earth.

I want it to be the greenest.

We are going to have to get to grips with one of the great menaces of urban life.

Air pollution

We can save thousands of lives every year, in part thanks to the creativity of the market.

You can already drive from this hall to London’s City Hall for £5 in an all-electric British-made Nissan Leaf!

We need to accelerate that transition.

But by far the biggest challenge London faces is housing.

I remember in 2008 when I was selected to contest Richmond Park and N Kingston candidates were asked: who will fight off the developers?

Just a few months ago, the very same people asked candidates in the General Election hustings, how the hell are our kids going to get homes to live in?

We have seen a giant shift.

Rents in the capital are already double the national average.

The cost of a home for first time buyers is also double the national average.

And if the very people who make it what it is can no longer afford to live here; if young people can’t start a family because they can’t afford to move; then opportunities for families and businesses will simply dry up.

The answer is not easy.

But it is simple.

We need to build.

Contrary to what some believe, there is no shortage of land.

And specifically, there is no shortage of brownfield land.

We can build the homes London needs, without destroying the green spaces we love.

The Mayor’s new Land Commission, will identify all publicly owned brownfield land in our Capital.

We already know that put together, Transport for London land alone, would be bigger than the borough of Camden.

And there’s no shortage of finance.

Everyone wants to invest in London.

Our capital city is seen as a safe bet for investors.

But where homes are bought purely as investments, and are left empty, that causes huge resentment.

So we can do one of two things.

We can close the doors to outside investors, which is what the Labour Party wants to do.

Or we can capture that finance and use it to build the homes we need on publicly owned land.

As Mayor, I will set up a fund designed specifically to attract big institutional investors.

And I will use it to build a new generation of homes.

Affordable homes for young people, who neither qualify for housing lists nor are able to buy, but who have to spend most of their income on rent.

This is a cause worth fighting for.

But there is one important caveat.

Development will fail and deserve to fail, if we disrespect and trample on existing communities.

Many Londoners are instinctively suspicious of new development.

And I don’t blame them.

Too often they have no say, no control, over what is built in their backyard.

When a new development is proposed for their community, it is often ugly, out-of-proportion, out-of-keeping – and it is simply dumped on them, with no thought as to the effect it will have on their area.

There’s no case for ignoring local opinion.

Yes we need to build more, but we also need to build well.

If we get it right, if we work with communities and give them a real say, then the opportunities are endless.

Consider the 3,500 1950s and 60s estates, many of them poorly designed, many of them coming to the end of their lives.

With the consent of the local community – and with guarantees that they won’t be fragmented

– We have a chance to rebuild them, and provide more homes, better communities, and more beautiful streetscapes.

We know that high density doesn’t have to mean high rise, alienating blocks, magnets for social problems.

We can have attractive street based developments that people actually want to live in.

Which is why if I am elected Mayor, I will ensure that local communities can vote, to require the Mayor to call in significant developments.

I believe passionately in giving communities a voice, and making that voice decisive..

I want to make direct democracy, a London Reality.

And this will be a first step.

This is the country that gave democracy to the world.

And It’s time to renew that democracy, to bring it closer to the people, to make those with power more accountable, to give every community more control over decisions that affect their lives..

Next May will decide London’s future.

Do we want a capital city, run by a party that supports higher taxes and bigger government?

A party that has already committed itself to supporting each and every strike, no matter the motive or cause?

A party in the grip of unbending ideologues…?

A party that can only divide?

Ours is a better, more hopeful vision.

That is why I have put myself forward for this election.

We can build on Boris’s legacy…

… and fight for a safer…

… greener…

…. happier

…more prosperous, united city.

A city that works for all Londoners.

I know it will be the mother and father of all political battles.

But with your help, and your hard work…

We will win for London.”

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