The story of the Conservative party is a marvellous tale, full of all the colour and drama and passion that have marked the history of the British people. It is often forgotten today that politics are not about economic statistics; they are about people and how they want to live, and what sort of society they want to live in.
The Conservative party in particular is about people—as this book so vividly demonstrates—a great chain of people stretching back into the past and forward into the future—a ‘partnership’, as Edmund Burke said, ‘between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born’. These people have been—are—and will be—of all kinds and conditions; their rich variety and enormous diversity is their most appealing characteristic, but they are all linked by their belief in human freedom, in Britain's greatness, and in their own power and responsibility to contribute to both. Conservatives do not believe—and I do not—that history is writ clear and unchallengeable, or is predestined by economic or any other ‘laws’. History is made by people: its movement depends on small currents as well as great tides, on the ideas, the perceptions and the will of all the people of the nation. There have been great leaders in the Conservative party—Peel, showing how to change but not destroy; Disraeli with his call for us to become one nation, not two; Churchill with his matchless courage leading the country through its darkest hours. There have been great leaders, but equally important have been the hundreds of thousands who have worked, and the millions and millions who have voted for the Conservative party and all it stands for.
Something else this book reminds us of, that is too often forgotten in the fury of contemporary elections, is that politics also can be fun, and that through the work and in the activities of the party people have often found their firmest friends. Along with earnest speeches and endless envelopes there have also been, through all these years, wining and dining and dancing and singing, and good conversation and much laughter.
I feel at once both humble and very proud to be the leader of this great party, whose history is so much part of the history of Britain. And it is on a knowledge of this history that I, and I believe most Conservatives, base our optimism for the future. Our past is proof of the courage, honesty and flair of the British people, of their ability to change and to create, and I am confident that our future will be shaped again by these qualities, which have so enriched our past.