This general election has suddenly got a bit lively. It has suddenly got a bit interesting. Something quite big has happened.
There's a new group of people that have taken centre stage in this election, and that group of people are the British people. What they are saying so clearly is: we are fed up with what we've got, we are fed up with the status quo.
Ronald Reagan always said the status quo was just the Latin for "the mess we're in", and I think he had a point. They are crying out for change, they want something different, they are grabbing onto anything new to try and get that change. They certainly don't want another five years of Gordon Brown.
And people are asking me: how are you going to respond to this change in the general election? What are you going to do? Are you going to suddenly go negative, are you going to lash out against your opponents, are you going to do something different? I will tell you what I'm going to do, I am going to redouble the positive, I am going to accentuate everything positive we want to bring to this country, I am going to make sure everything we do is about the positive vision we have for the future of our country because it's absolutely clear to me what this election is about. It's about a really big choice. First of all, are we going to have real leadership that will bring change in our country, or are we going to have uncertainty, fudge and division? And we need real leadership.
This election is now about who can actually deliver the change that the country wants, who can get the job done, who can make sure that change will actually happen if you put that cross in the box on May 6th, and that is what the Conservatives offer, real change, real change to get the job done.
Just consider the scale of problems we face in this country. We've got an economy mired in debt that's still not really moving, we've got a society with big social problems and social breakdown, and we've got a political system that is in a complete mess, where people have so little faith and confidence in that political system. How are we going to change those things? Are we going to do that without real, decisive leadership? Of course not. It's leadership we need, not fudge, not indecisiveness, not uncertainty, and it's only by voting Conservative can you get that definite, decisive leadership that the country needs.
But above all, the real change that we offer is based on a really big and different idea. For decades, politicians in this country have basically been treating the British public like a bunch of mugs. Politicians have been saying to you: just give us a little bit more of your money, just let us pass one more law, let us just pass one more regulation, one more little order from on high, and suddenly we will solve all of the country's problems. It is a lie. It's a big lie. It's rubbish. It doesn't work.
The old top-down, big-government approach has failed in Britain, and even if you believed in it, even if you still believe in it, there isn't really any government money left to try it with. Gordon spent it all. It's all gone. So we need something different, and that is where our big idea comes in.
The idea of building the Big Society, the idea of saying: if you want change, then we have all got to pull together, work together, come together, recognise we're all in this together, and that's how you get change.
Take crime. Does anyone really believe that if you just passed one more law, if we put one extra police officer on the beat, if we issued another regulation from Whitehall, we would crack crime? Of course we won't do it like that. We're only going to crack crime when we all recognise the role we have got to play, that we've got to bring our children up properly, we've got to back the teacher in the classroom when they want discipline, we've got to stop selling alcohol to children. We've got to recognise that business has a big role in tackling crime, we've got to recognise that the streets are ours only to be policed with the police, with our help to make sure they can get their job done.
Take education. Does anyone really believe one extra piece of legislation, one more little instruction from Ed Balls going out to every school is going to make all the difference? Of course not. We'll only get really good schools when we say to families: you've got to get involved with your school, you've got to help back up the teachers, you've got to make sure you bring up your children properly, and also when we break open the monopoly of education and say to the social enterprises, the charities and the churches and the other organisations: come on in. In our Big Society, everyone's welcome. Come on in and set up a great school in the state system so we can get the competition, the choice, the excellence, the diversity that we have in the private system. That's what the Big Society is all about.
Take any subject you want to and you can see that the Conservatives' idea of the Big Society, not the big bossy state but the Big Society, is the way that we will get real change in our country.
And with all these people working in business here today, think about the choice when it comes to our economy. Think about the problems we have today in our economy. Think about the debt and the deficit. Does anyone think that we're going to get out of this economic hole without real, decisive leadership? We've got big problems with our deficit, we've got to get on and start cutting the government waste and getting value for money in government.
Are we going to get that with some fudge decision at the election? Never. We are only going to get it with a decisive Conservative government that gets moving on this. How are we going to stop Labour's jobs tax? The idea of putting up National Insurance on every job in our country, it's a crazy idea as you are coming out of recession and into recovery. Are we going to stop that with some sort of indecisive result, and a lot of haggling and negotiation? Of course not. We are only going to get that with a decisive Conservative government that starts cutting the waste and says no, we don't want that jobs tax.
Think of getting business moving and how we're going to help small businesses. Are we going to do that spending weeks haggling about a government? What we need is a decisive government that says we are going to have a budget that will help small businesses like the ones here with a cut in Corporation Tax, saying that any new business doesn't have to pay National Insurance on the first ten new jobs, busting open state procurement so you can all bid for the state contracts, and make sure that you can make money for your businesses out of what the government does. It's decisive leadership that will bring these changes that our country needs.
So if you want change, and this election is all about change, because we are all fed up with what we've got, the only way to be certain of change, the only way to get change that will get the job done is to have a Conservative government that will bring it.
Any other result and we could be stuck with what we've got now, literally stuck, not just with the people we've got now, not just with the leader we have got now, but stuck with the problems we have got now, stuck with the big state, stuck with the economy that isn't moving, stuck with the debt that's holding us back, stuck with a political system that isn't working for us. That's why we need change.
Let me just say one last thing about why I admire small business so much. It's not just that you are going to provide the wealth and the jobs and the enterprise of the future, which you are; it's not just that social enterprises are going to tackle so many of the big social problems we've got in our country. It's also because what you have done in your lives I think emphasises the most important value in our country of all and it's a word that's missing from this election, and that word is responsibility. You decided to take responsibility for yourself, to start something for yourself that contributes to our bigger economy and our bigger society.
And the really big change I think we need in Britain is actually all about responsibility because, when you think of the Big Society we want to build, when you think of the problems we want to tackle, we won't do it unless people take more responsibility for themselves, for their families, for their neighbours, for their communities. We pour money into the National Health Service, and it's good that we do, but will it ever really get better if we have such a massive problem of childhood obesity? That's about responsibility.
We do masses to help our schools, but will that ever really work unless we exercise responsibility in the way that we look after our children and make sure they turn up to schools on time? Think of any single subject, and it's all about the responsibility that we need to bring to our lives, to our country, to our communities, that's going to make a difference. So thank you for all that you do in business, thank you for all the social entrepreneurs who are going to help make this vision of the Big Society come alive.
As we go into the last few weeks of this election campaign, let's just remember this: if you want real change, if you want change to happen, if you want the job of change to be completed and done, there's only one way to get it, and that is a clean break with what we have now, a decisive result, a Conservative Party that had the passion and leadership to change itself that is now able to change our country.
That is why I am going to accentuate the positive, that is why I am going to redouble everything positive about this campaign, because everything I've done as leader of the Conservative Party was to say: look what we do if we have the bravery, passion and leadership to make change ourselves, look what we can achieve for our party, and now look what we can achieve for our country. That to me is what this campaign is all about. It has taken off, it has become more exciting, and I welcome that, because the British people are crying out for change, and they are going to make us work hard to deliver that change, but in the end, it is only a refreshed and revived Conservative Party and a decisive Conservative victory that can bring the change our country needs. Thank you.