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Speech

David Cameron: Conservatives are working in the national interest

Rt Hon David Cameron, Monday, April 16 2012

David Cameron (Photo credit: Andrew Parsons)

Today - right here in Derbyshire - there's no better place to set out our party's ambitions for this country and the difference we're making in power.

That's why today I am formally launching our local election campaign.

This is the real heart of England.

A placed of hard work, independent minds and strong communities.

A place where people want government on their side, but know it cannot be the answer to every problem.

A place where people want jobs in growing businesses, good homes and strong families...

...not a life waiting for welfare handouts.

And Friends - these are Conservative ambitions.

Here in Amber Valley it's Labour that let people down and the Conservatives who are delivering the change this country needs.

It's a local Conservative council that's frozen council tax for the third year running.

Under Labour, it doubled.

So don't let anyone claim the Conservative party doesn't speak for people in every part of Britain.

Because we are the proud party of this one nation.

We will always defend it.

That's why last year in Brussels, when I was faced with an EU Treaty that wasn't in our country's interests, I had no hesitation in using our veto for the first time ever.

And I promise that we will continue to show that resolve.

We'll need it.

Because we have come to government in incredibly challenging times.
The Eurozone is on the brink of another recession.
 
Huge opportunities are sweeping the Middle East - but also great threats.
 
Western economies, Britain included, are trying to recover from the biggest financial collapse in decades.
 
This party doesn't believe in ducking challenges - it knows you have to raise your sights and meet them.
 
It knows that being in government isn't about steadying the ship, or hoping things will get better...
 
...it's about taking the right long-term decisions...
 
...and calling on all the resources of this great country to break through to better times ahead.
 
So, when it comes to our economy: deal with the debt - don't put it off.
 
When it comes to our society: reform public services - don't be scared off by vested interests.
 
Support freedom abroad - don't give in to dictators like Gaddafi or Assad.
 
Stand up for freedom in Europe too; it's an open market we want, not a country called Europe - and that's another reason we'll be staying out of the Euro for good.
 
In all things act in the national interest. Do what's right, however tough. Lay the foundations for something better.
 
That's what we've been doing - and I want to thank you for the support you've shown us.
 
But now, once again, I need you to do what you do best.
 
We've got to mobilise people across England for some very important elections coming up - less than three weeks from now.

We've got to have our campaigners out from Tunbridge Wells to Trafford...
 
...from Havant to Harrogate...
 
...and today I want to tell you the three big messages you need to put out there.
 
First: we need to shout loud and proud about what we've done for people.
 
Take our record in local government.
 
Which party runs the best-value councils in the country?

Which party has the lowest average council tax on a typical Band D home?

Which party is leading the way on freezing council tax again in most places this year - when it doubled under Labour?
 
Yes, the Conservatives.

It's Labour councils which remain trapped in their old wasteful ways.

Sunderland spent £113,000 on lobbyists....

... Lambeth spent almost £30,000 on a sculpture called 'Foxes and Cherries'

...and Camden spent almost £200,000 on seven trade union activists.

And then there's Ken.

We used to say: 'Labour wastes your money and puts up your taxes'.

With their candidate for London Mayor we can say: 'Labour wastes your money and they won't even pay their taxes'.

We are shining a spotlight on Labour's waste.

We've changed the rules so that councils have to reveal everything they spend above £500...

... and hold a vote on huge salaries for top staff.
And you know the only council which won't do it? That's right. Labour Nottinghamshire.

We've also given councils new freedoms...

... to co-operate saving a fortune in back office costs...

...to spend money from the business rate locally...

...and we've scrapped a ton of red tape that saw Whitehall order councils how to spend their money.

And let's shout about our record in national government too.
 
Because you know what?
 
Every single person you meet has a reason to vote Conservative.
 
The worker no longer paying income tax - because we're putting up the personal allowance, soon to almost £10,000.
 
The pensioner getting the biggest-ever cash rise in the state pension - that's right, an increase of £5.30 a week, that started this month.
 
The entrepreneur boosted by cuts in corporation tax - soon to be 22 per cent, the lowest in the G7.
 
The homeowner saving money on their mortgage - thanks to low interest rates.
 
The 24 million households that are better off - thanks to changes we've brought in.
 
To all of those people we must say this:
 
There's only one box in which to put your cross on May the 3rd...
 
...and that is for the party that cares about the strivers, the battlers, the family-raisers, the community-builders...
 
...the Conservative Party.
 
And in case that pencil should hover over Labour's box, let's remind them just what a complete and utter disaster Labour were for this country.
 
Theirs was an age of absurdity, when everything was turned upside down.
 
Where some people were paid more to stay at home than to go to work.
 
Where police spent more time filling in forms than on the beat.
 
And where the solution to debt...
 
...was yes: debt, debt and more debt.
 
So our message has got to be clear: if you look at what Labour did to our country...
 
...why on Earth would you let them anywhere near your council?
 
The second message we've got to take out is that this is the party setting the agenda for radical change.

Take housing. Bricks and mortar.

For the last decade we've had to put with a government that never understood the deep desire of people to buy and own their own home.

That virtually destroyed the right to buy your council house...

...that wrapped councils in red tape...

....and saw house building slump to its lowest level since the 1920s.

Do you know how old the average first time buyer is if they can't get help from mum and dad?

Thirty Five.

That's why we had to get Britain building again - and get Britain owning again.

That's why we're stepping in and helping the builders who need finance.

That's why we're making available government-owned land for 100,000 homes.

And that's why we're bringing back the right to buy your council house, with proper discounts to make it worth your while.

This government is hard at work, sorting out Labour's mess.

Take education.

Again, we had to put up with a government that wanted to flatten aspirations.

That never understood people's yearning to take control - too look after themselves and their families.

Never understood that parents want their children to do better.

That's why for years we had to put up with an agenda that...

...dumbed down standards

...tolerated poor discipline...

...and failed millions of children.

With Michael Gove in charge, that phrase 'a party of radical change' has been filled with meaning.

We're giving teachers the power to discipline children.

Giving heads the control to set their own curriculum.

Underscoring all this with more transparency and choice for parents.

Over 1,700 schools in England now enjoy the freedom that comes from Academy status - against just 203 created by Labour.

But it is not enough to create good schools if a hardcore of truants fail to turn up to study in them.

Almost 400,000 pupils skip at least 15% of lessons a year - equal to missing a month at school.

Most never make up the lost ground.

We've got to crack this problem. That's why we asked Charlie Taylor, an experienced former head teacher in tough inner-city schools, to help.

Today he's publishing - and we are welcoming - his excellent report.

He asks an important question: if parents can't get their child into school, why should they be able to claim child benefit?

Because I'm not prepared to see truancy and ill-discipline wreck the lives of the next generation.

Or take immigration.

The last government just opened the door and let everyone in.

We're taking tough action to enforce the rules.

Proper checks to see if your marriage was just for a passport. Done

Proper checks requiring migrants can speak English. Done.

Proper checks on migrants who claim to be students. Done.

That's why we are limiting numbers from outside the EU.

Closing bogus colleges.

Bringing in exit controls to make sure visitors from outside Europe actually leave.

And ending the abuse of loopholes in human rights legislation.

Now when you take tough action like this some say better just stay quiet or you'll offend people.

Don't talk about more rigour in education - it might sound like you are talking schools down.

Don't promise action on immigration - it's simpler to say nothing.

I say nonsense - when things aren't going right it is our job to say so - and put them right.

So let's tell everyone this:
 
If you're sick of the status quo...
 
...if you're tired of being told that this is the best you can hope for...

...if you want leadership that admires and encourages those who want the best for themselves and their families...
 
...if you want real change, if you want a radical alternative, you know who to vote for.
 
But the third message - the biggest message I want you to take out there is not about particular policies, it's not about Labour...
 
...it's about what motivates and drives this government.
 
When you come into office any party has a choice.
 
You can tinker around a bit and put a lick of paint on the old problems.
 
You can commission reports and reviews to shove problems further down the line.
 
You can blame inaction on the bad times you're in - or in the good times, say you don't need to bother.
 
Or you can take a different path.
 
You can close that Number 10 door behind you and say: this is our chance; our precious chance to change our country and we're going to seize it.
 
You can hear all those whispering voices saying "play it safe if you want to win a majority" and "don't rub too many people up the wrong way"...
 
...and say: "No - that is not us; that is not our party."

For years people said "you can't reform and cut welfare - the bills are bound to get higher...
 
...this is a fact of British life and there's nothing you can do about it."
 
We said - hang on - it can't be right that we pay people more to stay at home than go out to work.
 
It can't be right to pay out £40, £50, £60,000 in housing benefit to families where no one works.
 
We've been the first government to come in and properly get a grip on this.
 
The Welfare Act is the most radical, long-term reform this country has seen for a generation.
 
Making work pay. Getting people trained up and back into work.
 
And ending the something-for-nothing culture once and for all.
 
For years governments said we could put off the big decisions on infrastructure...
 
...that we could make do and mend and somehow it wouldn't matter that we limped behind the rest of the modern world.
 
We said: not on our watch.
 
Even at a time of really tight budgets, we're pressing ahead.
 
With Crossrail. With High Speed Rail.
 
In the Midlands we're making Birmingham a superfast broadband city...

...in the North we're investing in the electrification of rail lines from Liverpool to Leeds.

And across the country we are taking on the big challenges of the future.
 
For years people said you can't reform public sector pensions and make them affordable - but we're doing exactly that.

Yes it's difficult - but today we can look public sector workers in the eye and say: you will have a generous, guaranteed pension...
 
...and we can look the taxpayer in the eye and say we've cut the long-term cost of public sector pensions and there is now a fair, affordable way to pay for them.
 
And of course, for years government acted as though debt could be ignored and left to pile up - and tomorrow would pay for today.
 
We have refused to take this path.
 
In just the past year, we have cut over £10 billion off the deficit.
 
We've got interest rates that are among the lowest of any major economy.
 
Yes, cutting spending is tough.
 
But in the years ahead people will look back and see that what we're doing today has laid the foundations for a sounder, stronger economy.
 
We came in as a coalition to make long-term decisions in the national interest - and we're making them.
 
And the reason we're doing this goes back to our values.
 
We believe in responsibility...
 
...and know it's not just irresponsible but immoral to pass on debts to our children.

We believe in fairness - real fairness...
 
...which is why we're building a welfare system where work really pays.
 
We believe in enterprise - people rising up on the back of their own graft...
 
...which is why we're cutting business taxes, getting rid of pointless regulation, making sure  that anyone who wants to put the effort in can get on and up in life.
 
So friends, we may take our hits but always remember this:
 
We are making the hard, long-term decisions that are vital to the future of Britain.
 
We are doing our duty by our country...
 
...and that has always been the Conservative way.
 
So those elections are just around the corner now and we've got to take this message...

...about our values, our achievements, the difference we're making...

...out to the people of England.
 
Now's is not the time to put our feet up.
 
It's time to roll our sleeves up.
 
We don't need a sort-of strategy, or a kind-of campaign.
 
We need a flat-out, full-throttle fight.
 
To get out there and say to people: "You know that boost in your pay packet - that's because the Conservatives are in government"
 
"You live within your means - the government does too."
 
"You want a better future for your children - that is what the Conservatives are creating."
 
"You understand what's right for this country - and so do we."
 
That's what we need to tell people:
 
That this is a government that's looking at the horizon, not at the headlines...
 
...that cares about working for the long-term good, not short-term popularity...
 
...that works in the national interest, not the party interest.
 
This is us. This is what we believe. It's our job to get this message out over the next three weeks - so let's get to it.

Watch David Cameron's speech, preceded by Eric Pickles and Sayeeda Warsi, below.

Rt Hon David Cameron

David was elected Leader of the Conservatives in December 2005 and appointed Prime Minister in May 2010.

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