Cameron expected to focus on firm leadership and compassion
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Saturday 01 October 2011
David Cameron's message to the public from Manchester, where his party's annual conference begins tomorrow, will be a combination of strong leadership and compassion.
In an attempt to show the party's commitment to public services, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, announced last night that a new, free, 24/7 NHS phoneline for non-emergency care and advice would be rolled out nationally by April 2103. The Tories said it would abolish the concept of "out-of-hours" care.
The service, available by dialling "111", will replace NHS Direct and will be able to send an ambulance without the public having to call one. It is also expected to save money: NHS Direct costs £120m a year to run, and the new service is likely to employ fewer trained medical staff.
The conference is expected to be dominated by the economy. Its slogan is "leadership for a better future" and Mr Cameron and the Chancellor, George Osborne, will insist that only the Government's plan can steer Britain through the global storm.
Without raising false hopes, they will try to offer some light at the end of the tunnel. "We don't want another gloomfest," one Tory aide said yesterday, in a reference to the Liberal Democrat and Labour conferences of the past two weeks.
Ministers will announce policies designed to end the "something for nothing" culture that they say built up under Labour. People who "play by the rules" and "work hard for their families" will be rewarded while those who contribute "little or nothing" will get less help from state.
Tory representatives are expected to back ministers on the economy but demand a tougher line on Europe. Tory activists and MPs are pressing the Government to exploit the eurozone crisis to grab back some powers from Brussels in return for allowing closer fiscal integration in the eurozone.
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