Cameron tells Tories: 'We will fight - Britain will win'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Tory leader David Cameron today challenged Gordon Brown to call a General Election, saying: "We will fight - Britain will win."

In an unscripted, 67-minute bravura performance to his party conference, Mr Cameron told his audience: "Mr Brown, what's it going to be? You go ahead and call that election.

"Let the people pass judgment on 10 years of broken promises; let people decide who's really making the arguments about the future of our country. Let people decide who can make the changes that we need in our country.

"Call that election. We will fight - Britain will win."

He said the Tories had to learn from Labour mistakes in reform of the health service and the education system and wake up to a new world order that defied "old politics".

Mr Cameron gambled his election chances with the off-the-cuff speech to party activists telling them: "I want to make a speech about why I want to lead my country."

He said: "It might be a bit messy but it will be me."

Referring to the occasion when he propelled himself into the Tory leadership stakes, he said: "Two years ago I stood on this stage and I gave a speech, a short speech, about why I wanted to lead our party.

"Today I want to make a speech about why I want to lead my country."

Mr Cameron continued: "Change, real change, isn't just about winning elections. Real change is about getting ready to govern our country.

"Real change is about doing what our party has always done, which is to make sure we understand, reflect and meet all the challenges of the modern world.

"And that is what we are doing. That is the argument I want to make today.

"We face a new world in so many different ways and the old politics is failing and change is required.

"New world, old politics failing, change required. That is what we have got to be about today.

"There's been quite a lot of talk of lurching and I can tell you we are not going to be lurching to the left, we are not going to be lurching to the right, we are just going to provide the good solid leadership that this country needs."

Mr Cameron went on: "Hope for our country, we need change for the long-term, hope for our country and optimism for the next generation.

"That is what this week has been about - that is what I am about."

Mr Cameron said his favourite conference was not two years ago but 20 years ago when a succession of democratically elected leaders from eastern bloc countries had praised Margaret Thatcher and the Tory Party for the inspiration they had given them on the "long march to freedom".

He said: "I felt proud that day - proud of our values, proud of our party, proud of the part we played in helping them forge the movement that brought freedom across our continent.

"But the triumphs of the past aren't enough. Every generation of Conservatives has to make the argument all over again for free enterprise, freedom, responsibility and limited government."

He repeated pledges to reform the tax system to reward marriage, put the police under the control of local mayors or commissioners and "fix" Britain's broken society.

Mr Cameron also pressed his case for a referendum on the EU reform treaty, saying: "Are we really saying to people, when it comes to how your country is governed you can't have a say? That is wrong."

He went on to attack Labour's new citizens' juries, dismissing the idea that they informed decisions and describing them as "glorified focus groups".

"Government asks your opinions and does what they want to do anyway," he said.

Mr Cameron cited a Government scheme asking voters to sum up Britishness in six words, saying he had six words himself for Mr Brown: "Stop wasting money on pointless gimmicks."

The Tory leader said Conservatives would abolish regional assemblies and give power back to councils "where it belongs".

"These are the first modern Conservative changes for this new world of freedom," he told activists.

The Tory leader said Britain had "great advantages" in the globalised world, "not least because of changes we made in Government 15 and 20 years ago".

He spoke of "huge changes" elsewhere in European countries - the Spanish cutting corporation tax by 5%, Germany by 9%, President Sarkozy in France cutting the top rate of income tax to make the French economy more effective.

"Look under the bonnet of the British economy and too many things are going in the wrong direction," he warned.

Mr Cameron was given a rousing reception by the conference and was joined on stage by his wife Samantha as he soaked up the applause.

His rousing speech follows a troubled summer for the Tory leader which included the handling of July's disappointing parliamentary by-elections, his decision to fly to Rwanda amid flooding in his Witney constituency and an internal party row over grammar schools.

He also faced right wing criticism including a fierce attack from Conservative former Cabinet Minister Lord Tebbit.

The Prime Minister is widely expected to review polling evidence giving the public's reaction to the Tory leader's high-risk tour de force speech before deciding whether to go for an autumn poll.