David Cameron pledges Tory councils fight

 

David Cameron called today for a "flat-out full-throttle fight" by Conservative activists for local council elections taking place on May 3.

In an appeal to the party to fight hard outside its heartlands in the south of England, Mr Cameron said the Tories are "the proud party of this one nation", able to speak for voters in every part of Britain.

He said the party would campaign on its record of delivering the "best-value councils" locally, of setting an "agenda for radical change" on issues like housing, education and immigration and of using power nationally to implement long-term reform in the country's interest.

Launching the Conservative local election campaign in Derbyshire, Mr Cameron told activists: "Now 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."

Voting takes place in 181 councils in England, Scotland and Wales on May 3, alongside ballots for mayors in London, Liverpool and Salford and the London Assembly - and referendums on the creation of directly-elected mayors in several cities.

As many of the seats were last contested when Conservatives were riding high in the polls in 2008, Mr Cameron's party is thought likely to face losses in its overall number of councillors next month.

But the Prime Minister insisted that they would be fighting hard for seats across the country.

"Don't let anyone claim the Conservative Party doesn't speak for people in every part of Britain," he said.

"Because we are the proud party of this one nation... We've got to have our campaigners out from Tunbridge Wells to Trafford, from Havant to Harrogate."

Mr Cameron said Tories would "shout loud and proud" about their record in local government, asking: "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."

Nationally, the Government is taking action to revive house-building, reform schools and control immigration after the "complete and utter disaster" of the previous Labour administration, he said.

"Let's tell everyone this," said Mr Cameron. "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."

And he cited changes to welfare, reform of public sector pensions and investment in infrastructure as proof that the Tories were taking on the deep-seated problems facing the country.

Speaking to around 150 activists at a community centre in Riddings, near Alfreton, Mr Cameron urged Tory activists to "shine a spotlight" on Labour waste ahead of the May 3 polls.

Attacking Labour for presiding over an "age of absurdity" during its time in power, the Prime Minister said: "Here in Amber Valley it's Labour that let people down and the Conservatives who are delivering the changes that people need - it's a local Conservative council that has frozen the council tax for the third year running.

"Let's remind people that under Labour, council tax doubled."

Attacking Labour's record, Mr Cameron added: "It's Labour councils that remain trapped in their wasteful old ways.

"Sunderland spent £113,000 on lobbyists, Lambeth spent £30,000 on a sculpture called foxes and cherries.

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

In a jibe at Labour's candidate for the London mayoral election, Ken Livingstone, Mr Cameron joked: "We used to say 'Labour wastes your money and puts up your taxes'.

"With Ken we can say 'Labour wastes your money and they won't even pay their taxes'."

Tory activists were also urged by the party leader to shout about their record in Government, which gave "every single person" a reason to vote Conservative.

Mr Cameron went on: "This party doesn't believe in ducking challenges.

"It knows that being in Government isn't about steadying the ship or just hoping things will get better, it's about taking the right long-term decisions and calling on all the resources of this great country so that we break through to better times ahead."

PA

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