David Cameron: Bulldog spirit key to ending debt crisis

By DAVID WOODING in Manchester

DAVID Cameron urged cash-strapped Britain to adopt the bulldog spirit to drag ourselves out of debt and despair.

The Prime Minister called for the nation to stop being “paralysed by gloom and fear” – and instead show some fight and energy to get our great country back on the road to prosperity.

He called on people in every walk of life to work together to turn things round and make Britain a beacon of enterprise for the world.

Mr Cameron (pictured left making his speech) issued the rallying call  in his closing speech to the Tory party conference in Manchester.

He declared: “Britain never had the biggest population, the largest land mass, the richest resources – but we had the spirit.

“Remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Overcoming challenge, confounding the sceptics, reinventing ourselves, this is what we do. It’s called leadership.”

The final flourish of his address – echoing on the conference slogan: “Leadership for a better future” – was aimed at contrasting his leadership skills with those of Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Cameron said: “Let’s turn this time of challenge into a time of opportunity. Not sitting around watching things happen and wondering why. But standing up, making things happen and asking why not.

“We have the people, we have the ideas, and now we have a government that’s freeing those people, backing those ideas.

“So let’s see an optimistic future. Let’s show the world some fight. Let’s pull together, work together. And together lead Britain to better days.”

The 50-minute speech covered a wide-range of issues. Here’s a summary in nugget form:

JOBS AND DEBT: Mr Cameron said: “It’s an anxious time. Prices and bills keep going up – petrol, the weekly shop, electricity.” He admitted the “uncomfortable” truth that the slump is caused by too much debt and the only way out is to cut spending and live within our means.

EUROPE: Britain will never join the euro while Mr Cameron is Prime Minister, he vowed.  And he won’t let us be sucked into “endless bail-outs” of countries that are in the single currency.

SCHOOLS: He promised to tear down the “apartheid” between private and state schools. It was “disgusting”, he said that we should aim for any less from a child from a poor background than a rich one.

IMMIGRATION: Mr Cameron vowed to get tough with criminals who use human rights laws to try to stay in this country. But he warned we must not lock out talent and should give the red carpet treatment to the best entrepreneurs, scientists and students from around the world to attract them here.

JOBS and BENEFITS: More than 2.5 million people have been “parked” on sick pay as a con trick by governments to keep unemployment figures down. The PM said: “Under Labour they got something for nothing. With us, they’ll only get something if they give something.” He will spend up to £14,000 on long-term jobless to get them trained and back into work.

GAY MARRIAGE: He promised to give equal marriage rights to same sex couples – “not despite being a Conservative but because I am a Conservative”.

ADOPTION: Action to find homes for the 65,000 children in care. Only 60 of the 3,660 kids without parents under the age of one  were adopted in Britain last year. He promised action to end this scandal. “How can we let this happen? We’ve got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families.”

LIBYA He urged everyone to remember what Gaddafi did – he bankrolled the IRA, was behind the shooting of a police officer in London and the bombing of a plane in the skies over Lockerbie. Mr Cameron said: “Let’s be proud of the part we played in giving Libyan people the chance to take back their country.”

HEALTH and SAFETY: Mr Cameron said he would overhaul barmy health and safety rules and scale back criminal checks rules to common sense levels. He remarked: “Britain didn’t rule the waves with arm bands on.”

Mr Cameron got the biggest ovation of the afternoon when he took a sideswipe at Ed Miliband who was met with jeers when he mentioned Tony Blair at Labour’s rally in Liverpool last week.

He said he had lucky enough to have strong support from all previous Tory leaders, including Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith, William Hague, John Major and Lady Thatcher.

The PM quipped: “You know what? We don’t boo our leaders. We’re proud of our past and what those people did for our country.”

David Cameron speech: Let’s show some fight

DAVID Wooding gives a quick instant analysis of David Cameron’s keynote speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Cameron in debt speech U-turn

By DAVID WOODING in Manchester

DAVID Cameron has been forced to tear up his big  speech to the Tory conference amid a backlash over a section urging people to pay off their credit card bills.

The Prime Minister had planned to tell supporters that the only way to end the financial crisis was to get rid of family debts.

David Cameron

But his remarks – briefed out by Number 10 ahead of this afternoon’s address – sparked claims he is out of touch.

Hard-hit families complained that they don’t have the spare cash to pay off the outstanding balances – and using plastic was the only way to buy essentials during hard times.

Experts also warned the economy would shrink even further if people stopped buying by credit card.

This morning Mr Cameron hastily re-wrote the section of the speech referring to the bills – and Number 10 staff hastily put out a “clarification” of the pre-briefed remarks.

Mr Cameron had planned to say: “The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households – all of us – paying off the credit card and store card bills.”

In his speech to the Manchester rally at 2.30 this afternoon he will now say: “The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That’s why households are paying down their credit card and store card bills.”

The PM will say he understands voters are living through an “anxious time” of rising bills and job losses and will promise to deliver real leadership for troubled times.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC it was common sense for people to pay off debts when they could and that the Government would lead the way.

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding

Theresa’s got her claws out for boss cat Ken

By DAVID WOODING in Manchester

KITTEN-heeled Theresa May got in a right cat flap with Cabinet colleague Ken Clarke today – over the Human Rights Act.

The Home Secretary had her claws out after he poured scorn on her claim that an illegal immigrant dodged a deportation order to look after his pet pussy.

In a cat flap: Theresa May

Mrs May had seized on the story to highlight her opposition to the controversial laws in a speech to the Tory conference in Manchester.

She won a standing ovation when she told of “the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I’m not making this up – he had a pet cat.”

But moments later, Cabinet top cat Mr Clarke stamped all over her claim with his size 11 Hush Puppies by claiming she had over-hyped the story.

The Justice Secretary declared: “I will have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of a cat.

“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out. I cannot believe anybody has ever had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat.”

He later quipped: “I heard Theresa refer to it and I sat there with a Victor Meldrew reaction. I thought… I can’t believe it.”

Mrs May was privately furious at the cat-astrophic intervention by Mr Clarke, who’s had a ban run of his own over his “soft” stance on prison sentences.

It was the fist Cabinet bust-up since the rally opened on Sunday and tonight both sides were hurling details of the case at each other to defend their corner.

A Home Office source said the case highlighted how illegal immigrants were taking the Act to extremes by exploiting the section which gives them a right to a family life.

Claws out: Ken Clarke

Mr Clarke, who is due to receive a recort on the European Convention on Human Rights,  said the Home Secretary had failed to consult him before making her remarks.

He said: “When I found out what these examples are that have upset her, I will probably find that she agrees with me. It is these daft misinterpretations of the Act which are giving the whole thing a bad reputation, when we should be a force in favour of human rights and individual liberty in the modern world, not in any way resiling from it.”

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Ed pledges a “new bargain” for Britain – but had voters switched off?

By DAVID WOODING in Liverpool

ED Miliband got one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon when he told the Labour conference: “I’m not Tony Blair.”

Then he set out to prove it by unveiling his plan to change the face of Britain by lurching his party to the Left.

His hour-long speech was a hit in the hall as he set out his personal mantra of building a society where people get out what they put in.

But there was little in this plodding speech to inspire the millions of struggling  voters he needs to win over.

The Labour leader signalled a return to socialist basics with an attack on “predatory asset-stripping” firms and curbs on fat cat bosses.

He vowed: “I’m my own man. And I’m going to do things my own way.”

Mr Miliband told supporters  he would “rip up the old rules” so that the country works for them.

His used the word “change” 17 times and “values” 30 as he outlined how he would completely re-draw the nation’s rule book.

He attacked “predatory asset-stripping” firms, warning the would pay more tax than producers – but didn’t explain how he’d achieve it. He promised to fight for a new bargain in our economy so reward is linked with effort”.

And he vowed to end “cosy cartels” which set top wages by putting a worker on board every pay committee.

Mr Miliband admitted: “It will be a tough fight to change Britain. But I’m up for the fight. The fight for a new bargain – a new bargain in our economy so reward is linked to effort.”

He added: “I aspire to be your Prime Minister not for more of the same but to write a new chapter in our country’s history.”

The Labour chief argued that previous governments had left a society where vested interests like energy giants and banks prospered and the wrong people – such as Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin – got most rewards.

He earned loud cheers from delegates for attacking Britain’s “fast buck” culture – saying “growth is built on sand if it comes from predators and not our producers”.

The workmanlike speech was well received in the Liverpool conference hall – ticking all the boxes by attacking the Tories and praising the NHS. But it probably left the non-committed cold.

Those who tuned in on BBC or Sky News missed a chunk when the live feed broke down – if they hadn’t already switched off.

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding

Why Ed must make the speech of his life

By DAVID WOODING in Liverpool

ED Miliband makes the most important speech of his career tomorrow – and must convince Labour doubters he is the man to lead their party back into power.

Talking to delegates in the conference hotel bars, I’ve reached the conclusion that he’s still got some way to go to win over even his own supporters.

Many still wonder whether they made the wrong choice when they picked him ahead of hot favourite and big brother David just a year ago.

Their mood echoes opinion polls which show Ed (pictured) still lagging behind Prime Minister David Cameron in personal ratings.

Even when asked publicly whether they picked the right Miliband, grass roots members are reluctant to say “yes”.

This was illustrated to dramatic effect during a Radio 5 Live show live from the bar of Jury’s Hotel in Liverpool.on Sunday night.

I was a guest on the lively show Pienaar’s Politics when, for a final flourish, presenter John Pienaar grabbed a microphone, waded into a group of delegates and asked them for their views on Ed.

Of the four people he asked, not one was willing to give their own leader a full endorsement.

It’s gob-smacking that support is so tepid among a group of paid-up party activists. John tried several times to coax a word or two of approval from the bar but all he got was a mood of uncertainty.

If that’s the view on his home turf, what do the “silent majority” of ordinary voters he needs to win over think?

So when he stands up to make his second speech as leader tomorrow, Mr Miliband must outline his vision of Britain under a future Labour government. He needs to think not only of those doubters in the conference hall, but the millions outside.

He must do some straight talking on the economic crisis – and give a clear idea on what he will do to boost growth, create jobs and improve law and order.

With the coalition suffering problems of its own, now is the time for Ed to step up to the plate. And show us what he’s made of.

Hear it for yourself: Listen to John Pienaar trying to get find an Ed Miliband supporter at the Labour conference: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/pienaar