The Prime Minister, David Cameron, speaking today at a meeting of Conservative Party activists said:
We meet on the eve of some important changes in our country.
…millions of people will open their pay packets to find they are paying less tax – or no income tax at all…
…and that’s because we are raising the tax threshold – so you will not pay income tax on a single penny you earn up to £10,000.
…almost every business and charity in the land that employs someone will get a tax cut too.
I have written to more than a million of them to say: keep more of what you earn, grow, invest, take on more staff…
…because we are cutting your National Insurance bills by up to £2000.
This comes at the end of a week when we cut corporation tax to 21 per cent…
…the lowest for any G7 country, making British the best place to invest.
These moves are all part of our long-term economic plan to create jobs…
…and give more people across our country the security and peace of mind that comes with being in work.
So from tomorrow: more money in people’s pockets…
…more security for Britain’s small businesses…
…more peace of mind for families across our country…
…that’s because the Conservatives – the party of low taxes – are in Government…
…and everyone here can feel proud of that.
And friends – be proud of everything Conservatives are doing in Government.
Change doesn’t just happen – it needs the right team to make it happen.
We’ve seen the British economy coming back to health…
…one of the fastest growing advanced economies in the world…
…manufacturing on the increase…
…a vehicle rolling off a British production line every 20 seconds…
…our exports to China doubled…
…our deficit cut by a third.
All this didn’t just happen, like a change in the economic weather…
…it’s because British businesses worked their hearts out – backed by our brilliant Chancellor: George Osborne.
In our schools – we didn’t see a spontaneous outbreak of sense in the teaching unions…
…with proper English, basic arithmetic and our proud British history back at the heart of the curriculum…
…Michael Gove made it happen.
In our justice system: Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada didn’t jump on a plane voluntarily…
…it was one woman who booked those one-way tickets – our Home Secretary, Theresa May.
In our hospitals – do you remember what Labour were saying last autumn?
That we were looking down the barrel of a winter A&E crisis.
Well guess what? There was no winter crisis…
…the figures yesterday show we met the A&E target for the whole year…
…and that’s because we have great managers, dedicated staff, nurses and doctors running our hospitals – backed by Jeremy Hunt.
On the world stage, we’re showing leadership on issues as diverse as supporting the Ukraine…
…backing human rights in Sri Lanka and feeding the world’s poorest.
We’re standing up to vile practices like forced marriage, FGM and sexual violence as a weapon of war…
…so let us hear it for the man who makes Britain stand taller: William Hague.
And in welfare – the source of so many deep problems in our country – today we are seeing real, tangible progress.
Benefits have been capped. Unemployment is down.
1.3 million more people are now in work than at the election.
Just think: all those people who have the peace of mind that comes with having a job…
…fathers and mothers who go to bed at night sleeping easier because they can provide for their children.
We’re getting people into work. We’re getting people off benefits…
…600,000 fewer claiming out-of-work benefits.
One towering achievement. Three letters – I.D.S.
It’s a great team – and I’m proud of them.
We gather here with some huge fights on the horizon.
In two months: the fight for our local councils and our European seats.
In five months: the fight to keep our United Kingdom together.
And in just over a year: the almighty fight to keep Labour out and keep Britain on the rise with an outright Conservative majority.
Today I want to talk about how we approach those fights.
We need two things.
Unapologetic clarity about what we stand for…
…totally un-cowed by those who want to twist and distort our beliefs.
We’ve got to be bold at taking on our opponents…
…exposing their claims and their weaknesses.
Clarity and boldness.
Let me tell you what that means for each of those fights.
LOCAL AND EUROPEAN ELECTIONS
Just weeks from now, the polling booths open for the local and European elections.
We’ve got to head into these with pin-point clarity about what we stand for.
In our councils, we stand for good local government that costs less.
It’s not flashy. It’s simple.
The streets swept. The potholes mended. The bins collected. The high streets – supported.
And yes – the taxes cut.
The average Conservative Band D tax bill is lower than a Labour one – year after year after year.
So let’s be bold in taking them on.
Like the Labour council in Derbyshire.
Last May, they won the council.
Just weeks later, they awarded themselves a pay rise of £3,000.
And then, to top it off – they gave £40,000 to a left-wing group which had printed T-shirts celebrating the death of Lady Thatcher.
A despicable, disgusting act.
Let’s remember what she said: “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money” …
…so let’s tell people about the socialists running Labour today: don’t let them do to your council what they did to our country.
And we must take this same clarity and boldness into the European elections.
I can tell you what we stand for in three words.
Britain’s. National. Interest.
That’s why, when there was a treaty that was not in our interests – I vetoed it.
The Euro bail-out scheme – we got Britain out of it.
The European Budget – we cut it – for the first time ever.
Britain’s. National. Interest.
First, last, always.
And compare that to our opponents.
Labour and the Lib Dems…
…who like things just the way they are – and won’t give people their say on Europe.
And then there’s UKIP – who “cannot change a thing in Brussels.”
Not my words…
…the words of their leader.
Nigel Farage has admitted that – I quote: “UKIP cannot change a thing.”
And frankly they barely even try.
Even when they do bother to turn up to vote, they don’t stand up for Britain.
This time last year I had sat around the table, with Merkel, Hollande, Rutte, negotiating a deal to cut the overall EU Budget by 34 billion Euros.
And what did UKIP do?
They opposed it.
So let the message go out.
Labour and the Lib Dems won’t give you a say in Europe.
UKIP can’t change anything in Europe.
It’s only the Conservatives who can deliver real change in Europe…
…and yes – it is only us that will give the people of Britain that in-out referendum.
Our next big fight: the one to keep our United Kingdom united.
Let us set out our positive vision for the future of the UK.
When the future belongs to the innovators…
….why would we want to put up walls between the bio-engineers in Edinburgh and Cambridge?
When stability and certainty are what brings in investment…
…why would we break apart one of the oldest and most successful single markets and currencies on the planet?
But let’s have total clarity about why we’re fighting.
Not just because the UK works, which of course it does…
…but because we love this country.
We have ties that run rich and deep.
200 years ago: we were leading the industrial revolution and shaping the world’s economic ideas.
100 years ago: young men from the Highlands to the Valleys went to war together, and many fell, together.
70 years ago: the D Day landings, the Highlanders running onto the beaches of Northern France to the skirl of the bagpipes.
60 years ago: building the health service that says no matter where you’re from or how much you’ve got, we will look after you.
And one year ago: the single-tier pension – which says if you’ve worked hard all your life we will support you…
…a mark of respect for those who have worked hard all their lives…
…and a symbol of our solidarity on these islands.
You know, sometimes there are apologists for this history.
They think the pride’s vulgar; or what does it matter; or flying the flag is wrong.
I say no – head for head we are a people that has influenced and improved the world like no other – and this is what I’ll proudly teach my children.
And I’ll tell them to be proud of what the UK means today, too.
In other countries they settle disputes by the bullet - here we do it through the ballot box.
In other countries they have great parades of military power, tanks and missiles.
Here we have an Olympic torch parade, where people cheered themselves hoarse for lollipop ladies, tap-dancing teachers and injured servicemen.
Like Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who’d lost both legs beneath the knee… who struggled for a long half mile without crutches, to a roaring crowd.
This is what I love about our UK.
The decency. The family. The solidarity.
The health service we built together…
…the help in hard times we provide together…
…the starving people around the world that we help feed together…
…the freedom we fought for together.
These four nations. Three colours on the flag.
One incomparable United Kingdom…
…we love this country and all it stands for – so let’s win this referendum for all our futures.
And let’s be bold in taking apart the Nationalists’ arguments.
Frankly, Alex Salmond is all over the place.
Once he wanted the Euro – now he wants the pound.
Next, he claims he’d be canny with Scotland’s money…
…then splashes £2billion on spending promises – without a clue about how he’d pay for them.
He says it’s going to be all change…
…then he says he wants to keep the Lottery, the pound and the Bank of England.
It’s like someone asking for a divorce and then saying “but do you mind if I keep the joint bank account and credit card?”
Alex Salmond talks about having a plan for Scotland… yes – he’s on draft 83.
The reality is, he is a man without a plan – and let’s be bold in saying it.
FIGHT FOR OUR COUNTRY’S FUTURE
Just over a year from now, we face the biggest fight of all.
We talk about ‘high stakes elections’…
…but the stakes in this one are truly stratospheric.
For the past four years we have been engaged in the almighty task of turning our country around…
…and we have made progress.
I don’t just know that from the GDP figures.
I’ve seen it: when I had a load of people into Downing Street who’d just taken out a Start-Up Loan to start a business…
…pie makers and kids’ clothes retailers and Camper van sellers.
I met dozens of these people and written all over their faces was the pride in building something new.
I’ve heard it: from people like Richard Parry-Jones who runs the automotive council, who said “The near hopelessness of 6 years ago has turned into a success story.”
I’ve been told by businesspeople that now they feel confident enough to invest and create hundreds of new jobs here.
I’ve met mothers and fathers who tell me – finally, our children are going to have a chance in this country.
It’s there in the feeling that after a long and cold winter, Britain is coming back.
But be in no doubt. All of this is in the balance on 7th May, 2015.
Those jobs that have been created here – they can go overseas.
The tax cuts – they can be reversed.
The deficit – it can rise up again.
And most importantly – the hopes and ambitions people have for their future…
…the sense that Britain is a country moving forward – all this can evaporate.
We have less than 400 days to go.
And in fighting that election campaign, we need those same two things.
CLARITY ON LONG-TERM PLAN
First, clarity about what we stand for.
This is a party with a long-term economic plan for our country – and it has five parts.
One: reducing the deficit so we deal with our debts, safeguard our economy for the long-term and keep mortgage rates low.
Two: cutting income tax and freezing fuel duty to help hardworking people be more financially secure.
Three: creating more jobs by backing small business and enterprise with better infrastructure and lower jobs taxes.
Four: capping welfare and reducing immigration, so our economy delivers for people who want to work hard and play by the rules.
Five: delivering the best schools and skills for young people so the next generation can succeed in the global race.
Now some people might say - let’s just repeat this long-term plan, let’s show it’s working, and the rest doesn’t matter.
If people get our motives wrong – so what?
If they think we’re just high-powered bean counters – who cares, as long as we’re competent?
But my message is that isn’t enough.
This plan isn’t some dry economic prescription…
…you take a bit of fiscal responsibility and add a few tax cuts and you have a growing economy…
…this plan is an expression of what we passionately believe.
We’ve got to get across why we’re doing this…
…real clarity on what we stand for, for each and every part of this plan.
Let’s tell them why we are dealing with the deficit.
Not because we’re dry fiscal calculators who relish spending cuts…
…but because we’re parents and grandparents who don’t want to pass this mess on to our children.
This is what our party is about.
As Edmund Burke said: society is a “partnership… between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”
We pass on something better – not an I.O.U note and a load of debt.
So if my children ever ask: “What did you do in the Great Recession Dad?”…
…I won’t say we were cowards who passed the buck…
…but that we did the difficult thing, the right thing – and cleared up the mess.
Let’s tell them why we’re cutting taxes too.
Not because we’re ideologically committed to a smaller state…
…but because we get this simple fact:
It’s your money, not the Government’s money…
…and governments who waste your money, as they have in the past, are little more than white collar thieves.
We believe in low taxes – and as long as I am leader of this party, wherever we can cut people’s taxes, we will.
Let’s tell them why we’re backing our private sector to create more jobs.
Not because we have some hierarchy in which the private sector is good and productive and the public sector is bad and wasteful.
It’s because we just want more decent, well-paying jobs.
And long term, they can’t come from endlessly inflating the public sector.
Because when the public sector bills go up – you need more taxes to pay for that.
And that means more bills for business.
And so you tax business more – you crush those businesses, the tax revenues fall, and then, guess what – public sector jobs have to go.
It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s been the result of every Labour government since the Party was founded.
That’s why we are different. We know that long-term, it’s not Governments who create jobs, it’s businesses.
So we cut the tax on businesses – without apology.
We cut the tax of wealth creators – without apology.
When I go on trade missions around the world I take with me, on the plane, British businesses from all sorts of industries – without one hint of an apology.
Because for the Conservatives, this is about jobs, jobs and more jobs for the British people.
And let’s tell them why we’re reforming welfare.
Not because we’re trying to punish the poorest…
…but because we know the only real route out of poverty is work.
So whenever that pernicious old idea raises its head – that trying to get people off benefits and into work is somehow cruel…
…we’ve got to say no …
…in this party we don’t count people out, we count them in.
I got such an inspiring letter the other day, from a young woman called Lizzie Court.
She has eight GCSEs and three BTEC diplomas.
Lizzie was also born with severe curvature of the spine and other disabilities; she has had 15 operations so far; and spent most of her childhood in a body cast.
Now it would have been so easy for Lizzie to claim benefits.
But as she wrote to me, she wanted to “prove to [herself she was] worth something.”
So she wrote off to countless companies, went to 19 job interviews.
It was “no” after “no” after “no” – before eventually she got at a charity in Weymouth.
She wrote to me about her “great joy”… the independence and pride.
And this is why we’re reforming welfare…
…helping people get on and make something of their lives…
…giving more people that peace of mind and sense of purpose.
As for Lizzie – let me tell you: she has joined the Conservative Party, she’s here today…
… and Lizzie, we’re very glad to have you.
And friends – let’s tell them why we’re reforming education.
Not because we’re ideological zealots obsessed with some sort of extreme educational theory…
…but because we’re practical people who know that children can’t learn in chaos – so we need discipline in class.
Who know there’s not a job in the world where you don’t need English and maths – so we insist on young people re-taking those subjects until they pass.
Who know that when teachers and heads are really in charge of their schools, good things happen – so we’ll keep on encouraging free schools and Academies.
Above all we’re doing this because the very heart of this party is about helping people get on in life…
…and in this world, wishy washy curriculums and zero discipline is not going to help anyone to get on, least of all the children from the poorest backgrounds.
We could have left the system as it was…
….with the exams dumbed down and the grades inflating…
…but that would have left thousands of children to a life on the dole.
Instead, today: more children are taking science and languages…
…more free schools and Academies are opening…
…over 1.6 million apprenticeships starting since we came to office – a record number of people with the chance in life…
…and everyone here should be proud of that.
So friends let us have total clarity about what we stand for.
And let’s match that with boldness in taking Labour apart.
This is a party who think leadership is calling for a public inquiry every two minutes, on everything from plastic surgery to the marking of GCSE papers.
I tell you one independent, judge-led public inquiry we do need…
…and that’s into the whereabouts of the Labour Party’s spine.
Because this is a party that is monumentally weak.
They are incapable of taking a difficult decision.
Ed Miliband says we need a “laser focus” on “how we spend every single pound”.
Those are his words. And his actions?
The benefits cap – opposed.
Limits on housing benefit – opposed.
Every single spending reduction we propose – opposed by Labour.
And theirs is a party obsessed with short-term gimmicks.
An energy policy that is a complete con.
A bank tax that they’ve already spent 10 times over.
A 50p rate of tax that may sound good for the headlines – but business after business says it would cost jobs.
Above all – Labour is a party that has learned nothing from their mistakes.
Earlier this year, Ed Balls was talking about Labour’s record and he said this:
“Do I think the level of public spending going into the crisis was a problem for Britain? No, I don’t. Nor our deficit, nor our national debt.”
I ask you: if Ed Balls is the answer, what on earth is the question?
It’s the Same Old Labour: more borrowing, more spending, more taxes.
These people – who sat in the Treasury when the economy crashed, the banks bust…
…the deficit ballooned, the confidence plummeted, the unemployment figures soared…
…they have learned absolutely nothing.
The ones who crashed the car are saying…
…give us back the same keys to the same car and we will drive it even faster into the same wall.
We cannot ever, ever let that lot back in charge of our country.
BRITAIN COMING BACK
And so the lines are drawn for the fight ahead:
Labour ducking the difficult decisions – or Conservatives taking them.
Labour obsessed with short-term gimmicks – or the Conservatives with a long-term plan for our country.
Labour who would pull Britain down – or the Conservatives who are turning Britain around.
And that is the message that you’ve got to take away from here, as we go into these fights…
…that together with the people of this country, we are turning Britain around.
Britain is coming back.
You see it in the huge cranes in our great shipyards, where they’ve just built the world’s most modern aircraft carrier…
…in the vast drills at the Crossrail site, the biggest construction project in Europe…
…in the plans for the first railway line North of London for 120 years.
Whether it’s our car industry booming…
…our aerospace expanding…
…our manufacturing growing…
…our universities topping the rankings…
…Britain is coming back.
We’re standing taller in the world…
…hosting the G8 last year and NATO this year.
And we’re showing moral leadership too.
Every two seconds, a child somewhere in the world is vaccinated thanks to British aid…
…millions of babies alive today who might have died – and why?
…because this is a country that doesn’t walk on by.
Britain is coming back.
We always recover from adversity…
…whether it was Churchill standing up to the Nazis…
…or Thatcher nursing the sick man of Europe back to health…
…this is the come-back country of world history – and we’re doing it again…
…coming through a hard time and coming through stronger…
…brilliant, brave, buccaneering, beating the odds…
…Great Britain is coming back…
…and everyone here can be so proud of that.