Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

David Cameron: Your invitation to join the Government of Britain

Manifestos, policies, acts of Parliament - all these things are powerful but not as powerful as acts of people.
We can deal with our debts. We can mend our broken society. We can restore faith in our shattered political system. 

But only if millions of people are fired up and inspired to play a part in the nation's future.

The manifesto we're publishing today is a plan to change Britain for the better.

But not in the traditional way.

It is not a traditional manifesto.

It's something different - very different.

We do not stand here and make the usual politicians' promises.

We do not say: 'give us your vote and we will solve all your problems.'

We say something different.

We say: no government can solve all the problems on its own.

No individual can solve all the problems on their own.

We say: 'we are all in this together, so come with us and we will build a better country.  Together.'

We want everyone to get involved. 

We need everyone to get involved.

That is why we have called this manifesto an invitation to join the government of Britain.

<h2>INVITATION  </h2>

It is an invitation to every young woman or man with a business idea: we'll give you the power to start up, take people on, do well for yourself and help get the economy moving too.

It is an invitation to people who work in the public sector: we'll give you the power to get together with your colleagues, start your own co-op and give people a better service. 

It is an invitation to charities and social enterprises and community groups: we'll give you the power to get involved in running public services and solving our social problems.

It is an invitation to every parent who wants a better education for their child: we'll give you the power to get a good new school in your community. 

It is an invitation to every neighbourhood: we'll give you the power to take control of the planning system, take over local parks and libraries and have a bigger say in how your area is run. 

It is an invitation to every citizen in this country who wants better, more accountable, more efficient government...

...we'll give you the power to scrutinise what government spends and how it spends it so there is no more hiding place for waste and inefficiency.

Yes it is an invitation to the whole nation: we'll give you the power, so you can take control.

Right now, this invitation is being sent to half a million people, through email, Facebook and Twitter.

When you receive it, invite your friends.

Ask them to invite their friends.

Let's make this the biggest call to arms the country has seen in a generation.

<h2>TOGETHER </h2>

And do you know what?

This invitation, this great opening up of government and public services and our whole political system - this is the answer to the central question of this election campaign. 

It's a question people ask me the whole time.

They say: how can you afford to make things better when everyone knows there's no money?

And I reply: you're thinking about it the wrong way; the old way; the Labour way.

The Labour way assumes that only Big Government can solve our problems.

But the alternative to Big Government is not no government.

It's good government. Effective government.

Focusing on what needs to be done and working with people to achieve it.

It's the partner of the Big Society, not its boss.

Labour measure everything by money and how much they spend.

How much of your money they spend - though they never remember to put it like that.

We've had thirteen years of it.

Thirteen years of them going on television and never talking about what's actually happened...

... or what real people have actually done.

All they talk about is what they, the government, have done.

How much they, the government, have put in.

But it doesn't work. And it's out of date.

It's time to say to Labour: it's not about you, the government.

It's about we, the people.

And it's time to say to those who think it's all about unchecked individualism...

...no, it's not about me, the individual.

It's about we, the people.

Not government on its own, not individuals on their own but we, the people, together...

...coming together, working together, achieving together, making this country better, together.

Not just the state. Not just the individual.

But society. We stand for society.

That's the right idea for a better future.

It is the idea that drives the modern Conservative Party.

And it's the idea that drives everything in this manifesto.

If we remember that, if we change the whole way this country is run to empower people to come together to solve our problems together, then, yes...

...we can make things better without spending more money.


Because communities with the power to determine their own destiny will solve the social problems that cause spending to rise in the first place.

Because public sector workers with the power to follow their professionalism will deliver more for less.

Because a population with the power to see what government spends will make damn sure we cut government waste.

That, combined with a government that knows its role, that never forgets it's your money...

...that's how we can make things better without spending more money.

That's why our idea - that we're all in this together - is so important.

It's why we can confidently say: good government costs less with the Conservatives.


Underlying it all is the biggest change you will see from a new Conservative government.

We will put responsibility at the heart of our national life.

Of course, that starts with government being responsible with the national finances.

And the responsible thing to do is to get to grips with the deficit in a way that brings the country together instead of driving it apart.

That means showing leadership at the top which is why we will cut ministers' pay and freeze it for a parliament.

It means showing that we're all in this together which is why we'll freeze public sector pay for all but the one million lowest paid public sector workers...

...for one year to help protect jobs.

And it means showing that the better off will pay their share, which is why for now the 50p tax rate will have to stay, and why tax credits for families over £50,000 will have to go.

But responsibility goes much further.

We need to put everything we do through a simple test.

If it encourages irresponsibility, we shouldn't do it.

If it encourages responsibility, we should.

We should remember the basic rule: that when you give people responsibility, they behave responsibly.

So instead of government undermining families, with a benefits system that pays couples to live apart...

...let's use government to help bring people together.

That's why we'll end that couple penalty and recognise marriage in the tax system.

Instead of allowing people to choose a life on benefits when they could work...

...let's say to people: if you can work and turn down work, you will not go on getting your benefits.

Instead of the rules that stop teachers keeping order in the classroom...

...let's give them the power to do it.

Instead of health and safety rules that stop adults from helping out with other people's children...

...let's have some common sense and dispel this culture of suspicion and fear.

Instead of businesses and media companies encouraging the premature sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood...

...let's have some social responsibility.

We've got to stop treating adults like children and children like adults.

We've got to end this culture of entitlement and build a new culture of responsibility.

As a great American President once said: "ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country."

So, ask what you can do for your country - and yes, for your family and for your community too.

So this is the change we offer.

Not just from one set of politicians to another...
...from one set of policies to another...
...it is a change from one political philosophy to another.

From one that says progress will come from state control to a belief that it will come through social responsibility. 

From one that thinks politicians have all the answers to one that trusts in the wisdom of people.

Everything in this manifesto is built on these beliefs - on this philosophy.

<h2>PARTY CHANGE  </h2>

This manifesto brings together all the work we have done over the past five years as we have changed into a modern, progressive Conservative Party.

Read the book.

In every area, on every issue, our modern Conservative values are clear.

No more narrow focus on a few issues.

No more harking back to bygone days. 

You will find radical plans to help the poorest, protect the NHS, help people find work and support families.

You will find the most serious and ambitious set of green policies ever put before the electorate by a mainstream party.

And all of it brought together by my fundamental belief...

...that there is such a thing as society; it's just not the same thing as the state.

So yes, this is a modern, progressive Conservative manifesto.

It is confirmation that this party has changed...

...that we have returned to the centre ground of British politics...

...and that is where we will stay.


And it's because this party had the courage to change that people now have a real choice at this election.

There's a real choice on our economy.

Labour say the economy will collapse unless they keep on wasting your money.

Yes - the management consultants, the advertising campaigns, the vanity projects - they say these are all crucial to our recovery.

But then, when things start getting better they want to impose a jobs tax.

We say: this jobs tax will kill the recovery.

Because here's something Labour always forget.

Government isn't the same thing as the economy.

The more it grabs, the more money it wastes, the more taxes it demands, the more it stunts growth.

Real growth will only come when we get the private sector going, when we get enterprise going, when we make it easier to start a business, take people on and grow.

So this is what we will do.

We're going to cut Labour's waste to stop their jobs tax.

It will save more than 50,000 jobs.

And it will make seven out of ten working people better off than under Labour.

So there is a real choice on the economy at this election.

A jobs tax from Labour that will kill the recovery or action from the Conservatives to boost the recovery.


There's a real choice on our society too.

There is the Labour way of more big government, where for every problem there's a government solution, for every issue an initiative, for every situation a czar.

And the Labour record that it produces:

The poorest are getting poorer, inequality is at record levels, too many children go to failing schools, too many families live in sink estates - our society is broken.

Or there is our way - the modern Conservative way - of saying these are social problems, they need a social response.

So it's not time for more big government - it is time for the Big Society.

The Big Society is a society where people ask not "who's going to make things better?" but "how can I - and how can we, together - make things better?"

The Big Society is a big idea. With the power to transform Britain.

So let's use the state to help remake society - encouraging, inspiring and galvanising social action.

National Citizen Service will inspire a new culture of ambition and responsibility among young people.

And today, you've been hearing from the team about how this idea of the Big Society informs the big changes we plan to our public services.

Theresa told you about how we'll get private companies and social enterprises in to get people off benefits and into work.

Michael told you about how we'll get those with a passion for education to start new schools.

Andrew told you how we'll get doctors and nurses to form their own co-operatives.

From welfare reform to school reform, early years support to drug rehabilitation, we plan big changes based on clear principles and a common approach.

Getting rid of centralised bureaucracy that wastes money.

Breaking open state monopolies.

Opening up public services to new providers and then paying them by the results they achieve.

So that's the choice on social change.

More big government - or the Big Society.


And there is a real choice when it comes to our political system too.

Labour say the expenses scandal is a stain on our democracy - and we're agreed on that.

They say we need to clean this up to restore trust in politics - and we're agreed on that.

But then they wander off into a whole load of process reforms, either fiddling the voting system or writing a constitution - and here, we disagree.

The public don't want politicians to spend hours, days, weeks, months - most likely years - navel-gazing about how they should be elected or setting rules for government.

The best apology we can give to the British people, the best way of building trust, is to hand power back to the people.

But even before that there is a task more urgent: to cut the cost of politics.

People want to know their hard-earned money is going to where it's needed most instead of fuelling some out-of-control gravy train.

So we're going to cut the number of MPs, cut Whitehall and quango bureaucracy by a third, cut Ministers' pay by five percent and freeze it for the rest of the Parliament, and scrap those perks and subsidies that drive people so mad.

And you know the best thing about all this?

Fewer people making decisions on your behalf, thinking of more ways to spend your money, means there's more opportunity to redistribute power away from the centre to local people.

That's the real choice on the future of politics at this election.

More state power or real people power.

<h2>OUR  POLICIES</h2>

In this campaign people say nothing will change.

They say "give me the specifics".

So here, with this manifesto in our hands, let me do just that.

Everything in it is properly-costed and fully funded.

Yes, there will be cuts...

...not just in government spending - everyone knows that...

...but in the number of MPs and ministers' pay...

...in corporation tax rates to get our economy moving...

...in Labour's waste to stop their jobs tax...

...and in police paperwork to get officers out on the beat...

And yes, we will stop some things. We'll stop ...

...the gravy train at Westminster...

...giving out benefits to those who can work, but won't work...

...the bias against couples in the tax credits system...

....council tax from rising for the next two years...

... bad behaviour in schools with new powers for teachers...

...and we'll stop uncontrolled immigration, with an annual limit on non-EU economic migration.

This is just the start. There is so much more...

...a new army of community organisers to help build the Big Society...

...a high-speed rail network to build a better transport system...

..National Citizen Service to inspire the next generation...

...a Green Investment Bank to build a more sustainable future.

Give our major cities the chance to have a mayor.

Give the public the power to sack their MPs.

Give neighbours the power to take over a Post Office facing closure.

Make energy efficiency improvements available for every home.

Provide Sure Start health visitors for every family.

Police commissioners for every force.

Each item of public spending over £25,000 will be put online for everyone to see.

Be your own boss. Sack your MP. Choose your own school. Own your own home. Veto high council tax rises. Vote for your police commissioner. Save your local post office. See how government spends your money.

So much to do. So little time. The country wants change and I want to get started. 

<h2>CONCLUSION </h2>

The plans in this manifesto will change Britain for the better - but only with your involvement.

So yes, this manifesto is optimistic.

And yes, it is ambitious.

But what else is life for?
As a Conservative I trust people.  I am inspired by people.  I believe in the people of this country.
And in 23 days time, you have a big choice to make.

Labour have lost their way.

The Liberals have little to say.

So it falls to us, the modern Conservative Party, to lead the change our country needs today.

We stand for the working people that Labour have abandoned, with their jobs tax and their waste.  

We stand for the idealists that the Liberal Democrats will inevitably disappoint because they cannot win this race.

This is a manifesto for a new kind of politics and a new kind of country.

If you vote Conservative on May 6th, you're not just voting to change the government...

...you're voting to change the whole system.

People power not state power.

Big Society not big government.

We're all in this together.

Government has an important role to play.

But the people's role is even bigger.

Together we can get rid of our debts, get the economy moving, mend our broken society - even make politics and politicians work better.

And if we can do that, we can do anything.

Together, we can do anything.

So today, we're inviting you to join us, to help form a new kind of government for Britain.
Because we don't just want your votes. 
We don't just seek your support. 
We seek your active participation - every day, in every way - in the running of our country.

Let's get together to make our country better.

Let's reject the path of decline.

Let's change our future, let's do it together.

So please: accept this invitation.

Join us in forming the next government of Britain.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech