David Cameron – 2011 Speech in Moscow


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Moscow on 12th September 2011.

It’s great to be back in Moscow.  I first came to Russia as a student in the year between school and university and I took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Nakhodka to Moscow.  I went on to the Black Sea coast and when I was there two Russians, who spoke perfect English, turned up on a beach that was reserved for foreigners.  They took me out to lunch; they took me out to dinner.  They asked me intriguing questions about life in England, about what I thought about politics.  And when I got to university I told my tutor about this and he asked me whether I thought it was an interview.  Well, if it was, it seems I didn’t get the job.  My fortunes have improved a bit since then and so have those of Russia.

Moscow today is vibrant.  Gone are the utopian slogans and the empty streets and shops.  Today, Moscow is a bustling, colourful city that never sleeps.  Russians have far more freedom to travel and the internet offers the ability to communicate with the world in a way that would have been unimaginable back then.  Perhaps above all, there is a new energy here and with it a real sense of pride in Russia’s identity.

Now, the relationship between Britain and Russia has improved too, certainly since the tense period of the Cold War, but there does remain the strong sense that we are still competitors.  We both want the same things – prosperity, security – but we often behave as if we think we have to compete with each other in order to get them.  As if Britain’s prosperity comes at the expense of Russia’s and vice versa.  As if Britain being more secure means Russia being less secure.  As if every issue must involve one of us winning and the other losing and the only question, therefore, is who wins and by how much?

Now, my message today is very different to that.  Yes, of course, I accept that Britain and Russia have had a difficult relationship for some time and that we should be candid in areas where we still disagree, but I want to make the case this morning for a new approach based on cooperation.  Right now, we both face enormous challenges, from providing for our ageing populations and securing sustainable economic growth to protecting our countries against a global terrorist threat.  The countries that will be successful in the 21st century will not be those that hunker down, that pull up the drawbridge, that fail to overcome their differences with others.  The successful countries will be those that work together and look to people like you – young, ambitious, with a national pride but a global vision – to help shape their future.

So we face a choice: we can settle for the status quo where in too many areas we are in danger of working against each other and therefore both losing out, or we can take another path that is open to us – to cooperate, to work together and therefore both win.  Today, I want to make the case that – let me try this again carefully – Вместе мы сильнее: together we are stronger.  I studied economics not languages at university.  I think that’s probably apparent.  So let me start with the economy.

Now, some people talk about trade as a competition in which one country’s success is another country’s failure.  That if our exports grow then someone else’s will shrink.  But the whole point about trade is that we are baking a bigger cake and everyone can benefit from it and this is particularly true, perhaps, of Russia and Britain.  Russia is resource-rich and services-light whereas Britain is the opposite.  In fact, Britain is already one of the largest foreign direct investors in Russia and Russian companies already account for around a quarter of all foreign initial public offerings on the London Stock Exchange.  So we’re uniquely placed to help each other grow, but much of that growth won’t just happen of its own accord.  I believe we have to help make it happen by working together in three ways: first, by creating the best possible business environment for trade and investment; second, by developing our partnership in key growth sectors like science and innovation where Britain and Russia have particular complementary strengths; and third, by working together on the global stage to help create the stability and security on which our future prosperity depends, and I want to say a word briefly about each of those three.

Both our governments need to remember that businesses don’t have to invest in either of our countries, they choose to and we need to help them make that choice.  That means ensuring the effective and predictable rule of law, not least so that companies can be confident that payments will be made promptly and that contracts will be enforced.  It means getting to grips with our national finances so the budget deficits don’t undermine confidence and macroeconomic stability.  It means creating a workforce with the skills and creativity to compete in the 21st century.  And it means getting our tax rates low and competitive, minimising the burden of regulation so that business and entrepreneurship can flourish.

This has been a real priority for me since I took office over a year ago.  Britain has taken some really tough decisions to get to grips with a record budget deficit and we are working hard to create the best possible environment for business.  We are creating the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20.  We are cutting the time it takes to set up a new business and we have issued a ‘one in, one out’ rule for regulation so that any minister who comes to me wanting to bring in a new regulation has to get rid of an existing one first.  Today, I believe Britain offers Russia the strongest business environment in Europe and the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship almost anywhere in the world.

We want to work with you to help strengthen Russia’s business environment too, so more British businesses can invest here, creating more jobs and better value products for Russian consumers and therefore more prosperity for all of us.  UK goods exports to Russia are already £3.5 billion; that is up 50% on the last year alone and they’re growing by almost two-thirds in the first half of this year.  We want to do everything we can now to build on this and take our trade and our investment to a new level.

That is why we will support Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and it’s why I’ve brought with me such a strong British business delegation with companies like BP that is responsible for Russia’s biggest foreign investment.  Today, we are signing new deals worth £215 million, including Kingfisher opening nine new stores over the next three years, an important collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Rosatom on civil nuclear cooperation.  At the same time, we’ll also be – we will work to give small and medium-sized companies the chance to trade.  We should remember that it will be these companies not the biggest companies that will provide the lion’s share of the growth and jobs of the future, and what I said about choosing to invest and choosing to stay and the need for effective and predictable rule of law to ensure payments applies particularly to those small and medium-sized companies.

But opening up trade and investment is not enough on its own.  As governments, we need to support the innovation and entrepreneurship that can drive growth.  Vital to this, as Prime Minister Putin has said, are breakthrough ideas in science and technology.  In this UK-Russia Year of Space we are already seeing the foundations of great cooperation in medicine and satellite technology which is improving global disaster monitoring and earthquake predictions.  Go into a Russian secondary school this month and, for the first time, there are plastic display computers robust enough to be dropped on the ground, funded by RUSNANO and developed by Plastic Logic, a spinoff from Cambridge University.

Today also sees the launch of Pro Bono Bio, the result of a two-year Anglo-Russian project to create a new international pharmaceutical company with a unique humanitarian mission, offering free drug donations to Africa based on the sales of its products in Western Europe.  I believe we can do even more in this vital sector and many of you can play a role in helping us to do so.  In the UK, we are creating a tech hub, a Silicon Valley of our own in East London.  Here, President Medvedev has founded the Skolkovo Innovation City.  World-leading British universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and Glyndŵr in Wales will be working with Skolkovo on lasers, optics, nuclear and energy efficiency.

Of course, it is not just science and technology.  There are a whole range of sectors where we have complementary strengths which can boost our mutual prosperity, from supporting the modernisation of Russian railways to working together in the run up to the London Olympics and the Sochi Winter Olympics, where British companies are already working on the main stadia.  Cooperation rather than just competition is the way to stronger growth and prosperity for us all.

But we do not just share bilateral interests between Britain and Russia.  At the G20 we share an interest in strong and sustainable global growth.  We must address the economic and financial imbalances that brought the global economy to its knees only three years ago.  Russia and Britain can work together at the G20 to promote the global economic stability on which we all depend.

So how Britain and Russia work together really matters for the prosperity of all our people and the same is also true for security.  On geopolitics, many of our interests are actually much closer than we might think.  Whether we are talking about Islamic extremism, nuclear proliferation, counternarcotics, climate change, Britain and Russia actually share many of the same concerns.  Moscow and London have both been victims of horrific terrorist attacks.  We need to unite against the threat of terrorism and the warped ideology that underpins it, we need to work together with our international partners to prevent countries like Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and as new technologies develop to allow us to defend ourselves better against the threat of ballistic missiles from rogue states, we need to cooperate to ensure they make us all safer, not compete against each other in a new arms race.

We have shared interests in stability in the Middle East and North Africa too.  I know we have not always agreed, Britain and Russia, about how to achieve that stability.  Let me put my cards on the table: the view I have come to is that the stability of corrupt and violent repressive dictatorships in Middle Eastern states, like Gaddafi’s in Libya, is a false stability.  The transition to democracy may well have its difficulties and its dangers, but it is not only the best long-term path to peaceful progress, it is also a powerful alternative to the poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism that had poisoned so many young people’s minds.

I believe that Britain and Russia and the whole international community have a role to play in helping to support peace, stability and security across the Arab world.  Of course there are sceptics in both our countries who will doubt that we can ever get beyond the competitive ideological instincts of the past.  There are two groups in particular which I want to take on today; there are the Britain-sceptics, those who think that we will always clash because Britain cannot be trusted and that we will use the disagreements of the past as a pretext to put Russia down.  And then there are the Russia-sceptics, those who say that Russia should not modernise, should not innovate, should not open up to the outside world because modernisation will undermine stability and prosperity.

To the Britain-sceptics I say this: yes, there remain difficult issue that hamper mutual trust and cooperation, there are extradition cases Russia wants to pursue and we still disagree with you over the Litvinenko case.  On that, let me say this: our approach is simple and principled.  When a crime is committed that is a matter for the courts; it is their job to examine the evidence impartially and determine innocence or guilt.  The accused has a right to a fair trial, the victim and their family have a right to justice, it is the job of governments to help courts do their work and that will continue to be our approach. So we cannot pretend these differences do not exist.  We need to keep working for an honest and open dialogue to address them candidly, but at the same time we have a responsibility to recognise the many ways in which we do need each other, to end the old culture of tit for tat and find ways for us to work together to advance our mutual interests.

Now, to the Russia-sceptics who believe that modernisation will undermine stability and prosperity, I say take another look.  Modernisation is the only way to guarantee stability and prosperity.  President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have been clear about this too.  Prime Minister Putin’s strategic goals for 2020 make clear the importance of effective market and government institutions.  President Medvedev has emphasised his focus on tackling corruption as being fundamental to Russia’s progress.  Back in June he said that Russia’s focus needs to include, and I quote, ‘Real progress in fighting corruption, establishment of a modern police force and other law enforcement agencies, and efforts to make the judicial system more effective.’

Let me say, from my own experience I have no illusions about how hard these issues can be.  In Britain we have our own serious challenges too.  The rule of law is vital; vital for foreign investment, for entrepreneurship and innovation, for people to be encouraged to start their own businesses.  They need to have faith that the state, the judiciary and the police will protect their hard work and not put the obstacles of bureaucracy, regulation or corruption in their way.

I have talked to many British businesses; I have no doubt about their ambition to work in Russia and it is also clear that the concerns that continue to make them hold back are real concerns.  They need to know that they can go to a court confident that a contract will be enforced objectively and that their assets and premises won’t be unlawfully taken away from them.  In the long run the rule of law is what delivers stability and security.  I believe the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress and political openness to go step in step together.

When people get economically richer they make legitimate demands for political freedoms to match their economic freedoms.  And as they start to benefit from a free media, guaranteed human rights, the rule of law, and a greater stake in how their society is run so they will have the confidence and energy to invest in a new cycle of innovation and growth.  And that is something I believe to be true in every part of the world.

So I believe we can prove the sceptics wrong.  We can rebuild the relationship between Britain and Russia, working together to develop a modern and ambitious partnership which will help both our countries achieve a more prosperous and secure future.  Of course none of this will just happen; a new partnership requires bold decisions, it requires a commitment from both countries.  I am here today to make that commitment on behalf of Britain and I hope that Russia will match it.  In the last twenty years Russia and Britain have both come a long way but each largely on their own.  In the next twenty years I believe we can go very much further as we prove – and let me end trying once again – that Вместе мы сильнее.  Thank you.


Prime Minister, at what time and what stage of your life did you make up your mind to become a politician and why?

Prime Minister

Very good question. Certainly when I was here in 1985 when I was a student I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a politician; I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  So there was for me no blinding moment when I thought, ‘That’s it, I want to be a politician’.  I think there was a growing view that the most important thing you can do in life is public service and politics is a good way of being in public service.  You’re both grappling with the big issues and problems that affect your country and your world but also you’re working with people and working for people at the same time.  And I worked for a Member of Parliament also between that year of school and university and saw a little bit about what politics involved and that triggered a growing interest that grew as I went through university and left university and then I decided I wanted to try myself to be in politics.  But as they say: if you go into politics, you should always have a second career as well just in case it doesn’t work out.


Many people who got an English visa always say that this procedure is very difficult.  Is it possible to simplify this procedure in the nearest future?

Prime Minister

That’s an important issue, the whole issue of visas between Britain and Russia.  I’ve been looking again at the statistics and there’s not a big difference between the number of visas that Britain issues to Russians and the number of visas that Russia issues to Britain.  And actually there’s not a big difference either in the prices that we both pay.  So of course we have to have effective border controls, both our countries.  We have to have an effective way of making sure that we have our borders under control.  We always can look at ways to make sure it is faster, more efficient but I think I’m right in saying that over the last year something like 96% of the visas that have been asked for by Russian citizens have been granted and I think most of them have been processed within 15 days, so we’ll always look at having an effective procedure but I think you’ll find the two systems are really quite similar for travel both ways.  But I’m sure it’s one of the many issues that I’ll be able to discuss with your President when we meet later today.


I’ve heard a little about the Big Society and I’m wondering how successful it’s been so far in the UK.

Prime Minister

Thank you.  Well, this is a very simple idea which I think can apply all across the world which is that we often think that only governments can deliver the things that we need: whether it is education; whether it is help for people who are in trouble; whether it is rehabilitation for drugs.  We often turn to government immediately to say ‘what’s the government doing?’ The whole idea behind the Big Society is to say actually when you look at many of these problems that need solutions, we often find it is churches, charities, voluntary bodies, community groups, people coming together to come up with new, innovative solutions that works best.  So the Big Society is all about saying, ‘How do we take that excellent practice that already exists and try and encourage it; try and boost it; try and help it deliver more; try and get rid of all the barriers in the way of voluntary bodies, charities, churches, community groups doing more.’

And that is what we’re doing in the UK.  We’re encouraging volunteering; we’re encouraging the voluntary sector; we’re trying to cut all the bureaucracy that gets in the way of people wanting to help each other.  And then we have one or two specific things that we’re doing that we believe will make a big difference.  So for instance we are establishing a Big Society Bank because if you ask charities, churches, voluntary groups ‘what is it that stops you doing the brilliant thing you’re doing in one area in lots of areas?’ They will say that unlike businesses, ‘We can’t get hold of loans, we can’t get hold of funding, we only get the money for one year – we need proper money so that we can expand our brilliant school or our drug rehab project or our community project’ and so this Big Society Bank will be able to lend them money so that they are able to expand and replicate what they do in many different parts of the country.

And why I think the Big Society concept will be taken on by many other countries in the world is that I think we all face two of the same problems.  Firstly, there is a limit to the amount of money that government can spend and raise to solve problems, and secondly, there are no end of problems that often get more complex, that need solutions.  And I think we all know in our own countries if you ask ‘which is the best organisation for rehousing the homeless; for tackling drug addiction; for helping children who are not getting on at school; for teaching people to read?’

When you ask that question, so often the answer is not the department of state that is responsible for it, but the brilliant charity that has started up and is actually solving those problems itself.  So, I think the concept of the Big Society is one that has existed for thousands of years in our societies, but it’s getting ever more relevant and it needs governments that understand that and that can help others to do good work, rather than to think governments do it all on their own.


You speak about Russian-English cooperation, but how could we improve this when Europe does not have any combined system of international relationships?  The USA deploys missiles in western countries. Can Europe answer to this challenge?

Prime Minister

Is it really possible for Britain and Russia, or America and Russia, who had such a difficult relationship for so many years – is it possible to have a much stronger relationship?  Well, my answer to that is yes, and for this very personal reason.  When I think about when I came to Russia in 1985, and you think of the huge gulf between us during the Cold War, coming into a country where I remember as I got off the train in Moscow I was met by someone I have never heard of before, but he wanted to know what was a British student doing in Moscow on his own and not as part of some tourist group. During the Cold War there was this incredibly frozen relationship where things couldn’t get better.  At that time, many people would have said, ‘This will go on for years.  This will go on forever.  There’s no reason why the Cold War will end.’  But it did end. Never believe that just because a relationship is difficult now it can’t be better in the future.  I think there are many reasons for optimism.

You mentioned the issue of missiles.  Again, I would say if you compare, when I was a student there was the deployment of Russian missiles, there was the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles by the West.  There were growing tensions and growing arms races.  All that now has changed, so I don’t think you should be pessimistic at all about a proud, independent country like Russia, with its own nuclear deterrent, can’t have a good and strong relationship with a country like America or a country like Britain, France, Italy or Germany.  Obviously we have a huge amount of work to strengthen these relationships and there are all sorts of scepticism and mistrust on the path.  I think the whole point of visits like this and other people who’ve been to Russia is to try and break down some of those barriers and recognise that in international relations – after all, the relations between people in Russia and Britain are extremely strong, and so there is no reason why the relationships between the British government and the Russian government should not be stronger too.

That is the reason I have come here today.  In that spirit, I thank you very much for listening to my speech and for providing me with such good questions.  May I take the opportunity to wish all of you well in your studies here at Moscow University and wish you a very strong and prosperous future. Thank you very much indeed.

David Cameron – 2011 Press Conference Following G8 Summit


Below is a transcript of the press conference given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the G8 Summit in Deauville, France on Friday, 27 May 2011.

This is the second G8 I’ve attended. The first focused very much on tackling deficits and getting the economy growing and this Summit reaffirmed the importance of that – including of course the need to complete the Doha trade round.

But this G8 focused predominantly on North Africa and the Middle East, while also reporting back on aid.

Middle East and North Africa

The big test for this G8 was whether we could respond to the momentous events we have seen in North Africa and the Middle East.

And I would argue that we have responded.

I said at the outset it was essential for us to give a clear message to those countries.

We will help you develop your democracies. We will help you achieve greater freedom. We will help you build your economies and develop the political parties, free media, and the fair and reliable courts that are the building blocks of what I call an open society.

That is exactly what has been agreed.

We agreed the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should for the first time start lending to private enterprise in that region. The institution that helped to transform Eastern Europe now has a new mission.

Every G8 country now stands ready to open its markets to countries in the region committed to reform. This has been one of the most closed regions of the world to trade and investment. That is now going to change.

And we promised the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia that the international community would support their plans to create economic stability and prosperity for their people.

This support will initially be available to Egypt and Tunisia but will ultimately be there for any country in the region that embraces the path to democracy and reform – including, for example, Libya.

The Partnership we agreed today has taken months to put together and it has been a very personal mission for me.

Back in February I was the first leader to visit Cairo after the uprising. And I was the first to go the European Council to argue that the current European Neighbourhood Policy simply wasn’t working. I called explicitly for greater market access and for helping those countries that really try to reform rather than simply handing out money as Europe has done in the past.

This week the European Commission has responded to that call. More resources and more trade access for countries moving fastest towards reform.

Now there are those who argue these North African countries are not the poorest in the world, and that we should concentrate on our own affairs.

I reject this.

Be in no doubt. Get this wrong, fail to support these countries and we risk giving oxygen to the extremists who prey on the frustrations and aspirations of young people.

We would see more terrorism, more immigration, more instability coming from Europe’s southern border. And that affects us right back at home.

But get this right – support the Arab people in their aspirations and their hope for a better future will be our hope too.

  • their security will mean greater security for us…
  • and their prosperity, a more prosperous world for us all.

So this is an investment in success on which I believe the British people will see a return.

The Americans have made a big offer on relieving debt. We’re not a major creditor for the region, so we are making an offer focused on developing the institutions of genuine democracy and the know-how to create an open economy.

So, in addition to the assistance we’re making available through Europe, at this Summit, the UK has also made its own bi-lateral offer of £110 million over 4 years.

Today we have laid the foundations for an enduring partnership for the region. But it is the beginning of a process and the work must now go on in the weeks and months ahead to make sure it delivers.


In North Africa we are focused on the impact of aid to stabilise countries – much as we are in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Elsewhere it’s vital that we focus aid on things that are measurable, verifiable, results-driven and we target those things that people back home can clearly see making a difference.

Bednets to stop malaria. Vaccines to stop preventable diseases. Clean water. Making sure mothers don’t die in childbirth.

I remember as a young politician watching the Gleneagles summit and the Live8 concerts and thinking it was right that world leaders should have made those pledges so publicly.

I think when you make a promise like that to the poorest people in the world, you should keep it. And I am proud of the fact that Britain is doing just that.

But the reality is that as a whole, the G8 has not.

The Communique is clear on this.

Britain ensured the accountability report published at this Summit clearly shows what each country has – and has not – done to meet its aid commitments.

That means numbers in real terms not just cash terms.

And it means highlighting – not hiding – the $19 billion gap between what’s been expected and what has been delivered.

Britain will not balance its books on the backs of the poorest. We will be the first G8 country to hit the 0.7 per cent target by 2013.

Britain will keep its promises. And I was tough in urging my counterparts to keep theirs.

It’s not just about handing over money.

It’s also crucially about outcomes and getting value for money, about promoting trade and growth.

That’s why I pushed G8 leaders to endorse an ambitious vision for free trade in Africa – including practical action to open trade corridors and remove obstacles to trade and growth.

And it’s why I pushed hard for the G8 to support next month’s London conference for the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation, which should stop millions of children dying from totally preventable diseases like diarrhoea.

Britain will be prepared to increase our funding significantly. And I look forward to other countries doing the same.


Finally, I talked late last night with the four countries here which are taking part in active operations in Libya.

Two months into the operation we are entering a new phase.

First, we turned Qadhafi’s forces back at the gates of Benghazi to avert a bloody massacre.

Then we rallied to assist the brave defenders of Misurata and Brega.

Now there are signs that the momentum against Qadhafi is really building.

So it is right that we are ratcheting up the military, economic and political pressure on the Qadhafi regime so that we can enforce Resolution 1973.

We are stepping up the capability of NATO operations. Yesterday, we made the decision in principle that UK commanders should prepare to deploy UK Apache attack helicopters.

We are ramping up the economic pressure, choking the Qadhafi regime’s ability to get money to finance these attacks.

And we are expanding the broad international consensus against Qadhafi and in support of the opposition – the Transitional National Council in Benghazi.

Crucially, the G8 nations have today reached a unanimous and final verdict on Qadhafi and his regime.

The Communique says that Qadhafi has “lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go.”

Every G8 nation has signed up to this.

And we have all made a commitment to “support a political transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people.”

This has been a timely meeting at a critical moment.

The world’s most powerful nations have sent an unequivocal message to all those in the Middle East and North Africa who want greater democracy, freedom and civil rights – we are on your side.

These things aren’t just good for the Arab nations. They are good for us too. And that’s why Britain will continue to play its full part in helping the Arab people to fulfil their economic and political aspirations.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2011 Address to the Northern Ireland Assembly


Below is the text of the address given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 9th June 2011.

Mr Speaker,

Thank you for your kind invitation to address the Assembly today and for the very generous welcome you have given me.

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker, a role that you exercised with such distinction over the past four years.

The fact you will hand over the Speakership to a representative from a different tradition stands as an example of co-operation between parties that will be widely welcomed.

I know the calendar can have its own sensibilities in this part of the world, but it is an honour to address you on such an auspicious day, the ninth of June.

This is the feast day of St. Columba, who very specially symbolises the historic linkages and deep bonds between Britain and Ireland.

Born a Prince in Donegal, exiled in Iona, and honoured today in the Central Lobby of the Palace of Westminster, his monks provided not just an Irish national treasure, the Book of Kells, but also a British national treasure, the Lindisfarne Gospels.

And can I also say what an honour it is to stand here and speak in this historic chamber.

Of course I recognise that this is not a place without controversy.

In the past it was for some a guarantee of their place within the Union; for others a symbol of a state and a system from which they felt excluded.

I don’t intend to ignite that debate, but I am reminded of the words of King George V when he opened the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1921 and his appeal to all Irish men and women:

‘to stretch the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget, and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment, and goodwill.’

Nobody suggests that we have finally reached that point yet and that there aren’t significant challenges still to overcome.

But few can argue that we have not moved a long way towards it over the past two decades.

Two events last month stand testament to that.

The first was The Queen’s extraordinary and historic state visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Nobody who was with her could have been in the least doubt as to the genuine warmth of the welcome she received and also Her Majesty’s joy in being there.

Unthinkable just a decade ago, the visit was a hugely symbolic act of reconciliation and indicated the normalisation of relations between our two countries.

The second was the Assembly election itself, which passed off peacefully and in a relatively good-natured manner.

Indeed when I spoke to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness to congratulate them on their re-election, they both pointed out that it was rather more peaceful and good natured than the referendum on the Alternative Vote that we had just had.

That in itself is surely a sign of just how far Northern Ireland has come.

None of this could have happened without the extraordinary courage and commitment of people here, from all parties and all parts of the community, over many years.

I’d also like to pay tribute to successive Irish Governments without which the progress that has been made here would simply not have been possible:

  • to successive American administrations for their positive contributions at vital times…
  • and to my predecessors as Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and also to John Major who took some great risks to begin the process in the early 1990s.

My commitment

Mr Speaker, our task is to move Northern Ireland even further forward.

And today, I want to speak about what we must all do to achieve that.

There are some things you as Assembly Members here are responsible for.

There are some things Westminster is responsible for.

And there are things we must do together, working with our colleagues throughout Britain and Ireland.

I’d like to say a few words about each.

But before I do, let me say that my commitment to the health and well-being and to the success of Northern Ireland is heartfelt and sincere.

I am passionate about this part of the United Kingdom…

  • deeply mindful of history
  • and deeply determined to work with you towards a better future.

In my first week as Prime Minister, I visited Northern Ireland to reassure people of my support, and our coalition government’s support, for the devolved institutions and for all the agreements that have been signed to make sure we have peaceful progress.

When the Saville Inquiry reported its findings on the events of Bloody Sunday, I did not hesitate to apologise for the misdeeds that were carried out on that day which were unjustified and unjustifiable.

I did so in part to close a chapter on one the sorriest episodes in our country’s history.

But also because I knew we do not honour all those who have served with distinction in keeping the peace and upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth.

And I have also held Cabinet discussions on tackling terrorism here, because I share the determination of this Assembly to defeat this threat and defeat all those who do not respect the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland.

However, I do not view Northern Ireland through the prism of past and present security issues.

The linkages and connections between our peoples are so strong.

I love coming here whether it’s to see the opera, with, of course, Opera Northern Ireland launching their new season in Belfast today, or to walk through the beautiful Glens of Antrim, to swim off the Atlantic coast, or to hold Cameron Directs.

Indeed, I believe I am the first politician from Great Britain to hold that kind of public meeting here.

I will always be a great advocate of what Northern Ireland and the people who live here have to offer.

Shared future not shared out future

But Mr. Speaker, being an advocate of Northern Ireland, and wanting to see it progress, does not mean remaining silent on the problems that remain, and the responsibilities of the members of this Assembly.

I think I have a duty to give you my honest view.

Whether you serve here as a Minister, a member of a committee or as a backbench member, all of you carry the responsibility over the next four years of delivering real improvements to people’s lives.

Politics here is now more stable than for over a generation.

But as the institutions mature people will look for more than survival; there is now an ever greater expectation of delivery.

As in other parts of the UK, political institutions need to deliver or they will lose popular support.

So to match expectations, politics here will need to move beyond the peace process and a focus on narrow constitutional matters to the economic and social issues that affect people in their daily lives.

It doesn’t matter if people are from Coleraine or Cardiff, Birmingham or Ballymena, Arboath or Antrim, they all want the same things in life: the self-confidence that comes with work; the security that comes from safe streets, free from anti-social behaviour; the happiness and joy that comes from a stable home life.

And against a background of greater political stability there is a greater opportunity than ever before to put normal, mainstream politics first.

But if politics is about anything, it’s about public service on behalf of the whole community, not just those who vote for us.

And a crucial area where I believe we need to move beyond the peace process is in tackling the causes of division within society here.

Given the history of Northern Ireland I don’t for a minute underestimate the scale of the challenge.

But it is a depressing fact that since the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement the number of so-called ‘peace walls’ has increased from 37 to 48.

And it is disappointing that in too many places Protestant and Catholic communities remain largely segregated, sharing the same space but living their lives apart.

According to one survey the costs of division through the duplication of public services alone is around £1.5 billion a year.

But this not just about the economic cost, it’s about the social cost too.

It’s these divisions that help to sustain terrorism and other criminal activities particularly within deprived communities.

I acknowledge the work that the previous executive began on this through the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy, and welcome the fact that the new executive is committed to taking it forward.

Clearly, more needs to be done.

Most of the responsibilities for this, such as community relations policy, are devolved.

We will support you in whatever ways we can.

But this is something that’s mainly in your hands.

I am clear, though, that we cannot have a future in which everything in Northern Ireland is shared out on sectarian grounds.

Northern Ireland needs a genuinely shared future; not a shared out future.

Truth, respect, devolution

If that is your task, let me say something about mine.

I take my responsibilities for this part of the United Kingdom seriously, and I will stand by and stand up for you in every way I can.

I’ll always stand up for the truth, and be prepared to face up to difficult realities, however uncomfortable that might sometimes be for the UK Government.

I knew that dealing with the Saville Report would be one of my most important early responsibilities as Prime Minister.

And I did not put it off.

Through Saville, we’ve shown that where the State has acted wrongly, we will face up to, and account for, what we have done.

Others too must think about how to face up to their part in the mistakes and tragedies of the past.

In the memorable words of The Queen, we can all think of “things that might have been done differently, or not at all”.

But she also said that whilst we must respect this history, “we are not bound by it”.

We must all think about how together we can move on.

We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland to face forwards, and not endlessly examining events from before.

That does not mean I rule out any public inquiries in the future; but I stand by my pledge that there will be no more costly and open ended inquiries into the past.

I’ll stand by Northern Ireland in respect of your constitutional future too.

My views on the Union are well known.

And as I said at the election, as Prime Minister I will never be neutral in expressing my support for it.

For me what we can achieve together will always be greater than what we can do apart.

But as the Agreement makes very clear, the constitutional future of Northern Ireland does not rest in my hands, or those of the UK Government, whatever our preferences might be.

It rests in the hands of the people here.

So we will always back the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, whether that is to remain part of the United Kingdom, as is my strong wish, or whether it’s to be part of a united Ireland.

That is my absolute guarantee and a clear message to those who still seek to pursue their aims by violence.

I will also stand by the devolution settlement.

I want devolution to work, I believe in it heart and soul.

Neither I nor Owen Paterson have any desire to interfere in those matters that are rightly run by locally accountable politicians.

They are for you to decide according to your priorities.

The same applies to the future of the institutions here and how they might evolve.

The Government’s view is that, over time, we would like to see a more normal system, with a government and opposition, consistent with power-sharing and inclusiveness.

We agree with Bertie Ahern who said in 2008:

‘there will come a time when people say “you need an opposition, you need us and them”’.

But as I made clear at the General Election, we will make no changes without the agreement of the parties in this Assembly.

Economic realities

Mr. Speaker, standing by and standing up for Northern Ireland means something else: being realistic about the economic challenges faced by this part of our country.

Every time I come to Northern Ireland and see the great cranes of Harland and Wolff I’m conscious of your proud industrial past – even more so a week after the centenary of the launch of the Titanic.

Yet today, like many other parts of the UK and for reasons we all understand here, Northern Ireland is simply too dependent on the state for economic activity.

According to one report, around three-quarters of your GDP is accounted for by state spending.

At a time when we are dealing with the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history, that is unsustainable and has to change.

We recognise the difficulties facing Northern Ireland as you chart a new, more sustainable, economic future requires us in Westminster to act responsibly.

That’s why we made sure Northern Ireland did proportionately better than other parts of the UK in the Spending Review.

By the end of this Parliament, the Northern Ireland resource Budget will have gone down by 6.9 per cent – or 1.7 per cent a year, far less than the 8.3 per cent UK average, or the cuts to most departments averaging nineteen percent.

And Northern Ireland continues to receive 25 per cent more per head in public spending than England.

But the days are over when the answer to every problem is simply to ask the Treasury for more money.

That applies here as much as it does in other parts of the UK.

So, like you, the Government is looking at new ways to revive the private sector and turning Northern Ireland into a dynamic, prosperous enterprise-led economy for the 21st century.

Don’t get me wrong. Northern Ireland is already a great location for investment.

You’ve got excellent transport connections to the rest of the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe:

  • the English language, great education results, two brilliant universities…
  • highly competitive operating costs, 100 per cent broadband access…
  • Project Kelvin, linking North America, Northern Ireland and Western Europe…
  • a strongly pro-business climate led by the executive…
  • and, not least, the benefits of being part of the UK economy in which our structural deficit will be eliminated by 2015.

The challenge is to attract that investment.

Many of the powers to promote enterprise – such as education and training, planning and infrastructure – rest with you.

Others are the preserve of Westminster.

As part of the UK, Northern Ireland will benefit from the measures to promote growth that we’ve already announced, such as cuts in business taxes.

But I recognise that in Northern Ireland we need to go further.

You have two unique challenges – the legacy of violence and a land border with a state that has significantly lower corporate taxes.

The consultation paper launched in March and which runs to 24 June focused heavily on the possibility of devolving powers over corporation tax to this Assembly.

I’m not going to pre-judge the outcome of the consultation today, though I understand the strength of feeling within the main business organisations on this issue and across all political parties.

So I can assure you that the Chancellor and I will take the consultation seriously and give it proper consideration.

Security and terrorism

There are some areas where you are very much in the lead.

There are some areas where I am in the lead.

And there are some things we must do together like standing united against the threat of terrorism.

The murder of Ronan Kerr in April was a vile and cowardly act. Yet it was one of an increasing number of attacks that have taken place over the past two years.

These terrorists have no mandate. They offer nothing. And they will never succeed.

The people of Ireland, North and South, who backed the 1998 Agreement with such overwhelming democratic majorities will ensure that.

As will those from right across the community, including politicians and representatives of the GAA, who turned out with such respect at Ronan Kerr’s funeral.

Who here could fail to have been moved by the dignity and words of PC Kerr’s mother, when she said:

‘We were so proud of Ronan and all that he stood for. Don’t let his death be in vain.’

Tackling terrorism is a joint effort in which the Northern Ireland Executive has a crucial role to play.

For our part the UK Government has made the countering the terrorist threat here a top priority.

Within weeks of taking office last May we endorsed an additional £45 million for policing.

In March the Chancellor agreed to an exceptional four year deal that will give the PSNI access to a further £200 million as requested by the Chief Constable.

And of course we will continue the unprecedented co-operation that exists between ministers in London, Belfast and Dublin, and to support the superb links between the PSNI and Garda.

As the Garda Commissioner said after the tragic murder of Constable Kerr:

“Our uniforms may be woven from different cloth, but the police on this island are bound together by a shared resolve and determination”

I would like to thank all those who work tirelessly to protect the public here from terrorism.

This Government will continue to stand fully behind them in thwarting those who choose to attack the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland.


Mr Speaker, I want to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland for everybody:

  • a Northern Ireland in which everybody is treated with equal respect, whatever their community background or political aspiration…
  • a Northern Ireland that is inclusive, tolerant and outward looking
  • a Northern Ireland that sees its best days ahead rather than in a dim and distant past
  • a Northern Ireland in which everybody genuinely has a shared future.

And to achieve those objectives I am committed to working with all parties and with all parts of the community.

My door is open when circumstances require it.

We will never put narrow party or sectional interests above what we judge to be the interests of the community as a whole.

Huge strides forward have been taken in Northern Ireland over recent years:

  • the main paramilitary campaigns have ended…
  • stable, inclusive, devolved government has been restored…
  • the constitutional issue has been settled on the basis of consent…
  • relations across these islands have never been stronger.

It gives you the opportunity now to move on from the politics of endless negotiations, or of the latest political agreement, to making these institutions work to address people’s everyday concerns.

So let’s work together to make devolution a success.

Let’s work together to revive the economy. Let’s work together to build a shared future.

And in working together be assured that you have a Prime Minister, a Secretary of State and a Government that will always stand by the people here in Northern Ireland.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on Tourism


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in London on 12th August 2010.

This is not a speech I had to make.  It’s a speech I wanted to make. I wanted to do it here, at the heart of the most internationally visited city in the world and I’m delighted that you’re all able to come.

I want to talk about just how incredibly important I think our tourism industry is and what we need to do now to make the most of it not just here in London but right across our country.

For too long tourism has been looked down on as a second class service sector.  That’s just wrong. Tourism is a fiercely competitive market, requiring skills, talent, enterprise and a government that backs Britain. It’s fundamental to the rebuilding and rebalancing of our economy.

It’s one of the best and fastest ways of generating the jobs we need so badly in this country. And it’s absolutely crucial to us making the most of the Olympics and indeed a whole decade of great international sport across Britain.  Let me explain.


First, our economy. Britain has to earn its way in the world. And that’s never been more true than right now as we fight to get to grips with the biggest deficit in the G20 and rebuild and rebalance our economy for a more sustainable future.

That’s why I’ve been visiting some of our great potential export markets in Turkey and India and why I’m also going to China later in the year.

We urgently need to advance our trade with the great emerging economies and to increase our exports all over the world.

I’ve already made a speech about the importance of rebalancing our economy and the vital role of supporting our growing industries, including aerospace, pharmaceuticals, high-value manufacturing, hi-tech engineering and low carbon technology.

But tell me this: which industry is our third highest export earner behind chemicals and financial services? Manufacturing? IT? Education? No, it’s tourism.   And it’s not just a great export earner. There’s also a huge domestic market too.

UK domestic tourists made 126 million overnight trips last year – spending £22 billion in the process. In total, tourism contributes £115 billion to our economy every year.  It employs nearly ten per cent of our national workforce.

And while London remains the country’s most prosperous tourist hub tourism is also a great employer in the regions.

Already tourism accounts for a quarter of all jobs in West Somerset. And for more than a tenth of all jobs in my own area of West Oxfordshire.  Look at how Liverpool benefited from being the European Cultural Capital in 2008.

Jobs in the city’s hotels and bars rose by over a quarter jobs in the creative industries increased by half and one million hotel beds were sold in the city. They say in business when you want to do better you can often do more with your biggest customers. The same is true of our industries. We can look to the best to do even more.

Tourism presents a huge economic opportunity.  Not just bringing business to Britain but right across Britain driving new growth in the regions and helping to deliver the rebalancing of our national economy that is so desperately needed.

Pride in our country

But tourism is about more than economics. We should be proud of our potential because we are proud of our country and what it has to offer.  I love going on holiday in Britain.

I’ve holidayed in Snowdonia, South Devon and North Cornwall, the Lake District, Norfolk, the Inner Hebrides, the Highlands of Scotland, the canals of Staffordshire to name just a few.

I love our varied seaside towns, from Oban to Llandudno, from Torquay to Deal. I love our historic monuments, our castles, country houses, churches, theatres and festivals.  Our beautiful beaches like the “East Asian” beach that Pierce Brosnan surfs on in Die Another Day which was actually Newquay.

Or the “Mediterranean” coastline that Gwyneth Paltrow was washed up on at the end of Shakespeare in Love which was actually Holkham beach in Norfolk where I went swimming one April.  I love our national parks, our hundreds of historic gardens and national network of waterways.  And our museums – including three of the five most visited art museums in the world right here in London – the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate Modern.

And of course here at the Serpentine Gallery where last year’s Pavilion by SANAA became the third most visited exhibition for architecture and design in the world and SANAA has just won this year’s prestigious Pritzker prize.

People sometimes characterise culture as a choice between old and new; between classical or pop, great heritage or modern art. But in Britain it’s not one or the other, it’s both.  It’s Glyndebourne and Glastonbury.  The Bristol Old Vic and the Edinburgh Fringe. The Bodleian Library and the Hay literary festival. Ascot and the Millennium Stadium; Nelson’s column and the Olympic Park’s Orbit.

We have so much to be proud of so much to share with each other and so much to show off to the rest of the world.

An unprecedented opportunity

And we have in the coming decade an unprecedented opportunity to take our tourism industry to a whole new level with so many big international sporting moments that will put us at the centre of the world stage year after year. Of course the Olympics – which will see the Triathlon right here in Hyde Park (and of course the Beach Volleyball on Horseguards’ Parade which I’ll be able to see from my bedroom window.)

But also the Champions’ League final at Wembley next year.  The Rugby League World Cup in 2013.  The Commonwealth Games in 2014.  The Rugby Union World Cup in 2015.  And we’re fighting hard to get the football World Cup in 2018. And that’s just to name a few.  Not to mention the Ryder Cup or the annual Six Nations.

This really will be the greatest sporting decade in British history.  And of course there will be great non-sporting moments too like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  We have to ensure that when the cameras leave after all these great events the people don’t leave with them.  And that the benefits are spread across the country and not just felt here in London or in our other major cities.

We can do even better – the missed opportunity

We must not let these opportunities slip through our grasp.

But quite frankly, right now, we’re just not doing enough to make the most of our tourism.  The last government underplayed our tourist industry.  There were eight different Ministers with responsibility for tourism in just thirteen years.  They just didn’t get our heritage.  They raided the national lottery taking money from heritage because it didn’t go with their image of “cool Britannia.”

At one point they even referred to Britain as a young country. More than a seventh of England is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. And yet the UK is only ranked 24th in the world on natural beauty. We’re behind Japan; Finland and Ireland. Ireland are 12th.

Of course Ireland is beautiful but why is the UK twelve places behind?

It’s a question of perception. And the truth is we’ve just not been working hard enough to celebrate our country and home and sell our country abroad.

Huge opportunities are being missed. The UK has fallen from sixth to eleventh place in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Ratings between 2008 and 2009.

I want to see us in the top five destinations in the world. But that means being much more competitive internationally.  Take Chinese tourists, for example.

We’re their 22nd most popular destination. But Germany is forecast to break into their top ten. Why can’t we?

Currently we only have 0.5 per cent of the market share of Chinese tourists.  If we could increase that to just 2.5 per cent this could add over half a billion pounds of spending to our economy and some sources suggest this could mean as many as 10,000 new jobs.  Currently we have 3.5 per cent of the world market for international tourism.

For every half a per cent increase in our share of the world market we can add £2.7 billion pounds to our economy, and more than 50,000 jobs.  At a point when our economy is coming back from the brink – we just can’t let this sort of opportunity pass us by. So what are we going to do about it? I’ll tell you.

The strongest possible tourism strategy

I want us to have the strongest possible tourism strategy. I think there are four parts. First – what government does nationally.  Second – the role of local government and the support of the local area. Third – how we stimulate the private sector in tourism.  And fourth – how we make policy in other areas that will impact the tourism industry.

I want to have the strongest possible engagement with the tourism industry in each of these areas.  And to start this debate today I want to say a few words about each.

What Government does nationally

First, what government does nationally.  We’re going to bring a whole new approach – and a new attitude – to tourism. Because we think tourism is one of the missing pieces in the UK’s economic strategy. Our commitment to tourism is not new-found.

In Opposition Jeremy Hunt championed its importance.  We’ve now appointed John Penrose, as our Minister for Tourism and Heritage. He represents a seaside town, has a background in business and developed our policies on deregulation as a shadow minister.  So I know he will bring great ability to his role and I want him to lead a new relationship with the tourism industry.

We’re going to be a government that understands the huge potential of our tourism industry that gets tourism and that gives the industry the backing it needs. A successful tourism policy needs an active and engaged government. But taking Britain up the league table of tourist destinations isn’t something that we in government will do alone. It’s something that we will all do together.

Industry in the lead but with government – and society as a whole – standing behind you every step of the way.

Local Government and the support of the local area

Second, local government and the support of the local area. Tourism is a local industry. You can’t support local industry with national diktats from Whitehall.

The old model was just too top-down failing to incentivise innovation and local enterprise and failing to reward local authorities which seized the chance to support the expansion of their local economy. It completely disempowered the local area. We’re going to do things differently.

The old Regional Development Agencies put bureaucratic boundaries over natural geography. Take the Cotswolds artificially spread across different Regional Development Agencies including he South East, the South West.

Now if areas like this want to work together across those old, centrally-imposed boundaries they can.  That is why we have invited local businesses and local authorities to come to us and tell us what works for them.

And of course to tell us what doesn’t work like the current business rates system which fails to support the development of tourism.

If a local council does more to attract tourists to its area they know they’ll be picking up costs but they’ll get none of the additional business rate revenue. Central government sucks in 100 per cent of this revenue generated by all local economic growth. This is just mad.

Local authorities must be allowed to invest some of this back into their own communities. This wouldn’t just help tourism – it would help all sectors of local industry across our country. And it’s a vital part of how we can begin to rebalance our economy.

Stimulating the private sector

Getting the local incentives right will also be crucial for the third part of our strategy – and that’s stimulating the private sector. When we talk of the tourist industry it’s mostly in the private sector. You’re great entrepreneurs.

But you need a government that creates the right conditions for entrepreneurship. Like small businesses in so many other sectors, our tourism industry has been strangled by the endless rise of red tape.

So we’re going to free our 200 thousand tourism businesses from the red tape and excessive business taxes.

For the next three years we’re waving some employment taxes on the first 10 jobs created by new businesses outside London, the South East and the Eastern Region.

We’re cutting the main rate of corporation tax to 24p and the small companies rate to 20p. We’re reducing the time it takes to set up a business.  And we’re stopping the removal of the tax breaks on furnished holiday lettings. And our new Regional Growth Fund creates an opportunity for the tourism sector to bid for support for its most creative ideas with £1 billion available to kick start projects that will drive private sector growth.

Other key policy areas that affect tourism

Fourth, we’re going to take a good look across government at all those policies that don’t fit neatly into the tourism or DCMS departmental box but which nonetheless impact on tourism in a big way. Visas. Infrastructure. From the speed of our broadband to the speed of our railways to the time it takes to clear customs at Heathrow.

I can tell you already some of the things we’re going to change. We’re going to remove some of the obstacles that put people off coming here. For example, by working more closely with our international partners to improve the local delivery of visa services in key markets like China and India.

This includes increasing the availability of online applications from just over a third to three-quarters by the end of the year – with 100 per cent coverage by 2014.  And we’re also supporting the ambition to develop a new network of high speed rail across the country. Because when a train to Brussels is as quick as a train to Bournemouth and it’s quicker to get from London to Paris than it is to get to Blackpool what chance do our great seaside towns have of drawing people from London?

But perhaps more important than these specific changes is the broader change of direction. I want us to look at all these things not as isolated issues but from the perspective of our tourism industry – both domestic and international.

John Penrose is already looking at some of these issues as part of his report on increasing domestic tourism. At the moment 36 per cent of what Brits spend on holidays is spent at home. Can we up our game to raise that to 50 per cent?

John Penrose is doing a report for me, which he will present in October, to tell me whether that is a realistic objective or not but I want us to aim high not low. In fact, I want John to go further.

I want John to work with you day in and day out to develop a tourism strategy by the end of this year that brings together the best of the ideas you have that ensures London 2012 provides the best economic and tourism legacy that any Olympic host city has ever done and that sets us on a path to break into the top five tourist destinations in the world.


So that’s our goal and those are some of the ways that we’re going to raise our game to try and reach it. Today’s speech is an appeal to you tell us the tools you need to finish the job. Because as with so much of this agenda, making the most of our tourism industry is not simply about government action. It’s about what our communities and local businesses do. Reaping the gains of local tourism is one of the great economic tests of the Big Society. Can we come together to make our country more prosperous?

Can we support new developments and new enterprise to boost our tourism and make the most of our great heritage and national assets?

Can we seize the opportunity of this great decade of sport – and especially the Olympics – to deliver a lasting tourism legacy for the whole country and not just here in London? I really believe we can.

I believe we can come together in a new nationwide effort to make this coming decade the best ever for tourism in Britain. This government will stand fully behind every effort. The challenge is now for you as an industry and for us together as a society. And I’m confident that – together – we will meet it.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on HMS Ark Royal


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on HMS Ark Royal on 24th June 2010.

Thank you very much indeed, and can I say what a huge honour it is for me to be aboard HMS Ark Royal, and to see you all today. I know that I am only the warm-up act, because I was speaking last night to Her Majesty – how much I love being able to say that – and she told me how delighted and excited she was about coming to see again her beloved Ark Royal as she will be next week.

I wanted to come here today for one reason, and one reason alone. I know that all of you probably think that back in the United Kingdom, all we are thinking about is eleven people who are going to take to that football pitch on Sunday. Of course, everyone is willing them on, but I can tell you that everyone in our country is thinking of something else as well, and that is the enormous debt that we owe to our armed services for everything that you do for us. Saturday is Armed Services Day, and I wanted to be here with you before that, to say to you as directly as I can how much we owe our armed services – our Air Force, our Royal Navy, our Army – for everything that you do to keep us safe.

The first thing I wanted to say is a very, very big thank you. You work incredibly long hours. You are taken away from your loved ones. You spend a long time away from home and at sea. You do a job that many of us simply couldn’t do, and it’s right that we should say a very big thank you for what you do. Samuel Johnson once said that every man looks at himself more meanly if he has never been a soldier or never been to sea, and that is right, so thank you for your courage, your dedication, your professionalism, and for what you do.

The second thing I wanted to say is that I think we should take huge pride in our Royal Navy.  Standing here on the fifth Ark Royal, and thinking of all our incredible naval history, from Nelson back to Drake, from Trafalgar to Jutland – history that I hope we can now teach properly in our schools – we should be proud of all we have achieved in the past, but we should also be very proud of all that we are going to do in the future.  We have a great naval future as well as a great naval past. I know that sometimes, with everything that has been happening in Afghanistan, that the Royal Navy can sometimes feel a little forgotten.  I will never forget what you do, and no one should ever forget that in Afghanistan, an important part of the Royal Navy, the Marine Commandos, are fighting incredibly hard in Afghanistan on our behalf.  We have heard more bad news overnight about casualties in Afghanistan, and our hearts should go out to every one of those men and their families and the loved ones that they leave behind.

As well as talking about the debt of gratitude that we owe, as well as speaking about our proud naval tradition, I also wanted to say something about the Strategic Defence Review that we are undertaking, that I know of course causes huge concern and worry right across our armed services.  It is right that we have one.  We have not asked the fundamental questions about the defence of our country, about our role in the world, since 1998.  If you think of all the things that have happened since then – the actions that you have taken part in, in Sierra Leone, and Kosovo; the wars that we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan – huge changes have taken place in our world: the attacks of 9/11; the attacks in our own country in July 2005.  It is time for us to think again about how to make our country safe, how to project power in the world, how to look after our national interest, and how to make sure we are secure for the future.  That is what we should do.

I know absolutely that the Royal Navy will have a huge role to play in that future.  We are a trading nation.  We have got to keep our sea-lanes open.  We want to stop drugs coming from our shores, and that is the work that you do.  We have to deal with the appalling threat of piracy off the Horn of Africa; that is what you do.  We have to make sure we keep vital sea-lanes open, and the work in the Gulf; that is what the Royal Navy is doing today.  I know that whatever the outcome of this review, whatever the changes we will have to make, we should make them together and recognise that the Royal Navy is going to have a huge role to play in our future, in our defence, and in our security.

The last thing I wanted to say to you today is simply this: I am very aware that as the British Prime Minister, I can expect incredible things from you.  Dedication, bravery, courage, service.  I want to say what you can expect from me.  There is this thing called the Military Covenant, written down, which is what the country offers you in return for what you offer us.  You do so much: you put your lives on the line, your safety on the line, and it is time for us to rewrite that Military Covenant, to make sure that we are doing everything we can for you and your families at home, whether it is the schools you send you children to, whether it is the healthcare that you can expect, whether it is the fact that there should be a dedicated military ward for anyone who gets injured or wounded in Afghanistan or elsewhere.  I want all of these things refreshed and renewed and written down in a new Military Covenant that we write into the law of our land so we show how we stand up for our armed services.

As far as I am concerned, public service is a vital part of our country, and you are at the noblest end of public service.  A great military commander once said that those things we do for ourselves, die with us; those things we do in the service of others, they live forever.  That is what you do in the Royal Navy; that is what you do in our armed services.  I am here as the new British Prime Minister to say a very big thank you for your service, your dedication, your courage and all that you do on this historic ship, in this great place, at this time, with Her Majesty the Queen coming to see you next week.

Thank you for all you do, thank you for all you are, thank you for all you represent, and recognise that back home in Britain, it is not just the government that reveres our armed services; it is the whole of our country, from the homecoming parades, to the businesses that allow Territorial Army reservists and other reservists to go off to sea or to fight overseas, to the great public support you see for our armed services.  We are proud of you, so thank you, and remember you are never forgotten.  Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2010 Civil Service Live Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron about the Structural Reform Plans, made at the Civil Service Live event on 8th July 2010.

This is my first time here – so let me make something very clear from the start.

I have huge respect and admiration for the civil service.

In my twenties I worked in the Home Office and the Treasury.

I saw then just how talented and committed our civil servants are.

And I’ve seen it again right from the first day of this government.

Yes, I like to think we’ve given some political leadership – but it’s you and your colleagues in the civil service who have delivered.

Just think of what we’ve done – together – in two months:

The full programme for government.

The National Security Council.

The Office of Budget Responsibility.

The in-year spending review.

The emergency Budget.

The immigration cap.

The abolition of ID cards.

And we’ve taken the first steps on the long-overdue reform of our schools, our prisons, our welfare system – and of course, our political system too.

These things can’t be done by a handful of politicians.

They get done because officials get stuck in.

Whatever your political views, however hard you might have worked on a previous project…

…you always uphold the values of the civil service – integrity, honesty, objectivity, impartiality – and that’s what makes our civil service the envy of the world.

So thank you.


Of course, this is just the beginning.

We’ve got some massive challenges ahead – and nothing looms larger than the budget deficit.

Fail to deal with this – and we risk a major crisis in our economy.

That’s why we’ve got to make these cuts.

But let’s also be clear how we will make them.

We’ve got to do this in a way that is responsible and fair – that demonstrates we’re all in this together.

That’s why we’re asking for your help.

We’ve thrown open the challenge of identifying savings to you – to the whole of the public sector…

…and the response has been fantastic – more than 50,000 ideas in just two weeks.

And tomorrow, the Chancellor and I will be setting out some of the best we’ve received.

Reform But people are making a big mistake if they think this Government is just about sorting out the deficit.

That’s not why I came into politics.

It’s not what the coalition came together for.

We came together to change our country for the better in every way.

The best schools open to the poorest children.

A first-class NHS there for everyone.

Streets that are safe, families that are stable, communities that are strong.

These ambitions haven’t died because the money is tight.

The real question is: how can we achieve these aims when there is so little money?

How can this circle be squared?

The answer is reform – radical reform.

We need to completely change the way this country is run – and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Bureaucratic accountability

Now I know you’ve heard talk of reform many times before.

I’m not going to criticise everything the previous government did.

Many of their intentions were right.

Where they went wrong with reform was the techniques they used.

Top-down. Centralising. Above all, bureaucratic.

To improve public services, to get value for money, to deliver their stated aims, they set up a system of bureaucratic accountability.

In this system of bureaucratic accountability almost everything is measured or judged against a set of targets and performance indicators, monitored and inspected centrally.

The evidence shows this hasn’t worked.

All the new learning strategies in schools – but the gap in educational achievement between the richest and poorest widened.

All those NHS targets – but cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe.

And worse than these failures is that the very act of imposing this top-down system has undermined the morale and judgment of so many public sector workers…

…the very thing that good public services depend on.

Democratic accountability

That was the past.

Now we have a new government.

A new coalition government, with a new approach.

We intend to do things differently, very differently.

If I could describe in one line the change we plan for the way we approach public services, and reform generally, it’s this:

We want to replace the old system of bureaucratic accountability with a new system of democratic accountability – accountability to the people, not the government machine.

We want to turn government on its head, taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people and communities.

We want to give people the power to improve our country and public services, through transparency, local democratic control, competition and choice.

To give you just one example: instead of teachers thinking they have to impress the Department of Education, they have to impress local parents as they have a real choice over where to send their child.

It really is a total change in the way our country is run.

From closed systems to open markets.

From bureaucracy to democracy.

From big government to Big Society.

From politician power to people power.

And let me tell you why, now, this vision is possible.

It’s not just that the two parties that make up this coalition believe, instinctively, in giving more power to people.

It’s that’s where power has shifted to.

Let me explain.

A couple of centuries ago this country was in a pre-bureaucratic age – transport and communication were so slow that information and power had to be held locally.

Then with the invention of the steam engine and the telegraph we moved into the bureaucratic age…

…when it was possible and practical to file the nation’s paperwork in one corner of the country – in Whitehall – and that’s where all the power has been too.

But today, with the revolution we’ve had in communications and technology, we can move into the post-bureaucratic age…

…where information and power are held not locally or centrally but personally, by people in their homes.

And the consequences for government – and the way our whole country is run – are incredibly exciting.

It means we can abandon the old bureaucratic levers that we know have failed…

…and instead improve public services and get value for money with new approaches that put power in people’s hands.

That what I want to focus on now.

I want to explain these approaches so you understand clearly what this government expects of you…

…and so there can be no doubt about our attitude to reform – and to solving problems.


One way we can bring in real accountability is through choice.

Wherever possible, we want to give people the freedom to choose where they get treated and where they send their child to school – and back that choice up with state money.

Because when people can vote with their feet…

…it’s going to force other providers to raise their game – and that’s good for everyone.


Another tool we must use is competition.

By bringing in a whole new generation of providers – whether they’re from the private sector, or community organisations, or social enterprises – we can bring in the dynamic of competition to make our public services better.

That’s what we plan in education.

We will let any suitably qualified organization to set up a school…

…creating real diversity and real competition so there’s real pressure to raise standards.

Payment by results

Of course there are some areas where competition and choice aren’t possible.

We understand that.

So we’ll do the next best thing – and introduce the principle of paying providers by the results they achieve.

Rewarding people for work well done is a simple way of driving up standards.

There are some people who say we can’t do this – that it’s against the spirit of public services.

I say: we can’t afford not to do this.

You wouldn’t have a plumber round to your house and pay them for ruining your drains.

Why should public services be any different?

So we’ll pay welfare-to-work providers not just by how many they get into work but how many stay in work.

And we’re going to pay independent providers – and eventually prisons – by the levels of re-offending.


Sometimes it won’t be possible to have choice, or competition, or to pay by results.

But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on bringing in people power.

Here, we should have direct democracy.

That’s what we’re doing with policing.

Instead of having chief constables answer to Whitehall, we will make them answer to police commissioners with a mandate to set local policing priorities.

That mandate will have been earned through election – and those priorities will have been developed with the consent of local people.

So police will stop looking to Whitehall for direction and start looking to people.


And whatever the circumstance, there is one tool that we will always try to use – and that is transparency.

We’re shining a light on everything government does…

…not just the pay, the perks and where public money is spent…

…but on how well that money is spent, too – on health outcomes, school results, crime figures.

That way people can see the value they’re getting for their money and hold us to account for it.

I know there are some people who think this is unfair.

I’m sorry, I just don’t agree.

We are the servants of the people of this country.

They are the boss.

Where is it said that the boss is told they can’t look at the books or know the pay of their staff?

It doesn’t happen in the private sector and from now on it won’t happen in the public sector.

More for less

All these different approaches are designed to put people in charge and give us services that are more local, more responsive and more effective.

And there’s another big, important by-product of these reforms.

They’re going to help us save money.

Not just because we can scrap the whole expensive apparatus of top-down bureaucracy and inspection.

But because when people have the power to hold public services to account, they’ll help make sure they’re less wasteful and more effective.

When social enterprises and charities have the power to compete in the public sector, that will increase competition, drive costs down and put pressure on existing providers to raise their game.

And when these providers are paid by the results they achieve, we can get value for money.

Arguments against reform

But I know there are people who questions our plans for reform.

They say it will be the poorest who lose out when you increase choice.

They say it will create wider gaps between communities, with some getting left behind.

They say when you increase competition some organisations will fail – and that will disadvantage the people who use them.

I’m going to be taking on all these arguments in the weeks ahead.

But on the fairness point – because it’s so important – let me say this briefly today.

The old top-down system failed the poorest.

It widened inequality.

In a system where people have no choice, it’s the richest who can opt out while the poorest have to take what they’re given.

And just consider the evidence of the most recent years, in those areas where principles of competition, choice and greater independence for institutions have been introduced.

Academies are transforming education results in our poorest communities.

Some foundation hospitals are bringing the very best care to the people who need it most.

More independence, more freedom, more openness – and standards are raised across the board – improving life for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged as well as for the better off

That’s why we are so determined to press on, go further and go faster in bringing about a real people power revolution.

Structural Reform plans

So what part will all you have to play in making this change happen?

Going from bureaucratic accountability to democratic accountability will require radical reform.

I need your help to make these reforms happen.

But let me be very clear: I do not want you and your colleagues to think your role is to guarantee the outcomes we want to see in our public services – or to directly intervene in organisations to try and improve their performance.

It’s our job – we as politicians, you as civil servants – to create the conditions in which performance will improve, by making sure professionals answer to the public.

And today, we’re announcing how we want to keep those reforms on track.

Starting with schools and local government, we will be publishing Structural Reform Plans for every Whitehall Department.

They will be part of the full departmental business plans published after the Spending Review.

And I want to be very clear about how they are different from the old top-down system you are used to.

They’re different because in these plans you will not find targets – but specific deadlines for specific action.

Not what we hope to achieve – but the actions we will take.

They will show how each department plans to bring democratic accountability – how they will create the structures that put people in charge, not politicians.

I want you to read these reform plans and work with them.

They mean a real culture shift for you, a sea change in what you do.

Where there has been caution about devolving power there’s got to be trust.

Where there has been an aversion to risk, there needs to be boldness.

I’m telling you today that your job under this government is not to frustrate local people and local ideas, it is to enable them.


Everything I have spoken about today – the ideas that lead the reform, the plans that shape it, the deadlines that will drive it – these things do not guarantee success.

A lot of the ideas, the impetus needs to come from you.

I hope I’ve left you with a very clear idea of what we want to achieve.

You need to know, instinctively, what will get a green light or a red light from me.

If you want to make our public services more transparent, open them up to make them more diverse, to give people more power and control – you can be confident it will get the green light.

But if you want to set targets, set new controls, impose new rules, don’t bother because you’re likely to get the red light.

This government believes you get value for money by opening services to choice and competition…

…by trusting professionals and restoring their discretion…

…by publishing in full all the information.

This government believes in accountability: but it has to be democratic accountability, not bureaucratic accountability.

Be in no doubt about our determination to do this.

Yes, we’ll deal with the deficit – but we’ll also completely change the way our country is run.

So let’s push power out, let’s reform our public services, and let’s change our country for the better.

Let’s bring on the people power revolution.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on the Economy


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on the economy. The speech was held in Milton Keynes on 7th June 2010.

Today my speech is about the deficit and the debt and the financial problems that we face. But at the same time as that we must never take our eyes off the need for building strong and sustained economic growth in Britain, growth in which our universities – and perhaps the Open University in particular – should play a huge part.

The knowledge-based economy is the economy of the future, and in building that economy and in recognising that it is not just about young people’s skills but about people’s skills all through their lives, the Open University has a huge, huge role to play. It is a great British innovation and invention and it is a privilege to be here this morning.

I have been in office for a month and I have spent much of that time discussing with the Chancellor and with government officials the most urgent issue facing Britain today, and that is our massive deficit and our growing debt. How we deal with these things will affect our economy and our society, indeed our whole way of life.

The decisions we make will affect every single person in the country and the effects of those decisions will stay with us for years, perhaps even decades, to come. And it is precisely because these decisions are so momentous, because they all have such enormous implications and because we cannot afford either to duck them or to get them wrong, that I want to make sure we go about the urgent task of cutting our deficit in a way that is open, responsible, and fair.

I want this government to carry out Britain’s unavoidable deficit-reduction plan in a way that tries to strengthen and unite our country at the same time. I have said before that as we deal with the debt crisis we must take the whole country with us, and I mean it. George Osborne has said that our plans to cut the deficit must be based on the belief that we are all in this together, and he means it.

Tomorrow, George Osborne and Danny Alexander will publish the framework for this year’s Spending Review. They will explain the principles that will underpin our approach and the process we intend to follow including, vitally, a process to engage and involve the whole country in the difficult decisions that will have to be taken.

But today, I want to set out for the country the big arguments that form the background to the inevitably painful times that lie ahead of us. Why we need to do this, why the overall scale of the problem is even worse than we thought and why its potential consequences, and the consequences of inaction, are therefore more critical than we originally feared.

There are three simple reasons why we have to deal with the country’s debts. One: the more the government borrows, the more it has to repay; the more it has to repay, the more lenders worry about getting their money back; and the more lenders start to worry, the less confidence there is in our economy.

Two: investors – people lending us this money – they do not have to put their money in Britain. They will only do so if they are confident the economy is being run properly, and if confidence in our economy is hit, we run the risk of higher interest rates.

Three: the real, human, everyday reason this is the most urgent problem facing Britain, is that higher interest rates hurt every family and every business in our land. They mean higher mortgage rates and lower employment. They mean that instead of your taxes going to pay for the things we all want, like schools and hospitals and police, your money, the money you work so hard for, is going on paying the interest on our national debt. That is why we have to do something about this.

This argument that we have consistently made, for urgent action to start tackling the deficit this year and an accelerated plan for eliminating it over the years ahead, has already been backed by the Bank of England and the Treasury’s own analysis. It has been made more urgent still by the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone over recent months. The global financial markets are no longer focusing simply on the financial position of the banks. They want to know that the governments that have supported the banks over the last 18 months are taking the actions to bring their own finances under control.

This weekend in South Korea, George Osborne received explicit backing from the G20 for the actions this government has already taken. Around the world people and their governments are waking up to the dangers of not dealing with their debts, and Britain has got to be part of that international mainstream as well.

So we are clear about what we must do. We have also been clear about how we must do it – as the Deputy Prime Minister has said – in a way that protects the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society, in a way that unites our country rather than divides it, and in a way that demonstrates that we are all in this together.

And we should be clear too that these problems have not just appeared overnight. [Party political content]. Now that we have had a chance to look at what has really been going on, I want to tell you the scale of the problem that we face.

We have known for a long time that our debts are huge. Last year, our budget deficit was the largest in our peacetime history. This year – at least according to the previous government’s forecasts – it is set to be over 11% of GDP, of our whole national income.

Today, our national debt stands at £770 billion. Within just five years it is set to nearly double to £1.4 trillion. To put it in perspective, that is some £22,000 for every man, woman and child in our country.

Now, we knew this before. Soon, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility will set out independent forecasts that will show the scale of the problem we are in today. For the first time people will be able to see a really truly independent assessment of the nation’s finances and the size of the structural deficit.

This important innovation has been noticed around the world, and I believe will help restore confidence in our fiscal framework. But what I can tell you today – and what we did not know for sure before, in fact what we could not know, because the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer did not make the figures available – is how much the interest on our debt is likely to increase in the years to come.

We have looked at the figures and, based on the calculations of the last government, in five years’ time the interest we are paying on our debt – the interest alone, not the debt itself – is predicted to be around £70 billion. That is a simply staggering amount. [Party political content.]

Let me explain what it means. Today we spend more on debt interest than we do on running our schools. But £70 billion means spending more on debt interest than we currently do on running our schools in England, plus on combating climate change, plus everything we spend on transport. Interest payments of £70 billion mean that for every single pound you pay in tax, 10 pence would be spent on the interest on our debt. Not paying off the debt itself, just paying the interest on the debt.

Is that what people work so hard for, that their hard-earned taxes are blown on interest payments on the national debt? Think about it another way: corporation tax raises £36 billion a year, so all the money from all the tax on all the profits on every single company in Britain just pays a little bit more than half of the interest on our national debt. That is how serious this problem is. What a terrible, terrible waste of money.

So, this is how bad things are. This is how far we have been living beyond our means. That is the legacy that our generation threatens to leave the next unless we act. So no one can deny the scale of the problem, and that the scale is huge. But what makes this such a monumental challenge is the nature of the problem.

There are some who say that our massive deficit is just because we have been in a recession, and that when growth comes back everything will somehow be okay. But there is a flaw in this argument and it is rather a major flaw: we had a significant deficit problem way before the recession. In fact, much of the deficit is what they call ‘structural’. A problem built up before the recession, caused by the government spending and planning to spend more than we could afford. It had nothing to do with the recession and so a return to growth will not sort it out.

This really is the crux of the problem we face today and the reason we can’t just sit here and hope for the best. The previous government really did think that they had abolished boom and bust. They thought the good times would go on forever; the economy would keep on growing and they could keep on spending.

But the truth about that economic growth – and the tragedy – is that it was based on things that could never go on forever. The economy was based on a boom in financial services, which at its peak accounted for a quarter of all corporation-tax receipts. But this was unsustainable because the success of financial services – a great and important industry – was partly an illusion, conjured from years of low interest rates, cheap money and a bubble in the price of assets like houses.

The economy was based on a boom in immigration, which at one point accounted for a fifth of our annual economic growth. But this was unsustainable because it is just not possible to keep bringing more and more people into our country to work while at the same time leaving millions of people to live a life on welfare.

The economy was based on a boom in government spending, with some budgets doubled or even trebled in a decade. Again, this was not sustainable because, in the end, someone has to pay for all that spending. So when the inevitable happened and when the boom turned to bust, this country was left high and dry with a massive deficit that threatens to loom over our economy and our society for a generation. So the problem we face today is not just the size of our debts, but the nature of them.

We are now publishing the information about how all your money is spent. We are shining a spotlight on where the waste went and it is a scandalous sight to see: a Department for Work and Pensions that increased benefit spending by over £20 billion and gave some families – some individual families – as much as £93,000 in housing benefit every year; a Ministry of Defence that allowed 14 major projects to overrun, which at the last count are between them £4.5 billion over budget; a Department of Health which almost doubled the number of managers in the NHS; and a Treasury that sanctioned all of this because it published growth forecasts that were far more optimistic than independent forecasters’.

And look at how [this was done] while at the same time doing so much damage to the fundamentals of our economy: letting it get completely out of balance by hitching our fortunes to a select few industries; accepting as a fact of life that eight million people are economically inactive in our country; and allowing our economy to become far too dependent on a public sector whose productivity was falling; and far too hostile, I would argue, to a private sector that has now actually shrunk in size to a level not seen since 2004.

Nothing illustrates better the total irresponsibility of this approach than the fact that [party political content] unaffordable government spending [increased] even when the economy was shrinking. By the end of last year our economy was 4% smaller than in 2007. But if you look behind the headline figures, you see why we face such a massive deficit crisis today: because while the private sector of the economy was shrinking, the public sector was continuing its inexorable expansion. While everyday life was tough for people who didn’t work in the public sector with job losses, pay cuts, reduced working hours, falling profits, for those in the public sector, life went on much as before.

Since 2007 public spending has actually gone up by over 15% – some extra £120 billion in just three years. And while private-sector employment fell in this period by 3.7%, public-sector employment actually rose. So it has been, if you like, a tale of two economies: a public-sector boom and a private-sector bust.

But there was a problem with this public-sector splurge. The previous government argued that more spending would support the economy, conveniently forgetting that if you start with a large structural deficit, you ramp up spending even further, which is actually going to undermine confidence and investment, rather than encourage it. So, while the people employed by the taxpayer were insulated from the harsh realities of the recession, everyone else in the economy was starting to pay the price.

And now, today, we’re all paying the price because the size of the public sector has got way out of step with the size of the private sector. We’re going to have to try and get it back in line and that will be much more painful than if we had kept things properly in balance all along.

And the final part of the legacy is the fact the money the government put in to the public sector did not make it dramatically better or more efficient.

So, while the cutbacks that are coming are unavoidable now, they could have been avoided if previously we had spent wisely instead of showering the public sector with cash at a time when everyone else in the country was tightening their belt.

So that is the overall scale and nature of the problem. And I want to be equally clear about what the potential consequences are if we fail to act decisively and quickly to cut spending, to bring our borrowing down and to reduce our deficit.

If we do nothing, there are three possible scenarios. As we have seen, the best-case scenario is that we pay increasingly punishing amounts of interest on our debt, dozens of billions every year without ever actually paying our debts off. That huge drain on the public finances would threaten the money that could have been spent on the things we really want to spend it on: improving the NHS; giving our children a better education; investing in our country’s infrastructure. This, the best-case scenario, I would describe as dire, unprogressive, a bad outcome for our country.

But, as I say, that’s the best case. If we fail to confront our problems we could suffer worse, a steady, painful erosion of confidence in our economy, because today almost every major country in the world is focusing on the need to cut their deficits. And the G20 has called on those countries with the biggest deficits to accelerate their plans for reducing them.

If, in Britain, investors saw no will at the top of government to get a grip on our public finances, they would doubt Britain’s ability to pay its way. That means they would demand a higher price for taking our debt, interest rates would have to rise, investment would fall. If that were to happen, there would be no proper growth, there would be no real recovery, there would be no substantial new jobs because Britain’s economy would be beginning a slide to decline.

These outcomes would be nothing less than disastrous, in my view, not just for our economy but for our society too, and our vision of a Britain, which we want to see, that is more free, more fair and more responsible.

But even more worrying is the example of Greece – a sudden loss of confidence and a sharp increase in interest rates. Now, let me be clear: our debts are not as bad as Greece’s; our underlying economic position is much stronger than Greece’s; and crucially we now have a government that I would argue has already demonstrated its willingness and its ability to deal with the problem. But Greece stands as a warning of what happens to countries that lose their credibility, or whose governments pretend that difficult decisions can somehow be avoided.

Thankfully this is a warning that has now focused the attention of the international community. This is why we believe there is only one option in front of us: to take immediate and decisive action. That’s why we have already launched and completed an in-year Spending Review to save £6 billion of public spending.

It’s why, shortly, our new, independent Office for Budget Responsibility will set out independent forecasts for both our growth and borrowing so that never again can this country sleepwalk into such a massive debt crisis. Our actions have already been noticed around the world, and I’m glad the G20 summit this weekend explicitly endorsed the decisions we have taken.

So this is the sober reality that I have to set out for the country today. The legacy left [party political content] is terrible. The private sector has shrunk back to what it was over six years ago. Unless we act now, interest payments in five years’ time could end up being higher than the sums we spend on our schools, on climate change and on transport combined.

Because the legacy we have been left is so bad, the measures that we need to deal with it will be unavoidably tough. But people’s lives – and this is vital – people’s lives will be worse unless we do something now. The cause of building a fairer society will be set back for years unless we do something now. We are not alone in this; many countries around the world have been living beyond their means and they too are having to face the music. And I make this promise to everyone in Britain: you will not be left on your own in this. We are all in this together and we are going to get through this together. We will carry out Britain’s unavoidable deficit-reduction plan in a way that strengthens and unites the country.

We are not doing this because we want to. We are not driven by some theory or some ideology. We are doing this as a government because we have to, driven by the urgent truth that unless we do so, people will suffer and our national interest will suffer too. But this government will not cut this deficit in a way that hurts those we most need to help, in a way that divides our country or in a way that undermines the spirit and ethos of our vital public services.

Freedom, fairness, responsibility: those are the values that drive this government; they are the values that will drive our efforts to deal with our debts and to turn this country around.

So yes, it will be tough. I make no bones about that, but we will get through this together and Britain and all of us will come out stronger on the other side. Thank you for listening.




Prime Minister, you say we’re all in this together. Does that include the right-wing of your party, who have been lobbying so hard against any tax rises?

Prime Minister

That includes everybody. I mean I would argue the government immediately signalled the sign that we’re all in it together by actually saying that we’ve got to start with ourselves, that ministers should take a pay cut, that ministerial limousines should be cut back, that we’ve got to make sure Parliament costs less money and, yes, it does mean that we have to carry through tax policies, some of which we inherited from the previous government in terms of top rates of tax, as part of the picture.

So I think picking out those two areas is right, and it will help us to make the moral argument about what sort of country this is as we deal with the incredibly difficult decisions that we have in front of us. That’s what the coalition has to do. It is going to be a very, very difficult task, but I believe it’s a task that actually helps to bring us together in this common endeavour of making sure that at the end of this five-year period, at the end of a Budget and a spending round that will be difficult, that actually people say we sorted out our problems, we paid down our debts, we found our way in the world again, we started to grow again, we started to get an economy that was about jobs and living standards and things that we want. That’s what this is about: yes, difficulties, but, as I said in the speech, we’ll come through it together and in the end we will come through it stronger and it’ll be something that Britain will be able to turn round to others in the world and say we did this important thing. It needed to be done, we did it, we did it well, and we’re a better off country as a result of it. That’s what this challenge is about.

Thank you very much for coming. Thank you to the Open University again and thank you very much for listening. In terms of capital-gains tax, I think people understand we need to raise some modest additional revenue from capital-gains tax to pay for the increase in tax allowances that we all want to see to help the low paid, to help protect, as I said, the people that we want to help most at this time.

And I think people also understand, and actually if you read any of the things written by anyone who is concerned about capital-gains tax, they all understand this massive leakage of revenue that takes place when you have a very low rate of capital-gains tax and a very high rate of income tax. And clearly it would be irresponsible to allow that massive leakage to take place; we do need to be in a position where we get our deficit down. I think people understand that, but they know that there’ll be an answer in the Budget and I hope that will be an answer that people will find shows that we’ve addressed the concerns that people understandably have.


Thank you, Prime Minister. You say these cuts will affect our whole way of life, that they will affect every individual in the country, and yet you still have not spelt out any area that you’re looking for which will be painful to people. When will you start to do that? And when ministers make comparisons with, say, Canada, they blew up a hospital in Canada, they made redundant tens of thousands of people, they cut benefits too; is that what Britain has to look forward to?

Prime Minister

Well, what I would say is this: that we’ve got a proper process for doing this, a process where we have a Budget on the 22nd of June where we’ll set out the spending over the next three years and then I want to see a proper debate take place, that involves as many people as possible, that will lead to the actual spending reductions in departments being set out and what the consequences of those spending reductions are, and I want us to go about this in the best way possible, to take people with us.

What I would say about Canada – and I was speaking to the Canadian Prime Minister about this just last week – while they do stand as an example of a government (it was a previous government) that sorted out a debt and a deficit crisis, the great warning they give is that actually they put it off for too many years before they did it, so the problem they had to solve was even worse by the time they got round to it. I’m determined, seeing the figures as I can now see, understanding the warnings which I made before but make again today, that we shouldn’t put this off. We need to get on with what needs to be done. Yes, we need to take people with us, yes, it will mean difficult departmental decisions, and, yes, it will inevitably mean some difficult decisions over big areas of spending like pay and pensions and benefits, and we need to explain those to people.

But I profoundly believe that government is about acting in the national interest. It is our national interest to do this, and it’s in our national interest to try and take the country with us as we do it, but ducking the decisions would be a complete betrayal of what I believe in, which is government, public interest, national interest, doing the right thing. If this is the right thing to do, we must be able to convince people that it’s the right thing to do, and irrespective of how unpopular some of these decisions will be, we will, I think, in the long run, be able to take people through to a brighter economic future beyond.


Just quickly, you’re saying people will get a sense of what this might involve, come the autumn and the spending round? Or within weeks?

Prime Minister

There will be difficult decisions in the Budget, undoubtedly. There will then be discussions over the summer about public spending and public spending changes that are going to have to be made in different departments and, as I say, these will be relatively open discussions, because once you start setting a spending envelope for the next three years – something the last government didn’t do. Once you do that, people will see the sorts of choices that we, with them, will have to make. Perhaps Danny would like to say something about it a week into looking at some of those difficult choices.

Danny Alexander MP

Yes, thank you, Prime Minister. I mean, I’ve spent the last week looking over the books and obviously announcements will be made in the Budget and then in due course in the Spending Review, but I’m in no doubt at all, having done that, that the approach we’re setting out today is exactly the right thing to do. Because, there has been irresponsibility in the way that the previous government handled the public finances and we have to bring responsibility to the way that we do that. That’s the point of this agenda, and, in a sense, what we’re setting out today is, if we don’t take responsibility in the way that the Prime Minister has set out, what are the consequences of that? The £70 billion that we’d end up spending on debt repayments, for example, the consequence that has for money that you can’t spend on public services. That’s why, when you look at all the other options, no matter how painful what we have to do might be, we have to do it.

Prime Minister

Don’t put off what needs to be done is the thing to bear in mind.


I’m interested that you say you want to engage and involve the whole country in this very painful cutting process that has to happen. It sounds good, it also sounds like it might be little more than a talking shop. How are you going to convince people that you’ll not only listen to them, but that you’ll also act on what they want and don’t want to happen?

Prime Minister

Well, that’s, to me, what politics should be about. I mean, we the politicians have got a duty, I think, to explain to the country the nature and scale of the problem. I’ve tried to do that today. I’ve tried to explain what happens if we don’t do anything, if we just sat back, took the easy course, enjoyed being in office and making decisions and having meetings, just sat there, what would happen? And actually, the consequences would be very dire. So we’ve set out the envelope, as it were, of what needs to be done. Then I think there needs to be a discussion following the Budget about, well, what are the priorities, what are the things we need to protect most of all, what are the difficult decisions that we could take, and involve people.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money doing this – there isn’t any money, as one of your predecessors put it so clearly – but I think it is a good idea to take people with you, have this discussion and debate about education spending, about whether we’re spending on transport, infrastructure, how much you try and protect capital spending, all those things, have a discussion with people, and then at the end, obviously, we have the Spending Review where you have to make your announcements.

Inevitably, we are going to make a lot of decisions that people won’t agree with, but we have to convince people first that the big decision, the need to reduce spending and get the deficit under control, is the right one, and I think once you’ve done that, then people, even if they don’t accept some of the individual decisions – because all these choices are hard choices – we can take people with us on the basis that the alternative, the doing nothing, the sitting back, the pretending somehow this is all going to be cured by growth, that would be incomparably weak. That’s what we have to try and do.


Mr Prime Minister, is there a danger, in this globalised world, that by talking about things being far worse than you expected that you perhaps could be seen to be talking down the British economy which could be taken unfavourably by the markets? And also, you talk about uniting the country – isn’t there a danger that you’ll succeed not in doing that but in uniting the country against you and your government?

Prime Minister

Let me take both of those. I think there would be a danger in what you say if we hadn’t, as a government, already taken action. We’re not just arriving in government and saying, ‘Oh, look, this is all, you know, terrible.’ We’ve arrived in government and immediately had a mini-spending round and reduced spending by £6 billion in-year, so we have sent a very strong signal about that this is a government that recognises the problem, but also wants to take action to deal with the problem, and I think what I’ve set out today is a very calm and clear analysis of how bad the problem is and what the consequences are of not taking action, but I think people can judge us by what we have already done and then obviously judge us on the Budget that we announce, the spending figures we announce, the plans for the rest of the Parliament and that, I think, is what people will rightly want to hear.

Is there a danger we could unite people against us? This is fraught with danger. This is a very, very difficult thing we are trying to do. You know, I went to address all the peers in the House of Lords before the election. I remember looking round the room and there were all these great figures from the past, of Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson, and no one in this country has had to deal with an 11% budget deficit before. Why? Because we haven’t had one before. This is worse than anything that people have had to deal with before, and so yes, there are great risks and great difficulties in dealing with it, but to me, the challenge of statesmanship is to take difficult decisions in the national interest because it’s the right thing to do, and you have to try and take people with you as you do that, but what is clear to me is an even easier way of uniting the entire country against you would be sitting back and waiting for the realisation to grow that Britain’s economy was hopelessly in debt, debt interest payments were eating up all of the hard-earned taxes that everyone in this room and beyond pays, and that the government was just too weak and feckless to do something about it.

We have to act, we have to convince people it’s the right thing to do, and then we have to do our best to take them with us on the difficult decisions along that path. That is what this is all about. It’s not meant to be easy, it is incredibly difficult, no one’s done it before, but we have to do our very best to deal with it and I believe that we can. And I think the coalition helps us, because we have two parties together actually facing up to the British people and saying, ‘Both of us have come to this judgment that it’s the right thing to do, and we’re going to carry this through together and we’re going to try and take you with us as we do so.’


Thank you, Prime Minster. If the situation is so much worse than you previously thought, isn’t it time to take the difficult decisions as you suggest and look again at ring-fencing, protecting particular budgets, like sending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money overseas and the Health Service, because surely everything should be up for grabs? And also, if I may, if the public sector has got too big, how much smaller should it be? Do you have any sense of the kind of share of the economy it could/should take up?

Prime Minister

I don’t believe in announcing some sort of pre-conceived share of what the government should account for in an economy; I believe in trying to get the economy growing, trying to get the private sector moving, trying to fire up the engines of entrepreneurialism so actually we have a more affordable situation, that’s what needs to happen.

In terms of the areas that we’ve ring-fenced, I think there are good reasons for them, and part of them are about what sort of country we want this to be. You know, the NHS is one of the most essential things for every family in our country, and I think it sends a very positive message to say to people: ‘yes, we are going to have to take difficult decisions, yes, there are going to have to be public spending programmes that are going to have to be cut, yes, there may be things that the government did in the past that it can’t do in the future, but when it comes to the service that every family absolutely wants to be there and provide the best they possibly can for their families, we’re going to protect that. So as we take these difficult decisions, a well-funded NHS (because health is the most important thing in your life) will be there for you.’

Again, on the issue of overseas aid, I would say that there is a very good moral argument. Britain has built a place in the world about sticking to our word on our aid commitments, and we can hold our heads up in the G20 or the EU or in any other forum in the world, on the basis that this is a generous country, a compassionate country, that even when we’re dealing with our difficult problems, we send money to other parts of the world where people are living on a dollar a day or less. And the fact that you can look in the eyes of the French politician, the Italian politician and many others and say, ‘Well, sometimes you may not say that Britain is engaged enough in these forums, but when it comes to the promises we make, we stick to them, and we stick to them on behalf of people who are living in incredible poverty, with huge difficulties’ and I think this is the sort of country that wants its government to go on being compassionate in that way, just as the people of this country themselves are compassionate when it comes to Red Nose Day or Comic Relief or all those other events where people give so generously.

So I think picking out those two areas is right, and it will help us to make the moral argument about what sort of country this is as we deal with the incredibly difficult decisions that we have in front of us. That’s what the coalition has to do. It is going to be a very, very difficult task, but I believe it’s a task that actually helps to bring us together in this common endeavour of making sure that at the end of this five-year period, at the end of a Budget and a spending round that will be difficult, that actually people say we sorted out our problems, we paid down our debts, we found our way in the world again, we started to grow again, we started to get an economy that was about jobs and living standards and things that we want. That’s what this is about: yes, difficulties, but, as I said in the speech, we’ll come through it together and in the end we will come through it stronger and it’ll be something that Britain will be able to turn round to others in the world and say we did this important thing. It needed to be done, we did it, we did it well, and we’re a better off country as a result of it. That’s what this challenge is about.

Thank you very much for coming. Thank you to the Open University again and thank you very much for listening.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on the Big Society


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, on 31st March 2010.

This election is about big choices. Five more years of Gordon Brown. Or change with the Conservatives.

New energy, to get Britain moving. A new sense of ambition. And renewed optimism that we can build a better future together.

But today, we face a big problem: people are sceptical that change can actually happen.

Voters feel burned by the broken promises of the past and let down by the politicians of today.

People think: ‘you’re all the same, none of you will make a difference’.

I believe we’re starting to show that change is possible when it comes to our economy.

To deal with the deficit that’s holding our economy back; to stop the tax rise that could kill off the recovery.

Labour say: we must not do anything to save money or stop wasteful spending this year.

We say: no, we need to cut spending today to stop taxes rising tomorrow.

Acting now on debt.

Boosting enterprise.

That’s the way to get our economy moving.

So yes, there is a choice – a big change in our economy.

But this election will not just be about the economy.

Britain’s broken society will be on the ballot too.

And it’s especially when it comes to our social problems that people doubt whether change can really happen.

They see drug and alcohol abuse, but feel there’s not much we can do about it.

They see the deep poverty in some of our communities, but feel it’s here to stay.

They experience the crime, the abuse, the incivility on our streets, but feel it’s just the way are going.

They see families falling apart, but expect that it’s an irreversible fact of modern life.

I despair at all these things too.

But I don’t accept them.

We should not accept them.

When it comes to science we have faith in our ability to push boundaries.

When it comes to tackling disease, we have confidence that we can find cures.

When it comes to tackling climate change, we believe we can create the products and services that will do the job.

So why are we so reticent to believe we can do the same for our social problems?

If we put our mind to it, we can overcome them just the same.

But we need big ideas.

And it’s a big idea we’re here to talk about today.

It’s an idea that has informed my whole time as Conservative leader.

In my leadership campaign I said “there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state.”

One of my first speeches as Conservative leader was in the East End of London, at a fantastic social enterprise, launching the Social Justice Policy Group with Iain Duncan Smith.

Throughout the past four and a half years, I have consistently argued for, and developed policies to bring about, a shift from state to society in tackling our most stubborn social problems.

Big society – that’s not just two words.

It is a guiding philosophy – a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, not state control.

It includes a whole set of unifying approaches – breaking state monopolies, allowing charities, social enterprises and companies to provide public services, devolving power down to neighbourhoods, making government more accountable.

And it’s the thread that runs consistently through our whole policy programme – our plans to reform public services, mend our broken society, and rebuild trust in politics.

They are all part of our big society agenda.

So too are our plans to deal with our debts.

As you heard from George Osborne and Philip Hammond earlier, building the big society does not become redundant in age where we have the biggest budget deficit in our history.

In the long-run, cutting the bills of social failure is the best way we’ll get the deficit down.

And in the medium-term, reforming the way we provide public services will be crucial if we are going to deliver more for less.

This idea, the big society, is both incredibly ambitious, but also refreshingly modest.

Ambitious because its aims are sweeping – building a fairer, richer, safer Britain, where opportunity is more equal and poverty is abolished.

But modest too – because it’s not about some magic new plan dreamt up in Whitehall and imposed from on high.

It’s about enabling and encouraging people to come together to solve their problems and make life better.

Some people say that there are no big ideas in politics anymore.

But I think this is about as big as it gets.

It’s not the big state that will tackle our social and increase wellbeing.

It’s the Big Society.

And we know we have to use the state to help remake society.


This is a long way from where we are today.

For the past thirteen years we’ve had a government that has increased the power, role and size of the state.

There are now more people working in quangos than we have trained soldiers.

Labour have created 3,000 new criminal offences.

More than one in every three jobs created since Labour came to power have been in the public sector.

Why does Labour put such faith in laws, regulation and bureaucracy?

Partly because that is the natural instinct of the Labour Party – and especially of Gordon Brown.

They don’t believe change can happen without pulling a lever from on high.

But there is another reason – and it goes to the core of New Labour.

Always a communications strategy rather than a proper governing one, it’s the Government of “eye catching initiatives”, it’s the Government not of the summit, the action plan, the legislation-as-press-release, it’s government of the short-term, by the short-term, for the short-term.

It doesn’t matter so much what the long term impact is – as long as it is my impact, brought about by my action, following my statement, my initiative, my press release.

If drug abuse is rising, better to appoint a new czar and promise a crackdown rather than consider why so many young people are turning to drugs.

In Labour’s world, for every problem there’s a government solution, for every issue an initiative.

This is not what Beveridge dreamed of when he created the welfare state.

And in the real world this approach is stifling the innovation, the can-do spirit and the imagination that we know is out there in people that we believe is the key to our progress.


Creating the big society means unlocking that potential.

It is our positive alternative to Labour’s big government – and what I hope will be a proud legacy of a future Conservative government.

Indeed just as the past six decades were about building the welfare state, I hope the next decades are about creating the big society – which has the potential to be just as transformational for the country.

The question is how.

Our starting point has got to be a redistribution of power away from the central state to local communities.

As you’ve heard today, whether it’s allowing parents to choose schools, paying families to produce energy, letting residents elect a police commissioner, we will bypass the bureaucrats and give power straight to local people.

But building the big society is not just a question of the state handing over the reins of power and hoping that people will grab them.

We’ve got to actively help and encourage people to play their part.

This requires a new role for the state.

As I said in the Hugo Young lecture last November, the state must be there “galvanising, catalysing, prompting, encouraging and agitating for community engagement and social renewal.”

So let me be very clear: the big society does not mean no government.

It means a new kind of government.

That’s what the policies you’ve been hearing about today are all about.

They explains how a new Conservative Government will use the state to help remake society.

And we’re focusing on three specific areas.


First, public service reform.

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 – and even giving people who work in our public services the chance to take ownership of the organisation they work in.

Opening up public services to new providers and saying to charities and private companies – ‘if you’ve got the ideas and the people to tackle our most deep-rooted social problems, come and play a role in our public services.’

And then paying them by the results they achieve.

Again, it’s not enough just to pass on the reins of power and expect charities and voluntary organisations to grab them.

The truth is when you’re paying people by results, it can take time to earn a payment – and this can lock many smaller providers out.

It can deter some of the most innovative people.

So here government has a new role to play.

We’re going to bring in a new Big Society Bank so that social enterprises have access to the ‘start-up’ finance they need to bid for government contracts.

We will use unclaimed assets from dormant bank and building society accounts and get extra private sector investment to provide hundreds of millions of pounds of new finance directly to social organisations.

The Big Society Bank will also provide funding to independent bodies – like the Young Foundation or Esme Fairbairn Foundation – that have a track record in supporting our most innovative social enterprises.

They’ll be there to identify the best social enterprises – however big, however small.

Provide small amounts of working capital to help them grow.

Mentor and advise them so they grasp the best opportunities for delivering public services that serve the public.

And, crucially, to help to franchise the best models around the country.

Just yesterday, I went to a brilliant social enterprise in Liverpool called Home By Mersey Strides.

It gets former prisoners, the homeless and the long-term unemployed to repair and assemble damaged flat-pack furniture and then sells it to students and the local community.

Started in November it already employs forty people.

But at the moment, the amazing work of this enterprise in Liverpool is confined to just one location.

This is the exactly the sort of thing we need to spread across the country – giving more people a chance to make a life for themselves.

That’s the big society in action – all made possible by devolving power and using the state to encourage social organisations and socially-minded individuals to come forward.


That same approach lies behind our plans to encourage people to come together in neighbourhood groups so they can work together to make life better.

We’re going to give communities the chance to take control.

Setting up new schools. Taking over the running of parks, libraries and post offices. Holding beat meetings so they can ask police officers what they’re doing. Planning the look, size, shape and feel of new housing developments.

Have no doubt: if we win on May 6th, the people will have the opportunity to take power on May 7th.

And today, we’re setting out a big ambition.

We want every adult to be a member of an active neighbourhood group.

I know some people argue that there isn’t the appetite for this sort of widespread community participation.

I don’t agree.

Look at the 400 groups who have contacted the New Schools Network to ask about setting up their own school – and our policy hasn’t even been implemented yet.

Look at the nearly 30,000 faith-based charities who desperately want to do more – but too often find themselves excluded from mainstream funding.

Look at the dramatic rise in volunteering during this recession – with YouthNet alone recording a 115 percent increase in the number of people asking for opportunities.

Those who say there is no appetite for social action are just out of touch with what’s really going on in this country.

But again, we don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Yes, we will hold out the reins of power.

But we want to help people grab it too.

That’s where our plan for community organisers comes in.

In the United States the energy, enthusiasm and passion of community organisers has fired up whole neighbourhoods to take control of their destiny.

We want to see that right across the UK.

So we will use revenue from the Cabinet Office FutureBuilders programme, a programme the National Audit Office has criticised for its poor delivery, and redirect it to training thousands of new community organisers in the years ahead.

And we’ll ask independent groups like London Citizens to undertake this work.

To teach potential community organisers how to identify the doers and the go-getters in each neighbourhood and recruit them to their cause.

To teach them them how to bang heads together to get things done.

Indeed, Barack Obama trained as a community organiser in Chicago.

And I hope that in the years to come, a similar inspirational figure will emerge from community work in our inner cities – and go from the back streets of Bradford or Bolton or Birmingham all the way to Downing Street.

But I know the arguments that some people make – that this sort of community co-operation will only happen in the richest areas.

In building the big society, I want to make sure that Britain’s poorest areas do not get left behind as they too often are today.

So again, we will take money from the Futurebuilders programme, and direct it to community organisers, social enterprises and neighbourhood groups in our most disadvantaged areas.

This is the big society made real – devolving power to the people while using the state to encourage social action and help the poorest.


But beyond these important policy changes on public services, on neighbourhood groups – we need something more, something widespread: a lasting culture change across the country.

The big society demands a big social response, mass engagement.

It means millions of people answering that noble question first asked by John F Kennedy: ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

This won’t happen unless the big players in society make it happen.

Business, the civil service – and yes, political parties.

Here we have really started to show what is possible.

Take the social action projects that have really made a difference at our party conferences.

Take the fact that when someone gets selected as a Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party, I write to them and say: do something positive, do something worthwhile, start a social action project in your constituency.

As you heard from Sayeeda this morning, there are now 150 of these projects up and running and another fifty jobs clubs too.

And it’s why for the past three years an army of Conservative Party volunteers – Members of Parliament, councillors, candidates, members who are doctors, teachers, coaches or just willing volunteers –  have gone out to Rwanda and played a small role in the rebuilding of that country.

But where politicians can take a lead, I don’t think they should try and pull a lever to bring about a culture change of community activism across our country.

Building the big society is not just about what government does – not by a long way.

And that’s why another event that is happening today – just a few minutes from here – is so exciting.

Today sees the launch of the Big Society Network – and I hope many of you will join me in going along.

Independent from government, the Big Society Network will be a national campaign for social change.

Its aim is to provide encouragement and support for everyone to be an active citizen.

It’s going to be whether or not there’s a Conservative Government.

But of course, a Conservative Government will give it all the support we can.

One of the ways we’ll do that is with an annual Big Society Day, celebrating the work of neighbourhood groups, highlighting the work of community heroes and building public pride in social action.

But the Big Society Network is run by the people, for the people, and I know it will make a massive difference to the whole culture of social action in our country.


The vision we’ve been setting out here today is unashamedly optimistic.

And unapologetically ambitious.

But I didn’t come into politics to do small things.

I don’t aspire to run this country to manage Britain’s decline.

I’m here because I want to bring change to this country and I believe we can change this country.

Think of what individuals and communities can do and any despair is defeated.

Are you telling me we can’t mend our broken economy, when we’ve got some of the best entrepreneurs in the world?

Are you telling me we can’t mend our broken society, when everywhere I go I meet the most brilliant and committed social activists?

Are you telling me we can’t mend our politics, when people are crying out to take more control over their lives?

No – we can get our country moving.

We can restore hope in our future.

We can if we come together, work together and build the big society together.

David Cameron – 2008 Conservative Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, at the 2008 Conservative Party Conference.

It’s great to be here in the Symphony Hall.

But it’s even better to know that in this party, everyone: the Shadow Cabinet, the Members of Parliament, the council leaders and all our candidates and colleagues…

Everyone is playing the same tune.

Today the financial crisis means that all eyes are on the economy and the financial markets and that is absolutely right.

As I said yesterday, on this issue, we must put aside our differences and work together with the government in the short-term to ensure financial stability.

I am pleased that our proposal to increase the protection for depositors to £50,000 has been taken up.

I’m pleased that the European regulators are looking at our proposal to bring stability to the banking system.

I repeat: we will not allow what happened in America to happen here, we will work with the government in the short term in order to protect our economy.

But as I also said yesterday, that must not stop us telling the truth about the mistakes that have been made.

It is our political duty…

…and if we had a written constitution I would say constitutional duty…

…to hold the government to account, to explain where they went wrong, and how we would do things differently to rebuild our economy for the long-term.

So we must not hold back from being critical of the decisions that over ten years have led us to this point.

We need to learn the lessons, and to offer the British people a clear choice

It is our responsibility to make sense of this crisis for them, and to show them the right way out of it.

We started to do that in Birmingham this week.

We’ve had a good conference this week, an optimistic conference – but a sober one.

We understand the gravity of the situation our country is in.

And our response is measured, proportionate and responsible.

The test of a political party is whether it can rise to the challenge of what the country requires and what the times demand.

I believe we have passed that test this week and I want to thank George Osborne, William Hague, all my team in the Shadow Cabinet and all of you for making this conference a success.

The reality of government is that difficulties come not in neat and predictable order, one by one and at regular intervals.

Difficulties come at you from all sides, one on top of the other, and you’ve got to be able to handle them all.

So amidst this financial crisis let us not forget that we are also a nation at war.

In Afghanistan today, our armed forces are defending our freedom and our way of life as surely and as bravely as any soldiers in our nation’s history.

Let us be clear about why they are there: if we fail in our mission, the Taliban will come back.

And if the Taliban come back, the terrorist training camps come back…

That would mean more terrorists, more bombs and more slaughter on our streets.

That is why we back our troops’ mission in Afghanistan one hundred per cent.

I’ve been to visit them every year since I’ve been doing this job.

Earlier this month, up the Helmand River in Sangin I met a soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment, Ranger Blaine Miller.

He’d just turned eighteen years old.

He was the youngest soldier there.

He’s not much more than a boy and he’s there in the forty-five degree heat, fighting a ferocious enemy on the other side of the world.

I told him that what he was doing was exceptional.

He told me he was just doing his job.

Every politician says it’s the first duty of government is to protect our country, and of course that’s right.

But today we are not protecting the people, like Blaine, who protect us – and that is wrong.

In Afghanistan, the number of our troops has almost doubled but the number of helicopters has hardly increased at all.

American soldiers start their rest and recuperation the day they arrive back home, our troops have to count the days they spend getting home.

We’ve got troops’ families living in sub-standard homes; we’ve got soldiers going into harm’s way without the equipment they need…

…we’ve got businesses in our country that instead of welcoming people in military uniform and honouring their service choose to turn them away and refuse them service.

That is all wrong and we are going to put it right.

We are going to stop sending young men to war without the equipment they need, we’re going to stop treating our soldiers like second class citizens…

…we will do all it takes to keep our country safe and we will do all it takes to protect the heroes who risk everything for us.

And today there are a particular group of heroes that I have in mind.

They fought for us in the slit trenches of Burma…the jungles of Malaya…and the freezing cold of the Falklands.

Yesterday the courts ruled that gurkhas who want to come and live in Britain should be able to.

They risked their lives for us and now we must not turn our backs on them.

I say to the government: I know there are difficult questions about pensions and housing but let’s find a way to make it work…

Do not appeal this ruling.

…let’s give those brave gurkha soldiers who defended us the right to come and live in our country.

These are times of great anxiety.

The financial crisis.

The economic downturn.

The cost of living.

Big social problems.

I know how worried people are.

They want to know whether our politics, and let’s be frank, whether our politicians – are up to it.

In the end, that’s not really about your policies and your plans.

Of course your plans are important…

…but it’s the unexpected and unpredicted events that can dominate a government.

So people want to know what values you bring to big situations and big decisions that can crop up on your watch.

And people want to know about your character: the way you make decisions; the way that you operate.

My values are Conservative values.

Many people wrongly believe that the Conservative Party is all about freedom.

Of course we care passionately about freedom from oppression and state control.

That’s why we stood up for Georgia and wasn’t it great to have the Georgian Prime Minister with us here, speaking today?

But freedom can too easily turn into the idea that we all have the right to do whatever we want, regardless of the effect on others.

That is libertarian, not Conservative – and it is certainly not me.

For me, the most important word is responsibility.

Personal responsibility.

Professional responsibility.

Civic responsibility.

Corporate responsibility.

Our responsibility to our family, to our neighbourhood, our country.

Our responsibility to behave in a decent and civilised way.

To help others.

That is what this Party is all about.

Every big decision; every big judgment I make: I ask myself some simple questions.

Does this encourage responsibility and discourage irresponsibility?

Does this make us a more or less responsible society?

Social responsibility, not state control.

Because we know that we will only be a strong society if we are a responsible society.

But when it comes to handling a crisis….

…when it comes to really making a difference on the big issues…

…it’s not just about your values.

There’s something else people want to know.

When people ask: “will you make a difference?” they’re often asking will you – i.e. me – will you make a difference?

You can’t prove you’re ready to be Prime Minister – and it would be arrogant to pretend you can.

The best you can do is tell people who you are and the way you work; how you make decisions and then live with them.

I’m a forty-one year old father of three who thinks that family is the most important thing there is.

For me.

For my country.

I am deeply patriotic about this country and believe we have both a remarkable history and an incredible future.

I believe in the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and I will never do anything to put it at risk.

I have a simple view that public service is a good way to channel your energy and try to make a difference.

I am not an ideologue.

I know that my party can get things wrong, and that other parties sometimes get things right.

I hold to some simple principles.

That strong defence, the rule of law and sound money are the foundations of good government.

But I am also a child of my time.

I want a clean environment as well as a safe one.

I believe that quality of life matters as much as quantity of money.

I recognise that we’ll never be truly rich while so much of the world is so poor.

I believe in building a strong team – and really trusting them.

Their success is to be celebrated – not seen as some kind of threat.

Thinking before deciding is good.

Not deciding because you don’t like the consequences of a decision is bad.

Trust your principles, your judgment and your colleagues.

Go with your conviction, not calculation.

The popular thing may look good for a while.

The right thing will be right all the time.

Tony Blair used to justify endless short-term initiatives by saying “we live in a 24 hour media world.”

But this is a country not a television station.

A good government thinks for the long term.

If we win we will inherit a huge deficit and an economy in a mess.

We will need to do difficult and unpopular things for the long term good of the country.

I know that.

I’m ready for that.

And there is a big argument I want to make – about the financial crisis and the economic downturn, yes…

…but about the other issues facing the country too.

It’s an argument about experience.

To do difficult things for the long-term…

…or even to get us through the financial crisis in the short term…

…what matters more than experience is character and judgment, and what you really believe needs to happen to make things right.

I believe that to rebuild our economy, it’s not more of the same we need, but change.

To repair our broken society, it’s not more of the same we need, but change.

Experience is the excuse of the incumbent over the ages.

Experience is what they always say when they try to stop change.

In 1979, James Callaghan had been Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor before he became Prime Minister.

He had plenty of experience.

But thank god we changed him for Margaret Thatcher.

Just think about it: if we listened to this argument about experience, we’d never change a government, ever.

We’d have Gordon Brown as Prime Minister – for ever.

Gordon Brown talks about his economic experience.

The problem is, we have actually experienced his experience.

We’ve experienced the massive increase in debt.

We have experienced the huge rise in taxes.

We experienced the folly of pretending that boom and bust could be ended.

This is the argument we will make when the election comes.

The risk is not in making a change.

The risk is sticking with what you’ve got and expecting a different result.

There is a simple truth for times like this.

When you’ve taken the wrong road, you don’t just keep going.

You change direction – and that is what we need to do.

So let’s look at how we got here – and how we’re going to get out.

At the heart of the financial crisis is a simple fact.

The tap marked ‘borrowing’ was turned on – and it was left running for too long.

The debts we built up were too high. Far too high.

The authorities – on both sides of the Atlantic – thought it could go on for ever.

They thought the days of low inflation and low interest rates could go on for ever.

They thought the asset price bubble didn’t matter.

But it’s not just the authorities who were at fault.

Many bankers in the City were quite simply irresponsible.

They paid themselves vast rewards when it was all going well…

…and the minute it went wrong, they came running to us to bail them out.

There will be a day of reckoning but today is not that day.

Today we have to understand the long-term policy mistakes that were made.

In this country, Gordon Brown made two big mistakes.

His first big mistake – and his worst decision, sowing the seeds of the present financial crisis…

…was actually contained within his best decision: to make the Bank of England independent.

Let me explain.

At the same time as giving the Bank of England the power to set interest rates…

…he took away the Bank of England’s power to regulate financial markets.

…and he took away the Bank of England’s power to blow the whistle on the total amount of debt in the economy.

He changed the rules of the game, but he took the referee off the pitch.

Eddie George, who was the Bank of England Governor at the time, was only given a few hours notice of this massive decision.

He feared it would end in tears – and it has.

Gordon Brown’s second big mistake was on government borrowing.

After a prudent start, when he stuck for two years to Conservative spending totals, he turned into a spendaholic.

His spending splurge left the government borrowing money in the good times when it should have been saving money.

So now that the bad times have hit, there’s no money to help.

The cupboard is bare.

So the question is, how are we going to get through this crisis?

How are we going to rebuild our economy for the long term?

Now I’ve studied economics at a great university.

I’ve worked in business alongside great entrepreneurs.

And as Gordon Brown never stops reminding people, I’ve been inside the Treasury during a crisis.

But when it comes to handling the situation we’re in, none of that matters as much as some simple things I believe to be true.

First of all, I believe that government’s main economic duty is to ensure sound money and low taxes.

Sound money means controlling inflation, keeping spending under control and getting debt down.

So we will rein in private borrowing by correcting that big mistake made by Gordon Brown, and restoring the Bank of England’s power to limit debt in the economy.

That will help give our economy the financial responsibility it needs.

But we need fiscal responsibility too.

So we will rein in government borrowing.

You know what that means.

The country needs to know what that means.

And it has a lot clearer idea now, thanks to that fantastic speech by George Osborne on Monday, one of the finest speeches made by any Shadow Chancellor.

Sound money means saving in the good years so we can borrow in the bad.

It means ending Labour’s spendaholic culture…

…it means clamping down on government waste…

…and it means destroying all those useless quangos and initiatives.

So I will be asking all my shadow ministers to review all over again every spending programme to see if it is really necessary, really justifiable in these new economic circumstances.

But even that will not be enough.

The really big savings will come from reforming inefficient public services, and dealing with the long-term social problems that cause government spending to rise.

To help us stick to the right course, we’ll have an independent Office of Budget Responsibility.

There will be no hiding place, no fiddling the figures – for all governments, forever.

It’s not experience that will bring about these long-term changes.

Experience means you’re implicated in the old system that’s failed.

You can’t admit that change is needed, because that would mean admitting you’d got it wrong.

We propose a major shake-up in the way the public finances are run…

…and we have the character and the judgment to scrap the discredited fiscal rules and make this vital long-term change.

It’s a change that will help us get taxes down.

I believe in low taxes – and today, working people are crying out for relief.

Like the young couple I met in York three weeks ago, who both work seven days a week and still struggle to make enough to pay the mortgage.

But I am a fiscal conservative.

So is George Osborne.

We do not believe in tax cuts paid for by reckless borrowing.

So let me say this to the call centre worker whose mortgage has gone up by four hundred quid a month but his salary’s gone down.

To the hairdresser who’s a single mum doing another job on the side to try and make ends meet and pay for childcare.

To the electrician whose fuel bill, rent bill and food bill have all gone up and he’s trying to work out which one to pay when the tax bill’s gone up too.

I know it’s your money.

I know you want some of it back.

And I want to give it to you.

It’s one of the reasons I’m doing this job.

But we will only cut taxes once it’s responsible to do so…

…once we’ve made government live within its means.

The test of whether we’re ready for government is not whether we can come up with exciting shadow budgets.

It is whether we have the grit and determination to impose discipline on government spending, keep our nerve and say “no” – even in the teeth of hostility and protest.

That is the responsible party we are and that is the responsible government I will lead.

Sound money; low taxes.

Simple beliefs with profound implications.

And here’s something else I believe about the economy.

I believe that people create jobs, not governments.

I understand enterprise.

I admire entrepreneurs.

I should do – I go to bed with one every night.

And today, Labour’s taxes and regulations are making life impossible for our entrepreneurs.

Just this week, the exodus of business from Labour’s Britain continued as WPP announced it was moving to Ireland.

A man called Steven Ellis Cooper emailed me at the end of last month.

You know him, this conference heard his story on Sunday.

He’s from Worcestershire – and with his wife and two daughters he’s been running his business for nearly twenty years.

He saw it grow into something he described as “magical”, employing five people and contributing to the economy.

And then along came Labour .

Now he’s down to his last employee and he says “I am sat at my desk now in tears as I’m so sad that what I have spent such a long time trying to build up is being so systematically smashed into the floor and the Labour Government are to blame.”

What an outrageous way for a government to treat someone who’s trying to do their best, trying to make a living for their family, trying to create opportunity for others.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

We’ll start by dealing with the nightmare complexity of our business taxes.

We’ll get rid of those complex reliefs and allowances and use the savings to cut corporation tax by three pence.

But I don’t believe that the government’s role in the economy is just about tax and spend and sound money and finance.

I have never believed in just laissez-faire.

I believe the government should play an active part in helping business and industry.

So when our economy is overheating in the south east but still needs more investment in the north…

…the right thing to do is not go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow but instead build a new high speed rail network…

…linking Birmingham, Manchester, London, Leeds…

…let’s help rebalance Britain’s economy.

But the problems this country faces go far beyond financial crisis and economic downturn.

In the end I want to be judged not just on how well we handle crises, but on two things…

…how we improve the public institution in this country I care about most, the NHS…

…and how we fulfil what will be the long-term mission of the next Conservative government: to repair our broken society.

Now there is a dangerous argument doing the rounds about how we do that.

You may have heard it.

I have to tell you, Labour are clutching at it as some sort of intellectual lifeline.

It goes like this.

In these times of difficulty, we need a bigger state.

Not just in a financial and economic sense, but in a social sense too.

A Labour minister said something really extraordinary last week.

It revealed a huge amount about them.

David Miliband said that “unless government is on your side you end up on your own.”

“On your own” – without the government.

I thought it was one of the most arrogant things I’ve heard a politician say.

For Labour there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between.

No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on.

No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in.

No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society – just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.

You cannot run our country like this.

It is why, when we look at what’s happening to our country, we can see that the problem is not the leader; it’s Labour.

They end up treating people like children, with a total lack of trust in people’s common sense and decency.

This attitude, this whole health and safety, human rights act culture, has infected every part of our life.

If you’re a police officer you now cannot pursue an armed criminal without first filling out a risk assessment form.

Teachers can’t put a plaster on a child’s grazed knee without calling a first aid officer.

Even foreign exchanges for students…you can’t host a school exchange any more without parents going through an Enhanced Criminal Record Bureau Check.

No, when times are tough, it’s not a bigger state we need: it’s better, more efficient government.

But even more than that we need a stronger society.

That means trusting people.

And sharing responsibility.

But no-one will ever take lectures from politicians about responsibility unless we put our own house in order.

That means sorting out our broken politics.

People are sick of it.

Sick of the sleaze, sick of the cynicism.

Copper-bottomed pensions.

Plasma screen TVs on the taxpayer.

Expenses and allowances that wouldn’t stand for one second in the private sector.

This isn’t a Conservative problem, a Labour problem or a Liberal Democrat problem.

It is a Westminster problem, and we’ve all got to sort it out.

In the end, this is about the judgment to see how important this issue is for the credibility of politics and politicians.

And it’s about having the character to take on vested interests inside your own party.

That’s what I have done.

The first to say: MPs voting on their pay, open-ended final salary pension schemes, the John Lewis list – they have all got to go.

And it’s no different in Europe.

We’ve drawn up a hard-hitting code of conduct for our MEPs.

With European elections next year, the message to them is simple:

If you don’t sign, you won’t stand.

And while we’re on this subject, there’s one other thing that destroys trust in politics.

And that’s parties putting things in their manifesto and then doing the complete opposite.

Next year in those European elections we will campaign with all our energy for that referendum on the European constitution that Labour promised but never delivered.

Taking responsibility is how we will mend our broken politics.

And sharing responsibility and giving it back to professionals is how we will improve our public services.

Let’s be straight about what’s happened to our NHS.

Money has been poured in but maternity wards and A&E departments are closing.

Productivity is down.

The nurses and doctors are disillusioned, frustrated, angry and demoralised.

I know from personal experience just how brilliant and dedicated the people who work in the NHS are.

But they have been terribly, terribly let down.

Instead of a serious long-term reform plan for the NHS…

…working out how we can deliver a free national health service in an age of rising expectations and rising healthcare costs…

…never mind the rocketing costs of social care…

…we’ve had eleven years of superficial, short-term tinkering.

Top-down target after top-down target, with another thirty seven targets added last year.

Endless bureaucratic re-organisations, some of them contradictory, others abandoned after just a few months.

Labour have taken our most treasured national institution, ripped out its soul and replaced it with targets, directives, management consultants and computers.

In August, I got a letter from one of my constituents, John Woods.

His wife was taken to hospital.

She caught MRSA and she died.

Some of the incidents described are so dreadful, and so degrading, that I can’t read you most of the letter.

He says the treatment his wife received “was like something out of a 17th century asylum not a 21st century £90 billion health service.”

And then, as his wife’s life was coming to end, he remembers her “sitting on the edge of her bed in distress and saying ‘I never thought it would be like this’.”

I sent the letter to Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary.

This was his reply.

“A complaints procedure has been established for the NHS to resolve concerns…

“Each hospital and Primary Care Trust has a Patient Advice and Liaison Service to support people who wish to make a complaint…

“There is also an Independent Complaints Advocacy Service…

“If, when Mr Woods has received a response, he remains dissatisfied, it is open to him to approach the Healthcare Commission and seek an independent review of his complaint and local organisation’s response…

“Once the Health Care Commission has investigated the case he can approach the Health Service Ombudsman if he remains dissatisfied….”

A Healthcare Commission.

A Health Service Ombudsman.

A Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

An Independent Complaints Advocacy Service.

Four ways to make a complaint…

…but not one way for my constituent’s wife to die with dignity.

We need to change all that.

But here is the plain truth.

We will not bring about long-term change if we think that all we have to do is stick with what Labour leave us and just pump some more money in.

Instead of those targets and directives that interfere with clinical judgments we’ll publish the information about what actually happens in the NHS.

We’ll give patients an informed choice about where to go for their care…

…so doctors stop answering to Whitehall, and start answering to patients.

This way, the health service can at last become exactly that: a service…

…not a take it or leave it bureaucracy.

I’m afraid Labour have had their chance to show they can be trusted with the NHS, and they have failed.

We are the party of the NHS in Britain today and under my leadership that is how it’s going to stay.

But if you want to know what I really hope we will achieve in government.

If you want to know where the change will be greatest from what has gone before.

It is our plan for social reform.

The central task I have set myself and this Party is to be as radical in social reform as Margaret Thatcher was in economic reform.

That’s how we plan to repair our broken society.

I know this is a controversial argument.

Some say our society isn’t broken.

I wonder what world they live in.

Leave aside that almost two million children are brought up in households where no one works.

Or that there are housing estates in Britain where people have a lower life expectancy than in the Gaza Strip.

Just consider the senseless, barbaric violence on our streets.

Children killing children.

Twenty-seven kids murdered on the streets of London this year.

A gun crime every hour.

A serious knife crime every half hour.

A million victims from alcohol related-attacks.

But it’s not just the crime; not even the anti-social behaviour.

It’s the angry, harsh culture of incivility that seems to be all around us.

When in one generation we seem to have abandoned the habits of all human history…

…that in a civilised society, adults have a proper role – a responsibility – to uphold rules and order in the public realm…

… not just for their own children but for other people’s too.

Helen Newlove spoke to us yesterday.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been moved by working with Helen over the past year.

This woman, whose husband Gary was brutally kicked to death on her own doorstep…

This woman, who had to explain to her beautiful children that their father was not coming home from the hospital, not ever, because he had dared to be a good, responsible citizen.

Helen Newlove knows our society is broken.

But she believes we can repair it – and so do I.

The big question is how.

And here is where we need some very plain speaking.

There are those who say – and there are many in this hall – that what is required is tough punishment, longer sentences and more prison places.

And to a degree, they’re right.

We’ll never mend the broken society without a clear barrier between right and wrong, and harsh penalties when you cross the line.

But let’s recognise, once and for all, that such an approach only deals with the symptoms, picking up the pieces of failure that has gone before.

Come with me to Wandsworth prison and meet the inmates.

Yes you meet the mugger, the robber and the burglar.

But you also meet the boy who can’t read and never could.

The teenager hooked on heroin.

The young man who never knew the love of a father.

The middle aged failure where no-one in the family has known what it’s like to go out and work for two generations or maybe more.

Miss the context, miss the cause, miss the background…

…and you’ll never get the true picture of why crime is so high in our country.

There are those who say that all of this – mending the broken society – will require state action, state programmes and state money.

And to a degree, they are right too.

We are not an anti-state party.

In the twentieth century, state-run social programmes had real success in fighting poverty and making our society stronger.

Pensions, sickness benefits, state education: I honour those men and women of all parties and none who created these safety nets and springboards.

But today, the returns from endless big state intervention are not just diminishing, they are disappearing.

That’s because too often, state intervention deals with the symptoms of the problem.

I want us to be different: to deal with the long-term causes.

That will be the test of our character and judgment.

First, families.

If we sincerely care about children’s futures, then all families, however organised, need our help and support.

So I don’t have some idealised, rose-tinted view of the family.

I know families can be imperfect.

I get the modern world.

But I think that in our modern world, in these times of stress and anxiety…

…the family is the best welfare system there is.

That’s why I want to scrap Labour’s plans for a new army of untrained outreach workers…

…so we can have over 4,000 extra health visitors and guarantees of family visits before and after your child is born.

To those who say this is some sort of nanny state I say: nonsense.

Remember what it was like the first few nights after your first child is born, the worry, the uncertainly, the questions.

Health visitors are a lifeline – and I want more of them.

It’s because I want to strengthen families that I support flexible working.

To those who say this is some intolerable burden on business, I say “wrong”.

Business pays the costs of family breakdown in taxes – and isn’t it right that everyone, including business, should play their part in making Britain a more family-friendly country?

Do you know what, if we don’t change these antiquated business practices then women…

…half the talent of the country…

…are just put off from joining the workforce.

We will also back marriage in the tax system.

To those who say…why pick out marriage …

…why do you persist in aggravating people who for whatever reason choose not to get married…

….I say I don’t want to aggravate anyone, but I believe in commitment and many of us, me included, will always remember that moment when you say, up there in front of others, it’s not just me anymore, it’s us, together, and that helps to take you through the tough times…

…and that’s something we should cherish as a society.

When families fail, school is the way we can give children a second chance.

My passion about this is both political and personal.

After the 2005 election, shadow education secretary was the job I asked for in the Shadow Cabinet and Michael Howard kindly let me have it.

I’m not sure my reshuffles work quite like that, but there we are.

He’s a very kind man and was a great leader of our party.

But it’s personal because I’m the father of three young children – and I worry about finding good schools for them more than anything else.

There’s nothing quite like that feeling when you watch your children wandering across the playground, school bag in one hand, packed lunch in the other, knowing they’re safe, they’re happy, they’ve got a great teacher in a good school.

But the straightforward truth is that there aren’t enough good schools, particularly secondary schools, particularly in some of our bigger towns and cities.

Any government I lead will not go on excusing this failure.

That’s why Michael Gove has such radical plans to establish 1,000 New Academies, with real freedoms, like grant maintained schools used to have.

And that’s why, together, we will break open the state monopoly and allow new schools to be set up.

And to those who say we cannot wait for structural reform and competition to raise standards I say – yes, you’re right, and we will not wait.

The election of a Conservative government will bring – and I mean this almost literally – a declaration of war against those parts of the educational establishment who still cling to the cruelty of the “all must win prizes” philosophy…

…and the dangerous practice of dumbing down.

Listen to this.

It’s the President of the Spelling Society.

He said, and I quote, “people should be able to use whichever spelling they prefer.”

He’s the President of the Spelling Society.

Well, he’s wrong. And by the way, that’s spelt with a ‘W.’

And then there’s the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

These are the people who are officially supposed to maintain standards in our school system.

You pay their wages.

And do you know what you get in return?

They let a child get marks for writing “F off” as an answer in an exam.

As Prime Minister I’d have my own two words for people like that, and yes, one of them does begin with an ‘F’.

You’re fired.

If strengthening families is the first line of defence against social breakdown, and school reform is the second – then welfare reform is the full, pitched battle.

This problem goes very deep – and dealing with it will be very tough.

There are almost five million people in Britain of working age who are out of work and on benefits.

That’s bad for them. It’s bad for our society. And it’s bad for our economy.

Decades ago, when we had a universal collective culture of respect for work, a system of unconditional benefits was good and right and effective.

But if we’re going to talk straight we’ve got to admit something.

That culture doesn’t exist any more.

In fact, worse than that, the benefit system itself encourages a benefit culture, and sends some pretty perverse messages.

It’s not even that it’s picking up the pieces and treating the symptoms, rather than providing a cure.

Today, it is actively making the problem worse.

So we will end the something for nothing culture.

If you don’t take a reasonable offer of a job, you lose benefits.

Go on doing it, you’ll keep losing benefits.

Stay on benefits and you’ll have to work for them.

I spent some time recently sitting with a benefit officer in a Job Centre plus.

In came a young couple. She was pregnant. He was the dad.

They were out of work and trying to get somewhere to live.

The benefit officer didn’t really have much choice but to explain that they would be better off if she lived on her own.

What on earth are we doing with a system like that?

With the money we save by ending the something for nothing welfare culture we will say to that couple in that benefit office:

Stay together, bring up your kid, build your family, we’re on your side and we will end that couple penalty.

In all these ways, and with the inspiring help of Iain Duncan Smith, we have made the modern Conservative Party the party of social justice.

The party that says yes: we can build a society where anyone can rise from the bottom to the top with nothing in their way…

…but only if we put in place radical Conservative school reform to do it.

Yes: we can build a society where we end the scandal of child poverty and give every child the decent start they deserve…

…but only if we have radical Conservative welfare reform to achieve it.

This is the big argument in British politics today, an argument through which we show that in this century…

…as we have shown in the centuries that went before…

…with Peel, with Shaftesbury, with Disraeli…

…when the call comes for a politics of dignity and aspiration for the poor and the marginalised, for the people whom David Davis so vividly described as the victims of state failure…

…when the call comes to expand hope and broaden horizons…

…it is this Party, the Conservative Party…

…it is our means, Conservative means…

…that will achieve those great and noble progressive ends of fighting poverty, extending opportunity, and repairing our broken society.

Progressive ends; Conservative means.

That is a big argument about the future.

That is a big change.

And it is because we had the courage to change that we are able to make it.

We changed because knew we had to make ourselves relevant to the twenty-first century.

You didn’t pick more women candidates to try and look good…

…you did it so we wouldn’t lock out talent and fail to come up with the policies that modern families need.

You didn’t champion green politics as greenwash…

…but because climate change is devastating our environment…

…because the energy gap is a real and growing threat to our security…

…and because $100-a-barrel oil is hitting families every time they fill up their car and pay their heating bills.

You didn’t take international development seriously because it was fashionable…

…but because it is a true reflection of the country we live in, a Britain that is outward-looking, internationalist and generous…

…and because this Party …

… that has always believed in one nation …

…must in this century be a Party of one world.

This is who we are today and those who say the Tories haven’t changed totally underestimate the capacity this Party has always had to pick itself up, turn itself around and make itself relevant to the challenges of the hour.

Those who say we haven’t changed just show how little they have changed.

We are a changed party and we are a united party.

We are making progress in the north in the south in the east and in the west.

The first Conservative by-election gain from Labour in thirty years.

The first Conservative metropolitan council in the North East in thirty four years.

And the first Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

We are a united party, united in spirit and united in purpose.

And we know that our task is to take people with us.

Rebuilding our battered economy.

Renewing our bureaucratised NHS.

Repairing our broken society.

That is our plan for change.

But in these difficult times we promise no new dawns, no overnight transformations.

I’m a man with a plan, not a miracle cure.

These difficult times need leadership, yes.

They need character and judgment.

The leadership to unite your party and build a strong team.

The character to stick to your guns and not bottle it when times get tough.

The judgment to understand the mistakes that have been made and to offer the country change.

Leadership, character, judgment.

That’s what Britain needs at a time like this and that’s what this party now offers.

I know we are living in difficult times but I am still optimistic because I have faith in human nature…

…in our remarkable capacity to innovate, to experiment, to overcome obstacles and to find a way through difficulties…

…whether those problems are created by man or nature.

We can and will come through.

We always do.

Not because of our government.

But because of the people of Britain.

Because of what you do – because of the work you do, the families you raise, the jobs you create…

…because of your attitude, your confidence and your determination.

So because we are united…

Because we have had the courage to change…

Because we have the fresh answers to the challenges of our age.

I believe we now have the opportunity, and more than that the responsibility, to bring our country together.

Together in the face of this financial crisis.

Together in determination that we will come through it.

Together in the hope, the belief that better times will lie ahead.

David Cameron – 2008 Living Within Our Means Speech


Below is the text of a speech made on May 19th 2008 by David Cameron.

“For the past two and a half years, the changes I have led in this Party have been aimed in one direction: giving people a positive alternative to a failing government. I don’t want us to be elected on the back of a disintegrating Labour Party. I want us to be elected with a clear mandate to make the changes Britain needs.

“So we’ve changed the way we select candidates. After the next election our Party will be more like the country we hope to lead. We’ve changed our policies and our politics: becoming once again the true champions for progressive ideals like tackling poverty, protecting the environment and kick-starting social mobility. We have taken clear positions and stuck to them:

“Putting economic stability before tax cuts.

Improving public services for everyone, not helping a few to opt out.

Recognising that the progress people want to see is a better quality of life, not just higher GDP.

“All this supports the overriding mission we have set for ourselves: to revive our society just as Margaret Thatcher revived our economy; to reverse Britain’s social breakdown, just as she reversed our economic breakdown. And we have set out how we will achieve that mission – by ending the era of top-down state control and big government. We want to respond to what should be a new post-bureaucratic age, by decentralising power, by giving people more opportunity and control over their lives, by making families stronger and society more responsible.


“That is our positive alternative, the alternative to a Labour government that people are increasingly regarding with contempt. Whether it’s on the streets of Crewe and Nantwich, around the country in the run-up to the local elections, or in the emails and letters I get, I’ve noticed a new feeling of anger.

“It’s not just because the Prime Minister can’t seem to stop treating people like fools – whether it’s on the true reason for last year’s cancelled election, or the true reason for last week’s 10p tax trick. It’s not just because in Britain today there are more people in severe poverty and nearly five million people on out-of-work benefits, because mortgage rates have gone up and the cost of living is going up and because all this shows that Labour have failed to deliver either the social justice or the economic efficiency they promised.

“The anger today is about more than Labour’s economic incompetence. It’s about more than Labour’s failure to advance progressive ideals. The reason people are more and more angry with the government today is that while they see their taxes going up and up, there’s no corresponding improvement in the quality of their lives.

“Of course our quality of life is not just about what government does – far from it. But there’s a real sense of unfairness that people are feeling today. They feel that Labour have broken the basic bargain between government and the people, the bargain that says: “We’ll take money off you in taxes, and you’ll get decent quality services in return.” That’s what I want to focus on today.


“After a decade of reckless spending under Labour, Britain needs good housekeeping from the Conservatives. We need to start living within our means. Why? Because in the decades ahead there will be pressure to spend more on the essentials – whether that’s care for the older generation, equipment for our armed forces, or more prisons and police to keep us safe. At the same time, we have reached the limits of acceptable taxation and borrowing.

“With the rising cost of living, taxpayers can’t take any more pain indeed they want a government that can give them the prospect of relief. And our economy can’t take any more pain without losing jobs to lower tax competitors.

“So how are we going to square the circle? How are we going to spend more on the essentials without putting taxes up – and over time, creating the space for cutting tax, as we have promised to do? Our overall method and aim are clear: we will share the proceeds of economic growth. Sharing the proceeds of economic growth is what living with our means, actually means. Not spending everything we have. Not borrowing to spend beyond our means. But ensuring that, over time, the economy grows faster than the state, so spending falls as a share of national income and we can reduce taxes and borrowing.

“Those who criticise sharing the proceeds of growth have sometimes not appreciated that if a government actually did this, either taxes, or borrowing, or both would have to fall over an economic cycle. I stress: have to fall.

“Today we are setting out our strategy for delivering this commitment. We’ll do it by attacking the problem at its source: by attacking the three causes of a bigger state and rising public spending.

“First, the cost of social failure. Family breakdown, unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction – these social problems rack up the biggest bills for government, so we’ve got to get them down.

“Second, the cost of unreformed public services. Massive top-down state monopolies cost more and deliver less, so we need to improve the running of public services through more choice, competition and non-state collective provision.

“And third, the cost of bureaucracy itself. All bureaucracies have an inbuilt tendency to grow, so we need to call a halt to the wasteful spending and inefficiency we’ve seen under Labour.

“But that’s not about some one-off efficiency drive, it’s about a whole new method of government that’s careful, not casual, with public money.

“That is our strategy. It learns the lessons from Labour’s failure to control public spending. It’s based on simple Conservative principles of good housekeeping. And it avoids easy answers in favour of commitments that we know we can deliver.


“The first and most obvious mistake Labour have made it when it comes to public spending and taxpayer value is their acceptance of government waste. It’s clear that we now have in power in this country a bunch of Labour politicians who are just shockingly casual about public money and how it’s spent.

“£20 billion wasted on an NHS computer that still isn’t working properly.

£2.3 billion spent refurbishing the offices of MOD civil servants.

And in one year alone nearly £2 billion of tax credits lost due to fraud and error.

“These are outrageous examples of a spendaholic culture in government a culture that is the public sector equivalent of the reckless, debt-fuelled spending spree that Gordon Brown’s policies have encouraged in the private sector. The level of government waste in our country today is evidence of an out-of-touch political elite who have forgotten whose money it is they’re spending. Ministers who get in their offices and think ‘great, now how can I spend lots of money.’ People who have become so accepting of government waste that they assume it’s just part of the job and that anyone who objects must be calling for “cuts.” But Labour’s mistakes on public spending go far deeper than their casual tolerance of government waste.


“I believe that a much more important factor than the waste is the superficiality of Gordon Brown’s political thinking.

“Let me explain how I see it. Contrary to the fashionable view today, I think the Prime Minister has always been rather good at political communication. He was the one who wrote New Labour’s soundbites – “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”; “social justice combined with economic efficiency.” He even used to talk about “cutting the bills of social failure.”

“But he has never developed a clear set of political ideas, or a clear political strategy, for achieving the aims expressed by the soundbites. Brown has been good at talking, lousy at delivering. He can tell you what he wants to achieve, but not how he’s going to achieve it. That’s why people are getting so angry now.

“They were promised national renewal, and ended up with very little of substance being achieved at all.

“And so we see today a government with absolutely no coherent plan for tackling our country’s deep-seated social problems – in particular the devastating rise in family breakdown and absolutely no coherent plan for reforming public services in order to make sure they deliver value for taxpayers’ money.

“One minute it’s local accountability for policing, the next it’s a whole new set of top-down targets. One minute it’s a constitution for NHS independence, the next it’s a top-down plan for closing GP surgeries and replacing them with polyclinics. One minute it’s school reform…the next it’s putting LEAs back in the driving seat.

“And with Ed Balls using his job to promote his leadership credentials to the Labour left, it’s just a non-stop series of moves to block and reverse school reform, and to increase state control of education.

“The Prime Minister’s draft Queen’s Speech last week set out his legislative agenda more or less right up to the next election. That’s it. There’s nothing more to come.

“Anyone looking for serious reform, especially in those crucial areas of school reform, welfare reform and strengthening families the areas that can make the biggest difference to our society now knows that as far as this Prime Minister is concerned, the cupboard is bare.


“Our positive alternative is based on three clear principles – principles of good housekeeping applied to the nation’s finances.

“These principles matter because when it comes to these big questions of tax and spending, in many ways the nitty-gritty questions that are at the heart of politics people don’t just want some technocratic explanation of projected shares of GDP.

“They want to know where you’re coming from. What your basic attitude is. Why it would make a difference to have a new set of ministers sitting in those offices making those decisions.

“So here’s what we’re about. This is our attitude, and this is why we would be different.

“First of all, we understand that you can’t get decent quality on the cheap. We will give public services the proper funding they need so that everyone in the country can have access to the services they need. As I’ve said before: no ifs, no buts, no opt-outs.

“Second, we understand that when ministers and officials spend money, it is taxpayers’ money, not government money.

“We will be careful with it, not casual. We will expect to be judged on a clear basis: if you’re taking people’s hard-earned money away from them you’d better be able to show that you’re spending it on what people want and that you can get better value for that money than they could.

“And our third principle is the need for long-term tax reduction. As George and I have said repeatedly, we believe in low taxes – because we believe low taxes are both morally right and economically efficient. But as we have also said, we will never trick people into voting for us with promises of tax cuts that cannot responsibly be delivered, or that cannot be sustained.

“We are the party of low taxes for the long term, not tax cut promises for the short term. That is why we are setting out our long-term strategy today. When it comes to tax and spending, it is tempting for politicians to make simplistic promises and to give easy answers to difficult questions. I know there are people who want us to do just that today, and I’d like to explain why I don’t think that would be right.


“We all know that the easiest thing in the world is for an opposition party to stand up at an event like this and blithely talk about all the efficiency savings we will make in government how we will streamline public spending, how we can close tax loopholes, how we can move towards a bright future of less spending and less tax with a few well-chosen cuts that miraculously deliver substantial savings without harming public service delivery at all.

“It is a well-trodden path by opposition parties. I know – I’ve been there.

“At the last election, we produced something called the James Review. A long list of all the government functions, quangos and bureaucrats a Conservative government would cut.

“Well-intentioned – certainly. A Conservative government should always try to cut out waste and deliver value for money for taxpayers. It’s in our political DNA.

“And the James Report was a serious and impressive piece of work. But was the overall approach credible? I’m not so sure. To make a long list of efficiency savings in advance of an election; to add them up to produce a great big total; to turn that total into debt reduction, spending increases elsewhere and a tax cut…?

“People didn’t believe it, for the very good reason that controlling public spending is not about a one-off efficiency drive, it’s about a whole new culture of government.

“There is a simple fact which political historians amongst you will know very well. The government “efficiency drive” is one of the oldest tricks in the book. The trouble is, it’s nearly always just that – a trick.

“In fact it’s such a cliché, there was an episode of Yes Minister about it, called “The Economy Drive.” Ministers are summoned, officials instructed, the media prepared for sweeping savings in the running costs of government. And then, a few months down the line, the sheepish-looking ministers and officials come back and say “well actually, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as we’d hoped, Prime Minister.” Gordon Brown announced another one last week.

“Let me make it clear: I believe that driving efficiency though the government machine should be a constant administrative effort. Every business has to improve its efficiency every year, or it won’t survive. That should be a constant principle of government too

“But I do not believe in simplistic lists of cuts. In naïve over-estimations of potential savings. Or in cobbling together a big number in order to get a good headline. Making government more efficient and cutting out waste is absolutely part of our strategy for controlling public spending. But it is only a part.

“To make it the only thing in our plan would simply not be credible. The scale of the public spending crunch that is coming down the line, the scale of people’s expectations for public services, and the imperative for competitive taxes all mean that we need to think far more deeply about the role of the state if we are to live within our means in the decades ahead.

“It cannot and must not simply be about “efficiency savings.” And it must especially not be about the kind of short-term savings that in the end add to demands on the state because they undermine social value in the name of delivering economic value. Spending cuts that look efficient on a powerpoint chart but end up costing more money are just a false economy. Instead, living within our means is about taking three key steps.


“The first way in which we will control public spending is to reduce the long-term demands on the state. We need to tackle the causes of the social problems that give rise to public spending in areas like welfare and crime. That means taking forward the work that began with Iain Duncan Smith’s magnificent Policy Group report, Breakthrough Britain.

“The key areas for radical reform, and the early focus of our work in government, will be in school, reform, welfare reform, and strengthening families.

“We have already published: Policy Green Papers on school reform and welfare reform, and some of our thinking on making Britain more family-friendly. And the next stage in our work on strengthening families will be published within the next few weeks. If we get these three things right: school reform, welfare reform and strengthening families, then I believe we will make serious progress in tackling these deep social problems that have caused so much pain, and cost so much money, for so long.

“But we will also be developing policy beyond the immediate focus areas of schools, welfare and families to address the complex and interconnected problems Iain and his team identified in his report, From drugs to debt; from children in care to people with disabilities.


“The second way in which we will control public spending is by carrying out the work that was the great missed opportunity of the Blair and Brown years – proper public service reform. Unlike the Labour Party, there is no internal feud or ideological war preventing us from carrying out the reforms that everyone knows are needed.

“As Nick Herbert set out in a superb speech last week, there is now a distinctive modern Conservative approach to public service reform, based on clear thinking about how we can give power over services to those who use them.

“Where services are individually consumed we will transfer power over those services to individual people, giving them a choice between competing providers.

“And where services are collectively consumed, we will transfer power over those services to the lowest practical tier of government, opening up provision to social enterprises, private companies and community organisations.

“For us, public service reform is about choice and voice – bringing greater accountability to the provision of public services, so the power relationship is not top-down – from Whitehall to public services but side to side – a new relationship between the professionals who deliver public services and the public, who pay for them and use them.

“So in education we will end the state monopoly and allow new schools to be set up by a wide range of expert organisations, giving parents real school choice for the first time. In the NHS we will get rid of the top-down political micromanagement and put the power in the hands of patients, who can choose the GP who they think will get the most out of the NHS on their behalf. And in prisons and probation we will empower the local managers – and pay them by results.


“The third component of our strategy is cut out waste and make government more efficient. That is one of the principal responsibilities of Francis Maude and his implementation team. This is a really significant commitment for us.

“Normally, political parties would only devote resources to the things that directly help them win an election. But we don’t just want to win – we want to know exactly what we’ll do when we’ve won.

“So Francis and his team will be looking at government efficiency right across the board: procurement, staffing, structures – everything you would expect from a modern, professional and businesslike operation.

“We are using the best private sector expertise to find ways to save taxpayers’ money and improve service delivery. But I do not believe that it’s enough to just stand here and make promises about efficiency. I believe we need to create additional pressure on ourselves – and that’s why I believe transparency in public spending is an absolutely vital part of this.

“If we can show people exactly how their money is being spent, that will leave no hiding place for waste and inefficiency. It will shame ministers and officials into spending public money wisely.

“And in this post-bureaucratic age, the information revolution makes such detailed accountability possible for the first time. That’s why last year, we introduced a Bill in Parliament to force the government to list on a public, easily searchable website, every item of public spending over £25,000.

“Unsurprisingly, Labour blocked it – but I can promise you that this will be one of the first innovations of a Conservative Government.

“And I can also announce that we will shortly be launching an online whistleblower service, so that people who work in the public sector can tell our Implementation Team about the waste and inefficiency they would like us to change.


“So that is our three-part strategy for controlling public spending: reducing the long-term demands on the state; reforming public services, and making the public sector more efficient and transparent. Britain needs this strategy because under Labour, Britain is on the wrong path.

“They have splashed the cash like there’s no tomorrow – but the trouble is, there is a tomorrow, and it’s got to be paid for.

“Unless we make big changes, we’re heading for a future as a high-tax, uncompetitive backwater with soaring social costs and a falling quality of life. To avoid that future, while fulfilling the essential requirements of modern government, we will need to put into action those good Conservative principles of good housekeeping.

“And then we can look forward to a very different future: a low tax, competitive economy, with a high quality of life and the opportunity for everyone to make something of their life. It used to be said that “good food costs less at Sainsbury’s.” Well I want good services to cost less with the Conservatives. That’s why it’s so vital that we have a serious plan for living within our means.