Cameron promises to retake centre ground

DAVID Cameron today bluntly told the Tory Party that the only way it would prosper and win a general election was for it to move back to the centre ground of British politics.

By Graham Dines

DAVID Cameron today bluntly told the Tory Party that the only way it would prosper and win a general election was for it to move back to the centre ground of British politics.

Sweeping aside calls from the right wing of the party to promise tax cuts, Mr Cameron said Conservatives had to accept that the electorate wanted a party which promoted and promised social responsibility.

On the opening day of the annual conference in Bournemouth - his first since being elected leader 10 months ago - Mr Cameron praised Margaret Thatcher for delivering what the people wanted in 1979 - a Government to tame the unions, rescue the economy, and restore Britain's pride.


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“Today, people want different things. The priorities are different - safer streets, schools that teach, a better quality of life, better treatment for carers. That's what people are talking about today.”

But these would not be achieved in the Tories pulled policies of out of a hat. In the first of two conference speeches scheduled this week, Mr Cameron said: “How superficial, how insubstantial it would be, for us to make up policies to meet the pressures of the moment.

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“Policy without principle is like a house without foundations - it will not stand the test of time.

“And we must think the long-term,” said Mr Cameron.

“So let us stick to the plan. Let us build - carefully, honestly, patiently, a new house together, preparing the ground as we move to the centre, addressing the priorities in people's lives.

“Our party's history tells us the ground on which political success is built. It is the centre ground. The centre ground is where you find the concerns, the hopes and the dreams of most people and families in this country.”

He said the Conservatives under his leadership wanted to build a Britain that “is more green, more family friendly, and with more local control over the things that matter.”

The only way to do that was to promote an opportunity society, not an overpowering state. The conference this week would demonstrate that the Tory vision was of a Britain “inspired by a new spirit of social responsibility.”

He made one specific promise - a future Conservative government would scrap Labour's promised identity cards. “ID cards are wrong, they're a waste of money.”

And he warned: “You cannot shape the future if you're stuck in the past.”

He urged the country to accept the optimism of the Tories and reject the pessimism of Labour, which meant Tony Blair had never trusted the British people to take responsibility for their own actions.

“Let optimism beat pessimism. Let sunshine win the day.”

Earlier, in a clear signal to the right of his party that he would not be pushed around, Mr Cameron told the BBC's Sunday morning politics programme: “To those people who say they want tax cuts and they want them now - they can't have them.”

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