Cameron calls for 'less-selfish' Britain to embrace deep cuts
Published 07/10/2010 | 05:00
David Cameron has asked the British people to help him create a better, richer, happier nation, declaring: "Your country needs you."
Addressing the Conservative conference for the first time as prime minister, Mr Cameron urged people to "pull together, come together", and said that the controversial measures in the coalition's plan to cut the deficit would be worth it.
Deep and painful cuts in public spending would create a country that was "moving forwards once again", he said.
Mr Cameron said: "We need to change the way we think about ourselves, and our role in society. Your country needs you."
In a speech largely free of detailed policy announcements, Mr Cameron defended his government's plans as fair and responsible.
In a hint that the coalition would try to reduce taxes before the next election, Mr Cameron said that in "just a few years" a rebalanced UK economy would mean people had "more money in your pocket".
Some economists have said the plans for more than £120bn (€137bn) of cuts and tax rises over four years goes too far and could choke off economic growth.
But Mr Cameron said: "It's right to deal with this problem now, and right to deal with it properly.
"I promise you that if we pull together to deal with these debts today, then just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country.
"More money in your pocket. More investment in our businesses. Growing industries, better jobs, stronger prospects for our young people."
Mr Cameron also defended recent moves to cut child benefit for higher earners, and signalled that the better-off would suffer more cuts.
He said: "As we work to balance the budget, fairness includes asking those on higher incomes to shoulder more of the burden."
He also expanded on his Big Society theme, pledging to make Britain a less selfish country.
"We can build a country defined not by the selfishness of the Labour years but by the values of mutual responsibility that this party holds dear. A country defined not by what we consume but by what we contribute," he said.
He said help for the poorest was the sign of a "civilised society" -- but added that the coalition was determined to help people out of poverty rather than leave them dependent on the state.
Mr Cameron said Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms would show the government was on the side of single mothers who wanted to work and ensure that people would be better off for getting a job.
"If you really cannot work, we'll look after you. But if you can work, but refuse to work, we will not let you live off the hard work of others."
Mr Cameron also delighted Conservative activists with repeated condemnation of the last Labour government, blaming it for the country's economic, social and political problems. (© Daily Telegraph, London)