UK Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservatives David Cameron has delivered his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham; the final Conservative Party conference before the general election in May 2015.
Speaking for just under an hour, Cameron outlined the Conservative Party’s plans if they are to return to power in 2015. A significant body of the speech was dedicated to tax-cuts, as Cameron said that his party would raise the tax-free allowance from £10,500 to £12,500 by 2020; a policy perceived to appeal to traditional Labour voters. Additionally, the Prime Minister has promised a tax break for middle-income households, under plans for the 40p income tax threshold to be raised from £41,900 to £50,000, also by 2020.
As expected, Cameron announced that a Conservative government would ring-fence the NHS budget in real terms, whilst asserting that the delivery of a successful health service was closely tied to strong economic performance. The announcement has been viewed by some as a direct response to Labour’s efforts to increase the political profile of the NHS in the run up to May, as Cameron is unwilling to concede that labour have dominance over the current debates in healthcare policy. Making impassioned references to his own family’s experiences of the NHS, and echoing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative leader accused Labour of “spreading complete and utter lies”.
Cameron promised to continue reform of the education sector, presenting his party as one unafraid to “take on those who get in the way of high standards”. This included emphasising the freedom to set up schools independent from state control; a reference to former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s controversial Free Schools programme. On constitutional reform, Cameron pledges to deliver on the issue of “English votes for English laws”, following the recent ‘No’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum, which he described as “one of the greatest shows of democracy the world has ever seen”.
On the European Union, the Prime Minister reiterated that desire for greater immigration control measures would be at the heart of his EU negotiation strategy. He added that the Conservatives would look to scrap the Human Rights Act, replacing it with a British bill of rights.
Cameron finished by urging delegate to “make Britain proud again”, achieved through delivering a Conservative majority in 2015, and warned against ignoring his track-record in office and returning to “square one” in the form of Labour government.