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Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 19:27 UK

Cameron launches Tory campaign with 'hope' message

David Cameron: "I don't think Labour are going to have very much positive to say"

David Cameron has launched the Conservatives' election campaign with a message of "hope, optimism and change".

The Tory leader told activists in central London the general election, on 6 May, is going to be the most important for a generation.

He said that voters would be deciding on the future of the economy, society and the country.

And he added: "This country deserves a lot better than five more years of Gordon Brown."

"It's the most important general election for a generation. It comes down to this. You don't have to put up with another five years of Gordon Brown."

'The great ignored'

Against the backdrop of Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, Mr Cameron was cheered by supporters as he urged them to tell voters there is "a modern Conservative alternative that is about voting for hope, voting for optimism, voting for change".

Mr Cameron added: "So let's get out there and say 'Let's get off this road to ruin and instead get on the path to prosperity and progress.

"Let's fight for what we believe in. Let's take the case to the country, to the people of this country, about hope, optimism and change.

"And let's win this election for the good of the country that we love."

Mr Cameron said he was fighting the election for "the great ignored".

I believe there can be real change if we win this election, because our plans are going to be exciting, our plans are going to be radical
David Cameron

"They work hard, they set up businesses, they work in factories, they teach our children, they keep our streets safe, they obey the law and they their pay taxes," he said.

"They do the right thing. They are the honest, hard-working people of our country and they are desperate to know that in this great country we can still achieve great things."

Setting out his "Big Society" proposals to devolve power to ordinary citizens and communities, Mr Cameron said the election should be about "people power".

He said Britain needed "a new economic model" following "the biggest boom and bust for a generation",

And he promised a Conservative government would work to make people feel proud of Parliament again, following the expenses scandal.

It would "shake things up" by reforming the House of Commons, scrapping ID cards, abolishing regional assemblies, cutting and then freezing ministerial pay and slashing "out-of-control" bureaucracy, he said.

"I believe there can be real change if we win this election, because our plans are going to be exciting, our plans are going to be radical - not just a new set of policies, not just a new set of politicians, but a whole different way of doing things in this country," said Mr Cameron.

NHS priority

He has started his election campaign with a visit to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in a bid to illustrate the party's commitment to the NHS.

Outside the hospital he told the BBC: "It's my number one priority, it did amazing things for my family."

At an evening rally in Leeds, Mr Cameron said the Tories would win the "big economic arguments" during the campaign, describing Labour's planned National Insurance (NI) tax increase as "crazy".

Three more businessmen have added their names to a list of corporate bosses backing the Conservatives' pledge to scrap part of the NI rise, on top of the more than 30 who have already done so.

Labour says the Tories have not explained how they will pay for this and suggested they will have to increase VAT instead.

During his appearance in Leeds, the Tory leader said his party would back people whether they are "gay or straight", a reference which was omitted in his earlier speech in London.

The Conservatives - who have faced criticism about their attitude to equal rights following recent comments by shadow home secretary Chris Grayling about the rights of B&B owners to turn away gay customers - said the omission had been a simple mistake.

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