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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 April 2006, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Cameron urges rapid party change
David Cameron
David Cameron has called for rapid changes in the Conservative Party, in his first conference speech as leader.

He told delegates at its spring gathering in Manchester that change must be "faster, wider and deeper".

Mr Cameron said Britain desperately needs a Tory Party "ready to tackle the big changes" the country faces.

He said the party had a "massive mountain to climb" to win the next election. Labour dismissed Mr Cameron as "all talk and no action".

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: "David Cameron cannot continue going month after month without saying anything of substance.

"For example, he talks about cities but offers nothing to show that he has learnt any of the lessons of Tory failure."

Mr Prescott added: "Warm words from David Cameron cannot wipe out the memories of 18 years of Tory government that left a legacy in our towns and cities of homelessness, repossessions and mass unemployment."

'Change in direction'

In his keynote speech, Mr Cameron said the Conservatives were "the party of the future" in contrast to Labour, who he described as "tired and weary" and the Liberal Democrats, who he said were "muddled and dreary".

The Tory leader said the UK needed a "change in direction", adding that "Labour don't have the answers to the great challenges we face as a country".

He said that the need to demonstrate real change refers to every aspect of how the party "behaves" - involving the selection of candidates, decisions made in local government and the issues and causes the party chooses to champion.

Come with me and show me you can do it - come with me and show them we can do it
David Cameron

"We can't afford to waste time going slow on changing our party so now is not the time to put our foot on the brake. Now is the time to press on the accelerator," said Mr Cameron.

The Conservative leader referred to a number of issues which he felt were of particular concern - most notably education, housing, pensions and the environment.

Regarding education, Mr Cameron said the party needed to "get education right for everyone".

"We must become the party not of excellence for the few, but a first class local school for everyone," he said.

And, similarly, he said there was a need to end the "new housing apartheid in Britain".

'Changing our party'

He said there was a division "between those who already own their own homes and those young people who look at their salaries, then look at house prices and fear they will never achieve that dream".

In order to combat this problem, the Tory leader called for more starter homes and more shared ownership schemes.

Mr Cameron ended his speech, by offering party members "the chance to be part of great change".

"Come with me and show me you can do it. Come with me and show them we can do it.

"Changing our party - changing our country. The fire of hope burning bright once again," he said, to rapturous applause.

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