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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2007, 20:50 GMT 21:50 UK
Cameron pledges Tory 'fight-back'
David Cameron
David Cameron has brushed off negative polls

David Cameron has rallied the Tory party to "mount the great Conservative fight-back" against Labour.

At the first day of the Conservative conference, he said the fight-back would be based on "clear policies", "clear direction" and "clear choice".

Mr Cameron urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to call a snap election, saying he believed the Tories could win.

He said the choice was between "failure from Labour or real change from the Conservative Party".

'Huge challenge'

Addressing the conference via video-link, governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Mr Cameron's leadership, especially on the environment.

"By being a strong and forceful voice on climate change, David Cameron has revived your Conservative Party's green heritage and helped strengthen Britain's resolve and set an example on this issue," he said.

Mr Cameron earlier told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show that Mr Brown needed to call an election to get a mandate to be PM.

The Tory leader admitted the poll would be a "huge challenge" but said the party was ready, adding: "We can win."

But Tory MP John Bercow - who has agreed to advise Mr Brown on children's learning difficulties - warned Mr Cameron not to heed the advice of traditionalists urging him to move the party to the right.

Writing in the Independent, Mr Bercow said: "This approach has failed before and it will fail again."

The party conference got under way with a pledge to abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers of homes under 250,000.

There will also be proposals for new green taxes - including an Air Pollution Duty on airlines - which would help fund cuts in family taxes, Mr Cameron said.

We can all play the game of quoting polls, why not find out in a real general election. I tell you, I really want it
David Cameron
Conservative leader

The conference would be about "giving people more opportunity, power and control over their lives", he added.

He brushed off a Sunday newspaper poll suggesting an 11 point Labour lead, saying he believed Mr Brown "has left it wide open".

"We can all play the game of quoting polls, why not find out in a real general election. I tell you, I really want it."

Parliamentary gains

Mr Cameron said the Airline Pollution Duty - which sees the flight taxed rather than passengers - would discourage flights with few passengers on board.

The new policy announcements are also expected to include tax breaks for parents who live together, worth up to 2,000 a year.

Clearly they're thinking in the Labour Party that if they don't have an election soon, then Brown will be rumbled, and people will be fed up with him in very short order
William Hague
Shadow foreign secretary

The measure would be funded by a crackdown on benefits claimants who turn down jobs.

Mr Cameron said that the Conservatives would end the "couple penalty" in the tax credit system which left parents living apart better off than if they lived together.

They would also use the tax system to send a positive signal about the importance of marriage.

The government has dismissed many of the policies, saying Mr Cameron has to explain how the ideas are going to be paid for.

'Rumbled'

Labour has been enjoying an opinion polls lead since Mr Brown took over as prime minister in June.

David and Samantha Cameron
David Cameron and his wife Samantha in Blackpool

Both Mr Cameron and Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell have accused Mr Brown - who can wait until May 2010 to call an election if he wants - of "dithering".

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague opened the conference by pouring scorn on Mr Brown's "old politics" and saying he was to blame for crises on prisons, pensions and the health service.

He said: "Clearly he [Gordon Brown] calculates he can pretend to be a new government, but he is the old government and after ten years of failure and disappointment he cannot be the change the country needs."

'Very encouraged'

MP for Southend West David Amess, said it was time for Mr Cameron to go on the attack.

"Forget about worrying about all the new initiatives, etc., just go for the government good and proper," he said.

"Everyone you speak to is totally dissatisfied with law enforcement. They [Labour] spent huge money on the health service, people again are dissatisfied with that and likewise in education."

Shadow chancellor George Osborne told Sky News the country was "crying out for change" and said that if Mr Brown did not now call an election he would have "bottled it".

An Ipsos/Mori poll for the Observer suggests 60% of voters thought Mr Brown was best able to handle a crisis with 13% for Mr Cameron.

An earlier YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph gave Labour an 11-point lead on 43%, with the Conservatives on 32% and the Liberal Democrats on 15%.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Arnold Schwarzenegger praises David Cameron



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