Cameron: I'm the man with a plan



By Justin Parkinson

1653: Well, that wraps up the main party political season for another year. As the Tory troops head home from Birmingham - perhaps warmed by Mr Cameron's words, perhaps a little worried by his warnings - there is little chance for a rest. Parliament returns next week, with the first prime minister's questions taking place on Wednesday. As ever, we will be there to cover it. We look forward to you joining us.
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1640: By e-mail:"A superb speech and a light at the end of the Brown tunnel. End the spending spree, reform the benefits system, family, health, removing red tape. He's ready!" Andrew Clarke, UK
1639: By e-mail: "I don't believe this man, and I've listened very carefully." Richard Bellamy, London, UK

David Cameron
1632: Mr Cameron's speech was long and largely serious, in a conscious attempt not to appear triumphalist given the country's current difficulties. He also steered clear of his message to the 2006 conference to "let sunshine win the day". He even had a dig at Tony Blair's promise to be the "new dawn" in politics, saying that "in these difficult times we promise no new dawns, no overnight transformations". The message was that there could be hard times ahead, even if the Tories win the next election. All best summed up with his phrase: "I'm a man with a plan, not a miracle cure."

1626: Tory members at conference give the BBC News channel their reactions: "The anti-Labour rhetoric was kept to a minimum which was good" ... "He has shown he can unite the nation" ... "He was absolutely first class. He has renewed my faith in human nature. I shall go back to Scotland and fight my hardest for the party." ... "I'm the father of a five-year-old son and can now see a brighter future for my child."

1621: Former Tory leader William Hague says Mr Cameron is "far more of an all-round leader and politician than I was".

1620: Shadow cabinet office minister Francis Maude calls it the best party conference speech he has heard and says Mr Cameron is "a man who has grown and is ready to lead". Leading a party is the "best preparation" for running a country, he adds.

Iain Duncan Smith
1618: Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith says the speech was rich in policies but not a "dog's breakfast" of them, which would confuse people.

1617: Former deputy Labour leader Lord Hattersley tells BBC Two's Daily Politics that Mr Cameron's address was "terribly platitudinous", not addressing people's real concerns. Although he liked the bit about being tough on the causes of crime.

Iain Watson
1616: From Iain Watson David Cameron's demeanour was designed to demonstrate a strength of purposeż no parading around the stage, no "look no hands, I'm not reading my speech". His underlying message was that we could trust him, following the novice attack last week. Above all he made the case for change, saying that not changing direction was a bigger risk. The audience loved it.

1611: Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove says it was the "best speech" Mr Cameron has given, showing the leader "has what it takes".

Nick Robinson
1610: The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson says: "It was back to the future. He evoked the memory of Margaret Thatcher ... her values ... her words.... It's an extraordinary change from the style and substance of early David Cameron... There was the anger about taxes, bureaucracy, human rights... He is trying to say I am not the caricature of Tony Blair... We really are back in the 70s and 80s with an outsider saying I am trying to turn it round."

1608: Mr and Mrs Cameron have left the building - or the hall, at least.

David and Samantha Cameron
1607: As the dulcet tones of Bryan Ferry ring out, the couple do the traditional walkabout, shaking hands and giving waves. The voice of Jerry Hall howls in the background, as they walk through the hall. Then a roar of cheers.

1606: Samantha Cameron is on stage. Let's Stick Together by Roxy Music plays - the audience are clapping along.

1605: Mr Cameron says he is sure that "better times will lie ahead". The speech is over.

1604: The party will not "bottle it", Mr Cameron says - in contrast to the party's criticism that Gordon Brown has done this since becoming prime minister. Mr Cameron is speaking more quickly, attempting to give an image of optimism. The party is united and has fresh answers, he says.

Prolonged applause
1602: The Conservative Party has a global perspective, he says. It is ready for the "challenges that matter" and is making progress across the country, he adds. He makes the point that Boris Johnson is the first Conservative mayor of London - to the loudest audience cheers so far.

Iain Watson
1600: From Iain Watson Mention there of "progressive ends" via conservative means - it is not new language by David Cameron, but it is an attempt to occupy the centre ground and attract former Lib Dem and New Labour voters.

1559: Mr Cameron has been speaking for just about an hour now but is still going strong. He says Conservative policies can repair the broken society.

Comment from blogger
1557: From the web "Great speech so far... Love the bits from helping entrepreneurs through to the strong attack on the arrogance of Labour especially. Good words on trying to get public trust back into parliament too." Norm Brainer

1557: Welfare reform is a "full-pitched battle", he says. The benefits system encourages a benefits culture, he adds, saying those who refuse a reasonable offer of a job will lose benefits.

1555: From Iain Watson According to my count, David Cameron has mentioned "responsibility" twenty times so far

Prolonged applause
1554: A Tory government would mean a "declaration of war" against the prizes for all culture in education and "dumbing down". It gets him a big round of applause.

1551: Mr Cameron says predecessor Michael Howard was a "very kind man" for making him shadow education secretary - Howard "was a great leader of our party".

1550: He repeats the call made by his party at this week's conference for more health workers to visit families with young children, as well as help for marriage in the tax system. Iain Watson adds: This is existing policy - so far predictions of no new policies in the speech are looking spot on.

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1549: By e-mail: "Cameron's promise of a referendum on the EU treaty is enough for me. He will get my vote. How many people voted for this in the last Labour manifesto and are still waiting for it?" SV, Cambridge, UK

Iain Watson
1548: Too often state intervention fails to deal with causes of problems, Mr Cameron argues. Families need help and support, as they are "the best welfare system there is".

1548: From Iain Watson Strong emphasis on the "causes of crime" was perhaps stronger than Tony Blair's back in the 90s. Not much mention of punishment, at this stage. The audience like it.

1547: The Tory leader says there must be understanding of the causes of crime if it is to be tackled.

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1545: By e-mail: "It's largely flim-flam. He's only mentioned one policy so far - restoring the power of the BofE to limit debt." MC, Aberdeenshire, UK
"Refreshing to hear someone who genuinely seems to care about the rest of us rather than the clap-trap from Labour" David, Chatham, UK

1544: Mr Cameron repeats his argument that UK society is broken, citing gun crime and the murders of children. There is an "angry, harsh culture of incivility", he adds.

1542: Mr Cameron has been speaking for about 40 minutes. TV viewers can see cabinet heavyweights William Hague and George Osborne in the background as he delivers it. Cameron looks even more sombre as he criticises failures within the NHS and accuses Labour of having an overly bureaucratic approach and says there is a lack of dignity. "God we've got to change that," he says. He gets his biggest ovation so far.

Comment from blogger
1541: From the web "I'm not usually gushing with praise for David Cameron but so far so good. He's really succeeding in portraying himself as a statesman and a serious politician with a chance of becoming the next Prime Minister. Not spectacular stuff, but I reckon it's the best that he could deliver, given the economic circumstances." Chris Blore, Conservative blogger

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1540: By e-mail: "Perhaps David Cameron would be happy to send his child to stay with a total stranger in a foreign country. I wouldn't." TC, UK (responding to attack on need for parents to have criminal record bureau checks for school exchanges)

1538: The Tory leader reiterates the party's promise to hold a referendum on the EU Treaty. Cue more applause.

1536: It is time to sort out "broken politics", Mr Cameron says, including MPs' expenses and allowances. He adds that he has taken on vested interests within his own party, showing his "character" - which seems very much to be the theme of the speech,

1534: Mr Cameron names other possible Labour leadership contenders and says Labour, not its leaders, are at fault, for "treating people like children" - and lays into its health and safety rules.

1533: Yep, further to Iain's point - Mr Cameron said David Miliband was "arrogant" for suggesting that only the individual and state matter. The party members liked that.

1532: From Iain Watson An unexpected attack there on possible Labour leadership contender, David Miliband

1531: Cameron says he wants his government to be judged on how it runs the NHS and "mending our broken society", two themes he has spoken of repeatedly in recent months.

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1530: By e-mail:"Cameron's promises can't be kept. You can only save so much money through cutting services. Where is the rest of the money going to come from?" Paul Metcalf, Sheffield, UK

Iain Watson
1529: From Iain Watson Corporation tax cut is not a new announcement but does allow David Cameron to look like a tax cutter... very popular in the hall.

1528: The "real test" of readiness for government will be having the "grit and determination" for discipline in public spending, the Conservative leader says. In a slightly racier tone he says he admires entrepreneurs - "I go to bed with one every night" - his wife Samantha.

1526: Mr Cameron continues to lay out the case for economic competence. He says he believes in low taxes, but not in tax cuts paid for by reckless borrowing.

Iain Watson
1525: From Iain Watson Aha - he's using two Labour attacks against each other. Cameron refers to his days at the Treasury working for Norman Lamont during black Wednesday to help rebut that novice line from last week.

Prolonged applause
1523: He praises shadow chancellor George Osborne lavishly for his speech on Monday as "probably the finest" ever by someone in his position.

1523: Mr Cameron spells out that he has studied economics, worked at the Treasury during a crisis (ERM) and worked alongside entrepreneurs. He promises to rein in public borrowing under a Tory government.

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1522: By e-mail:"David Cameron is presenting himself as a statesman with gravitas - but it seems more of a PR act than anything based on reality." Margaret Mcgowan, London

Iain Watson
1521: From Iain Watson Cameron has produced his strongest criticism yet of the City... some in his ranks felt he wasn't strong enough during the B&B bail-out.

1520: Voting for him would be less of a risk than sticking with Labour, Mr Cameron says. The criticism so far of the government has been decidedly calm.

Baroness Thatcher
1519: A CAM-STAT: Of Mr Cameron's predecessors as Tory leader, he has mentioned Baroness Thatcher 23 times during 133 speeches since late 2005. Benjamin Disraeli has cropped up 13 times and John Major four.

1518: Experience is "the excuse if the incumbent down the ages", he says. James Callaghan was experienced in the 1970s but "thank God we swapped him for Margaret Thatcher", he adds. He says no change would mean Gordon Brown being in power forever.

1516: If the Tories win the next election, they will inherit a "mess" and have to do "unpopular things" to arrest decline, Mr Cameron says.

1515: He describes himself as a "child of my time", who cares about the environment and the developing world. He says he trusts his colleagues on the front bench.

1514: Mr Cameron says he supports the Union, getting his biggest round of applause yet. żI don't want to be prime minister of England but prime minister of the United Kingdom," he adds.

Iain Watson
1513: From Iain Watson Cameron is telling people where HE - not just his party - stands. In doing so he echoes Gordon Brown's more personal tone last week .

1512: The Tory leader tells members he wants to encourage responsibility, which will strengthen society. He says he "cannot prove" his readiness to be prime minister, but that he can state his case and show who he is.

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1512: By e-mail: "Good start commenting on the lack of equipment and the Gurkhas. It seems the man is actually talking about the fears people read in the papers."Nick, Kent, UK

1511: And as predicted by Iain, here it is - Mr Cameron says the mark of a government is how it behaves in a crisis. He talks of "character". This will be seen by many as a rebuttal of Gordon Brown's comment that Mr Cameron is a "novice" without the experience for running the country.

1509: From Iain Watson We now expect him to spend some time refuting Gordon Brown's charge that he is a 'novice'

1507: From Iain Watson That passage, standing up for troops gets the biggest round of applause so far.

1507: Mr Cameron says not enough is being done to supply UK troops abroad and that their families are living in sub-standard homes. "That is wrong," he adds.

1505: The tone so far is very serious and low-key. Mr Cameron praises the armed forces in Afghanistan, arguing their presence is vital to beating terrorism. He gets a strong round of applause.

Iain Watson
1505: From Iain Watson Cameron's body language is more serious - he is not parading around the stage as he did last year. His mention of "constitutional duty" is a cover for attacking Gordon Brown despite yesterday's call for consensus.

1504: The Tory leader criticises Gordon Brown's record and says the conference this week has been sober and that his party understands the situation. He thanks the shadow cabinet for making the get-together a success.

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1503: By e-mail: "Mr Cameron is a truly inspirational figure. We would all do well to pay attention to what he has to say. He puts everyone else in the shade by the power of his rhetoric."Milton, Belfast, UK

1502: As expected, the speech begins with the economy. Mr Cameron says the Tories will work with the government to prevent a repeat of what has happened in the US.

1501: Mr Cameron thanks the audience. He says everyone in the party - assembled in the BICC's symphony hall - "is playing the same tune".

1459: Here he is. David Cameron enters to a loud ovation.

1458: Mr Cameron (already a few minutes late) is in no hurry to get to the stage, it seems.

1457: The hall is jam-packed. The video is still playing

1456: The lights are dimmed. It's all very atmospheric.

1452: Community cohesion spokeswoman Sayeeda Warsi is speaking. She tells William Hague she is a fan. He responds by blowing her a kiss. And now another video. Not long to go now.

Nick Robinson
1451: Nick Robinson "I'm struggling, to be honest" on finding the best lines and steers for tonight's evening news, having just read an advanced copy of Cameron's speech.

Comment from blogger
1451: From the web "Cameron now is on the defensive on why his recipe for growth is the seed of the current financial mess. Because of this defensive line he has to take he cannot get his message out (if he's got one).M. Areu, Labour blogger

1450: The atmosphere in the hall is tense. The shadow cabinet marches in to fill those empty seats behind the lectern.

1449: BBC political editor Nick Robinson says Mr Cameron's message will be that he is not a "novice", contrary to Gordon Brown's criticism.

Iain Duncan Smith
1446: Iain Duncan Smith tells the BBC says it is time for Mr Cameron to "kick off" the party's pitch as a potential government, rather than just an opposition. He calls for an attack on Gordon Brown's performance.

1446: Not long now. Expect Mr Cameron to focus on the economy, but will Samantha Cameron do a Sarah Brown and introduce her husband? The candidates continue to traipse on to the stage to rev up the faithful.

1442: Another prospective parliamentary candidate, another young woman - this time it's Adeela Shafi, who wants to be MP for Bristol East. She tells members of her journey from Labour voter to the stage of the Tory conference. She gets a loud round of applause.

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1439: By e-mail:"Even as a life-long Conservative voter I will not listen to Cameron's "me too politics". I am still recovering from his nauseating speech yesterday. He sounded more like a schoolboy demanding he be allowed to join in. We need a strong leader for the Conservatives, not someone who is dazzled by the headlights." Bob, Bolton, UK

1438: Louise Bagshawe, the novelist-turned-prospective parliamentary candidate, is working as Mr Cameron's warm-up act. In a very on-message way she says achieving change is harder work than simply writing a happy ending - the world's bankers will probably agree.

1437: The hall is getting very full now, as the members watch a fast-moving video presentation. The bank of chairs behind where the leader will speak is still quite empty.

1436: Former Labour deputy leader Lord Hattersley tells BBC Two's Daily Politics the current economic climate means it is "not a time to make promises" on cutting public expenditure.

1435: The Tories have given themselves a good old-fashioned long lunch between the last debate and Mr Cameron's set piece. In other walks of life this might be a recipe for lethargy, but political types are nothing if not keen. The auditorium of the Birmingham International Convention Centre provides a dramatic - US party convention-style - background. The message may be sombre, but the lighting is not.
1434: Given the economic events of the last couple of weeks, the Conservatives have been looking to set a serious, businesslike tone at this conference. Expect Mr Cameron to do exactly the same during his speech. Unlike last year, he will not walk around the stage, preferring - as Gordon Brown did last week - to speak from a lectern. But surely there will be a bit of opponent-baiting to keep the party faithful happy?

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1433: By e-mail:"I hope that he will concentrate on ideas, on selling his vision of what this country should be like and what he would do to accomplish it. I don't care about HIM, it is the merit of his ideas that will gain or lose him my vote." Megan, Cheshire, UK

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1432: By e-mail:"This is a significant speech. If it goes down well then Brown has no chance at the next election.Colin Grant, Leeds, UK

1431 If you want to comment on David Cameron's performance, click here:

1429: Hello and welcome to our live coverage of leader David Cameron's speech to the Conservative Party's annual autumn conference. I'll be keeping you in touch with news and views during the build-up - and then the key parts of the speech, as well as reaction from BBC experts, pundits and the blogosphere.




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