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Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 11:55 UK
Cameron 'ready to offer UK change'

By Dave Howard
Newsbeat politics reporter

David Cameron addressing the conference
David Cameron said he wanted to show he could run the country.

When Newsbeat listeners grilled David Cameron in a Cornwall cafe in the summer they wanted to know what he'd do about immigration and knife crime, if he drank booze when he was too young and why he was so keen on people getting married.

People also asked if he was too posh to understand the needs of ordinary families.

And Lauren - a single mum-of-two from Kent - reckoned he was "a bit smug".

The prime minister also dealt David Cameron a big blow last week by saying the country would suffer if "a novice" was in charge.

So, in his big speech on Wednesday, the Tory leader wanted to show how capable he was.

He wore a dark suit and a navy blue tie. He spoke from behind a podium, rather than freestyling on a stage like he's done in the past.

In the hour and four minutes of his speech, he used the word "responsibility" 19 times.

And, in a direct shot at the PM, he said: "We don't need more of the same. We need change. 'Experience' is what they always say when they want to stop change."

Nothing for granted

These days, many people say he's a dead-cert to be the next prime minister, but he doesn't want people to think he's big-headed, so he says he's taking nothing for granted.

Cameron's speech print-out
'Responsibility' appeared 19 times in the Tory leader's speech.

He said: "You cannot prove you're ready to be prime minister and it would be arrogant to pretend you can."

There are a lot of worries about the economy at the moment and David Cameron's people admit that he had to tear up parts of his speech and re-write them because things were changing so quickly.

In the last few days, he's promised to back up his rival, PM Gordon Brown, as he tries to steer the country through the economic crisis.

So it was hard for him to attack the prime minister after this show of public unity.

But he was still keen to show people that he's the better man to run the country.

He said he had "the character to stick to your guns and not bottle it when times get tough. The judgment to understand the mistakes that have been made and to offer the country change."

Respect for Forces

There was stuff too on the armed forces and on tackling knife crime.

He said it was an outrage that British soldiers had been sent to war without proper kit.

David Cameron and his wife Samantha
David Cameron enjoys the appluase with his wife Samantha.

And on youth crime he said: "Adults have a proper role - a responsibility - to uphold rules and order - not just for their own children but for other people's too."

He said: "We've got businesses in our country that instead of welcoming people in military uniform and honouring their service choose to turn them away and refuse them service. That is all wrong and we are going to put it right."

For the most part it was a serious, sober-sounding speech - to drive home that message that he's a serious contender for the job of running the country.

But, there was at least one lighter bit - when he said he goes to bed with an entrepreneur every night.

He paused for effect, and then added "I wake up with the same one every morning. She's my wife, Samantha."

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