I back opportunity for all, says David Cameron

Conservative leader David Cameron will paint himself as champion of industry in key conference speech

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron will paint himself as the champion of British business in his speech to the Conservative conference today - and pledge to create a “land of opportunity” where people from every walk of life have the chance to succeed.

The speech, at the Tory conference in Manchester, is designed to highlight Mr Cameron’s backing for industry in stark contrast to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s speech last week, which critics have portrayed as an attack on business.

Mr Cameron will argue that successful employers “get wages in people’s pockets, food on their tables, hope for their families and success for our country”.

It follows the Labour leader’s speech last week which included the announcement of plans to freeze fuel bills, reverse a planned cut in corporation tax and confiscate land owned by developers which is going unused – all measures which opponents have branded anti-business.

Mr Cameron will say: “Profit, wealth creation, tax cuts, enterprise – these are not dirty, elitist words, they’re not the problem. They really are the solution because it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s business.”

But he will also insist that a Conservative government would use a strong economy “to make this country, at long last and for the first time ever, a land of opportunity for all.

“So it makes no difference whether you live in the North or the South, whether you’re black or you’re white, a man or a woman, the school you went to, the background you have, who your parents were . . . what matters is the effort you put in, and if you put in the effort you’ll have the chance to make it.”

The speech will include a strong defence of the Government’s plans to build a new high speed north-south rail line, which the Prime Minister sees as a symbol of his determination to ensure the Midlands and the North share in economic growth.

Mr Cameron will make the case for a majority Conservative government - able to govern without requiring a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats - arguing that Britain requires “a strong government with a clear mandate, that is accountable for what it promises” in order to “finish the job” of fixing the economy.

This is a theme that Conservatives are likely to return to repeatedly as the next election draws closer.

But he will say that the Government’s aim is not simply to return to the days before the banking crisis hit, but to “build something better”.

The Prime Minister will say: “In place of the casino economy, one where people who work hard can actually get on.

“In place of the welfare society, one where no individual is written off.

“In place of the broken education system, one that gives every child the chance to rise up and succeed.”

In contrast to the party leaders’ speeches at the Lib Dem and Labour conferences, there will be no new policy announcements.

Officials highlighted announcements made earlier in the week, including bringing forward the “help to buy” scheme to make it easier to obtain a mortgage, freezing fuel duty, extending GP surgery opening hours and making the long-term unemployed work for benefits.

In announcements yesterday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed that the health regulator is to be placed on an independent footing similar to the Bank of England to take hospital inspections out of the hands of politicians – and help prevent a repeat of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

He told Tory activists the Government would start legislating next week to make the Care Quality Commission (CQC) independent to ensure it can be the “nation’s chief whistleblower” in hospitals.

It means the watchdog not have to seek the approval of Whitehall before launching a probe into a hospital or care home.

Mr Hunt said the change was needed because the last Labour government attempted to cover up failings in the nation’s hospitals.

He said: “Today I can announce a major reform that will stop politicians ever attempting to suppress or cover up poor care again.

“As soon as Parliament returns we will legislate to give the quality watchdog the statutory independence it so badly lacked under Labour.”

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