Conservative Party Conference: David Cameron Tells Voters It Takes Two

"Your country needs you," the Prime Minister declared, as he insisted that the Coalition could only deal with the "disaster" inherited from Labour with the help of the public. In what he described as a "call to arms", Mr Cameron repeatedly invoked his vision of the Big Society, claiming that by working together, the nation would share future rewards. "Yes, we can play our part, but the part you play will mean even more," he said. "It takes two to build that strong economy. This is your country. It's time to believe it. It's time to step up and own it." Mr Cameron used his speech – the first by a Conservative Prime Minister to party conference for 14 years – to urge people to take responsibility for making Britain better. His 52-minute address took inspiration from sources as varied as Lord Kitchener, John F Kennedy and Marvin Gaye, who sang It Takes Two – the music which accompanied Mr Cameron off the stage. The Prime Minister was forced to devote a substantial section to the difficulties facing the country as it struggles with the "catastrophic" deficit left by Labour. At the end of a conference week dominated by controversy over the decision to cut child benefit for higher-rate taxpayers, penalising stay-at-home mothers, Mr Cameron also admitted that there were many difficult decisions still to come. But he maintained that the wealthier should be made to pay more, because "those with broader shoulders should bear a greater load." A fair society was one in which money was given to the poorest, he said. In an attempt to appease middle class voters angered by the child benefit cut, he warned benefit claimants that languishing on the dole if they could work was no longer an option. "Fairness means giving people what they deserve – and what people deserve depends on how they behave," he said. Mr Cameron's speech offered some optimistic notes, however.