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October 8, 2010

Britain must ‘pull together’ in face of cuts: PM


October 8, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom: Prime Minister David Cameron urged Britons on Wednesday to “pull together” ahead of stinging public sector cuts, adding that there was no other way to firm up the economy.
In his first speech as premier to his Conservative party’s annual conference, Cameron acknowledged Britons were “anxious” about the cuts, full details of which will be unveiled on October 20.
But he voiced optimism that the nation could handle the tough times ahead, echoing the World War I rallying call: “Your country needs you.”
“I wish there was another way. I wish there was an easier way. But I have to tell you: there is no other responsible way,” Cameron told the audience in Birmingham, central England.
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which took power in May, inherited a record deficit of 154.7 billion pounds (188 billion euros, 242 billion dollars) from the defeated Labour government led by Gordon Brown.
To tackle this, Cameron’s government is proposing spending cuts which will average around 25 percent over four years in many departments.
Cameron said the “nightmare” of what had happened in other European countries like Greece had been averted in Britain, which emerged from recession at the end of last year. And he painted a picture of a brighter future.
“I promise you that if we pull together to deal with these debts today, then just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country,” he said.
He also spoke of how his signature vision of a “big society” in which citizens play a bigger role in sectors like education and community projects could help shape a better future.
“Don’t let the cynics say this is some unachievable, impossible dream that won’t work in the selfish 21st Century,” he said.
“Come on: let’s pull together. Let’s come together. Let’s work together in the national interest.”
Elsewhere in the speech, Cameron spoke of

Britain’s role in the war in Afghanistan, where it has nearly 10,000 troops, the second-largest contingent after the United States.
He said Britain was not there “to build a perfect democracy” but because of “hard-headed national security pure and simple.”
Cameron made the comments hours after his Defence Secretary Liam Fox acknowledged cuts were likely in his ministry’s budget because of the “ghastly truth” of the economic situation, ahead of a defence review on October 18.
Fox had previously made clear his unhappiness at the cuts, in a leaked letter to Cameron.
The premier’s speech watched by his wife Samantha lasted under an hour and drew the traditional standing ovation from party activists.
But the mood at the Conservatives’ first conference since returning to power after 13 years appeared to be muted, with activists concerned that Cameron’s current popularity could start to dip when the cuts kick in from next April.

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