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Cameron tells Britain that it's "sink or swim; do or decline"

By Tim Montgomerie
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Birthday Cake

Photograph by Andrew Parsons of David Cameron celebrating his birthday yesterday, with William Hague, Ed Llewellyn and Oliver Letwin.

There'll be no big policy announcements in today's speech from the Prime Minister. He'll use his speech to restate his vision of modern compassionate conservatism and contrast the Conservative Party's determination to take the tough decisions with Labour's inability and unwillingness to do so. He will reject the idea that there's a choice between going right and occupying the centre ground. He will make a pitch for the common ground - arguing that it is essential to combine economic dynamism and common sense views on crime and immigration with a commitment to the NHS, pensioners and the safety-net.

A few advance extracts from David Cameron's speech, to be delivered later this morning:


"Unless we act, unless we take difficult, painful decisions, unless we show determination and imagination, Britain may not be in the future what it has been in the past. Because the truth is this. We're in a global race today. And that means an hour of reckoning for countries like ours. Sink or swim. Do or decline."


"My best moment was putting that gold medal around the neck of Ellie Simmonds. And I am so grateful for what all those Paralympians did. When I used to push my son Ivan around in his wheelchair, I always thought that some people saw the wheelchair, not the boy. Today more people would see the boy and not the wheelchair - and that's because of what happened here this summer."


"My mission from the day I became leader was, yes, to show the Conservative party is for everyone: North or South, black or white, straight or gay. But above all- to show that Conservative methods are not just the way we grow a strong economy, but the way we build a big society. That Conservative methods are not just good for the strong and the successful but the best way to help the poor, and the weak, and the vulnerable. Because it's not enough to know our ideas are right. We've got to explain why they are compassionate too."


"It's only when your dad's gone that you realise - not just how much you really miss them - but how much you really owe them. My dad influenced me much more than I ever thought. He was born with no heels on his feet and legs about a foot shorter than they're meant to be. But he never complained - even when he lost both those legs later in life. Because disability in the 1930s was such a stigma, he was an only child. Probably a lonely child. But Dad was the eternal optimist. To him the glass was always half full. Usually with something alcoholic in it. When I was a boy I remember once going on a long walk with him in the village where we lived, passing the church he supported and the village hall where he took part in interminable parish council meetings. I asked him what he was most proud of. It was simple - working hard from the moment he left school and providing a good start in life for his family. Not just all of us, but helping his mum too, when his father ran off. Not a hard luck story, but a hard work story.

Work hard. Family comes first. But put back in the community too. There is nothing complicated about me. I believe in working hard, caring for my family and serving my country. And there is nothing complicated about what we need today. This is still the greatest country on earth. We showed that again this summer. 22nd in world population. 3rd in the medals table. But it's tough. These are difficult times. We're being tested. How will we come through it? Again, it's not complicated. Hard work. Strong families. Taking responsibility. Serving others."


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