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Britain's Cameron pledges to make support for health services his key policy

Britain's Cameron pledges to make support for health services his key policy

Opposition Conservative leader David Cameron pledged Wednesday to end what he called the arrogant leadership of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, promising to bring more accountability to government.
The 39-year-old, closing his first annual party conference as leader, compared himself directly to his chief political opponent, recalling Blair's rise to become Labour leader in 1994.
"Twelve years ago, there was an energetic young party leader," he said. "People voted for him, but he let them down."
Cameron has used the four-day conference to move his party toward the political center ground, pledging to maintain high investment in schools and hospitals and rejecting calls for a return to a traditional tax-cutting agenda.
The leader, who wore a red tie _ the color of Blair's Labour _ said he did not expect voters "to jump from Labour straight into our arms," but hoped to prove he was fit to win office at the next national election, expected in 2009.
Cameron also criticized Blair's informal style of politics, saying too many key decisions had been made on the sofa of the prime minister's office, instead of at formal government meetings.
"We have got to end this arrogant and unaccountable style of government in Britain," Cameron said.
The leader, appointed in December after pledging to reform his right-leaning party, said he would place help for Britain's national health service at the heart of his future election platform.
"When your family relies on the NHS (National Health Service) all the time _ day after day, night after night _ you know how precious it is," Cameron said.
Cameron's 4-year-old son Ivan has a rare condition combining cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and requiring 24-hour medical care, party officials said.
"We will never jeopardize the NHS by cutting its funding, but we will make sure the money is well spent," Cameron said.
He said Blair had mishandled record levels of health spending, saying billions had been wasted on poorly performing computer systems and unnecessary increases in management.
Cameron used his speech to tackle nagging doubts among restive right-wing elements of his party.
Some stalwarts have accused Cameron of abandoning key party commitments to low taxes, small government and skepticism of European integration in his attempt to woo moderate voters.
Critics have also accused the leader of failing to outline a clear set of legislative ideas, saying he has prioritized presentational gimmicks _ such as changing the party's logo _ ahead of policy.
Cameron said he would await the findings of a series of internal review groups before setting out in detail his manifesto to defeat governing Labour in a national election expected in 2009.
"Substance is not about a 10-point plan, it is about deeper things than that," Cameron said. "It is about taking time to think things through, not trotting out easy answers."


Updated : 2021-03-07 08:02 GMT+08:00