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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 sweep away what he termed Prime Minister Tony Blair's arrogant politics, promising to offer greater accountability to voters who have handed his party three straight election defeats.
The 39-year-old leader, closing his first annual 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 aimed to prove he was fit to win office at the next national election, expected in 2009.
Cameron 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.
Cameron, appointed leader in December after pledging to reform his right-leaning party, also said a future Conservative government would seek to draw together British communities divided by religion or race.
He said it was intolerable to have "communities where people from different ethnic origins never meet, never talk, never go into each others' homes."
Cameron said all immigrants to Briton should be required to speak English.
He also pledged to 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.
The leader also 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.
"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."
Cameron also rejected a charge that he had caused offense by criticizing Britain's relationship with the United States in a speech delivered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
"Questioning the approach of the U.S. administration, trying to learn the lessons of the past five years, does not make you anti-American," Cameron said.
Cameron also told delegates he hoped to encourage marriage and family stability, with aid to reduce the costs of child care and to overhaul Britain's civil liberty laws.


Updated : 2021-04-18 17:15 GMT+08:00