British Prime Minister David Cameron used his hour-long keynote speech at this week’s annual Tory Party conference in Manchester to urge citizens to shake off their gloominess and “show the world some fight.”
"Frankly there's too much can't-do sogginess around,” he said, according to the Guardian. “We need a sharp, focused, can-do country" to form a foundation for new economic growth.
Britain has triumphed over adversity before, Cameron said, according to the Telegraph. "Britain never had the biggest population, the largest land mass, the richest resources – but we had the spirit," he said. "Remember it is not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.”
Static wage growth, high gasoline prices and increasing electricity costs are contributing to the pessimistic outlook in Britain, the Guardian reports.
According to the Guardian:
The attempt to offer optimism, as well as a portrait of a Tory purpose that goes wider than deficit reduction, ran the risk of appearing out of touch with the depth of economic crisis. Cameron fervently argued that Britain should not be paralyzed by gloom and fear, saying it was "possible to turn this time of challenge into a time of opportunity.”
Cameron had adjusted the tone of his speech at the last minute after business leaders reacted with dismay to an earlier draft. In the earlier version, he chastised citizens with credit card debt, the Financial Times reports. “The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households – all of us – paying off the credit card and store card bills,” pre-released excerpts of his speech said.
According to the Financial Times:
One chief executive of a FTSE retailer told the Financial Times he “couldn’t believe” that Mr. Cameron had made such remarks when consumer confidence was in such a fragile state.
“The last thing we need is for him to tell shoppers to stop spending before Christmas. People are already paying down their credit card debt, I don’t understand what he is on about.”
The comments come as household budgets are reeling under pressure from rising fuel and food prices. A number of high street stores, including Debenhams and Marks and Spencer, have been forced to stage mid-season sales to shift stock as consumers divert money they would have spent on dresses, shoes and make-up into their petrol tank.
Cameron also used his speech to shore up his compassionate conservative bona fides, the Guardian reports. He defended the international aid budget, stated he supported legalizing gay marriage and said he wanted to change adoption practices that prevented black children from being adopted by white families.