15:47 Closing his speech, Cameron returns to the theme of optimism. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” he says. Our best days are ahead of us. But with unemployment up and growth down, how many will feel the same way?
15:45 Now it’s health and safety. “Britannia didn’t rule the waves with her armbands on,” says Cameron, declaring that he has brought “common sense” to government. This speech is a Daily Mail reader’s wet dream.
15:43 Cameron mounts a conservative defence of gay marriage. “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative, I support gay marriage because I am a conservative”, he says. Applause from the floor.
15:39 In another dig at Labour, Cameron says that the Conservatives don’t boo their former leaders, they are proud of them. Loudest applause so far.
15:38 Promising a new “Tory housing revolution”, Cameron vows to use the proceeds from the right-to-buy scheme to build new houses.
15:35 Turning to immigration, Cameron says that government is “clamping” down on illegal migrants. But he makes no mention of his unachievable pledge to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” a year.
15:34 “Rigour back in education, standards back in schools … the Conservatives are back in government,” says Cameron.
15:34 Cameron says that he wants to see private schools start academies in the state sector. The “apartheid” between the private sector and the state sector must end.
15:30 The education system has been “infected by an ideology that makes excuses for failure,” says Cameron. He adds that he is “disguted” by the idea that we should “aim for less for a poor child than a rich child”.
15:30 Again refusing to attack Miliband directly, Cameron says that Labour gave us “the casino economy and the welfare society”. It falls to the Conservatives to lift the poorest up.
15:29 Responding to his critics, Cameron says: “take your arguments down the job centre because we are going to get Britain back to work.”
15:28 Cameron defends the government’s planning reforms and rightly notes that just 9 per cent of land is built up.
15:27 Mounting a full-throated attack on EU regulation, Cameron cites a directive on whether diabetics should be allowed to drive.
15:25 He vows to cut employment regulation and accuses critics of forgetting the most important right of all: to have a job in the first place.
15:23 Without referring to Ed Miliband by name, Cameron rebukes the Labour leader. You will not achieve growth by dividing industries into “saints and sinners,” he says. In his speech to the Labour conference, Miliband divided companies into “producers and predators”.
15:21 Cameron says that it is fair for public sector workers to “work a little longer and pay a little more”. What is not fair is to go on strike and hurt the country’s recovery.
15:20 Audaciously claiming that the Tories are “the party of the NHS”, Cameron says that only the Conservatives promised to increase spending on the health service.
15:19 “This is a one-nation deficit reduction plan from a one-nation party,” Cameron says.
15:18 The richest are bearing the burden of austerity, claims Cameron. But, as the IFS has repeatedly showed, the coalition’s measures hit the poorest hardest.
15:15 Cheers as Cameron promises that under his leadership “this country will never join the euro”. But is anyone really surprised?
15:14 Cameron backs Plan A. “Our plan is right and it will work,” he says.
15:13 This wasn’t a “normal recession,” says Cameron, it was “a debt crisis”. And excessive government borrowing was primarily to blame.
15:11 The threat to the economy and to Britain is as serious in 2008, says Cameron. Even “mighty America’s” ability to meet its debts is in question.
15:08 Cameron is sounding and looking unusually tired. On the bright side, it will counter those who claim he doesn’t put the hours in.
15:06 Cameron attacks the politics of decline. It was depressing, he says, that some people thought not only that we shouldn’t take action in Libya but that we couldn’t.
15:04 Cameron turns to Libya and says we should proud of the role Britain played in helping Libyans “take back their country”.
15:03 Turning to the Bible for inspiration, Cameron says that this is a country and a party that “never walks on by”.
15:02 Cameron jokes that Osborne’s book of choice is The Man Who Would Be King and that Boris’s is The Joy Of Cycling. But after yesterday, he quips, there should be a group reading of Mog The Cat.
15:01 A rather hoarse-sounding Cameron praises the No to AV campaign: “you kicked that excuse for a voting system off the political agenda for a generation”.
15:00 His emphasis is clear from the start: “In these difficult times, it is leadership that we need”.
14:59 Cameron finally takes to the stage to the sound of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done”.
14:46 Large parts of the hall remain empty, a sign that fewer and fewer party activists are attending the conference.
14:25 Cameron has reportedly been delayed and may not start speaking until 2:55pm. A few more rewrites, perhaps?