David Cameron's Conservative conference pitch for 2015 election

David Cameron giving his speech Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption David Cameron told the Conservative conference that he would lower tax rates

The prime minister has delivered his final speech to the Conservative conference ahead of next May's election, pledging to lower tax rates for middle income earners, tackle immigration and protect the NHS.

One of his key pledges was to cut taxes for people on low and middle incomes if the Conservatives won next year's general election.

He said a Conservative government would raise the personal allowance to £12,500. He also wants to raise the level at which people start paying the higher rate of tax to £50,000.

The Tories estimate the changes mean a typical basic rate taxpayer will pay £500 less in tax than they do now and increasing the higher rate threshold to £50,000 will lift around 800,000 people out of 40% tax

He also spoke of the need to tackle immigration from the EU and vowed to put controlling immigration "at the heart" of his plans to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU.

His speech was at times light hearted - he did an impression of William Hague's Yorkshire accent and also admitted forgetting his daughter Nancy in the pub, but said Ed Miliband forgetting to mention the deficit meant he was not fit to be PM.

But he was visibly moved when he spoke from the heart about his disabled son Ivan, who was born with a rare genetic condition and died in 2009, aged six.

He hit back at Labour's claims the Tories could not be trusted with the NHS and said, "how dare they suggest I would ever put that at risk for other people's children?".

'Wake up with Ed Miliband'

And then he addressed the elephant in the room - UKIP.

He really had no choice after the defection by the Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless, at the weekend.

He warned voting for UKIP would let Ed Miliband into number 10, adding: "This is a straight fight. It doesn't matter whether Parliament is hung, drawn or quartered, there is only one real choice - the Conservatives or Labour.

"Me in Downing Street, or Ed Miliband in Downing Street."

Mr Cameron continued: "If you vote UKIP - that's really a vote for Labour. Here's a thought - on 7 May you could go to bed with Nigel Farage, and wake up with Ed Miliband."

The hall roared with laughter but it is clear the wounds over Mark Reckless's defection will take a long time to heal.

'Dishonoured'

After the speech I caught up with the Chief Whip Michael Gove who was pretty scathing about the defection.

He told me that Mark Reckless was a friend of Douglas Carswell and as Mr Carswell had already defected it was natural there were suspicions the member for Rochester and Strood would defect as well.

Mr Gove said he suggested various ways Mr Reckless could put the speculation to bed and he agreed with that.

Clearly angry, Mr Gove then said: "He then subsequently dishonoured those promises, much to my regret, and I think ultimately much to the anger and annoyance of his constituents in Rochester and Strood who voted for a Conservative MP."

I asked him whether he would be out campaigning for the Conservatives in Rochester and Strood and he told me it was one of his "favourite parts" of Kent

His comments were echoed by the Defence Secretary and Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon, who told me: "The electorate in Rochester isn't going to be fooled by Mark Reckless's defection - I think they are going to get behind the Conservative candidate because in the end it's only the Conservative party which can give you a clear choice on Europe"

And that is the message Mr Cameron wants to leave the electorate with on 7 May - that the real choice is between him and Ed Miliband and no-one else.

Related Topics