David Cameron says spending cuts tough but necessary

Image caption,
David Cameron says the government has a "credible plan" for restoring economic confidence

The government's spending cuts are necessary and not driven by ideological zeal, Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted in his new year message.

He said the economy was now out of the danger zone, but warned of much "heavy lifting" ahead in 2011.

Ministers accepted the planned spending cuts were tough, but indecision and delay would be unacceptable, he added.

The PM also said more needed to be done to counter Islamic extremism amid the ongoing, "serious" UK terror threat.

On Thursday, Labour leader Ed Miliband argued in his new year message that the government's spending cuts had been "born of political choice".

In his message, Mr Cameron said: "We have a credible plan for restoring confidence in our economy, but we have to see it through. A lot of the heavy lifting will happen in 2011.

'Success story'

"Each and every minister in this government is acutely aware that the plans we have in place are tough, in fact incredibly difficult, but we are clear that the alternative - indecision and delay - would mean taking unacceptable risks with our economy, our country and our people."

Mr Cameron said Britain would soon be back on its feet and could be "one of the international success stories" of the 21st Century.

He said the economy had been in trouble when the coalition government took power in May, but he said it was now out of the "danger zone" thanks to the measures it had taken.

Mr Cameron went on to say that the police and MI5 had the government's "unstinting" backing in the battle against terrorism, but stressed they also needed public support.

Nine men from London, Cardiff and Stoke-on-Trent were charged earlier this month with plotting to blow up UK targets.

Mr Cameron said: "For many years now we have been aware of the threat we face from international terrorism. Recent arrests show that that threat is still very much with us. And it is as serious today as it ever has been.

"As we enter the new year, our police officers, together with their colleagues in the security and intelligence agencies, are working round the clock to foil plots that would do terrible harm to our people and our economy."

He added: "The overwhelming majority of British Muslims who detest this extremism must help us to find the answers together."

'Crucial year'

Mr Cameron linked the fight against extremism with the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

He said: "For those serving in Afghanistan, 2011 is a crucial year in which we will start to transfer security responsibility for districts and provinces to Afghan control.

"As the Afghans become steadily more capable of looking after their own security, so we will be able to start to bring our own forces home."

Mr Cameron also conceded that, in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding Business Secretary Vince Cable, coalition politics was "not always straightforward".

But he said: "We don't agree on everything, we never said we would, but I believe we are bringing a new style of government. A more collegiate approach.

"One where we're prepared to argue things out and then act to do what we both believe is in the national interest. The political risks are greater this way. But so too are the rewards."

More on this story