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David Cameron: go-getters will save economy

David Cameron has put his faith in ''go-getting'' entrepreneurs to pull the British economy out of the doldrums.

Despite fears that soaring oil costs could undermine the fledgling recovery, the Prime Minister dismissed ''cowardly'' calls for public spending cuts to be eased.

Instead, he insisted the ''only strategy'' was to tackle the ''enemies of enterprise'' in Britain by cutting tax and bureaucracy, and boosting trade.

In a speech to the Conservative spring forum in Cardiff, Mr Cameron said Chancellor George Osborne's crucial Budget on March 23 would be ''the most pro-growth for a generation''.

He blamed Labour for suppressing enterprise since 1997 - saying even his baby daughter Florence knew that ''tax and regulation'' was holding the country back.

''Someone joked to me the other day that the biggest growth industry in Britain this past decade has been the people writing the rules,'' Mr Cameron told activists.

''But actually it's no joke.

''Every regulator, every official, every bureaucrat in government has got to understand that we cannot afford to keep loading costs onto business because frankly they cannot take it any more.

''And if I have to pull these people into my office to argue this out myself and get them off the backs of business then believe me, I'll do it.''

The premier stressed that the Government would not merely be cutting tax and regulation and ''getting out of the way''.

''An enterprise government is an active government using its power and clout to open up new opportunities for business,'' he said.

''While there are contracts to be won, jobs to be created, markets to be defended - I will be there.

''If it's making sure Rolls-Royce engines are in the world's planes, I'll be there.

''If it's making sure skyscrapers in the Gulf are designed by British architects, I'll be there.

"I'll be there not just because it's my job, not just because it's my duty, more than that - because I passionately believe - no, I know that this country can out-compete, out-perform, out-hustle the best in the world and I'm going to use every last drop of my energy to make sure that happens.''

In a rallying call to his party ahead of crucial local elections in May, Mr Cameron said only the Tories really ''understood'' enterprise.

''At its beating heart this is still a party of start-ups, go-getters, risk-takers,'' he said.

He also insisted he would be watching banks ''like a hawk'' to make sure they fulfilled agreements on lending to small business.

Directly taking on critics who have complained that the coalition has put too much focus on public spending cuts rather than growth, Mr Cameron insisted: ''So you want to know my strategy for growth?

''When people say 'spend loads more money' I say forget it - Labour spent it all.

''There's only one strategy for growth we can have now and that is rolling up our sleeves and doing everything possible to make it easier for businesses to grow, to invest, to take people on.

''Back small firms. Boost enterprise. Be on the side of everyone in this country who wants to create jobs, and wealth and opportunity.''

The premier admitted that efforts to reduce the deficit would be ''hard, particularly this year'', but insisted the ''plan was right''.

"What we're doing might not be popular - but it is the only way,'' he said.

''The other way is the cowardly way, the irresponsible way and that's never, ever been the Conservative way.''

However, the premier passionately defended the government's decision to exempt the International Development budget from cuts.

''I know that for some protecting the aid budget is a controversial decision,'' he said.

''But just think about what this means.

''It means that in four years' time, we will not just have paid down our deficit. This country will also have vaccinated more of the world's poorest children than there are people in the whole of England.''

''With your hard-earned money, we are saving lives - and everyone in this country should be deeply proud of that.''

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: ''When we urgently need a plan for jobs and growth to get the economy moving again and help hard-pressed families all David Cameron and George Osborne can offer is empty words but precious little action.

''All we've heard from this Conference is the reheated rhetoric and warmed up policies of 30 years ago - a VAT rise, deep spending cuts, knee-jerk deregulation and enterprise zones which didn't work when they were tried in the 1980s.

''If David Cameron wants to know who is the real enemy of enterprise and growth in Britain today he only needs to look next door at his own Chancellor. It is George Osborne's reckless plan to cut too deep and too fast, which has seen the economy go into reverse.''
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