Addressing activists at the Tory spring conference in Manchester, the Prime Minister sought to cast the contest as a personal battle with Ed Miliband, accusing the Labour leader of heading a “bunch of hypocritical, holier-than-thou, hopeless, sneering socialists”.
He said that a Conservative government would ensure patients across England would be given full access to hospital services seven-days a week by the end of the parliament in 2020.
He coupled his promise of better healthcare with a blistering personal attack on Miliband, warning that the Labour leader was not up to the demands of leading the country.
“Now five years in this job teaches you some things. I know what this role needs – and frankly, I don’t think Ed Miliband has it,” he said.
“Some might say ‘Don’t make this personal’, but when it comes to who’s prime minister, the personal is national. The guy who forgot to mention the deficit could be the one in charge of our whole economy.
“The man who is too weak to stand up to the trade unions at home could be the one facing down our enemies abroad.
“The leader who thinks leadership is climbing aboard the latest bandwagon – he could be the one taking the make-or-break calls in the middle of the night.”
Cameron said that only he or Miliband could enter No 10 after 7 May, as he accused the Labour leader of planning to “crawl up Downing Street on the coat-tails of the SNP”.
He said that under Miliband, Labour was no longer the party of working people, having betrayed its traditional values. “The truth is that Miliband’s Labour Party isn’t about liberating working people – it’s about telling you what to do,” he said.
Cameron also set out to woo voters with the promise of a “truly seven-day” NHS if the Conservatives are returned to power.
He delivered his first major rallying speech since MPs left Westminster for the campaign trail surrounded by giant posters featuring party slogans at the old Granada studios. The Conservatives have been on a drive to win back the voters in the north of England it needs for an overall majority.
Before Cameron took to the stage, Chancellor George Osborne pushed his vision of a “Northern Powerhouse” including considerably enhanced powers for local authorities in Greater Manchester under an elected mayor.
And he took the chance to twist Miliband’s words from Thursday’s televised election grilling into a barb at the expense of the Opposition leader.
“I was listening to Ed Miliband, with all that legendary statesmanship of his, saying ‘Hell yeah, I’ll be a leader,’” he said. “I’ll tell you where that leads: a return to rising unemployment; a return to rising debts; a return to economic chaos. Hell? Yes indeed.”
Meanwhile, business leaders have expressed fears over the prospect of a Labour-led government backed by the SNP, with one FTSE 100 chairman describing the scenario as a “nightmare”.
“There’s only one strand of coalition mix that would drive fear and shockwaves through the business community, and that would be the spectre of Labour and the SNP”, said a FTSE 100 chief executive.
“The current SNP leadership has a pretty unreconstructed 1970s socialist agenda,” said another.
Only one in 20 FTSE 100 companies chairmen and chief executives said they were not concerned about the SNP being in the next government.
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