On the 4th June 1964 my parents arrived in this country. I’m very proud to say that they were immigrants.
They had almost no money. But they longed for a better life for me and my brothers.
They had a fierce work ethic and a burning determination to make their dreams happen.
They taught me to work hard, to take responsibility for myself and my actions, to appreciate the importance of family and to love my country. Our country. This United Kingdom.
I did not know it at the time but now I realise they were teaching me a set of unshakeable values – unshakeable Conservative values.
These were the values my parents believed in when they first landed on these shores.
They are the values I live by.
And they are the values which must underpin a Conservative Government in 21st Century Britain. A Britain where everyone can reach their true potential.
After all, it’s only in the Conservative Party that a Rochdale-born son of an immigrant bus driver could become Secretary of State… for Culture!
Now some people in Labour seem to resent where I’ve ended up. On my appointment, that great sage, Ken Livingstone, enjoyed telling people that when he looked at me he did not see a Pakistani. Instead he saw a banker.
Well Ken, I’m actually British, but yes my heritage is Pakistani. And yes, I was a banker.
I’m not ashamed of those facts. I’m proud of them.
Ken’s crass comment shows Labour’s confusion about why I am a Conservative. About why anyone from an ethnic minority, or with a working class background, does not automatically vote Labour.
Well, let me explain.
I believe in opportunity. I believe that I – not the state – should decide what course my life takes. And I believe that if you work hard you should be rewarded.
No wonder it confuses the Labour Party.
They would prefer us not to have any aspirations. They would prefer to tell us what to do. They would prefer us to know our place.
Unlike Labour, I don’t believe in wasting other people’s money. I don’t believe that you can live beyond your means. And I don’t believe that Labour have learnt their lesson.
If you look at Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, you’ll see this is the Same Old Labour.
The Same Old Labour that brought us the deepest recession in almost 100 years. The Same Old Labour that gave us the biggest budget deficit since the Second World War. The Same Old Labour that gave us the world’s largest banking bailout.
One bank. 50 billion pounds.
And when they left office they even left a note. I have a copy here: “I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards and good luck.”
Conference, that is why we must never let them near the British economy again.
It’s very easy to contrast Labour’s toxic legacy with what this Government has achieved: record inward investment; higher exports; lower taxes; manufacturing thriving; businesses opening; jobs being created; and a return to economic growth!
The Conservatives: getting Britain back on track.
Take my own Department: our ambitious broadband programme is reaching every corner of our country.
We know that the internet superhighway is every bit as important as our motorways and our railways. So we’re investing almost £1 billion of central Government money to take superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the country by 2017.
Since 2010, access to Superfast Broadband has doubled and we already have the best broadband coverage of any major European nation.
But beating France and Germany is never enough. We need to compete with the likes of Japan and South Korea.
So yes, we’re making progress, but there’s still more to do. We need to work harder on improving mobile phone coverage, especially in rural areas. There’s vast swathes of our countryside where you can’t get a decent phone signal. And that’s just not good enough.
Our mobile operators must do more. And I’ll make sure that they do.
Whether it’s our film or TV, our fashion, our design or our video games, Britain is a world leader in the Creative Industries.
It’s true of our music too. 1 in 8 albums sold worldwide is by a British act.
You might recall that a couple of years ago a Russian official tried to write off the UK saying we were “a small island that no one listens to’. Well, he was half right. We are a small island. But everyone is listening to us!
And watching us too. The last series of 24 was not in New York; it was set in London. Game of Thrones is not made in America; it’s made in Northern Ireland. And the seventh Star Wars film is not being filmed in Hollywood, but at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
Our creative industries are worth more than £70 billion a year to the UK and are playing a huge role in our recovery.
Tourism is also a central part of our long-term economic plan. Last year saw a record 33 million people visit the UK, and more money being spent here than ever before.
They are certainly not coming here for the weather. They are coming because we have some of the best heritage, sport, arts and culture in the world.
That’s why they came this year for the Commonwealth Games and even the Tour de France. And why they’ll come next year for the Rugby World Cup. And why they come every year to visit our theatres, our historic houses, our ancient monuments, our castles, our museums and galleries.
But these things are not just tourist attractions. They are absolutely central to who we are as a nation.
It is our culture, heritage, traditions and our sheer creativity which make Britain great.
Yes, it’s true that we’ve had to take difficult decisions and cut taxpayer funding. But because of our national lottery reforms we’ve been able to protect most budgets.
So don’t let anyone tell you that Conservatives don’t care about culture. We do.
We just want to ensure your money is spent carefully.
It’s the same with the BBC. That’s why we froze the licence fee in 2010. And why I continue to challenge them to do more for less. Because receiving public money is a privilege not a right.
So, I ask myself: “Can it be right that someone goes to prison if they fail to pay their licence fee?” Which is why I am now reviewing this whole issue.
In all these areas there’s more to do, but to do it we need to get re-elected.
In seven months’ time, this country faces a choice. A choice between economic security with the Conservatives or a return to higher taxes and spending with Labour.
A choice between a Conservative Party that respects and rewards hard work, or a Labour Party which encourages a culture of dependency.
A choice between a Prime Minister and Chancellor who have repaired the economy and driven it into the fast lane, or handing the keys back to the team that crashed the car.
We need the country to make the right choice. To choose jobs. To choose growth. To choose ambition. To choose opportunity.
And to choose David Cameron as Prime Minister of a majority Conservative Government.