David Cameron: Conservatives can win general election

David Cameron campaigning during  the European elections David Cameron says the party needs to work harder to win over voters

David Cameron has insisted the Conservatives can win the next general election despite being pushed into third place in the European elections.

The prime minister said he appreciated people were "disillusioned" with the EU and he "absolutely understood and received the message".

He told the BBC that only Conservatives offered a referendum on UK membership.

The BBC's Nick Robinson said this "simple message" instilled confidence for many within the party.

UKIP gained 23 MEPs, with the Tories having 19, behind Labour which has 20. The Conservative share of the vote was 23.9%, behind Labour on 25.4% and UKIP on 27.5%.

Some Conservative MPs have expressed dismay at the performance and Mr Cameron said he was "disappointed" for the MEPs - including its former leader in Brussels Martin Callanan - who lost their seats.

'Clear message'

But he said the vote reinforced his belief that the UK's relationship with the EU needed to change.

"I take a very clear message from the election. People are deeply disillusioned with the EU. They don't feel the current arrangements are working well enough for Britain and they want change.

"I would say that message is absolutely received and understood."

While he was an instinctive "reformer" who, in the referendum would "give the choice to the British people of whether to stay or go", Labour backed the "status quo" in Europe and the Lib Dems did not want any change.

Party

Mr Cameron rejected suggestions that UKIP's victory was a snub for the Westminster elite in general and for Mr Farage's different campaigning style, saying the UKIP leader was a "consummate politician" who was already discussing tactics for the 2015 general election.

He again dismissed any talk of pre-election pacts, at either a national or constituency level, saying he was "100%" focused on delivering an outright Conservative victory.

He said Labour had got a lower share of the vote in the 2004 European election and managed to comfortably win a general election the year after.

"It is possible to win from here," he said. "We have just got to have a real focus on what really matters which is completing our economic plan and turning our country round."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the rise of Eurosceptic parties should serve as a wake-up call to European politicians.

'Free hit'

UKIP's support would switch for next year's general election, he told BBC News. "They can have a free hit; they can have a vote that does not have the consequences of bringing the wrong government in," he said.

"So it is very different to a general election."

But backbencher Bernard Jenkin wrote on Twitter: "Some of us who opposed Maastricht 20 years ago predicted it would lead to the rise of the right in the EU: and here we are."

And Clacton MP Douglas Carswell added: "So maybe those of us who sometimes banged on about Europe were on to something?"

The European election results come just days after the Conservative Party lost more than 200 seats in local polls, prompting ministers to promise tougher curbs on immigration.

Home Secretary Theresa May said they were considering deporting people who came to the UK to work, but who could not find a job after six months.

They were also looking at cutting the length of time migrants could claim benefits from six months to three months, she said.

Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps said the election results were "a command for Britain to get a better deal" in Europe - but he rejected calls by Tory grandee David Davis to bring forward a proposed in/out EU referendum to 2016, saying negotiations on this could not be rushed.

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Conservative conference

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    11:01: Services tribute

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  3.  
    10:59: Defence budget

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    White lips, pale face

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    Light's gone, day's end

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    Long nights, strange men

     
  5.  
    10:57: Summit

    Justine Greening welcomes the global Girl Summit - hosted in London over the summer - to end female genital mutilation and forced child marriage, and thanks all those who took part.

     
  6.  
    10:55: Pride

    Britain's response to humanitarian emergencies "sets us apart" from many other countries, Justine Greening says. The international development secretary praises British aid workers and adds that "we should be proud of our country, because we don't walk on by".

     
  7.  
    @tnewtondunn 10:55: Tom Newton Dunn, Political Editor of The Sun

    tweets: David Cameron does indeed have a jumbo rabbit in his #CPC14 speech today. A big new tax move to help C2 voters especially, I hear.

     
  8.  
    10:53: Ebola threat

    Justine Greening describes Ebola as "one of the most serious threats facing the world today", with estimates that 1.4 million people will be infected by January 2015 "if we don't act". She says an international coalition is working to contain and defeat the virus - and adds that the UK is overseeing the construction of treatment centres, and will treble the number of Ebola treatment beds.

    Justine Greening addressing the Conservative conference
     
  9.  
    10:50:

    Justine Greening says international aid - including the government's commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on it - is a vital component alongside the defence and diplomacy.

     
  10.  
    10:48: Greening

    International Development Secretary Justine Greening is introduced to the hall. She opens by saying she is "proud" of what the Conservatives have achieved in government. Ms Greening says her department's international development programme has been improved since 2010, with a much greater focus on jobs and economic growth.

     
  11.  
    10:47: 'We'll deliver'

    London Conservative MEP Syed Kamall is addressing the hall now - and stresses that "only the Conservatives can and will deliver" a referendum on the UK's relationship with the European Union. He criticises the previous Labour government which "gave away" British taxpayers' money and powers to Brussels. Now is the time for the Conservatives to "roll up our sleeves" and make the case for reform, he says - and adds that this must be done by working with Britain's allies across Europe. Mr Kamall leads the European Parliament's European Conservatives and Reformists group.

     
  12.  
    The Times 10:46: Newspaper round-up

    Theresa May, says (£) Ann Treneman, gave "the best speech of her life" yesterday. Her "unflinchingly serious" performance was followed by "clown-man" Boris Johnson, whom the Tory audience adored.

    The paper claims David Cameron will today attempt to move the discussion from being about the party's "long-term economic plan" to talking about "individual benefits offered by a recovering economy". A YouGov poll commissioned for the paper shows 41% of those questioned saying they trust the Conservatives more to clear the deficit, compared to 13% for Labour, but when asked which party is most likely to improve living standards "for people like you" 31% chose Labour against only 25% for the Conservatives.

     
  13.  
    10:44: Ed inspired by Dave

    Here's Ed Sheeran, who apparently dedicated a song, called the A Team (not the A-list), to the PM at a recent gig he attended. His music was not in evidence in the conference hall this morning before speeches got under way. Instead the Starship song Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now was blasted out of on the PA system. The year of its release - 1987 - was when Mrs Thatcher won her third term in office. Some misty eyes in Birmingham?

    Ed Sheeran
     
  14.  
    10:37: Jess Denham, for the Independent

    writes: Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron. Ed Sheeran has admitted dedicating a song to the prime minister at a private house party this summer. Read more

     
  15.  
    10:33: Out of the blocks

    The conference is officially under way. Steve Bell, vice-president of the National Conservative Convention, is opening proceedings.

     
  16.  
    10:32: Sell off the banks?

    Conservative MP and former Welsh Secretary John Redwood proposes a way to tackle the deficit on his blog: "Total borrowing in the next Parliament could be reduced substantially by selling all the remaining shares in banks. This would be a good idea for a variety of reasons and would be the single biggest way of reducing the loan mountain."

     
  17.  
    10:28: Newspaper round-up The Daily Telegraph

    Peter Oborne, chief political commentator, says (video) that David Cameron must navigate three major points of controversy: projecting himself as a "war leader" after the recent Commons authorisation of action against Islamic State; scrapping the Human Rights Act; and, the "most dangerous" potential pitfall, drawing a line under the recent defections to UKIP.

    Michael Deacon, in his sketch of yesterday's conference activity, describes Boris Johnson as "the politician who reduces the sketch writer's role to mere transcription", but says that despite the theatrics Boris's great strength is that he makes the party "believe they can win, and deserve to win".

     
  18.  
    10:22: Story

    David Cameron appears at 11:15 BST. In the meantime, here's our main story about his speech.

     
  19.  
    10:19: Line-up

    Just over 10 minutes until we get going again. The first of the big-name speakers will be International Development Secretary Justine Greening.

     
  20.  
    @TheGreenParty 10:17: The Green Party

    tweets: #Cameron=austerity forever; #Miliband=austerity-lite. If you're fed up with their policies join us. Please RT #CPC14

    The Green Party slogan
     
  21.  
    10:11: Newspaper round-up The Guardian

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    Looking forward to David Cameron's speech today, Denis Campbell, the paper's health correspondent, notes that Labour has been outflanked by the Conservative leader on NHS spending, and says that unless Ed Miliband "outbids the Tories yet again he risks being accused of not matching his fine words about saving the NHS with the cash needed".

     
  22.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 10:08: Get involved

    Adam Rees: Labour keep banging on about the Tories privatising the NHS. I've been hearing it for as long as I remember. It's still free at the point of use. There are some NHS services provided by private companies for sure but who introduced it for the very first time? Labour!

     
  23.  
    @Andrew_ComRes 10:07: Andrew Hawkins, ComRes Chairman

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  24.  
    @iainmartin1 10:06: Iain Martin, Journalist

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  25.  
    10:00: Air strikes

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  26.  
    09:59: Newspaper round-up The Daily Mail

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  27.  
    09:58: Carswell not bitter

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    Douglas Carswell
     
  28.  
    @Freeman_George 09:50: George Freeman, Conservative MP

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  29.  
    09:45: BBC website reader responds to MP's tweet

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  30.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:45: Get involved

    Bob, Cambridge: It never ceases to amaze me when the general election is close by how the Tories send out sweeteners to get voters to stay. No chance Mr Cameron we all know what your party is about and always has been and that is to persecute the poor for the mistakes of the rich.

     
  31.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:41: Get involved

    Henry Francis Naudi in London: Whatever the main political parties may say about the NHS and their determination to improve it, the fact of the matter is that the main reasons for a 'distressed' NHS are (1) massive wastage in bureaucracy and admin; and (2) leeching of the NHS by people who are either not entitled to it for free or who manage to get round it by not paying their dues.

     
  32.  
    09:36: Joe Shute, for The Telegraph

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  33.  
    09:30: What channel? Dave, maybe?

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    David Cameron
     
  34.  
    @_James_Lyons_ 09:26: James Lyons, Daily Mirror Deputy Political Editor

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  35.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:25: Get involved

    Colin in Gloucestershire: If we really want to keep the health service as it is people MUST take responsibility for themselves. Smoking and use of other drugs maybe your 'god given' right but it should not be the responsibility of the rest of the community to pay for the consequences. Even if Cameron can deliver on this promise, which will only come about by painful cuts elsewhere, that will only delay the day that society will no longer be willing to support people unwilling to take responsibility for themselves.

     
  36.  
    @BBCNormanS 09:23: Norman Smith, BBC

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  37.  
    09:18: Coming up at conference

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  38.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 09:17: Get involved

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  39.  
    @andyburnhammp 09:16: Andy Burnham, Labour MP

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  40.  
    @matthancockmp 09:16: Matt Hancock, Conservative MP

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  41.  
    09:15: Defence announcements

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  42.  
    @Nigel_Farage 09:14: Nigel Farage, @UKIP Leader

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  43.  
    09:13: Prop developer

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    Boris Johnson
     
  44.  
    09:12: Tory donor joins UKIP

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  45.  
    @Mike_Fabricant 09:10: Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP

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  46.  
    09:08: Happy talk?

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  47.  
    09:06: Where is he?

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  48.  
    09:05: More on the NHS

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  49.  
    09:03: Midnight oil

    David Cameron has been working overnight on his speech. We are told he will deliver it using a script, rather than performing an attempted elephantine memory trick. This follows ridicule of Ed Miliband when he forgot a couple of passages of his address to the Labour conference last week.

    David Cameron
     
  50.  
    09:02: NHS spending pledge

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  51.  
    09:00: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the final day of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. The day will culminate in the highlight of any party conference: the leader's speech. David Cameron will address party activists at 11.15 BST, in what will be his final conference speech before the general election.

     

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