Cameron says Tories are “strong, united” and “ready”

Labour’s hold on government has slipped and the Conservative party is “strong, united” and “ready” for power, David Cameron has claimed.

Opening the Tory conference in Birmingham, the party leader made a jibe at prime minister Gordon Brown’s economic record in outlining Conservative readiness for government.

“Who was it who said that he, and he alone, had rewritten the laws of economics to end boom and bust?” he told delegates.

“The answer is our prime minister, the then chancellor, Gordon Brown. And my message to Gordon Brown is this: ‘You have had your boom, and your reputation is now bust.'”

Mr Cameron had earlier admitted that the Conservatives may not have “sealed the deal” with voters.

“You never seal the deal until you really win people’s trust… a battle we have to fight every day, every week, every month,” he told Andrew Marr.

But he dismissed recent poll findings that indicated a reduced Conservative lead since Mr Brown’s Labour party conference speech and said the unity of the Tory party made it more suited to government than Labour’s fractured state.

Mr Cameron also rejected Labour claims that the Conservatives believe British society to be “broken”, saying: “I’m not a pessimist – I think it can be mended.”

He called himself a “fiscal conservative” and spoke of plans to increase the Bank of England’s power to rescue ailing banks, as well as outlining Conservative plans to permit thousands of non-selective schools to be introduced into the state sector.

And when questioned whether he would be interested in taking part in a televised debate with the prime minister, similar to that held between US presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain this week, Mr Cameron’s reply was an emphatic: “Yes, yes, yes.”