Cameron: The truce is over

David Cameron has broken his truce with the Labour government, using a hard-hitting speech this morning to pin the blame for the financial crisis squarely on the shoulders of the prime minister.

“The economic assumptions that Gordon Brown made in the last decade now lie in ruins,” Mr Cameron said.

“The complete and utter failure of their economic record has never been more clear to see.”

Mr Brown swatted the comments away, saying he was getting on with fixing the economy.

“I think the whole country wants everybody who can to work together through these difficult challenges,” the prime minister said.

The speech marks a fundamental shift in Tory strategy. Since their party conference in Birmingham was overshadowed by global financial collapse, the party has pursued a policy of critical support for the government.

But today, Mr Cameron tried to associate Mr Brown’s record in government with the irresponsible risk taking of City bankers.

“Over the past decade, we have seen a total breakdown of economic responsibility,” Mr Cameron said.

“From the government, as it has spent and borrowed without restraint. And from our financial sector, which has taken decisions which have harmed the rest of our economy.”

Mr Cameron argued for a more varied and balanced economy, with over-reliance on the City replaced by a wider range of industries.

He also defended the Conservative philosophy in the face of global market failure.

“Critics assert that the centre-right has no solution and the change we need is a turn to the left,” he said.

“They are wrong. My argument today is that the change we need is the modern Conservatism that I have been advocating.”

The Conservatives have suffered a drop in the polls since the crisis began, with a steady Labour improvement during the same period.

Private briefings earlier this week indicated party strategists expect the lead to be reduced to single figures.