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Updated: April 13, 2010 20:30 IST

Cameron: Public must help revitalize economy

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Conservative Party leader David Cameron looked across the Atlantic for inspiration in presenting his party platform on Tuesday, echoing John F. Kennedy’s call to ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

Mr. Cameron issued an election platform that urged Britons to play a much larger role in their own government, doing everything from taking over underperforming public services to firing miscreant lawmakers.

“We don’t just want your votes. We don’t just seek your support. We seek your active participation - every day, in every way - in the running of our country,” he said.

Surrounded by young people and stalwart supporters, the 43-year-old leader tried to underline the differences between himself and Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party. He suggested that Mr. Brown’s party - now in office for 13 years - was suffering from a lack of fresh ideas.

The Conservatives are leading Labour in opinion polls.

“Our economy is overwhelmed by debt, our social fabric is frayed and our political system has betrayed the people. But these problems can be overcome if we pull together and work together,” Mr. Cameron said.

Mr. Cameron said his party’s platform for the May 6 election includes plans to let voters veto unwarranted rises in local taxes, select police chiefs or set up U.S.-style charter schools.

Like Mr. Brown, Mr. Cameron acknowledges that Britain’s government must drastically cut spending and limit its ambitions - but his plan also asks the public to help.

Britons must “stop asking who will fix this and start asking what can I do?” Mr. Cameron said in the platform.

Britain has been struggling to throw off the impact of a deep 18-month recession in which around 1.3 million people were laid off and 50,000 families had their homes repossessed.

Britain’s debt burden has risen dramatically in the last couple of years as the government bailed out the country’s troubled banks, paid for higher welfare payments and tried to stimulate the economy. All political parties agree that the current level of borrowing of around 170 billion pounds ($262 billion) a year is unsustainable and the markets will be expecting action once the election is over, regardless of who wins.

Keywords: National polls

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