The British prime minister told his party faithful and the country at large to brace for tough times amid simultaneous attempts to exit recession and reduce the budget deficit. The premier said that the sluggish start to his administration was the fault of his predecessors.
"Here's the truth," Cameron told Conservative party members at their annual conference in Birmingham. "The damage was worse than we thought, and it's taking longer than we'd hoped."
The prime minister said the problems in the eurozone were impacting negatively on British exports, slowing his administration's attempts to stimulate economic recovery. He pledged, however, to proceed with his government's policy of primarily cutting spending rather than raising revenue through taxes - saying that was the key to competing in the modern globalized era.
"Unless we act, unless we take difficult, painful decisions, unless we show determination and imagination, Britain may not be in the future what it has been in the past," Cameron said. "Because the truth is this: we are in a global race today and that means an hour of reckoning for countries like ours. Sink or swim. Do or decline."
The svelte and the stout
Cameron pointed to emerging economic superpowers like Brazil, India, China and Nigeria, describing them as "fit, lean obsessed with enterprise, spending money on the future - on education, incredible infrastructure and technology."
The old powers, meanwhile, he dubbed "fat, sclerotic, over-regulated, spending money on unaffordable welfare systems, huge pension bills, unreformed public services."
As well as the unbalanced books, Cameron is starting to struggle in the opinion polls in Britain, with some surveys suggesting his Conservatives have slipped behind the opposition Labour party. Internally, he faces pressure from the outspoken Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who took center stage during the summer Olympics. The Conservatives govern in coalition with the smaller Liberal Democrat party, an uneasy ideological partnership, but Cameron would seek to obtain an outright majority at the next general elections - likely to take place in 2015.
msh/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)