The Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaking today in Calverton, Nottinghamshire gave this speech.
The Prime Minister said,
“It is a great pleasure to be here with you today in the great county of Nottinghamshire, as we launch our Conservative campaign for this year’s vitally important local elections.
This a county of contrasts and variety, of rural and suburban villages, of market towns and manufacturing towns, of agriculture and industry, with one of our great cities at its commercial and cultural heart.
With a rich history, and a promising future, it is like so many counties and areas across our United Kingdom.
It has faced challenges and risen to them. It has seen change and adapted to it.
In Nottinghamshire, and in counties and metropolitan districts across England, in local authority areas in Scotland and Wales, and in some of our great cities and the areas around them, voters will soon be going to the polls to select new local representatives.
On 4 May, people across Great Britain will vote in local elections which will have a big impact, both on the local areas themselves, and on our country as a whole.
Some people are cynical about voting and about the democratic process in general.
Too often, the issues at stake can seem removed from the reality of people’s lives.
Some wonder if it matters, and what difference it will make.
But we all saw clearly in the referendum last year that individual voters in communities up and down the country really can change the course of events.
By going out and voting, by making your voice heard through the democratic process, you can make a difference.
Those in power can be forced to listen and to take action.
Indeed, they can be removed from office all together, and replaced by others who will do things differently.
Such is the power of the ballot box.
Last year, there were those who voted for the first time in years. Others did so for the first time ever.
All of us who believe in representative democracy can take heart from that fact.
It shows the potential of our democracy to reach out and engage new people.
It presents us with an opportunity which we should seize.
So as we launch our Conservative campaign for these local elections, I want to speak directly to voters in communities across Britain, and I have a simple message.
There is only one Party in our country today which has a plan for a better future.
One Party with a plan for our country, and a plan for your local community.
One Party which has put itself unashamedly at the service of ordinary, working people.
That party is the Conservative Party.
We are determined to make sure that the priorities of ordinary working people across Britain are the priorities of our national Government in Westminster, so we can build together a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
And in these important local elections, we are equally determined to ensure that the concerns of local residents are the chief concern of councils and mayors across Britain, so that no part of our country is left behind and every community can thrive and prosper.
PLAN FOR BRITAIN
Only the Conservatives have a plan for Britain.
A plan for a better future for our whole United Kingdom – England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A plan that enlists all the resources at our command, and has as its goal nothing less than to improve the lives of everyone in our country, in every community.
Because last June, when people in this county of Nottinghamshire and across the UK as a whole voted to leave the European Union, they were not just passing judgement on our relationship with the EU.
They were giving a clear instruction to change the way our country works – and the people for whom it works – forever.
We now need to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer, better Britain.
A Britain which is truly global and outward-looking, and which embraces the world.
So Conservatives in Government will get on with the job of delivering Brexit, getting the right deal for the UK as we leave the EU.
That means taking back control of our borders and our laws, building a new deep and special partnership with the EU, and securing for our businesses the greatest possible access to the EU market through a comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement.
Indeed empowering Britain’s businesses, small and large, to grow and thrive is a vital element of our plan for Britain.
Building a stronger economy, where everyone plays by the same rules, is in everyone’s interest.
To build that stronger economy, we have to be a country that lives within its means.
So we will continue to bring the deficit down in a balanced way, building on the progress we have already made, but also investing when and where it is needed.
With local government accounting for a quarter of all public spending, our councils have had to do their bit to tackle Labour’s deficit.
Yet in spite of that, local government in England still spends £120 billion every year, and public satisfaction with their local services has been maintained.
And just as Conservatives nationally have worked to a plan to bring down the deficit, while at the same time cutting taxes for working people…
Conservatives locally have also found room for sensible savings while keeping council tax bills down.
And that matters. Under Labour, council tax doubled.
Under the Conservatives council tax in England has fallen by 9 per cent in real terms.
That headline national figure is a result of Conservative action.
Locally and nationally, we helped freeze council tax in the last Parliament, and we have given local residents a veto over excessive tax rises.
And across the country, Conservative councils have been leading the way.
In 2017-18, Conservative councils across England typically charge £102 a year less on a Band D bill than Labour councils, and £124 a year less than Liberal Democrats councils.
Income tax cut for working people and council tax bills kept down.
The plain fact is that the Conservatives cost you less.
But there is so much more to building an economy which works for everyone than simply keeping taxes low, important though that is.
Our Conservative plan for Britain also means ensuring that government steps up to play its full and necessary role.
Underpinning this approach will be our modern Industrial Strategy.
We will invest in the skills and sectors that will spread jobs and prosperity around the whole country, and provide more opportunities for our young people to find high-quality, high-skilled work.
But spreading jobs and prosperity isn’t a job for central government alone.
We want ambitious local councils, in collaboration with other important local institutions, to step up to the plate as well, and work with us to deliver a better future for their areas.
This new approach is full of potential and it should be something which as Conservatives we can all take pride in.
Because contrary to the stereotype which is sometimes promoted, we believe in the good that government can do – locally and nationally.
That has always been our Party’s belief, and it is why many of us got into politics in the first place; to serve our local communities and to help improve the lives of our neighbours.
That principle informs everything we will do to build a stronger economy.
So where consumer markets are not working in the best interests of bill payers, we will act to make everyday costs more affordable.
When action is needed to tackle abuse of the tax system, we will act to ensure that everyone – however rich or powerful – plays by the same rules as everyone else.
And as we leave the EU, our Conservative Government will act to protect and indeed to enhance workers’ rights, and guarantee that in a modern, flexible economy people are properly protected at work.
These are the priorities of the British people, and they are the priorities of our Party.
Don’t let anyone tell you that Conservatives don’t care about working people.
We are the Party of people who work hard and play by the rules.
And for that reason, we must and will ensure that hard work is decently rewarded, and that the rules are properly adhered to by everyone, without fear or favour.
That sense of fairness informs another of the core objectives of our plan for Britain: to build a fairer society where success is based on merit and not privilege.
It is our mission to turn Britain into a country where success is defined by work and talent, not birth or circumstance.
To deliver that outcome we need to take action across a range of policy areas, both national and local.
It means helping people to get on at every stage of their life.
So we will provide a good school place for every child, giving them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future and reach their full potential.
We will work to deliver a million new homes, so that more people have the chance to own or rent an affordable home of their own.
We will continue to invest in the NHS and social care, to support a vital national institution and ensure dignity and security for everyone.
Our goal is a fairer society where success is based on merit, not privilege – where there are no barriers to hold people back and everyone can go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.
It’s a plan to build a more united nation that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.
Local government has a huge part to play in all of this.
Whether it is supporting local schools to improve,
setting planning frameworks for the homes we need, while at the same time protecting and enhancing our local environment,
or working closely with local NHS trusts to manage social care provision,
local councils have a vital contribution to make.
Having served as a local councillor myself, I know first hand the complexity of the issues, and the difference which good local representation can make.
That’s why we need effective local councillors elected on 4 May.
We need competent, credible teams who have a plan to improve their local areas.
Public-spirited men and women, with the right experience, who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job.
Councillors who will do the difficult, painstaking work to improve local services, keep council tax down for working people, and reduce waste so that the front-line is protected.
Across north and south, across town and country, Conservatives in local government have shown that they are those people, delivering more for less and standing up for local areas.
Now to be fair, Labour and the other parties do have their strengths too.
They’re exceptionally good at wasting your money, they excel at imposing new red tape, and they are world-class at hiking your taxes.
In fact, when you look at it closely, these local elections present a clear and informative choice.
The competence of a strong Conservative council, focused on the priorities of local people, keeping local taxes down and delivering high quality local services.
Or the chaos and disarray of the rest – political parties motivated not by what is best for local areas, but what is best for their own partisan political interest, and without a plan for our country or our local communities – just a recipe for chaos and failure.
A Labour Party totally out of touch with the concerns of the British people, which ignores the priorities of local communities and instead indulges its own ideological obsessions.
A Labour Party which just this week revealed the depths to which it has now sunk, betraying the Jewish community in our country by letting Ken Livingstone off the hook.
It could not be clearer that the Labour Party is now a long way away from the common, centre ground of British politics today.
Then we have the Liberal Democrats – whose only interest seems to be in trying to re-run the referendum.
And UKIP, who are too divided to stand up for ordinary people.
And in Scotland and Wales, the divisive, tunnel-vision nationalisms of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
Parties devoted to talking our United Kingdom down, whose focus is far removed from the real priorities of working people.
All of these parties put their own political interests ahead of the national and local interest.
More local councils and mayoralties in the hands of these parties would set our country back.
Our task in these elections is to deliver our local communities from that fate.
We must present a credible and compelling alternative, in every county, every town, every city.
No ‘no-go areas’ for our Party and no community left behind in our country.
So as we embark on this campaign, we can do so in good heart, fully aware of what is at stake.
Because the stronger, fairer Britain we are determined to see will not come about by itself, and we cannot afford to leave it to chance. We need to build it.
In May, when people across our country look for a Party which has a plan to secure a better future for their town, their city, their county and their country – we will be there.
A Party at the service of the British people, with a plan for our country and a plan for your community.
A plan for more effective and efficient local services .
For value for money council tax.
For stronger local representation.
For a better quality of life.
That’s our message – let’s get out there and deliver it.”