David Cameron to defend Tories' record in office ahead of May elections


David Cameron will attempt to rally the Conservative troops ahead of the May elections amid bitter divisions over Europe and the continued fallout from the Panama Papers row about his father's business affairs.

The Prime Minister, who has endured a torrid few weeks including the resignation of Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, will seek to shift the focus onto his party's record in office ahead of local elections in England, including the mayoral race in London.

Mr Cameron will defend the Government's record and warn that Labour would waste money, hike taxes and impose new red tape if they gain control of town halls.

In a speech at the Conservative spring forum in London, the Prime Minister will say: "One year into our second term, and no one can deny: We are doing big things.

"Our mission: One Nation. Our method: knocking down every barrier to opportunity in our country. Our plan: giving everyone the chance to own a home; taking on the vested interest and bringing excellence to every school; sweeping new powers for local people; a seven-day NHS; creating jobs; raising wages; taking on extremism, ending segregation.

"A Conservative Government could be proud of achieving any one of those things in one term. We are doing them all."

Ahead of the event launching the English local election campaign, Mr Cameron described the contests as a choice between "the competence of a strong Conservative council who will keep local taxes down with quality local services versus the disarray of the rest".

The message for the May 5 vote was "don't let Labour do to your council what they did to our country", he said.

"Local councils now have more control over their finances, more freedoms to decide where development should and shouldn't go, and more powers to boost jobs and support local firms. But such new powers bring with them new responsibilities.

"Across north and south, across town and country, Conservatives in local government will deliver more for less. Labour and the other parties will just waste your money, squander these freedoms, impose new red tape and hike your taxes."

Experts have forecast that the Conservatives could make minor gains in the local elections, but the polls and bookmakers suggest that Zac Goldsmith will fail in his bid to replace Boris Johnson as London Mayor, with City Hall passing to Labour's Sadiq Khan.