David Cameron is the Prime Minister and is MP for Witney
The Conservative message in these elections is clear, simple, powerful and true: we are the team that is turning our country around.
While UKIP court headlines, Conservatives are actually fighting Britain’s corner. While the Liberal Democrats think everything in the EU is rosy, we are working to bring powers back to Britain. And while Labour patronise people with short-term gimmicks, we have a long-term plan that is serious, that is credible – and that is working.
Here I want to set out to ConservativeHome readers the three major reasons you should get out and vote Conservative on May 22nd: our hard-headedness in Europe, our common sense in local government, and our long-term plan.
First, Europe. I have set out, very clearly, what we are renegotiating on: keeping our border controls; cracking down on benefit tourism; securing more trade; getting more control over justice and home affairs; getting a better deal for taxpayers and getting Britain out of “ever closer union”. In every negotiation we have Britain’s national interest right at the forefront of our minds. We are going for a Europe that is less bureaucratic, less bossy – that creates more jobs and opportunities in the UK. That’s our goal. And once we’ve negotiated, whatever the outcome, the British people will have the final say on our future in Europe, in that in-out referendum in 2017.
And how do you know we’ll deliver? Judge us by our record. While UKIP are all talk and no action – banging on about their patriotic credentials while voting against Britain’s interests – we have been winning battles no British Government has won before. We got the EU Budget cut for the first time ever, saving taxpayers £8.15 billion. I pulled Britain out of the costly Eurozone bail-outs that Labour signed us up to. And I vetoed that EU Treaty that was not in our interests – something no British Prime Minister has done before.
As for the referendum, judge me by this commitment: I would not be Prime Minister of a government unless we could carry out our pledge of an in-out referendum. This is a fundamental principle for me.
So as you head to the polling booth, remember: Labour and the Liberal Democrats won’t give you a say. UKIP can’t give you a say. It’s only the Conservatives who can and will give you a say in that in-out referendum.
Second: if you want good local government that costs less, you’ve got to vote Conservative. Year after year, the average Band D council tax bill is lower with Conservative councils than with Labour. Pound for pound, we get more for less. How? It comes back to Conservative common sense: if there’s duplication – cut it out; if you can buy wholesale – do it; if you can merge services or share office space – do that too. This isn’t about efficiency for its own sake. It’s about Conservatives understanding that every penny of public money was hard earned – and so we take pains to spend it wisely.
Compare that to Labour. All over the country there are Labour councils making political cuts to spite government, waging propaganda wars, wasting people’s money and riding the gravy train. Under the last Labour Government, council tax doubled. From Labour HQ to Labour councils all over the country, Mrs Thatcher’s adage rings true: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
So if you want better value and good services from your councils, vote Conservative – and don’t let Labour do to your council what they did to our country.
Third, vote Conservative to back our long-term plan. The past four years have been a hard, long haul to turn our country around. There have been differences in our party – and on this website! – but what no-one can deny is that our fundamental approach has been profoundly Conservative: doing difficult things today to secure a better future. This is not a party obsessed with short-term popularity at the expense of long-term progress – we are the ones who get the job done. And in Government, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.
We set out our long-term plan: reducing the deficit, cutting people’s taxes, backing business, cutting immigration and reforming welfare, delivering the best schools and skills. We’ve been working through that plan, from difficult decisions on spending, to capping benefits, to Michael Gove’s passionate crusade to reform our schools.
And today, the plan is working. Instead of the Great Recession left by Labour, we’re seeing a Great British revival. We are one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world. Our exports to China have doubled. 1.5 million more people are in work now than they were at the last election – one and a half million people who have more security and more peace of mind that they can provide for their families.
Critically, this Great British revival is spread across the whole of our country. Here’s a question: where are exports growing fastest? London? No: the West Midlands. And where is employment rising fastest? The South East? No: Wales. We said this would be a recovery for everyone – North, South, East and West – and thanks to our long-term plan, we are delivering.
And that’s at the heart of our message in these elections: if you want fantasy politics, false promises and short-term gimmicks, vote for one of the other lot. If you want a serious team that is delivering, vote Conservative. This is not a party of showiness and sound-bites. What unites us – from the readers of this site, to our councillors, to me and our team in Government – is that we passionately believe in Britain, we love this country and want to give everyone in it the best chance of succeeding in life.
This article is the first in a series from party leaders about next Thursday’s elections.