Grant Shapps is Chairman of the Conservative Party and MP for Welwyn Hatfield
This autumn, Ed Miliband used his questions at PMQs to remind voters of one burning, irreducible fact. Labour presided over the worst recession to hit Britain in 100 years. Of course, he never puts it quite like this. But, behind the war of words, that is the substance.
Pick any economy topic. Whether it is living standards; debt and deficit; public spending; taxes; business growth; house building; jobs… You name it, all these have one inescapable fact at their centre. Labour left Britain poorer. Recovery will be difficult, and slow. This is not a political argument for the TV studios. It is a fact.
The Office for National Statistics has reassessed the depth of Labour’s Great Recession. From peak to trough, 2008 to 2009, Britain’s national income shrank by seveb per cent. It was a loss of £3,000 for every household in this country. £112 billion pounds, wiped off our economy. One of the sharpest contractions of any economy in the world.
When Labour try to talk about living standards rising more slowly, that is what they are really talking about. Britain has been living through the aftermath of Labour’s economic calamity. Miliband and Ed Balls wrecked our economy. Now, they are attacking us for not cleaning up their mess fast enough.
Labour have gimmicks for focus-groups. But only the Conservatives have a serious plan for the long-term. Only the Conservatives can be trusted to go on taking difficult decisions: reducing the deficit, cutting taxes, controlling welfare, crime, and immigration, enabling people to own their own home, and helping small businesses to create jobs. Only the Conservatives will deliver a sustainable recovery.
This is the Conservative mission in Government. Not for some abstract reason: but because we want to leave our children a country that is prosperous again. We want to build a Britain with pride and purpose, that can afford the essential public services we need and be compassionate to those who are suffering.
On the doorstep we have to keep it simple. So here are five simple facts:
1) We are cutting income tax for 25 million people. This is already saving you £590 a year on average.
As this year draws to a close, the battle lines for 2015 are becoming clearer. We have an effective Conservative team, working to a detailed plan. David Cameron is standing up for Britain on the world stage. He leads a Conservative Party on the side of people who work hard and do the right thing, versus Labour who haven’t changed and would put Britain’s recovery at risk.
Labour will spend the next 17 months scaring people. We have seen it before in 2010, and sadly we will see it again. It is the same old Labour. At a local level, just like in Parliament, Labour will go on opposing the difficult decisions we are taking. But we should have a simple, positive answer on the doorstep this Christmas. With us, you are keeping more of your own money. With us, there are a million more people in work. And with us, we will sort out Labour’s mess in our public finances. Ours is a message of hope and hard work. We have 17 months left to make that case before polling day.