With Christmas approaching, we Conservatives can reflect on a year which has seen our argument on the economy grow stronger as Labour’s has fallen apart.
But we must prepare to keep winning this argument. The success of our economic argument will be the factor that determines where we are this time next year.
As polling shows, the majority of the population know that dealing with our debts is necessary. People understand that there is no easy path for a quick fix. That rather, we must make the difficult decisions to do difficult things so that we live within our means as a country.
The internal anguish of the Labour party shows that they know they are losing the argument. Ed Miliband has limped towards Christmas with his reputation sliding, while Ed Balls’ interview in the Independent emphasises the complete lack of credibility Labour have on the economy. The Shadow Chancellor preaches that Labour "have got to make the argument for the alternative", but proceeds to practise the opposite. He promises yet again an empty pledge to set out as yet unspecified cuts at an unspecified time. The row within Labour shows just one thing: how far and how fast they have gone backwards in the last year.
But we mustn’t let Labour’s disarray lead us into complacency. We need to go into 2012 prepared to carry on winning the economic argument.
We need to live within our means so that we don’t saddle our children with an unsustainable burden of debt.
We need to end the something-for-nothing culture, which saw the last Government egregiously borrow to spend as it built up a welfare system that paid people not to work and turned a blind eye to rewards for failure at the top levels of society.
We need to make our economy more productive, and show we are making our economy more productive – that our Government is unrelentingly pro innovation and growth.
We must win the argument that Conservatives are reforming our country for the better – raising standards and providing more good school places in education, ensuring work always pays, supporting people who work hard and struggle to make ends meet by targeting tax cuts on the low paid, and tackling something for nothing in our banks. These reforms will make Britain stronger but also fairer, so you get out according to what you put in.
And when we are confronted with a proposal for unfunded spending, we should ask this question: is it worth borrowing the money from China to pay for it?
2011 has seen tough economic times, and 2012 will surely bring the same. But there is a growing realisation that Conservatives have the plan to bring Britain through this debt storm. We must ensure that while we rebuild our country and our economy, we bring people with us and keep winning the argument that these are the right, tough, choices to better times ahead.