Ben Howlett is the National Chairman of Conservative Future
Tonight the eyes of the world will be watching as the Olympic Flame soaring above London is lit. There is no better time for a spark to ignite the flames of economic growth and social opportunity. This Government has the chance to use this opportunity to sell Britain PLC and improve the lives of generations.
The Olympics can and should provide the confidence that will underpin the revitalisation of the economy. With the world focused on Britain, the Government can use this opportunity to remind everyone that we are a great investment opportunity.
Inward investment statistics released yesterday show how much has already been achieved. Over 112,000 new jobs were created last year by inward investment projects. Statistics show a 22 per cent rise in the number of manufacturing projects and a 71 per cent rise in e-commerce projects compared to 2010/11, as well as a rise in the number of Chinese inward investment projects from 59 to 92 – China is now the third largest source of inward investment projects. This investment means more jobs to help our young unemployed, more savings for our elderly and more wealth to invest in our public services. The Government has had considerable success selling Britain as a brand overseas, and the spark of excitement from the games will boost this achievement.
Britain must get the sales pitch right. As a healthcare consultant, I understand that in order for a client to buy my produce they need a strong pitch, a great product and it needs to be relevant to their needs. The Prime Minister yesterday kicked off the strong pitch. Most young people will look at what was announced by the Prime Minister yesterday and understand this Government is using this opportunity wisely by championing business and investment in UK Plc. It is this drive that will see our economy – like a phoenix from the flames – rise out of tough times and promise a bright future to our young people.
The Government must focus its attention on building links with the thousands of businessmen from across the world who are visiting London for the Olympics. There is no better networking opportunity. We must show that Britain is a great place to invest – with record low interest rates, regulations being scrapped, 800,000 new private sector jobs since the election and a credible fiscal plan that has cut Labour’s deficit by 25% in just two years. If we do that, we will encourage even more businesses to invest in the UK.
As someone who works with young people on a daily basis, they constantly say they are fed up with politicos doing the economy down. Of course they understand that the problems in our economy are deep-rooted, and that there is no quick-fix. As Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the OECD, has warned, any relaxation of the Government's fiscal position would be punished by the markets and rating agencies. The austerity being imposed now is "sowing the seeds of what will be the elements for recovery". But they also understand that economic growth rests on confidence, and confidence relies on all parties coming together to use the next few months to sell Britain Plc. The Olympics Games are a unique chance to attract business to the UK. To young people this means more jobs, more opportunities and a future of aspiration for all.
Not only is there an aspirational economic narrative in the Olympics, there is also an aspirational social narrative. The Olympics will help to embed a sense of hope into our communities. Young people across the UK will watch in awe at the sporting marvels as they unfold over the coming months. The Games will inspire young people to get involved in sport up and down the country – an important legacy.
The Olympics provides us all with a fantastic example of hope and optimism in tough times. Let’s use this opportunity to show off our achievements, our potential and our spirit to the world. Let’s work together to sell Britain Plc – and reap the economic and social rewards for years to come.