Charlie Elphicke is the Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal. Follow Charlie on Twitter.
Last week the White Cliffs of Dover remained
blue. They did not go red. They did not go purple. The Conservatives beat
off Labour and came first in the popular vote.
Why? Because we were clear what the election was
about. We didn’t talk about the things we would like to do. We set out what we
had done. The port Labour wanted to flog off to the French or whoever saved and
forever England. The hospital Labour decimated about to be replaced with a
brand new hospital. The Council Tax Labour had spent years jacking up frozen.
Action to boost jobs and money with a regional growth fund and moving forward
regeneration projects that stalled under the last failing Labour Government.
The election choice was clear. A Conservative Party able to point to real
achievements against Labour’s past failures and lack of new ideas. People don’t
believe what you say, they believe what you do. And being able to point to a
strong record of action made a real difference in a difficult set of mid term
It’s the same nationally as it is locally. We
should time and again point to Conservative achievements in office in contrast
to Labour’s past failures and lack of ideas. A record of concrete action we can
show that we have done in Government:
- Economy: Growth of
0.3% last quarter showing the economy is healing, record low interest rates,
the deficit down by a third and 1.25m new private sector jobs
- Cost of living: A tax
cut of £600 for 24 million people, with 2.2 million out of tax altogether,
while Council Tax has been frozen for 3 years and the longest fuel duty freeze
in 20 years with pump prices 13p lower than under Labour’s tax plans and energy
companies are being made to put customers on the lowest tariff
- Immigration: Has been
cut by a third. In addition, tough action has been taken on sham marriages and
to sort out the organisation of our border security. New measures being brought
in to tackle benefits and health tourism from EU states and elsewhere – much of
which is work in progress with stronger results likely to be seen over the next
year that we will be able to point to as concrete achievements.
- Welfare reform:
Universal credit is action to make work pay and unleash the potential that is
in every one of us, benefits are capped at the average earnings level of
£26,000 while the Youth Contract has been set up to tackle youth unemployment.
So what of Labour? What do they have to say on any
of the great questions of the day? Labour lack a credible economic policy.
Voters feel the idea of borrowing more to borrow less is complete nonsense.
Labour lack a credible leader – as Ed Miliband proved once again in his car
crash World at One interview last week. They refuse to make any apology for the
mess they made and have opposed every difficult decision the Government has had
to take to sort out their mess. Small wonder then that Labour failed to make
any breakthrough at the polls.
Which brings us to UKIP’s success. UKIP
did well. Yet it was not so much their policies on Europe that resonated on the
doorstep. It was the fact that times have been so tough for so long and concern
about immigration. With Labour counting themselves out of the credibility race,
the votes of the exasperated didn’t really have anywhere else to go. With
economic recovery and as voters see the results of tougher action on
immigration, UKIP will find it harder to make progress. In addition UKIP’s
success will mean greater scrutiny of their policies – for example their
economic policies would leave a £120 Bn financial black hole in the public
finances. Their policies would take us the way of Greece and Cyprus even faster
than the Labour Party. Nor are UKIP particularly family friendly, believing
that maternity leave should be axed.
The lesson I draw from these elections is that
we do best when we are clear what we are for and the nature of the election
choice. We will do best nationally when we are crystal clear about the election
choice – what it is we have done and what we will do for the future. In sharp
contrast with Labour’s continuing failure and UKIP’s lack of credible policies
and policy detail that renders them unfit for national office. There is no
cause for complacency – we will have to fight for every last vote – yet there
is cause for optimism as so many of the necessary elements of the Conservative
General Election case are present and the remaining pieces can be put in place
over the next two years.