Priti Patel is an elected Member of the Conservative Party Board, the 1922 Committee’s Executive and the Public Administration Select Committee. She is also a member of the Party’s Policy Board and MP for Witham.
British businesses and investors in the UK can be proud of the recent positive economic indicators that have been published on the economy. This success tears apart and further discredits Labour’s feeble economic offerings and exposes Ed Miliband’s economic illiteracy.
Importantly, since the last election, more jobs are being created in the economy. Unemployment continues to fall, and in my own constituency is almost 80 per cent lower than the levels seen under Labour. Businesses are bringing more people into work and the economy can now support the employment of over 30 million people. More than 1.4 million new jobs have been created in the private sector since 2010, as businesses and families reap the benefits of Conservative Ministers getting to grips with the fiscal mess left by Labour and promoting a pro-growth, pro-business agenda.
Encouragingly, manufacturing is also showing positive signs of growth. The CBI has reported an increase in orders and confidence among manufacturers. 38 per cent of firms have responded to the CBI survey that there has been a rise in output volumes while 34 per cent confirmed an increase in total orders. Car manufacturing has now reached a six year high, with exports accounting for around 80 per cent of cars sold and significant growth in demand from outside the EU.
The IMF has also upgraded its estimate of UK growth this year from 1.9 per cent to 2.4 per cent, while other independent forecasters have suggested even higher growth. The Ernst and Young Item Club UK Winter Forecast predicts growth in 2014 of 2.7 per cent, with business investment rising by 5 per cent. On top of this, inflation has now slowed to 2 per cent and the forthcoming increase in the personal tax free allowance to £10,000 in April will help hard-working families with the cost of living.
With more wealth being created in the economy and more people in work, the British economy is rebuilding with stronger long term foundations. Conservatives went into the last election emphasising the need to boost private sector growth, increase exports and control public spending. We are delivering this in Government and working with business to maximise entrepreneurship, investment and growth. Reductions in the small and main rates of corporation tax, a lowering of the burden of national insurance contributions and action to limit the impact of business rates have been complemented pro-active support for exporters.
Businesses, including SMEs, are being encouraged to export at an unprecedented rate. In Essex, the Chambers of Commerce launched a new International Trade Forum to support exporting companies and was backed by Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire at its launch earlier this month. Firms in Essex are already reaching out into new markets, and the British economy will benefit from the fruits of this endeavour. Initiatives like these will drive forward economic growth and job creation in a way that would never be possible under Labour. Trade missions lead by the Prime Minister to India, China, the Middle East and Africa are also creating new trading opportunities with markets that will grow faster than Europe in the early twenty-first century.
Wedded to their dogmatic socialist belief in expanding the size of the state, increasing taxes and spending more money in the public sector Labour failed to back British exports for 13 years in Government and would put export growth at risk if they returned to power.
The damning statements by business leaders on Ed Miliband’s irrational economic policies and FTSE company leaders’ concerns over his plans on carving up banks and freezing energy prices continue to demonstrate that Labour and Miliband are unfit for Government. An economic policy predicated on attacking bankers, damaging investment in infrastructure with statist price freezes, more debt and increasing taxes on successful businesses and wealth creators to pay for a larger state and more welfare payments is a recipe for economic disaster. Labour’s economic policy is entirely negative. Miliband preaches ‘One Nation’ but it is Labour that seeks to divide the country up on the politics of envy.
A Labour Government would exacerbate feelings of unfairness in society as they entrench a welfare-dependent culture built on the backs of those who work hard. They would cast aside efforts to bring down the deficit and instead spend heavily on expanding the state, as their trade union paymasters’ demand. And they would continue to talk down the British economy and punish entrepreneurs and wealth creators.
It was not that long ago that Labour was predicting a triple dip recession and three million unemployed. Their entire electoral strategy had been based on attempting to cash in from public fear and anxiety. But a triple dip and unemployment on that scale would have only happened if the Government had continued with Gordon Brown and Labour’s failed economic policies.
Now the economy is regaining strength through the combination of entrepreneurship and a pro-enterprise Government, Labour’s economic vision has been proven vacuous and wrong. As Conservatives, campaigning in important local and European elections this May and the general election next year, we should be vocal on the doorstep about our positive economic record and our long term plan for the future of Britain. We should be clear about the nightmare that would befall Britain should Labour return to power and we should be not hold back from exposing the lunacy of Labour’s economic plans. When 2015 comes, the public will have a clear choice. A Labour Party that believes in dismantling the free enterprise and replacing it with an expanding state; or a majority Conservative Government that will continue to get behind British business, support investment and ensure that hard work and entrepreneurship is rewarded.