A week ago today, George Osborne unveiled his 2014 budget. At its heart was a package designed to help the hard working people in Britain who are striving to get the most out of their lives. It included the following measures, which will benefit a whole range of people:
For the youngest members of our society, the budget doubles the number of apprenticeships and extends grants to small businesses keen on helping youngsters progress in a variety of trades. At long last, we are making young people aware that there are alternatives to university, thus starting to reverse one of Labour’s many great mistakes.
For families, Osborne is helping working mothers and fathers by increasing the tax free childcare cap to £10,000. It also signals the importance of families owning their own homes by extending the life of the Help to Buy equity scheme to 2020, meaning more opportunities for those wishing to settle down to create a stable home for their children (and for those wishing to start a family).
For our nation’s pensioners, the Budget provided an array of benefits for those who have spent their lives working hard and tackling life’s problems by introducing a new Pensioner Bond. This enhanced saving option will provide much-needed peace of mind and security for those most in need of a sound return on their money.
Thankfully, these examples offer but a mere taste into what is on offer in the 2014 Budget. The assortment of tax cuts and provisions to help people make it on their own makes this a conservative masterstroke. It was a solid Budget which I am proud to support. I think all conservatives can agree on that – well done, George!
However, what made this budget all the sweeter for our party was the abysmal response from Labour. Yet again, Ed and Ed shrieked like badly behaved children from the opposition benches, as if trying to mask their shock. Subsequently, they failed to mount any sort of coherent critique of the Budget, instead reciting amateur, tired and poorly rehearsed scripts. Labour has lost the economic battle. We know this, so now it is up to all conservatives to make sure that the voters know it, too.
I know that in my own constituency of Romford this Budget will have a strong and positive impact on people’s lives. It will be the job of the Conservative action team and I to get this message across to voters as quickly as possible ahead of the local and European elections in May and ultimately the general election in 2015.
This brings me to a point that I am especially keen to make.
I know, not only from my own struggles, but from listening to the views of many Conservative voters up and down the country, that things have not been easy since 2010. Whilst the Conservative leadership has been busy trying to win over swing voters by pursuing a predominantly centrist policy agenda, many have felt excluded – and somewhat alienated – from the Conservative Party under David Cameron. ConHome readers will know that I have had some disagreements with the Government since the Coalition took power in 2010. Yes, a good number of them were due to interference from the out-of touch Liberal Democrats – including their misguided rejection of reform of human rights laws – but some of them have been a direct result of the actions of our own leadership.
At times I have been frustrated, as have many of us, but we Conservatives must stand together in the upcoming elections. We must show the electorate that we have what it takes to work for Britain at parliamentary, local and European level. We are united in our opposition to socialism and dedication to the free markets, low taxation and small government. Let this budget be what brings us together under the banner of conservatism. It is easy to do nothing, and to allow frustration to lead to unenthusiastic campaigning. But our country needs us!
I believe a Conservative Government should be dedicated to radically changing our relationship with the EU and, if necessary, making the case for withdrawal. I also want to strengthen our borders, so that only those with good intentions and love for our culture and way of life come here to live and work. And I desperately want a Conservative Government that makes it clear to criminals that, under us, crime results in meaningful punishment.
We can only do all of these things if we have a majority in 2015.
There are many MPs in the Conservative Parliamentary Party that long for such policies too. Only when we have a majority Tory government can we push for a true conservative agenda dedicated to protecting the nation. Then the Liberal Democrats cannot be blamed, and we will be able to see first-hand who really supports conservative policies.
Until then, we cannot afford our message of a stronger economy and lower taxes to be lost by infighting. The people of Britain want to know who it is that places them and their families at the heart of policy making. We know that it is us. We know from their response that Labour have been rattled by our economic achievements, and have nothing left to offer but hot air.
However, at the moment, we risk allowing Labour to win by default. I strongly believe that the nation is completely oblivious to Labour’s ‘plan’ and take on policy. But a divide in the right-wing vote will only help Labour, particularly in marginal seats. I have heard Nigel Farage say that a Labour government will be no worse than a Tory one. We all know this to be untrue. We risk our sovereignty being totally lost to Brussels, the rerun of the something-for-nothing welfare culture, a return to a financially unstable future, a re-emergence of pointless government quangos and the relaxation of immigration policies among other unwanted relics from the 1997-2010 horror show. Those days must not return, but I fear that Farage and UKIP care more about their own political gains at the expense of David Cameron than they do about the resulting damage to our country.
If we are successful in 2015 and secure a majority, then will be the time to spearhead for a truly conservative approach to governance. I intend to work with my parliamentary colleagues to achieve this. Until then, we need the grassroots – our backbone – more than ever before. Trust me, with a clear unambiguous Conservative vision, we can win for Britain.