Grant Shapps is Chairman of the Conservative Party and MP for Welwyn Hatfield.

Cameron_Thatcher1This is how Margaret Thatcher opened her 1983 manifesto:

“In the last four years, Britain has recovered her confidence and self-respect. We have regained the regard and confidence of other nations. We are seen as a people with integrity, resolve, and the will to succeed.”

She continued:

“The choice before the nation is stark: either to continue our present steadfast progress towards recovery, or to follow policies more extreme and more damaging than those ever put forward by any previous Opposition… Only if we create wealth can we continue to do justice to the old and sick and the disabled. It is economic success which will provide the surest guarantee of help for those who need it most.”

Remarkable. The facts of life have not changed. Actually, they are the same today as they were in 1983. Conservatives have a long-term economic plan. Only by sticking carefully to that plan can we pay our way in the world, and afford the things we value the most: jobs for this generation and the next, healthcare for our ageing population, a generous state pension, and the best schools and skills for our children to give them a start in life.

Conservatives have a moral mission. And it reaches deep into our daily lives. When David Cameron and George Osborne cut taxes – and started to offer real incentives for enterprise – it had an impact. Businesses started to flourish again, and there are now more British businesses than ever before. Over 30 million people are now working. That means 30 million individuals taking home a pay-packet to their families, with the stability to plan for the future. 30 million people less likely to fall into dole-queues, debt and difficulties.

There is a philosophical divide here. Labour say it is compassionate to keep our young people on benefits. But we believe real compassion means giving them a chance to work. That is why our plan has included specific measures to boost apprenticeships, numeracy, and literacy. The number of young people who are unemployed is falling as a result. Actually, it has fallen for the nineteenth consecutive month running. This means more youngsters getting a foot on the career ladder, with hope for the future – whether they have been to university or have studied a vocational qualification, as I did.

Our economy is turning the corner. This isn’t some abstract thing. It is real. Job vacancies – the jobs being advertised in towns and cities in every region of Britain – are now at their highest level for five years. A recent snapshot measured 569,000 unfilled job vacancies across the country: up 75,000 on the year, with new opportunities being advertised all the time.

This has a social impact. Yes, jobs give us money. But having a job is like having a family: it gives us pride and purpose. Labour’s Great Recession was a crime not just because it wasted £3,000 for every UK household, in lost national income, but also because it wasted so much human potential. In my constituency surgeries, I meet people who lost months of their life to benefits, as a result of that Great Recession. Others literally lost years. There is nothing more unjust than being robbed of your right to work by a crisis that you did not cause. That was Labour’s legacy for millions of Brits.

There are other encouraging signs. In the last year, 90 per cent of new jobs went to UK nationals (70 per cent since 2010). The new jobs being created are also overwhelmingly full-time permanent jobs in the private sector. Businesses – especially small businesses – have stepped up to the plate. They just needed the chance to do so. Britain has always had a tradition of fair play and tolerance. But we rediscovering that other great British tradition: enterprise.

Look: the Conservative Party is a big family, scattered across every nook and cranny of the British Isles. But a simple purpose welds us together: We want to rebuild an enterprise economy here in Britain, so we can afford the things that matter. The kind of economy that Margaret Thatcher built in the 1980s, and John Major built in the 1990s. A society where it doesn’t matter who your parents are. Where you can go as far as your hard work and talents will take you. That’s what means to stick to our long-term economic plan. It’s the same thing that Margaret Thatcher was talking about in 1983, 30 years ago. Help us finish that job. Help us win a Conservative majority. Join Team 2015 today.

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