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.
Conservatives in Government have successfully implemented new measures that have helped to turn the economy around. Just as we transformed Britain for the better in the 1980s after inheriting an atrocious economic legacy from Labour, we have done the same again today. After four years, the economy is growing, and its size will pass pre-downturn levels. Large numbers of people are setting up their own businesses. The total number of these in the UK is now almost five million – we’ve helped to unleash Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit. And record numbers of jobs have been created in the economy.
Our package of tax cuts, including national insurance contributions and corporation tax, and supply side reforms have helped businesses to invest and create jobs. Reforms to welfare to ensure that people are better off in work, a stricter benefits system and new support for the unemployed are helping to encourage and find people new work. This means that our policies are helping to create jobs by assisting employers and supporting jobseekers.
We should celebrate last week’s news that two million new private sector jobs have been created since 2010. Labour and our political opponents doubted whether this could be done: they underestimated Britain’s entrepreneurs. They criticised us for promoting policies to support the private sector and instead advocated the creation of more public sector jobs bank-rolled by more debt and more money from already hard-pressed taxpayers. Whereas we trusted private business to be the engine of economic growth and creator of jobs, Labour was obsessed with expanding the public sector. We should never forget that they warned of rising unemployment in a desperate attempt to frighten the public and score cheap political points.
But every new job created in the economy is another nail in the coffin of Labour’s economic credibility. There are now over 30.5 million people in employment in the UK as the number of jobs continues to break records. Almost 800,000 more people are in employment than last year, as the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6 per cent. The numbers of young people unemployed and economically inactive are also down. Whereas youth unemployment among young people aged 16-24 passed a million under Labour, it is now down to about 850,000.
Those facing big barriers to getting employment are also finding work. The long term unemployed, those who have spent more than a year claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, have fallen and there have also been sizeable reductions in the numbers of people aged over 50 looking for work too.
Despite Labour’s efforts to mislead and divide the public, this era of expanding employment opportunities is bringing benefits across the whole country. Over the last year, every single parliamentary constituency in the UK has seen the number of Jobseeker Allowance claimants drop. In the last month alone, the claimant count decreased in 98 per cent of constituencies. Under the noses of every single Labour MP, unemployment is falling. In the constituencies of Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna – the architects of Labour’s economic policies and main spokesmen on the economy – unemployment is going down. The evidence of this Government’s job creation success story is undeniable. But they are so out of touch and wedded to their propaganda that they continue to deny the positive news about the economy.
While Conservatives will carry on looking at ways to support the economy, between now and the next election, Labour behave pathetically ,as they hope and pray for bad economic news and job losses to suit their narrow political agenda. They will continue to talk down the British economy in a shallow effort to win votes.
But it is not just Labour politicians who are launching politically driven attacks on the Government. Last week we saw Oxfam’s ‘The Perfect Storm’ tweet, and the publication of a report designed to attack austerity policies and blame the Government for the hardship that some in Britain experience. With Labour’s economic credibility so badly damaged, left-wing propagandists are hoping that so-called independent charities and other organisations can produce misleading campaigns to try to smear the current Government.
In Oxfam’s case, it decided to claim that unemployment, high prices, zero hour contracts, high prices and benefit cuts are causing poverty. However, the reality is different. Unemployment is falling, and more people are now able to lift themselves out of poverty by being in work. It is also this Government that is clamping down on abuses to zero hour contracts and employers who do not pay the minimum wage; which has delivered a cut in energy prices, and which is reforming the benefits system to help get more people into work. Inflation is also low and below the Bank of England’s two per cent target.
Oxfam has claimed that its campaign is not politically motivated, but the fact that it is so willing to ignore the positive news in the economy and refuse to take a balanced position shows that it has allowed itself to become a mouthpiece for the political left. Some other charities have fallen into this trap, too. They have been vocal critics of the current Government and gone too far in their criticisms whereas they gave the last Labour Government an easy ride.
If they were acting in a way that was genuinely balanced and not partisan, then they would have been more vocal in criticising the last Labour Government. When unemployment was rising under Labour, when youth unemployment passed one million, when the numbers of workless households increased, when energy prices doubled and when food bank use increased many times over, Oxfam did not issue tweets with posters and messaging along the lines we are seeing now. Because it was so silent under Labour when the economy was worsening, its claims of political impartiality now have little or no credibility.
Those charities that are escalating their political campaigns now in advance of the next election are not only misleading the public but also betraying their supporters and the work that they do. Members of the public who donate to these charities, and taxpayers who also support them through the grants that various Government departments give them, are shocked that they are effectively subsidising political campaigning rather than the delivery of frontline services.
The vast majority of charities are doing fantastic work helping those in need, especially small local charities. But they are being undermined and overshadowed by the politically driven actions of some, who are more interested in trying to score political points and attack the Government.
The facts show that Britain is better off now than under Labour. Real action is being taken to tackle poverty and get record numbers of people into work. Because we are dealing with an atrocious legacy left by Labour, reversing these problems is not something that can be done instantly. However, we are now on the right path, which is why Labour and those on the left are so desperate to do or say anything to mislead the public. Just as they had no faith in the power of Britain’s entrepreneurs and the private sector to create two million new jobs, the left is underestimating peoples’ ability to see through their spin and propaganda.