Grant Shapps is Chairman of the Conservative Party and MP for Welwyn Hatfield.
Every Labour Government has left unemployment higher. This is a simple fact of history. That is why on Monday, Ed Balls was out on the airwaves, trying to whip up a panic about our plans for public services.
But it was a smokescreen, a distraction, and he was wrong even on the basic facts. Here’s the bottom line: our plans would return public spending to about where it was in 2002-2003: a period when Ed Balls was in the Treasury! The Institute for Fiscal Studies have confirmed this.
But what is clear from this week, is Labour don’t want to talk about jobs, wages, and the wider economy. We saw exactly the same pattern in 2010: when Labour said anything to scare voters, to frighten them about our economic plan.
As Conservatives, we should be proud of our record. We have a simple, positive message. Our plan will mean a healthier economy with rising living standards, and full employment: a Britain living within our means, so we aren’t kicking the can down the road forever and passing on even more debts to our children.
The choice is simple. Labour’s legacy – last time around – was the most painful recession in 100 years. Millions of people were abandoned to a life on benefits. Britain was left to struggle along with a deficit as bad as Greece.
Since then, Conservative Ministers have worked hard to turn the tide – whether it is Iain Duncan-Smith’s groundbreaking work on welfare reform, a radical new localism from Eric Pickles and Greg Clarke, or the long-term commitment from George Osborne to rebuilding our infrastructure and cutting income taxes.
The result has been dramatic. We have witnessed nothing short of a jobs miracle. The facts of life do seem to be Conservative after all – with more British families now enjoying the security of a job, and not having to live with the fear of losing their home, or losing their savings.
So, here is our simple, positive, Conservative message on jobs – for when you are knocking on doors in the weeks ahead:
1) We have cut the jobs tax – creating more jobs.
2) We have created 2 million apprenticeships, with another 3 million in the pipeline.
3) We have scrapped or amended over 3000 regulations, saving businesses over £850 million a year – enabling growth and the creation of more new jobs.
4) We have helped 18,000 entrepreneurs to start their own businesses with our Start-Up Loan scheme, supporting the creation of 400,000 more small businesses.
5) And the result of all this – an employment rate of 73 per cent – the highest since records began, and 1.85 million more families with the security of a pay packet!
Finally, the most important point of all. This is our mission in politics. We Conservatives are the party on the side of people who start off in life at the bottom of the ladder, and dream of working their way up it. As the Prime Minister has said:
Don’t stand on the sidelines. Play your part in securing decent jobs for everyone who wants one: a better future with the Conservatives. Join Team2015 today.