Here are some words that Ed Balls didn’t use in his recent conference speech: plan B; double-dip; triple-dip; too far, too fast; recession made in Downing Street; and, perhaps most importantly, sorry.
That’s because, although there’s much more to do, the economy is turning a corner. And one thing is already crystal clear: Labour has lost the economic argument.
This is the result of three years of hard work and tough decisions to rescue the economy and turn Britain around. The decisions to cut spending, in order to tackle the record budget deficit we inherited from Labour, were not taken lightly, but we have stuck firmly to this plan.
And, while there is still a long way to go, it is working. The deficit is down by a third and total employment is at an all-time high. Corporation tax cuts are attracting multinationals keen to relocate to the UK, while the small business sector has grown by over 300,000 new enterprises. Our plan has helped keep interest and mortgage rates at record lows.
But, despite falling unemployment and rising growth, over the past three years Labour has offered but two pieces of advice: abandon the Government’s plan and increase borrowing. Their economic policy, as in the past, is more borrowing, more spending, and more debt. This, they are still convinced, is the only route to securing growth and jobs.
And they continue to believe this, regardless of all evidence to the contrary. While somehow promising to borrow less by borrowing more, Labour frontbenchers have not been shy in racking up a catalogue of unfunded spending commitments. Indeed, since June this year, when Ed Balls promised “iron discipline” (just as Gordon Brown did in 1996), Labour has already announced £28 billion of unfunded spending with, doubtless, more to come. This extravaganza would equate to more than £1,000 more borrowing and more debt for every working family in the country.
Such reckless spending would be disastrous. It would be a clear signal to the financial markets that we weren’t serious about paying our way. It would spark a market crisis, and mortgage rates would soar. Job losses and business insolvencies would follow. Hardworking people would pay the price for a Labour Party that hasn’t changed and simply can’t kick its borrowing addiction.
While Labour remains stuck in the past, Conservatives are focused on the future. We want to ensure that all hardworking people benefit from the recovery. I know what it’s like for families who are finding times tough right now, having grown up on one of Bristol’s roughest streets and lived with my parents and four brothers in a two-bed flat. I remember how hard my father worked as a bus driver, and then shopkeeper, to provide for our family, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Night and Day’ from his co-workers. All he wanted was what all responsible parents want: the opportunity to provide for their family.
That’s why in government, I’m determined – and Conservatives are determined – to create an economic recovery for hardworking people. And we’re doing this by fixing the tax and benefit system so that it rewards hard work. We’ve cut income tax for 25 million people and taken 2.7 million out of income tax altogether. At the same time, we’re capping benefits so no household out-of-work can claim more than the average family earns in work. If you aspire to own a home, but can’t afford the deposit, our new Help to Buy scheme will help you do so. Want to start a business and take on that first employee? We’re removing a huge barrier by taking the first £2,000 off your employer National Insurance bill.
As Ed Balls tours the television studios, struggling to hide his disappointment that the economy is strengthening and blowing apart his argument, we are getting on with the job. The contrast could not be clearer.
So, if you want to work hard, do the right thing, and get on in life, my message to you is simple: we are for you.
Sajid Javid is the MP for Bromsgrove & Economic Secretary. You can follow him on Twitter @sajidjavid