• 2015

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    09 January 2015

    To look back over the last year you have to look back over the last five. In May 2010 the country was on the point of economic implosion. The UK’s credit card had been wafted about with such extraordinary largesse that we (you, me, the tax-payer, our children and grandchildren) ended up on the hook for a debt approaching a trillion pounds (that’s £1,000,000,000,000). What was ruinously worse was that, far from paying off this mountain of misery we were actually adding to it by a hundred and fifty billion a year – more than we spend annually on the NHS and defence. We teetered on the brink of economic collapse. And the economy matters. It is not about abstract figures and meaningless metrics – it is about people having the security of a pay packet, providing for our families, about ensuring an effective NHS, educating our children, defending our country, policing our streets and much more. In short, if the economy is ruined you can forget the rest – just ask the Greeks.
    In 2010 we joined with the Lib Dems to form a coalition government with its most important objective being to turn the economy around. We never said it would easy and indeed it has proven to be far from it. Since 2010 there have been the economic headwinds of yet further crises in the Eurozone (our major trading area) plus a slowdown in China and the world economy. But by taking the tough decisions we have reduced the deficit by over a third, cut business taxes and restored confidence to our economy. And as a result we now have the fastest growing economy in Europe with 2 million more private sector jobs and 760,000 more businesses. Unemployment has nosedived. Here in Devon it has fallen by around a third in the last year alone. Inflation is well under control. Real wages are rising and taxes have been cut. Together we are pulling through.
    But the warning lights are still flashing. The greatest danger now is that we forget all the above and fall for the idea that the job is pretty much done - that we can turn on those spending taps again. We can’t. We still have the rest of the deficit to eliminate and that will take most of the next parliament. And it is not until we have done this that we can plan our future on the basis of economic surpluses and growing strength. In May, the British people will deliver their verdict on this government and their judgment on the alternatives. Some will argue that May 2015 is all about health, or immigration or renewable energy or Europe. It will of course be about all of these vital matters. Yet there is one issue that binds them all – the economy. And on that I say stick with us – let’s keep going – danger lurks if we falter now – but better times await if we are trusted to get on and finish the job.