This has been an odd Party Conference season, with all three parties having a good conference. Ed Miliband was under pressure to appear normal, the Lib Dems to show that they have a voice in the Coalition and the Conservatives that they are a party for the many and not just the few.
The theme from our Conference was the importance of aspiration, education and work. I went to a school bottom of the league tables and my dad died at an early age. I joined the Conservative Party because I believed that if I worked hard in life, I could be everything I aspired to be and because I never would accept that where you come from should have any bearing on what you can achieve.
This is a mantra that has been at the heart of the Conservative Party for decades, since the advent of the ‘One-Nation’ tradition that Labour claim they now represent. Yet this is a tradition about aspiration, education and work. A classless tradition that seeks to help people get on in life. A tradition that is not for the better off, but for those who want to be better off. In stark contrast, 13 years of Labour offered only debt, taxes and welfare, driven by the language of class war and underpinned by one notion – borrowing.
Labour’s mantra – that money is the solution to all problems – has been shown to be flawed in a devastating way, with a wrecked economy, a generation trapped on welfare and tax system that punished aspiration and success. In a competitive global world, this is holding us back, but worse of all, it is holding back everyone who aspires to get on, to do, to achieve. We are taking the difficult decisions necessary to once again turn Britain into one of the greatest striving nations in the world.
In the last two years, we have cut the deficit by 25% are rebalancing the economy and have created a million new private sector jobs – more than Labour created in a decade. In education, our ‘Free Schools’ revolution is helping to give every child, rich or poor, access to a world class education. Our welfare reform is building a welfare system based on fairness, where work always pays and where no family can ever be better off on benefits than the average family is through work. We are providing up to £14,000 of support for everyone who has be unemployed for over 2 years, building the skills and confidence to help everyone fulfil their potential.
As a society we are brimming with potential. It is our duty as a Government to make sure that we do all we can to unlock it.
[First published in the Swindon Advertiser 12/10/2012]