A big year for Britain

 

2015 is a big year for Britain – the year we decide whether to stick to the long-term plan that is turning our country around, or to squander the progress we have made.

Cast your mind back just five years. The year 2010 dawned to an increasing sense of anxiety across the UK. We were on the brink of bankruptcy.

Investors around the world wondered whether Britain was a safe bet any more. One warned that the UK economy was a “must to avoid” – dangerously close to the edge. In businesses there was panic about shrinking order books.

In homes families talked about repossession, and parents wondered whether things would get worse and worse for their children.

It all added up not just to an economic crisis but an identity crisis – as in the Seventies, people were wondering if Britain would ever be truly great again. That was just five years ago. On May 11, 2010 we came into office determined to clear up the mess and set Britain back on her feet.

2015 is a big year for Britain – the year we decide whether to stick to the long-term plan that is turning our country around, or to squander the progress we have made.

Cast your mind back just five years. The year 2010 dawned to an increasing sense of anxiety across the UK. We were on the brink of bankruptcy.

Investors around the world wondered whether Britain was a safe bet any more. One warned that the UK economy was a “must to avoid” – dangerously close to the edge. In businesses there was panic about shrinking order books.

In homes families talked about repossession, and parents wondered whether things would get worse and worse for their children.

It all added up not just to an economic crisis but an identity crisis – as in the Seventies, people were wondering if Britain would ever be truly great again. That was just five years ago. On May 11, 2010 we came into office determined to clear up the mess and set Britain back on her feet.

We set in place a long-term economic plan. We asked for the patience, sacrifice and hard work of the British people to see this plan through – and together we have been turning our country around.

We took our country out of the mire of the Great Recession and in 2014 turned it into the fastest-growing economy of all the major advanced nations. We have made real progress on reducing our deficit – cutting it in half. Together we have turned the doom-mongering on job losses and unemployment on its head, transforming this country into the jobs factory of Europe.

For every day we have been in government, an average of 1,000 new jobs have been created. This long-term economic plan is making a real, tangible difference to people’s lives.

Today there are one million more children learning in good or outstanding schools – with their parents walking away from the school gates knowing they are getting a great start in life.

There are record numbers of apprentices learning a trade; two million started in this Parliament. Our Help to Buy scheme has helped to get over 71,000 people into homes of their own – the vast majority of them first-time buyers. Thanks to major tax cuts, over 24 million people are keeping more of their hard-earned money.

For those who have worked hard for decades, we are making profound changes, increasing the State Pension by £800 so far – and allowing people to pass on their pension to their loved ones tax-free.

So this plan is not just fixing the economy – we are changing the values of our country. As Prime Minister I want Britain to be a country where effort is rewarded: where those who put in, get out; where if you put the hours in, you keep more of your own money; where if you’re willing to save, you can buy a home of your own; where those retiring can have dignity and security in old age. Put simply, I want Britain to be a country that everyone is truly proud to call home – and after almost five years, we are getting there.

All this is at stake in the general election in May. The backdrop to this election is stark. The global economy is still struggling, with the eurozone teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, emerging markets slowing down and global trade talks stalling.

Against this uncertainty, the stakes for May’s election are raised even higher. It is not just the next five years people will be voting on, but the direction that we take as a country for the coming decades.

This is a critical moment for Britain’s future – and the choice is clear: between the competence of sticking with our long-term plan, or the chaos of the alternative.

Labour have no plan beyond more spending, more borrowing and more debt. Ed Miliband revealed recently that Labour would never clear the overall budget deficit. He would run a deficit – permanently adding to debt – indefinitely. That would leave us dangerously exposed should any further shocks hit our economy, like they did in 2008.

What’s more, because they refuse to make difficult decisions on spending, a Labour government would raise the spectre of higher taxes on every family and business in Britain. The money for their profligacy and incompetence would have to come from somewhere – and it would come from you. After all the hard work of the past five years, a Labour Government would suck Britain back into the chaos of debt, uncertainty and instability.

As for Ukip, all they can deliver is Ed Miliband into Downing Street.

A vote for Ukip is a vote to prop up a failing Labour government – a government that would refuse to give people a referendum on Europe and that would take us back to the days of open-door immigration, an out-of-control welfare budget and a something-for-nothing society.

In contrast to this chaos, the Conservatives offer the competence of a plan that is working. With a second term in government, we can go so much further. We have committed to cutting the taxes of hardworking people – by the end of the next Parliament, no one would pay the 40p tax rate until they were earning £50,000; and no one would pay income tax at all until they are earning £12,500.

We would fund three million more apprenticeships and build 100,000 starter homes especially for young first-time buyers.

Labour’s Human Rights Act would be scrapped – and an in-out referendum on Europe delivered. And we would carry on with the job that we have started: creating more jobs; helping more children get a decent education; giving more young people the opportunity to get on in life; giving more families peace of mind about the future.

So this is the clear choice before the British people: between the competence that has got us this far, or the chaos of giving it up, going backwards and taking huge risks.

I say our national New Year’s resolution for 2015 must be to stick to the plan, stay on course to prosperity, and keep securing a better future for our children and grandchildren.