The path to recovery

Andrew RT Davies says that there is a clear crossroads for voters at the General Election.

It seems like a lifetime away, that sunny May afternoon in the garden at Downing Street. David Cameron and Nick Clegg improbably putting their differences aside and agreeing to govern as a coalition in the country’s interest.

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The transformation in the following five years has been profound, with record levels of economic growth and stability in the financial markets, keeping interest rates low. Plenty to be proud of, but more work to do.Go back a few years further and that scenario would scarcely have been conceivable, but it is easy to forget what a royal mess Labour had made of the UK economy. The worst recession since the War, the country’s gold reserves gone, unemployment, debt & deficit at record levels. A note left behind by the outgoing Chief Secretary to the Treasury that read, simply: “there’s no money left”.

Between 2013 and 2014 a staggering 780,000 more people found jobs, the biggest annual rise in a quarter of a century. We have given a tax cut to 26 million hardworking people, all of whom now have more money in their pockets than under Labour.

Here in Wales, more than 150,000 people have been taken out of paying tax altogether and since the Coalition took office in May 2010, and the claimant count in Wales has dropped by 38%.

Why would anyone want to undo all of that progress?

As the election date has loomed ever closer on the horizon, Ed Miliband’s plans to ‘weaponise’ the NHS have backfired spectacularly.

Financial security has enabled the Conservative-led coalition to protect NHS spending in England, whilst Labour’s brutal slashing of the budget in Wales has had devastating consequences and made it one of the election’s key battlegrounds.

Here in Wales, where patients have been subjected to a 16 year ‘case study’ on how the health service fares under Labour, one in seven are on a waiting list. It’s not a record to be proud of. It’s not a record anyone should wish to replicate elsewhere in the UK.

In contrast, the UK Government has taken difficult decisions and focused on investing where it can in our great public services, whilst working to create a more balanced economy and improving public service delivery.

In education, for example, there are over a million more English children being taught in schools rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ than in 2010. Here in Wales, meanwhile, Carwyn Jones freely admits to having taken his “eye of the ball” and his government has left a generation of Welsh pupils a hostage to fortune, whilst Wales slides meekly down the international rankings.

Voters are understandably wary of politicians who describe an election as a “once-in-a-lifetime” choice. That’s invariably rank hyperbole, but it’s fair to say that the UK does find itself at something of a crossroads on the 7th of May.

For the first time in many years there is genuine divergence between the parties. Voters have a clear choice: a steady hand, guiding us back to calmer waters – or the party who led us into the storm in the first place, and who freely admit their only plan is to borrow and borrow again.

The manifestos for 2015 have only just been published, and yet Labour’s big-ticket ‘Mansion Tax’ pledge has already been spent eleven times over.

They preach evangelically about fairness and ‘progressive politics’, but the reality is that every time a Labour government leaves office it does so with progressively higher unemployment than when it arrived.

They talk about ‘government spending’ as though there is such a thing as government money, but there isn’t. It’s your money and you have a right to expect responsible governance, not a Prime Minister – in Ed Miliband – who would be willing to ramp up the borrowing and stake the future of our country on a reckless financial gamble.

Ed Balls’ economic thinking may still hold sway in Transport House, but outside of Labour circles even he can’t name a single business who backs his plans. Bill Something? Or someone. It’s all proof that a Labour government would hit you in the pocket. And that’s the fundamental difference between Labour and the Conservatives.

To keep the recovery on track and avoid this nightmare, vote Conservative on 7 May.

Andrew RT Davies is Leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

6 thoughts on “The path to recovery

  1. Here is a link to an article in the FT (not known as a Labour party supporting rag) that explains why Gordon Brown was right to sell gold. It explains that it was done to pay off debt and save the associated interest charges (sound familiar). The debt was inherited from Mr Major’s government. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/5788dbac-7680-11e0-b05b-00144feabdc0,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F5788dbac-7680-11e0-b05b-00144feabdc0.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&siteedition=uk&_i_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.quora.com%2FWhy-did-Labour-sell-the-UK-gold-reserves-and-what-does-it-actually-mean-for-the-nations-economy-and-the-individual#axzz1eMd5cDT5

    That Britain was in sticky position in 2010 is widely acknowledged. Spending had overshot revenues at the time of a global financial maelstrom in 2007 which caught every western economy out. That maelstrom was primarily brought about by the greed and recklessness of a financial class who remain steadfast in their support for the Conservatives. Despite the carnage inflicted on wider society they have to all intents and purposes continued with their trotters in the trough unabated.

    Comparing NHS Wales to NHS England is ridiculous. Comparing the performance of NHS Wales with equivalent poorer parts of England is more sensible. Look just across the border to Herefordshire and you find an NHS Trust in special measures, riven with clinical difficulties, supported by West Midlands ambulance trust fined millions for failing to meet performance targets. This healthcare comparison aspect of the campaign has been played out for the benefit of an English electorate. Sadly it has alienated many people in Wales not least those flogging their guts out on a daily basis within NHS Wales. That is unfortunate for Welsh Conservatives and will cost them votes. But in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter as Wales has been largely lost for the Conservatives -the widespread perception is that Welsh Conservative MPs are only there to tow the line and make up the numbers to ensure everything remains tickety boo in SE England.

  2. Brian, you’re right!

    The Thatcher Government laid the foundations of the crash and Labour carried it on. The economy was growing when Gideon Osborn got hold of it. He then killed it for three years until he quietly adopted much of the Labour policy, that he’d trashed, and stoked the debt problem that caused the crash.

    The Tories said they would not have bailed out the Banks. Barclays have made it clear that if that had happened it would have taken them down too. We couldn’t even have afforded soup kitchens in that case.

    Are these wonderful markets in Cloud Kookoo Land the same ones fined by American regulators for rigging?

    The London traders have been rigging the market with impunity since Thatcher. Look up “wash trades” Mr. RT Davies and ask yourself why the USA is prosecuting trading in London when England’s overseers do nothing to prosecute fraud in the City?

  3. There is one good reason, and only one good reason, but it is a decisive reason, to vote Conservative: the other lot will be much, much worse.

    The collective blindness and amnesia of large sections of the Welsh population is astonishing. Look around. Look at our nearest neighbours. Look north to Iceland, east to France, south to Spain, and west to Ireland – look at what we have escaped! It was no accident. Remember how things were in 2010? ‘There is no money left’ was just a joke and should not be treated with po-faced seriousness – but the joke was ironic rather than sarcastic. To have gone from there to simultaneous zero inflation and higher employment in the current international climate is a major achievement.

    As for public services, while there is room for debate about whether ‘a line between life and death’ along Offa’s Dyke is hyperbole, no one, absolutely no one – certainly not Labour in London – is arguing they are better in Wales after 16 years of Labour rule.

    The Conservatives are far from perfect. They have let down their core supporters – Christians, Unionists, libertarians, small businesses – time after time, but if, as seems likely, we end up with a Labour-SNP government, those who did not vote against it will end up wishing they had

  4. The Conservatives have presided over a fall in unemployment in the last two years but lets not get carried away here. I am not sure what particular unemployment record is referred to in the second paragraph of this paper but, according to the ONS, the record for highest unemployment occurred under Conservative leadership. The average rate of unemployment through the Thatcher/major years remained considerably higher than through the Blair/Brown years. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unemployment_in_the_United_Kingdom#/media/File:UK_Unemployment_Rate_Time_Series.png

    Also there is the inconvenient matter of the record debt picked up in 2010 increasing by 50% by 2015.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25944653 – to the current new record !

    Inflation remaining low is good but external factors such as US shale oil suppressing global prices have a bit to do with this.

  5. JWR You may be an outstanding management consultant but you just don’t understand macroeconomics. Read Professor Wren-Lewis’ analysis of the policies of this government, written for the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. It is a catalogue of error and Brian’s charaterisation of the situation is more accurate than yours. The UK had a lower debt to GDP ratio in 2008 on the eve of the crisis (below 40 per cent) than it had in 1998 shortly after Labour took office. See http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/spending_chart_1998_2016UKp_14c1li111mcn_G0t
    We escaped nothing, having had a deeper recession than France. Comparisons with Ireland and Iceland are misguided. The fuss over the debt is misplaced. When Harold Macmillan told the British people they had never had it so good, UK government debt to GDP was at 150 per cent. When Labour founded the NHS the debt ratio was at 250 per cent. Ye,s the deficit blew out in recession and had to be brought down but slashing spending and causing three years of stagnation with falling tax revenues was not the way to do it. It could only be done by restraining spending so that it grew more slowly than tax revenues. A big deficit takes time to correct but Osborne did not understand that. After all Keynes wrote as recently as 1936. It takes some people a long time to get the message.

  6. Mr Tredwyn, even those of us who humbly make no claim to be macro-economists know that what matters most about debt-to-GDP and deficit-to-GDP ratios is their place in the economic cycle. According to Lord Keynes, Labour’s fault was not borrowing but borrowing heavily at the wrong time.

    Of course, you are absolutely right that we cannot be certain how Lord Keynes’ intellectual position would have developed if he lived today – for all we know, ‘stagflation’ might have turned him into a hard-core monetarist – but in the absence of such certainly, all we have is his writings, which Labour idolise. So by their own idol are they condemned.

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