Monday, 10 September 2012

Message from Grant Shapps MP, new Chairman of the Conservative Party

ON WEDNESDAY afternoon, I sat at the Cabinet table for the first time as Conservative Party Chairman.
People have been asking me what exactly the Cabinet reshuffle was all about. They want to know: why does it matter?

I tell them this reshuffle is about one thing — rolling up our sleeves to deliver the reforms we’ve brought in and getting Britain back on its feet.

This Government means business, and we’ve got the right team to deliver. Our task is enormous, but we’re making significant progress. We’re putting in a proper plan to bring down the deficit.

We’re lending a hand to people who work hard by cutting tax — and taking two million people out of tax altogether. We’re reforming our schools so that our children have the skills to compete — and we’re supporting the industries of the future so that we can create proper, well-paid jobs.

Most importantly, we’re going all out for growth by reforming our economy.
Tory reshuffle blueprint
Blueprint ... Tory plans for Britain

We didn’t hesitate to chuck out Labour’s tax on jobs and scrap laws that prevented small firms from taking on new people. But there’s more to do. We’re reforming the planning system so that you can add a reasonable size extension, perhaps a conservatory, without having to ask anyone for permission. We’re speeding up access to the superfast broadband our businesses need.
And we’re slashing the red-tape that holds firms back and prevents them from creating even more jobs.

Most importantly, we’re making sure that work always pays.

When I was setting up my own business in my early 20s I’d get up early and work every hour I could stay awake. I know many Sun readers have picked up their paper after a hard week at work, putting in the extra hours and maybe facing the daily commute.

While you’re at work, people across the road are sat in front of the TV, getting enough money from benefits to stay at home. To live off your taxes.

And it’s just not fair.

So I’m proud to say that Conservatives in government are tackling it head on. We want a country that rewards effort and where work pays. We’re capping welfare so that it doesn’t pay to sit at home.
Thanks to our reforms, no household will get more in benefits than the average family earns by working.

The something-for-nothing culture will be gone forever. Welfare’s just one of the problems Labour failed to tackle when they were in government. And now, unbelievably, they’ve actually voted against our plans to cap benefits.

It’s the same story with immigration — the system was in chaos under Labour, yet now they oppose our plans to cap it.

And wait — there’s a pattern emerging.

Labour failed to improve our education system when they had the chance and now — and this one’s really nuts — they oppose our plans to create more good schools for our kids. But never mind all this knee-jerk opposition. People are still asking themselves: just what does the Labour Party actually stand for?

The truth is that they’re headed for their third year in opposition without even a single policy.
I remember when the Conservatives were in opposition, we were starting to set out our platform by this stage of the parliament.

Ed Miliband claimed he had a “blank page” of policy when he became leader, but he’s been so busy arguing with his shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, that he’s still not put pen to paper. This week I thought they’d finally come up with something. To great fanfare, they announced their big flagship idea — “pre-distribution”.

Sounds good, but what does it mean? I’m sure Sun readers were as confused as I was. Take a closer look and it turns out to be the same old Labour policy in a new wrapper — more spending, more borrowing and more debt. Exactly the same “something for nothing” plan that got us into this mess in the first place.

The truth is, Labour stand for nothing. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised.

Don’t forget that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were Gordon Brown’s right-hand men. They haven’t learnt a thing from their mistakes in government. They still want to borrow more, create more debt and pass the problem to our children and grandchildren.

Like all parents, I want to give my kids the best start in life. This week, I saw my son off for his first day at secondary school. I don’t want him and his schoolmates still to be paying for the mistakes of the last Labour Government when they are my age.

That’s the kind of thing that motivates me in public life. For the sake of my children’s generation, I know that we have to see through our reforms. We’ll stay the course on the economy — and we’ll keep at it until we’ve balanced the books.

The best news yet is that our plan to deal with the debt is starting to work. We’ve now cleared a quarter of the deficit left by Labour.

Businesses have created nearly a million jobs since we took office. Unemployment is actually falling, mortgage rates are low and inflation is down.

But there’s much more to do.

As Chairman of the Conservatives it’s my job to make sure that we deliver on our promises as a party. We will never stick our heads in the sand and say it’s not our problem. We’ll never shy away from the tough decisions we need to create real jobs and growth. We’ll always focus on creating a society where people who work hard and want to get on in life are rewarded.

I’m not saying that it’s all plain sailing. We’re weathering a global economic storm, centred on Europe, and it won’t end overnight. Our decisions won’t always be universally popular either — we don’t expect people who refuse to work to thank us for taking their cushy number away. But delaying would just pass this generation’s debt on to our children, stall economic recovery and cost us even more.

That’s just plain wrong.

Around the Cabinet table this week we set out our plans in more detail. We’ll continue to bring down the deficit, but we also want to do more to help working families. We want to build the homes and create the jobs that mean we can have a better, more flexible economy and secure future for our kids.
I’m already planning my visits up and down the country, knocking on doors and spreading the word.

If you want to help ensure work always pays, that we don’t leave our debts to our children to repay and that Britain has a bright and prosperous future, then come and join us and together we’ll build a better future.

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