There’s a good question I’ve been asked a few times over the last week, usually by people who don’t usually vote Conservative but may be considering voting for Boris next week. It’s why are the Conservatives only pledging to do some of these things now, when they’ve been in power for nine years.
It’s a reasonable question, but there are also some very good answers.
1. We have a new leader
Boris Johnson is not David Cameron or Theresa May. Cameron in particular was very right wing (neoliberal) economically and also very socially liberal – pro-EU, globalist, pro-mass immigration. Boris is much more centralist economically; in particular, he puts a much higher priority on funding and investing in public services such as schools, the NHS and police. Boris also takes a more traditional Conservative line on some social matters, notably wanting to Leave the EU and being tougher on criminal justice and law and order. The differences extend to much smaller matters: for example, Boris is more pro-science and has pledged to double the science budget in five years.
2. We’ve got the finances in order
In 2010, the budget deficit was over 10% of GDP, standing at £152bn. Almost 1 in 4 pounds spent by government was borrowed and an outgoing Labour Treasury minister left a note saying ‘There’s no money left.’
We had to get that under control and we did. The deficit is now just 1.2% and debt is falling as a proportion of GDP. This gives us the space to commit to a modest increase in investment to stimulate the economy and fund public services, at a rate that should see debt continuing to fall as a proportion of GDP.
We would have liked to do some of this investment before, but there was no money. Now, due to fiscal prudence, there is. If someone asks, ‘If these home improvements were important, why didn’t you do them before?’ the answer ‘Because I was paying off my credit card debt’ is an excellent answer.
These are perhaps the two biggest reasons. But there are also two others:
3. We were in coalition
Some things we might have wanted to do we wouldn’t have been able to in Coalition. For example, the Lib Dems are consistently pro-criminal, so it’s unlikely we could have implemented our current pledge to stop violent and sexual criminals being automatically released halfway through their sentence with them.
4. We’ll get Brexit done
The last three years have involved an antidemocratic Parliament repeatedly frustrating attempts to deliver the people’s mandate from the referendum to deliver Brexit. This has wasted a lot of time which has meant other good laws couldn’t be passed. We’ll get Brexit done so we can focus on delivering our other pledges.
I’ve written before about good reasons to vote Conservative. We’re the only party that will get Brexit done, deliver a strong economy, invest in our public services and effectively tackle crime. So even if you’ve never voted Conservative before, consider lending Boris your vote next Thursday to deliver a better, fairer, more prosperous Britain.