1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s article on the economy, published by The Sunday Mail on Sunday 21st February 2010.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
The central issue at the next election is -
“Things can only get better” trilled Labour in 1997. How wrong they were. The British electorate trusted Labour to inherit the most stable and competitive economy in Europe, and to invest wisely for the future. Yet over thirteen wasted years, our public finances have been squandered, and our economy is in a dire state. The damage they have done is so extensive it is hard to quantify.
The total British national debt has more than doubled. Our annual debt has soared to levels never before seen in our history. We are unlikely -
The last decade under Blair/Brown has been the worst for growth since the 1930s. Manufacturing is declining at a record rate. The City is wounded, with bits of it scarcely out of intensive care. The Stock Market has slumped. Our competitive advantage has been lost. The UK was the last but one nation in the G20 to come out of recession -
But the issue of trust is much wider than policy failures. The Labour Government is not candid -
I do not believe most people yet realise how serious this debt is: the Labour Government are having to borrow £500 million-
Nor have Labour produced a fairer society with the money they have spent. The gap between rich and poor has widened, sink estates have worsened, social mobility has fallen and failing schools cripple the prospects of too many children. This is not fairness. It is failure.
Try as they might, Labour cannot defend their record in Government, so their policy is to resort to their old trick of attacking their opponents with a barrage of fantasy claims, and what Churchill termed “terminological inexactitudes”. As they do, they widen still further the growing wedge between a disbelieving public and our political system.
Why do they say what they know to be untrue? The Prime Minister tried to draw a (wholly false) distinction between Tory “austerity” and Labour “aspiration”. Alastair Darling up-
The Prime Minister feeds the public with a diet of nonsense, telling us that tackling the deficit is his priority, whilst promising increased expenditure for popular services. The disconnect between the Prime Minister’s fantasy and the real world becomes ever wider. And yet he continues to make claims that are easily contradicted by the evidence. How can trust possibly be maintained? And how have we come to this?
My own view is that -
Nor was this strategy restricted to economic and social policy. The findings of the Chilcott Inquiry may yet show us that public presentation and private reality were in conflict, even in matters of War: we shall see. However, it is certain that few soldiers (or their families) will forget that our Servicemen and women were sent to Afghanistan with the promise that “not a shot would be fired”. Such careless policy costs lives: already, alas, more than were lost in the Falklands conflict. This is emphatically not trustworthy Government.
“Oh well”, people say as they shrug their apathetic shoulders, “that’s politics”. No, it is not. No-
Deceiving the electorate should be a capital crime politically and yet, under Labour, the public has become inured to it. They should be outraged. When Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as Prime Minister, he promised to end the black arts of spin. This is yet another empty pledge from Labour, for Gordon Brown continues to preside over a swollen army of practitioners, whose role is to mislead the very people who are paying their salaries: the British taxpayer.
But deception is not limited to these back-
Labour’s theme is that all Tories are “toffs”, who know nothing about ordinary people. What inverted snobbery this is -
How many have not faced problems with bills, mortgages and family crises? Of course they have -
Another Labour claim is that “experienced” Gordon Brown is better equipped to clear up the mess (albeit one which he created), than the “callow” Tories. “The test of a Government”, stated the Prime Minister at his Party Conference, “is the quality of its judgement”. Quite so -
Was it good judgement -
Was it good judgement to lead the UK into record debt? Or to remove the safeguards that were in place pre-
Was it good judgement to reverse Conservative policies on health and education when they came into Government, only to re-
Was it good judgement to force through 24-
If judgement is the test, this Labour Government has failed spectacularly.
“Things can only get better”, yet -
The poet Philip Larkin once wrote: "Most things are not meant." Labour did not mean to damage our national wellbeing, but they have. They did not mean to damage our personal liberty, but they have. They did not mean to undermine Parliament, but they have.
Larkin was right, most things are not meant, but his poem was even more prescient than you may think. It is entitled: "Going, Going". Let us hope -