2015 has started with lots of good news for the British economy.
Unemployment has fallen by 370,800 over the last year and more people have jobs than ever before. Three quarters of the 1.75 million new jobs created since 2010 are full-time jobs.
Meanwhile, the collapse in oil prices has pushed inflation to its lowest level in 12 years and led major energy suppliers like Eon, Scottish Energy and British Gas to cut their gas prices by 3.5-5 per cent. Respected economic forecasters are predicting a healthy boost of 3.7 per cent in people’s takehome pay.
And the International Monetary Fund has just confirmed that in 2014 the British economy grew faster than any other major economy and is predicting that our economy will grow even faster in 2015. That is why, when he was asked last week about David Cameron’s long-term economic plan, President Obama declared “we must be doing something right”.
But, in politics, what matters most is not the past, or even the present, but the future. And I know that at the election on May 7, readers of the Journal will be comparing the different parties’ proposals and weighing up the qualities of the different leaders.
The Conservative pitch will be simple. After some very difficult years, in which many people lost their jobs and everyone had to tighten their belts, our country is making good progress again.
But our future prosperity is not guaranteed. We still need to live within our means and that means continuing to reduce our budget deficit. We still need strong leaders to take tough decisions, and see them through. We still need to invest in apprenticeships and reform our benefits system so that anyone who can work is helped back into work and we realise the dream of full employment.
David Cameron and George Osborne have a clear economic plan which will deliver a sustained recovery that benefits everyone.
Ed Balls and Ed Miliband were in government, at Gordon Brown’s side, when he drove the British economy into the ditch. They have learned nothing from their mistakes. And they would return Britain to the bad old days of more spending, more borrowing and more debt, of higher interest rates, higher prices and higher taxes.
Between now and May you will all have to live through a closely fought election campaign. I am sure that many of you will find it bores you to tears. But this is not a gameshow. We are not there to entertain you. This is serious. You will be choosing your government and your Prime Minister for the next five years.
And it will all boil down to this: who do you trust to build a secure future for yourself and your family?