George Freeman MP speaks up for the "strivers"
10th May 2012
These are tough times for most of us. Our debt crisis is causing prices to rise whilst incomes are being squeezed and jobs are harder to find. We face uncertainties about the global economic recovery and the knock-on effects in our cities, towns and villages of the turmoil in the Eurozone. The Queen's Speech this week has provided an opportunity to remind ourselves and ministers that the Government's focus should be on the "strivers"; people who are working hard, paying their way and trying to get on in life. That's why I wrote this article in The Sun and spoke on Newsnight. I wanted to speak out about what the Government should do in the coming year to support the "strivers" and to help Norfolk - and other rural economies - to get back on track to growth.
Why we still need the Radical Coalition.
Today the Queen will open the new session of Parliament. MPs and journalists are asking if the Coalition will survive? After 'Pastygate', 'Grannytax' and the local election results, some Conservatives suggest the only answer is to tell the Lib Dems where to get off, and run a more Conservative Government. I think they’re wrong. I'd love a more Conservative Government, but they forget we don’t have a majority. We'd risk ending up with a ‘Lib-Lab Pact’ like we had in the 1970s. We know where that leads. Back to tax, debts and strikes.
We need to remember how the Coalition came about. Nobody won the 2010 General Election. People were fed up with all party politics. They understood the mess Blair and Brown had got us into. People wanted the parties to 'put aside their differences, put the country first and form a National Government for a National Emergency'. That was the idea behind the Coalition in May 2010. We need to recapture some of the spirit today.
In the Coalition we and the Lib Dems have agreed to be radical in tackling the areas we agree on. Tackling Labour’s debt crisis by cutting wasteful spending to keep interest rates down. Reforming welfare to tackle abuse and help people back into work. Reforming schools to restore classroom discipline and drive up standards. Reforming tax to encourage small businesses, make the rich pay their fair share while cutting tax for the lowest paid workers: 2m of the lowest paid workers now pay no income tax at all.
At the heart of this programme is a simple idea. People want a Government that supports those who want to work and do the right thing, so that they can get on and put this country back on its feet. People are rightly fed up with living in a ‘something for nothing’ country. It isn’t complicated. The Government hasn’t been clear enough in explaining what it's doing. We need a Government on the side of the 'strivers'.
Who are the strivers? All of us who want to work, save and build a better future for our families. All of us who believe in taking responsibility for our families and doing our bit for our communities. All of us who believe in the old-fashioned values of responsibility, respect and earning your way in the world. In the last decade too many strivers have worked all hours for little gain, whilst others - bankers, public sector 'fat cats' on gold plated pensions, people fiddling benefits and those allowed to live off the state - do better and better. That isnt fair. People lose hope. We need the radical Coalition to recapture the spirit of 2010 and show Government is on the side of the ‘strivers’ who want to get on. For many of us newly elected in 2010 after careers outside Westminster this is central to what drove us to politics.
If we abandon the Coalition now we would risk going the way of Greece, risk stability and the business confidence driving recovery, and risk sharp interest rate rises. We’d risk ending up with a Lib-Lab pact and a return to more tax, debts and weak Government. We shouldn’t ditch the Coalition. We need it to be radical in the fight for the strivers, fairness and responsibility. Today’s Queen Speech is a chance to make clear that this simple idea is what drives and unites us.