On Friday, PM Gordon Brown gave Labour’s view of the future. Today William Hague gives the Conservative view
WHEN Labour came to power in 1997 they promised an end to boom and boost. Look around Huddersfield today and you’ll see that they’ve failed in that promise.
Look at the facts – Yorkshire’s share of the national debt now stands at £125bn, that’s £24,000 for every citizen in this town. And the figure’s rising minute-by-minute, month-by-month. There are also more people on benefits for being out of work in Kirklees now than there were in 1997. We can’t go on like this.
So how do the Conservatives propose to improve the economic fortunes of Huddersfield and the whole of Yorkshire?
Well our new Economic Model for Yorkshire has been set out by my colleague George Osborne and it’s designed to kick-start the economy by not relying on consumer borrowing and government debt but encouraging enterprise, business investment and saving.
Everyone knows we are living in challenging economic times in the aftermath of Labour’s recession. So to get our economy growing, we’ve got to do more than just deal with the deficit with early action and a proper plan, we’ve got to get our economy moving again, we’ve got to get people investing again, and that’s why we’re going to have an emergency budget in 50 days.
We’re going to cut the main rate of corporation tax, cut the small company rate of corporation tax and scrap the national insurance on the new businesses setting up on the first ten employees that they take on.
One of the most important things we would do is give small businesses the freedom to expand by reducing red tape and allowing them to bid for important government contracts. Too many Huddersfield firms are currently locked out of that process. We want that to change.
The Conservatives are also the only party to have promised to bring high-speed rail to West Yorkshire dramatically reducing journey times between this county and the capital. Our line will go to Leeds and we believe that will have a positive impact across the region with many businesses choosing to set up in towns like Huddersfield.
We also think that you deserve more power over the future of your town and where money is spent. So unelected quangos that spend taxpayers’ money but are not accountable to taxpayers will be either held to account or scrapped. And the housebuilding targets set down arbitrarily by the government will go.
Moves like this make sense for the national economy, but they make sense for Huddersfield’s economy too. Despite every part of Kirklees being represented by a Labour MP, Labour has presided over a huge growth in the North-South divide. A growing unemployment gap, a growing productivity gap, a growing investment gap.
The Conservatives would close that gap. I am a Yorkshire MP and I chair the Northern Board which was set-up exactly so that Conservative policies now and in the future would reflect what was important to people across Yorkshire and the North of England.
Huddersfield has some excellent schools and, in Greenhead College, one of the best sixth form colleges in the country. With so many talented young people emerging from education here, we need to make sure that many of them can stay in the town to make a contribution to some of the town’s firms, to be entrepreneurs and set-up businesses or to get high-quality higher education at Huddersfield University.
I am unashamedly positive about this region and our future but we can’t go on like we have been doing under Labour, it really is time to vote for change.