James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Recovery gathers pace but it pays to be wary

First published in News

Bill Clinton’s political maxim, “It’s the economy, stupid,” which won him the 1992 Presidential election highlights the economy, together with a reminder that we must never forget its all-pervading effect.

A constituent from Crudwell correctly upbraids me for not writing about it enough. There are three reasons for my reticence.

First, I am always nervous about bragging too much since boasts nearly always come back to bite when there is some little glitch or downturn. Second, while things are looking distinctly healthier than when the Conservatives came to power nearly four years ago, there is so much that could still go wrong – both domestically and internationally.

The recovery is encouraging, but fragile. There is a great deal more to be done to get Labour’s deficit under control. Third, I am glad that this area is quietly prosperous, but am conscious that other areas of Britain, and of the world, are much less so.

It is worth noting that since we came to power we have cut Labour’s deficit by a third. It is hard to imagine how successive governments have built up £1.2 trillion of debt, which costs a fortune to service. In government, as in private life, you simply cannot go on spending more than you earn. Sooner or later you will have to pay up or go bust, as this great nation come so close to doing only a few years ago.

Since then the private sector has created 1.6 million new jobs, 55,000 of them in this region alone alongside 21,000 apprenticeships; and there are now more people in work in the UK than ever before in this nation’s history.

The economy is growing; interest rates are at an historic low; inflation is low; unemployment is falling. We have cut tax by £590 for the average taxpayer; frozen the council tax; kept mortgage payments low; increased the basic pension by £650. In this region alone we have taken 191,000 out of taxation altogether, and cut income tax for two million others. These are all worthwhile boosts for our economy, and I see the benefits every day.

So the economy is moving in the right direction, despite the mountain of debt which we still labour under. That is why I so admire George Osborne’s hard-headed determination to keep up the austerity measures, despite the next general election now being only a year away.

Times are tough for some people, that is true; but overall most accept that they benefit from a sound economy, a strong pound, and getting the debt under control.

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