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A brief stop to smell the roses

Cardiff Student Media Politics Editor Conor Holohan and MP for North East Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg. Credit: Conor Holohan. Photo credit: Conor Holohan

The goal of the Daily Globe is to bring our readers an analysation of the news that brings perspective to events. We do not claim to report the news because frankly we don’t (and couldn’t afford to) employ journalists. Rather, we try to assemble a collection of writers who think about events in a context of how these moments affect our society and signals where we are going. The goal of our articles is not to create sensation or outrage but rather they are published in the hope of adding to the great conversation of the marketplace of ideas.

In the above spirit, there were two events that happened last week which should validate every Conservative supporters’ vote the past three general elections. The first, Theresa May’s Mansion House speech setting out her vision for Brexit was reviewed by countless pieces, including a very thoughtful piece on our site by Dr. John Sydenham. The second, was the news that the government is running a budget surplus for the first time since 2001.

There were many excellent articles written on Theresa May’s Mansion House speech and this article does not intend to give a full on analysis besides to say that what was good about the speech was making it crystal clear (once again) that the UK will be leaving the Single Market, the Customs Union, the Jurisdiction of the ECJ, and that oh by the way the EU has a lot of debt underwitten and Euros traded in London. What is important to remember about this speech is however, that this moment, and Brexit in general, would never have happened had not the Conservatives won the UK General Election in 2010, 2015, and 2017. If the Conservatives had not won in 2010, and the Conservative backbenchers (and UKIP) had not put pressure on David Cameron, there would have been no EU referendum. Had the Conservatives not won in 2015, there would have been no referendum as both Labour and the Liberal Democrats opposed a referendum on EU membership. Furthermore, without a Conservative government, there would have been no  Tory”big beasts” like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove to give Leave the star power it needed to push Leave for the win. Not one Labour or Liberal Democrat (what was left of them after 2015) front bencher campaigned for Leave and those brave few Labour MPs who backed Leave (such as Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart) were obscure backbenchers until the referendum. Finally, had the Conservatives not won in 2017 Labour would have locked the country into a “Brexit in name only” as it is now Labour policy for the UK to remain a vassal state in a Customs Union under the EU. Brexit is now, despite the best efforts of bitter has-beens like George Osborne, Lord Heseltine, and Anna Soubry, Conservative party policy. This only became possible because voters put their trust in the Conservatives.

The issue of the budget surplus has received far less attention but is a monumental achievement. On 5 May 2010, one day before the General Election, The Guardian ran a headline which read as follows: “UK budget deficit ‘to surpass Greece’s as worst in EU”. Upon the election of the Conservatives to their first government, the UK deficit stood at 10% of GDP a year. Think about that. In 2010, just 8 years ago, the UK government was borrowing 1 pound on top of the 10 it took in taxes. And back then taxes were not low. Corporation tax and income tax, among many other rates were much higher than today. Furthermore, unemployment was rampant – standing at around 8%. In just eight years, Conservatives proved that government can be run in a responsible way. The Conservatives have cut corporation tax, lowered taxes on the middle class, rich, and poor alike (the latter being taken out of  income tax altogether) and cut spending – and the result is growth over the past eight years that has, to quote the IMF,  been”higher than the European average”, unemployment that it as record low, and now a government that is balancing the books. Conservative voters made this turnaround of the economy possible in 2010, 2015, and 2017.

Is the Conservative party perfect? No. It has been too timid on housing, ineffectual on immigration, oddly slavishly loyal to the 0.7% foreign aid target, and (more so under Theresa May than David Cameron) they have at times become intellectually complacent to the detriment of Conservative thought (but as Sam Hooper pointed out yesterday there are signs that is beginning to change). However, despite their faults, the Conservatives are the most successful political party in human history for a reason- they are generally good at governing. They are good at governing because they are pragmatic but yet have brave idealistic people like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher (and maybe someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg today) that have risen to challenges to handle the toughest situations in British life; from World War II to turning around the economy in the 80s and at the beginning of this decade, to Brexit today. Thus it is important that those who have good ideas and a perspective to bring to the country do it in the broad church of the Conservative party. Yes, the party has had awful people in it like Ted Heath and John Major. But it has also had the greatest two Prime Ministers of the 20th century -Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher – to say nothing of the greats of previous centuries such as Benjamin Disraeli and William Pitt. Today is no different. The Tories are the party, fundamentally and no matter how frustrating they can sometimes be, that is best suited to be entrusted with governing Britain.

This article is in no way designed to be a blank cheque to the Tories. This site has and will continue to, attack bad government policy and MPs failing at their duty to their country. If, for instance, the Conservatives do not work to correct Britain’s trade from a system of protectionist Europeanism with an appalling trade deficit, to a vibrant nation that trades with the Commonwealth and the wider world this site will be leading the charge calling for change at the top of government. However, for now, it is good to take a brief pause to smell the roses of the successes of the Conservative Party these past 8 years – and to fight for more successes to come.

About Ted Yarbrough

Profile photo of Ted Yarbrough
Ted is an attorney in Dallas, Texas, USA. He is a long-time blogger on British politics and has written a thesis on Thatcherism.

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