The Conservative Party has achieved many goals and aims in the past 8 years of its governance geared towards creating a better society and improved standard of living for the people of the United Kingdom. Among those major accomplishments has been economic stability as well as increased human development for all sectors of society. However when one analyses these accomplishments coupled with many of the policies of the Tories in recent years, there is a clear indication that the Conservative party of the United Kingdom is moving swiftly ahead as a true champion of the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in accordance with Paragraph 54 of United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/1 of 25 September 2015. These goals which were accepted by Member states in 2015 set the tone and direction for global development the next 15 years are also known as “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” or 2030 Agenda in short. There main genesis is to tackle critical issues such as poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice.
There is a common mistake where many individuals believe that these goals are for developing countries only when in fact these are goals which all governments (at least all member states of the UN) must champion as these issues exist in some form or fashion within their own sovereign states.
Therefore it is welcoming to see the United Kingdom, which is the Head of the Commonwealth and is a nation which has had tremendous influential developmental roles in many states, leading this charge.
Let’s examine some of the Goals and what the Conservatives have accomplished since 2010 to champions these Goals –
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 4 – Quality Education
This goal aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
In the past 8 years the Conservatives have delivered some key aspects in the education sector which are;
- Raising the number of teachers – There are now 15,500 more teachers than there were in 2010 – that’s 457,000 in total.
- Raising school funding -Over the next two years, school funding will rise by over £2 billion to a record high of £43.5 billion in 2019-2020.
- Raising standards in children’s reading – There are 154,000 more 6 year olds on track to become fluent readers this year because of our reforms.
- Raising the number of Good or Outstanding schools -Thanks to the hard work of teachers, and Conservative reforms, there are over 1.9 million more pupils in Good or Outstanding schools compared to 2010.
- Raising the next generation of scientists – Pupils studying at least two science GCSEs has risen from 63% to 91% since 2010.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth
This Goal set out by the UN aims to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Increasing labour productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, and improving access to financial services and benefits are essential components of sustained and inclusive economic growth.
In the past 8 years the Conservatives have managed to deliver impeccable results within the economic fabric of the UK which has resounded in improved prosperity and opportunity for all throughout. Some of these accomplishments include –
- The Employment rate in the UK has now reached a record high of 75.6 percent. According to a media release by the Department of Works and Pensions; “Today’s figures also show that 197,000 more people are in work compared to October to December 2017.”
In the same Media Release, Works and Pensions Secretary; Esther McVey added some more critical points –
- Since 2010 we have seen more than 3.2 million people move into work right across the UK. Youth unemployment has fallen by over 40% and the unemployment rate has not been lower since 1975.
- Today’s figures once again cement that turnaround, with a new employment rate record of 75.6%, and on average over 1,000 people each and every day, since 2010, getting a job.
- With wages growing faster than inflation and increases in the personal tax allowance, not only are more people bringing home a pay packet but they are keeping more of their hard earned money for themselves and their families.
What is even more noteworthy is the strides by the Conservatives in delivering employment to the minority communities as the number of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people in work went up to 475,000 since 2015. The government is making rapid progress on its commitment to increase BAME employment by 20% by 2020. The BAME employment gap has closed to just 10.1 percentage points, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points since 2015 and the lowest the gap has been since the series began in 2001. (Source – Works and Pensions Department)
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 13 – Climate Action
This goal is to ensure that all Member states take action to combat and prevent the effects of climate change by delivering cleaner environments. Michael Gove the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs must be commended for the dynamic, committed and innovative job he has done in the past year to work in achieving these goals. In February 2018 Gove announced that he wanted to ban plastic straws throughout the UK but was being hampered by the EU. This policy, when it does take effect, would be quite effective and Gove must be hailed for his vision on this issue.
Under Michael Gove’s watch in the past year there has been: a ban on ivory sales; bigger penalties for animal cruelty; questions raised over farming subsidies; action on plastic bottles; CCTV in slaughter houses; a ban on bee-harming pesticides; and now the promise of a post-Brexit “green revolution” with a new independent watchdog as the centrepiece reform.
Gove’s work with the environment has been so impressive even George Monbiot, the environmental campaigner and Guardian columnist, who was highly critical of the MP in previous roles, has claimed: “This is amazing. One by one, Michael Gove is saying the things I’ve waited years for an environment secretary to say” while Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth, said, “he has been making all the right noises and he’s started to make the right action”. He added: “To his credit, the moment he got the job he reached out and definitely went beyond the normal pleasantries to engage, listen and debate.”
One can see with Gove’s pace and innovation aided by Prime Minister May’s vision, the UK is truly championing Environmental Goals.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
One of the campaigns that the Conservatives have undertaken in the past year which has touched the lives of many is their commitment to ensuring proper mental health. As part of her commitment to tackle the injustice of mental illness, Prime Minister May commissioned an independent review of mental health and employers which has found that around 300,000 people a year are leaving their jobs each year due to mental illness – costing employers up to £42 billion annually.
As a result NHS and Civil Service employees will now be guaranteed tailored in-house mental health support. Alongside this, NHS England and the Civil Service will:
- Introduce a set of core and enhanced standards which will ensure employees have the knowledge, tools and confidence to understand and look after their own mental health – and the mental health of their colleagues
- Have support in place to help prevent mental illness being caused or worsened by work and equip those who have a mental illness to thrive
- Be held to account for delivering these standards by their relevant regulators so that employees can have faith they are being introduced effectively
Prime Minister Theresa May has gone on record as saying; “I have made it a priority of this government to tackle the injustice of mental illness. Vital to this is the need to have a comprehensive cross-government plan which transforms how we deal with mental illness not only in our hospitals or crisis centres but in our classrooms, shop floors and communities.”
There are many other goals which the Conservatives are continuing to champion on a daily basis.
One major accomplishment which must be mentioned is the Homelessness Reduction Act – which was given Royal Assent on April 3rd to become the first major change to legislation on the subject in England for nearly 40 years.
The Bill, which was championed by MP Bob Blackman, will place new legal duties on English councils so that everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness will have access to meaningful help; irrespective of their priority need status, as long as they are eligible for assistance.
Government is funding the initial implementation of my Act to the tune of £72.7 million over the next two years, helping local authorities to make the adjustments and provide the new services needed to turn things around.
So while Labour continues to play “politricks” with false baseless promises, the Conservatives have been actively pursuing policies which can enhance the social, economic and developmental framework of the UK while offering sustainable opportunity and prosperity to all citizens.