The Cameron ministry of 2010-15 will go down in history as having made Britain as the most successful economy in the developed world, despite it having inherited a near-bankrupt nation from a Labour party that spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Ordinarily that should be enough to have it returned to power with a huge majority, but we live in gnarled, chippy, egalitarian times. The Prime Minister has overseen a hugely successful Olympics; saved thousands from almost certain death in Benghazi; won referendums on the alternative vote and (for the present at least) Scottish independence; protected 400 free schools and the great Gove education reforms; tried to save thousands from Assad’s poison-gas attacks (and been prevented from doing so by Ed Miliband); held himself in the best traditions of the premiership while somehow retaining his naturalness and sense of humour; given Margaret Thatcher a fittingly splendid funeral; found £1 million to save Hougoumont Farmhouse on the Waterloo battlefield from collapse, and offered the British people their first vote on EU membership for four decades. All the time he looked the part of a national leader who mastered events rather than being mastered by them. He has his hero Harold Macmillan’s unflappability, a quality I suspect we won’t find at No. 10 should Mr Miliband be living there next month. I also admire David Cameron for insisting the countries of Nato all spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence; all he has to do in his second ministry is find the money to ensure that Britain does too (without fiddling the figures). If we cashier him for Ed Miliband, I predict buyer’s remorse will set in within six months, and 2010–15 will be seen as a golden age.
It is hard for me to understand how people would consider inviting the party that took us into our worst financial crisis since the war back into power. I do not mean to imply that it was all their fault, but when Gordon Brown left Downing Street, we had a debt of £160 billion and unemployment had risen by half a million since he took office. Five years later we have turned the corner, a fact recognised across the world, and two million men and women are back in work. Surely that is an achievement we have to support and allow to continue? I’m not saying Labour has nothing to offer. They have many achievements to be proud of and there may come a time to give them another chance. But right now it is imperative not to leave this crucial job half done and at risk of sliding into reverse. Nobody prospers when the economy is in a mess.
I have many reservations about voting for weird people in their forties who harp on about their primary/prep school (Johnson on Marr) or ‘School’ experience in general, suggesting as it does that nothing in their subsequent lives was so vivid, or that only the Etonian gene pool is fit to govern, but the prospect of a Greek-style, Venezuelan-influenced coalition of ‘progressives’ in power for the next five years should surely oblige the dumbest Brit to vote Conservative. This is not the time for self-indulgent division on the right, or for the naked ambition of Johnson (whose inadequacy as a future Tory leader was manifest in that same interview). The coalition has done a pretty good job extracting us from Labour’s hole, so it should finish the job it started. If Cameron loses, then Javid is the man.
I will be voting Conservative because I believe in smaller government. Individual effort and choice linked to personal responsibility. Helping those in need who cannot — not will not — help themselves, and to which the socialist dependency culture is the wrong solution.
The highest educational standards for all, not the few. Socialism betrayed several generations of young people. Only Michael Gove had the courage to grasp that nettle. The grave mistake of plucking him forcibly from the garden when he might have achieved even more was surely Cameron’s alone.
Because I am certain that letting Miliband and Labour in will send us back 20 years and bring us to our knees economically again, just as recovery is under way.
Because we absolutely must keep the SNP out of our affairs. They exist to pay attention to their own. Scotland will become independent within the next five years. That is up to them, but their interference solely for their own ends in the rest of the United Kingdom’s business will present a grave danger.
Any reservations? One. Because William Hague was the best prime minister we never had, and now never can have.
Anyone looking at the UK economy dispassionately must see that it makes sense to stick with a government whose proven track record over the last five years is the envy of the world. Economic stability is what matters most at the moment. We do not need political chaos. Let the Conservatives finish the job they alone have the experience and courage to see through.
Round here we’re all talking ABC: Anyone But Cameron. A PR man who achieves power promising no top-down reorganisation of the NHS and who then immediately top-down reorganises the NHS doesn’t just disgrace his party. He pollutes politics. A candidate for prime minister who refuses in the course of his campaign to debate with any normal member of the electorate has a yellow streak down his back a mile wide. Who wants to be led by a coward? When I asked a senior Conservative if he could name a single cabinet member who had come out of the last government with their reputation for competence enhanced, he replied, ‘I’ll get back to you on that.’ I’m still waiting. The British public is always up for moral correction — they love to be told how badly they’ve behaved — and history tells us they prefer it from an old Etonian. But if you lived through the disaster that was Alec Douglas Home, it’s depressing to realise that 50 years later office can still be achieved with no other qualification than a sense of entitlement. The obligation of any patriot at this election is, by guile or otherwise, either to unseat or reject their Tory candidate.