It’s that time of year again: Party Conference Season! I know a lot of people aren’t very interested in the conferences, but I can’t help myself, I did enjoy attending the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week.
Since there is still the possibility that next year Labour leader Ed Miliband will become our new Prime Minister, I also decided to tune in and watch his speech in Manchester last week.
It was a very interesting speech. A majority of it was on the NHS and how a Labour Government will spend more on it. However, I think it is interesting that: (1) the current Government is already spending more money than ever before on the NHS and were the only party to make that commitment; and (2) it is the Labour Party in Wales which is actually cutting money to the NHS!
But I was particularly worried by the fact that Ed Miliband did not talk about two issues: the deficit and immigration.
On the deficit, I think it’s always useful to put into perspective what exactly it is. In the final year of the last Labour Government, it was spending more than £150 billion than it was receiving in taxes.
The current Government has got this deficit down, but it still exists and needs to be cut further, and it can only be cut further if the economy is stable, strong, and growing. The Coalition Government has not only reduced the deficit, but it has been able to do so while cutting unemployment and cutting taxes for the lowest paid workers.
To be fair though, when I talk to people on the doorstep, it is not necessarily the deficit that they’re most interested in.
So often when I talk to people, it is issues like immigration, our relationship with Europe, and, since the Scottish referendum, English votes for English Llws which interest them the most.
ike the deficit, I find it worrying that none of these issues featured in Ed Miliband’s speech either.
By contrast the Conservative Party has been very clear about what it has done and wants to do. On immigration, it has, among other things: capped economic migration; reformed family visas; cut out the widespread misuse of student visas; made it easier to remove people from the UK and regulated migrant access to the NHS. On Europe, there will be a renegotiation of our relationship with the EU followed by a referendum in 2017. And on English votes for English laws, there will be a mechanism to ensure that Scottish MPs can’t be used to push through legislation that affects only England.
As I continue to go round Hucknall, knocking on doors and chatting to people on the street, I will continue to listen to what local people think about the big issues and try to make sure we get the best possible deal for our area.