Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

David Cameron: Britain cannot afford another five years of Labour

"Today everyone can see what an utter mess this Labour Government and this Labour Prime Minister have made of the British economy.

The fastest rise in unemployment in our history.

The worst recession since World War Two.

And the worst peacetime public finances ever known.

As of today, any claim they have ever made to economic competence is dead. Over. Finished.

This Chancellor has just told us he will be doubling the national debt.

He’s planning to borrow £348 billion over the next two years.

That’s more - over just those two years - than every previous Government put together.

Not just every Government since World War Two, or even since World War One, but every Government since the Bank of England was first founded, more than 300 years ago.

This Prime Minister has certainly got himself into the history books.

He’s written a whole chapter in red ink: ‘Labour’s Decade of Debt’.

The Chancellor rattled through those figures for borrowing.

So let me read them slowly.

The Government is set to borrow £175 billion this year, followed by £173 billion then £140 billion then £118 billion.

That means that over a four-year period Britain will now be borrowing £606 billion.

They talk about child poverty.

With debt like that, our children are going to be in poverty for decades.

It is a staggering amount. And the price will be paid not by the incompetent ministers who got us into this mess – but by families and businesses up and down the country.

And they will never forgive the people that have done this.

Britain simply cannot afford another five years of Labour.

And even these figures are massaged.

If you look at page 204 of the Red Book they are assuming that consumer demand is going to bounce back to pre-boom levels by 2011.

That’s what’s they are forecasting.

That’s why they forecast debt coming down as quickly as they do.

This wouldn’t be a u-shaped recovery. It would be a trampoline recovery.

And what is the Chancellor’s excuse for these dreadful borrowing figures?

He’s just told us it’s a world recession.

Of course other countries are suffering.

But there is not one other major country in the world in a position as bad as the United Kingdom.

There is not one country with a bigger budget deficit in any major economy.

Why is that the case?

Because they didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining.

And it’s no good his pretending that these international factors were some sort of surprise.

He knew there was a world recession when he made those utterly useless forecasts in the November Pre-Budget Report last year.

We now know what he told us was a complete work of fiction.

Just take one figure – the growth forecast which he told us was going to be -1 per cent.

He’s had to downgrade to -31/2 per cent – one of the biggest downgrades in the history of forecasting.

These figures are so bad that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have had to do a spectacular u-turn.

For years they lectured us that coming off the Government’s spending programmes means swingeing cuts.

Minister after minister has stood at that dispatch box and said that any attempt to come off the Government’s rate of growth of spending means you are being savage or inhuman.

And now they are doing it themselves.

That’s right. They’ve just announced over £10 billion of cuts over two years.

For years this was the Prime Minister’s great dividing line.

Now he’s suddenly on the wrong side of his own dividing line.

After today, no-one will ever believe a word they say about spending cuts ever again.

But Mr Deputy Speaker, this Budget still doesn’t do enough to get the public finances under control.

In two words it is completely inadequate.

Instead of putting up taxes in 2011, why doesn’t he get to grips with spending now and next year?

Look at the consequences of failing to deal with spending.

Look at the tax rises he’s announced today.

Of course they claim it’s just the rich that are going to pay.

And by the way they’ve just broken a manifesto promise not to put up the top rate of tax – but people expect that from this lot anyway.

Look at the other taxes.

Look at the tax on beer. That’s going to hit every drinker in every pub.

Look at the tax on petrol. They’re reintroducing the fuel duty escalator.

That is going to hit everyone who has to drive to work.

These people aren’t rich. These people have to work hard and they are going to pay the price for Labour’s failings.

These aren’t taxes for the few, they are taxes for the many - introduced by this Labour Prime Minister.

What stands out most about today’s Budget is how every single argument and every single prediction they told us about has turned out to be wrong.

They told us the recession would be less severe than the 1990s.

I’ve lost count of the times the Prime Minister has told me that over that dispatch box.

Well perhaps he’d like to look at p. 200 of the Red Book which says the current downturn is forecast to be much deeper than that of the early 1990s. Condemned by his own Red Book.

This is worse than the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.

This isn’t just Boom and Bust.

It’s the worst Boom and Bust ever.

Then they told us – in that November Budget Report - that the recession would be over by the end of June.

The Chancellor actually said in November that growth would start early as a direct result of the cut in VAT.

So by the Government’s own criteria, the VAT cut has failed.

The money was wasted and our debt is higher as a result.

And what about the last big argument, the one the Prime Minister tried to get off the ground before the G20?

Britain, we were told, was heading for another great fiscal stimulus.

Well, where is it?

Have we missed something?

This isn’t a fiscal stimulus here. There’s a couple of extra billion added to what it already announced – less than the cut in next year’s capital budget.

This isn’t a stimulus. It’s a delayed tax rise and a delayed spending cut.

He couldn’t do a proper stimulus because he’s run out of money.

The Prime Minister is the only person in Britain who doesn’t realise how ridiculous he looks – wandering around the world, telling Governments everywhere else to open up their chequebooks and start spending, when the Governor of the Bank of England has taken his chequebook and torn it up in public.

Of course we need schemes that will really help the unemployed and British business large and small.

We’ve been calling for a proper credit guarantee scheme for six months.

But before we get carried away with the schemes announced today, we’re entitled to ask: what happened to the ones announced last year?

The internship scheme. Not working. The asset backed security scheme. Not working. But incidentally reannounced today.

HomeBuy Direct. He told us about that today. It was given another £80 million. What a treat for HomeBuy Direct. Only one problem. We asked some Parliamentary Questions and found out by 25 March not a single sale had been made through the existing scheme.

The homeowners mortgage support scheme. Peter Mandelson was meant to be in charge of that one. He knows a thing or two about getting a good mortgage. You’d think he might have succeeded.

It was the centre piece of the Queens Speech last year – and now, four months later they’ve just announced it all over again.

And still not one single homeowner has received one single penny under this scheme.

What a disgrace. What a callous farce.

The Chancellor told us about his scrappage scheme.

So let me get this right.

You take something that’s 10 years old, completely clapped out, pumps out hot air, pollutes its surroundings, and is absolutely ripe for the knackers yard.

What a brilliant idea!

And where does this leave the Prime Minister’s big argument, the one he based his whole Premiership on, that he would always be prudent with the nation’s finances?

Barely a year ago, he described a deficit of 8 per cent as being “completely out of control”.

So what would he do to describe a deficit today of 11.9 per cent?

This is more than Denis Healey borrowed when he was forced to go to the IMF.

Let me turn to the IMF – as well he might have to.

I’d love to read out a list of countries the IMF say are heading for a larger deficit than Britain next year.

I can’t. There aren’t any.

Russia. South Africa. Turkey. Argentina.

They are all heading for deficits half the size of ours.

Is it any wonder then that Ministers chose this time to announce they wanted to remove the “stigma” from countries going to the IMF?

One minister actually said this: the IMF should be seen as something to celebrate – and I’m not making this up - “a bit… like getting wellbeing care or… going to a spa to recuperate”

What planet are these people on?

When are they going to realise they can’t spin their way out of this one?

This Budget was a missed opportunity.

We need to move from an economy of borrow and spend to an economy of save and invest.

They talked about the disregard.

But why not proper help in the tax system for people who save?

Where was the plan to regulate the banks and regulate credit properly?

Isn’t it time to end the tripartite system and restore the Bank of England to its proper place of regulating debt in the economy?

He scrapped his fiscal rules and scrapped his spending plans, but put absolutely nothing in their place.

That’s why we need spending restraint now, and an Office of Budget Responsibility for the future.

I have to say to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister: no-one will believe the Government is going to sort the public finances out when the Prime Minister says they are only going to make a serious start in 2011.

We all saw what they are doing today. A few clever political taxes on the rich before the election, but save up anything in terms of real tax increases for 2011.

Look what we’ve got between now and then.

Another Queen’s Speech. Another Pre-Budget Report. Another Budget.

The Prime Minister sits in his bunker talking of all the brave things he is going to do in 2011.

Isn’t there anyone left to tell him he’s got to hold an election between now and then?

They don’t get it.

They can’t see what is actually wrong.

He will never bring in the changes required because he doesn’t accept the economic model he’s run for 12 years – based on government debt, consumer debt and housing debt - is fundamentally bust.

This Prime Minister can never be the future, because he doesn’t understand what went wrong in the past.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the fundamental truth is that all Labour Governments run out of money.

The last Labour government gave us the Winter of Discontent.

This Labour Government has given us the Decade of Debt.

The last Labour Government left the dead unburied.

This one leaves the debts unpaid.

They sit there, running out of money, running out of moral authority, running out of time.

You have to ask what on earth is the point of another 14 months of this Government of the living dead?

If they don’t have the courage to deal with the debt and take the difficult decisions, why not make way for the team that can?"

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech