Why Conservatives are the Workers’ Party

mattsmithprofileAt the 2015 Conservative Party Conference David Cameron declared the Conservatives: The party of working people, the party for working people – today, tomorrow, always.”

That we should describe ourselves as the ‘Workers’ Party’, the ‘real party of labour’, should come to us naturally.

I am from a background that the Labour Party would say they exist to represent.

I grew up in Cardiff in a manual working class household, around the corner from where Labour Prime Minister Jim Callaghan had a constituency flat.

In fact, my Nan recalls dancing with Callaghan at the Ocean Club in Cardiff.

My father worked in the same factory his entire working life.

I went to a comprehensive school and a Further Education College.

My FE College entered me for the Villiers Park Educational Trust’s ‘Inspiring Excellence Programme’ and I went on a residential week of economics lectures for A Level students.

I obtained the highest A-level results in my academic year. I decided to work for a year to save money to finance further education.

I then went on to read Modern History and Politics at the most state school dominated college at Oxford University.

After being awarded exhibitions and a scholarship to fund my studies I read for and was called to the Bar. I went on to qualify as a solicitor.

I have never been even remotely persuaded that the Labour Party or the left should ‘speak for’ people from aspirational working class backgrounds.

It always seemed to me that Labour offered ‘tickle-down’ government in place of aspiration and the rewards of hard work.

The left’s anti-aspirational ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ and the cultural priorities of what might be called the ‘Emily Thornberry tendency’ are antithetical to the common place, small ‘c’ conservative values of strivers.

I believe that ordinary working communities, like the one I came from, are best served by Conservative representation. I also believe that the Conservative Party is at its most electorally successful when it is preoccupied with working people.

Margaret Thatcher wanted to create: “A society of haves not a class of them.” Conservatism, she said, was not some abstract theory: “Workers are jumping at the opportunity to buy shares in their own privatised companies. Trade unionists are jumping at the opportunity, which the ballot box now gives them, to decide ‘who rules’ in their union.”

 In 1990 John Major famously said: I believe in the next ten years we will have to continue to make changes that will genuinely produce across the whole of this country a genuinely classless society 1990.”

In his ‘life chances’ speech David Cameron said of our approach to government: “It’s about building a country where opportunity is more equal, with stronger communities and young people who have the experiences and the networks to get out there and take on the world.”

We must offer ownership, empowerment and opportunity to appeal to traditional Labour voters and trade unionists, alienated by Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘occupy’ation of Labour.

In three important ways the modern Labour party are helping us.

Firstly Jeremy Corbyn has changed the Labour party and its brand for the worst, with 45% of respondents to a recent poll published in Prospect Magazine saying he has had a negative effect on Labour.

Secondly, Labour is culturally out of step with blue collar voters and the electorate generally. Peter Kellner wrote in Prospect Magazine: His Defense policies all get a clear thumbs-down; scrapping trident, ruling out attacks on Islamic state in Syria and more generally reducing defense spending.”

Thirdly, Labour increasingly ceases to resemble working communities. Diane Abbott MP said of Labour’s ‘red princes’: “… the Labour Party has paid a price for parachuting one too many special advisers in to industrial seats… one cause of dissatisfaction among core Labour voters is the sense that there is a remote Westminster class which doesn’t relate to them.”

Danny Finkelstein recently pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign borne on the shoulders of ‘high-value city dwellers’, was “a revolt by the elite not against it.”

The Labour Party, always a coalition of well educated liberals and those who are less affluent, is coming undone.

We must now be the natural political home for workers and moderate trade union members.

Disraeli talked of ‘dishing the Whigs’ and forming an administration consisting of ‘Tory men’ and ‘Whig measures’.

 We are now ‘dishing’ Labour by advancing authentically Conservative policies for the betterment of ordinary working people.

We are reforming the NHS to put patients first and personalizing services.

We are the party of teachers. Only Conservatives will trust teachers to set up schools uncontrolled by Local Education Authorities.

We are transforming welfare. Instead of incentives for idleness and a culture of dependency, there are powerful incentives to work, to provide for others and to achieve fulfillment.

Through the social dividend of the ‘jobs miracle’, many more people are winning the prize referred to by Theodore Roosevelt as “the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Through the National Living Wage we are hasting the transition from a “low wage, high tax, high welfare society to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare economy.”

Keith Joseph referred to the common ground that parties share with the general public as opposed to the geometric ‘middle ground’ of the political spectrum.

By striving for a new Conservative working people’s politics, we can reach the common ground. In so doing we will make ourselves not just the natural party of government, but the natural party of Britain’s workers too.

Matt Smith is Events Programme Manager and CTU eBulletin Editor. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Conservative Trade Unionists.

 

 

Conservatives advocate responsible Trade Unionism

spencerprofileThe coming together of working people, seeking betterment, independence and the provision of services on a pooled basis, is entirely consistent with a Conservative view of civil society.

In 1894, Frederick Rogers of the bookbinders said “there must be an independent life within the state to prevent government becoming tyranny and the trade unions will be chief among those who shall call that independent life into being.”

Significantly, unions at this time were acutely sensitive to the needs of private enterprise. Politically they were incremental, piecemeal and pragmatic – not in any way revolutionary.

Philip Collins wrote recently to read extracts from the early proceedings of the congresses of the trade unions is more like eavesdropping on an assembly of today’s Federation of Small Businesses than on a contemporary council of Unite’.

And so in its earliest form, trade unionism focused through representation of workers particularly on better communication with employers. In so doing this the then ‘modernist’ approach lessened the intervention of Government in daily employment disputes, greatly empowering better employment rights and working practices for all working people.

More recently active participation of union members has declined and the leadership of some of these larger now federated trade unions has drifted to what might be deemed a more irresponsible and less representative approach.

As such the time is now right for an even stronger Conservative narrative for moderate and responsible trade unionism.

It was Benjamin Disraeli who legislated to allow picketing. In 1931 Stanley Baldwin said “had the employers of past generations all of them dealt fairly with their men there would have been no unions.”

By 1951 the Conservative Party manifesto of the day read we must free ourselves from our impediments. Of all impediments, the class war is the worst.”

In 1975, addressing the then Conservative Trade Unionists, Margaret Thatcher said “as you well know, for over 100 years, ever since Disraeli’s day, since before the Labour Party existed, it has been the belief of the Conservative Party that the law should not only permit, but that it should assist, the trades unions to carry out their legitimate function of protecting their members.” 

During the general election campaign of 1979, Conservative supporting trade unionists held a rally in Wembley Stadium, displaying a banner emblazoned with the words ‘Trade Unions for a Conservative Victory!’

More recently David Cameron has focused clearly on this shared endeavor and revived work ethic: “We in this party are a trade union too.”

In many ways unions are capitalistic and consumerist institutions helping to sustain a free economy. Unions frequently offer members’ services that foster individual responsibility and independence from the state, such as medical and legal insurance, tax advice and retails discounts.

Many Conservative-voting trade unionists express incredulity at press coverage of the preponderance of left-leaning participants in Britain’s unions. Within unions, there is a sufficiently large number of Conservatives who have a different perspective on what unions should do to improve material standards of living, secure jobs and support growth.

Our newly established Conservative Trade Unionists (CTU) offers a means for these unionists to come together.

By signaling our support for moderate and responsible vehicles of workplace representation we are also signaling that we are in touch with hard-working and aspirational blue-collar communities.

In 1975 Margaret Thatcher told Conservative Trade Unionists: It is not just for the benefit of this Party—it is for the benefit of the trades union movement and of the whole country, that those of reason and moderation should be as active and determined in union affairs as are the extremists.”

More trade unionists voted for Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives than Jim Callaghan’s ‘Crisis, what crisis’ Labour in 1979.

There are almost seven million trade unionists in the UK. In 2009, a Populus poll found that over thirty percent of Unite members intended to back the Conservatives in the 2010 General Election. In 2012, only 12 out of 58 unions in the Trade Union Congress were Labour affiliated.

We must make our own ‘march through the institutions’. Joining non-Labour affiliated unions to our cause, getting involved in their management and contesting internal elections are all ways we can do this.

The 1950 Conservative Party Manifesto contained the following passage ‘Conservatives should not hesitate to join Trade Unions as so many of our party have already done, and to play their full part in their union affairs’; reminding readers: ‘the foundation of industrial endeavor must be good human relationships, not impersonal control from aloft and from afar’.

This would be a good place to start.

Dr Spencer Pitfield OBE is the Director of Conservative Trade Unionists. This piece is a version of one which originally appeared on ConservativeHome.

Interview with Rob Halfon MP: We are the Party of the Ladder

Conservative Trade Unionists President Rob Halfon speaks to our eBulletin editor, Matt Smith.

Rob Halfon is the Member of Parliament for Harlow, a constituency in Essex with a large blue-collar workforce. He was returned there in 2015 with an increased majority, after first winning election to the House of Commons in 2010. He is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and President of Conservative Trade Unionists, and previously he was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He is a member of the non-Labour affiliated Prospect trade union and author of Demos paper: ‘Stop the Union Bashing: Why Conservatives should embrace the Trade Union Movement.’

Halfon is a very busy Conservative in government, segueing between Parliament, Conservative Campaign Headquarters and the Cabinet Office.

This is his first interview as President of Conservative Trade Unionists. We sit at a table in Conservative Campaign Head Quarters, adjacent to an image of Sir Winston Churchill, who said: ‘We are for the Ladder: Let all try their best to climb.’

I begin by asking why he thinks the Conservative Party rather than Labour is the true Workers’ Party.

Rob Halfon (RH): We are the party that created over two million jobs in the last parliament. We are going to create another two million more jobs by the end of this Parliament. We are the Party that has created over two million apprenticeships. We are going to create another three million apprenticeships this Parliament.

Matt Smith (MS): Do we perceive the outline of a new Tory-radicalism in government?

RH: We are the party that has introduced the National Living Wage. It is the kind of ground-breaking policy that I would imagine very few people would have thought the Conservatives would introduce. It will mean that by 2020, many low-paid workers will be £4,700 better off. We are also the party of lower taxes for lower earners – with the richest paying a greater share of tax than they were in 2010.

We have raised the personal income tax threshold and will continue to do so, in order that no one on the minimum wage will have to pay any income tax at all.

We are the party of the NHS. We are investing an extra £10 billion. We are the party of helping parents. Particularly those on low incomes in work with children. We have introduced free childcare.

“We are the party of the ladder. If you are in poverty, we will get you out of poverty and into work”

MS: Social justice underpins your conservatism. Providing routes out of poverty and hardship are as important as inspiring aspiration.

RH: We are the party of the ladder. If you are in poverty, we will help get you out of poverty and in to work. We will help you get the skills, training and apprenticeships that you need.

If you are a business, we will cut your taxes so that you can employ more people. We will deregulate so that your business thrives.

If you are hardworking and wanting to buy your own home, we will make that possible either through Right to Buy or Help to Buy.

We are the true Workers’ Party – the real party of labour.

These are real, substantive policies. Not just words. We are the true ‘Workers’ Party’. In fact as George Osborne has said, we are the real ‘party of labour’. Whereas the modern Labour party are the party of dependency, high taxes, high borrowing and high spending.

MS: What will the ‘Workers’ Party’ message and the Conservative Trade Unionists achieve for the Conservative Party

RH: This is incredibly important because a third of trade unionists vote Conservative. In my own trade union, Prospect, which is not affiliated to the Labour Party, 25% of members vote Conservative. In some of the other unions, up to 75% of their members vote Conservative. We need to make a distinction between militant trade union leaders and moderate union members.

MS: You believe trade unions are a force for good in society.

RH: They negotiate on behalf of workers for better conditions and decent wages. I know this myself from having worked on the ground with trade unions in Harlow in cases where people had been treated badly by big corporates. So they are a positive force.

They also offer members consumerist services, which are a major reason why people join. They provide important membership services, like health insurance. They provide access to loans at lower interest rates, accountancy services and retail offerings. So if you go on to any trade union websites you will find a host of services that are – if you like – very capitalist in nature. And that is why people join.

I think the Conservative Trade Union movement is incredibly important. It did exist. It fell a little bit by the wayside in the 1980s. It was kept alive as Conservatives at Work by a number of people in the North of England. We have re-established it with a team of people who are now running it on a day-to-day basis.

Our aim is that for any Conservative worker, any Conservative trade unionist to have a voice inside the Conservative Party. A voice that will represent workers and address their issues. And we are getting emails and messages from all over the country.

“Social Justice to me is about helping, literally being the party of the ladder”

MS: What role does Conservative Trade Unionists have in the Conservative view of social justice?

RH: Social Justice to me is about helping, literally being the party of the ladder. It’s about ensuring that the poorest can get out of poverty and that they are given the opportunities of the best education, the best healthcare and the best work opportunities. That to me is what social justice is about. People on low incomes who are doing the right thing, are the people that we should be doing everything to help.

We are now the party of the national living wage – a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

MS: What policy implemented since 2010 most signifies the Conservative Party’s credentials as the Workers’ Party?

RH: The national living wage. If you remember it was not so long ago in 1997 that Conservatives opposed the minimum wage policy. Fortunately that has been reversed.

We are now the party of the national living wage. People will be roughly £4,700 a year better off by 2020. That is an incredible policy for the Conservatives. It is one of the defining Conservative policies of our generation. What it says is that if you want to work, we will help you get in to work and that work pays. That you get a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. It says to people we don’t just want to be a society of dependency and hand-outs, we are a society that supports those who want to work.

For the Conservative Party to introduce that is a huge thing. It is one of the biggest Conservative policies of the last twenty years.

“Trade unions are not just for militants”

MS: What should this Conservative Government do moving forwards for trade unionists specifically?

RH: The first thing is to show moderate trade unionists, of which there are many, that there is a voice. That trade unions are not just for militants. There are many unions that are not affiliated to the Labour Party. If more people joined these unions, stand in elections, then all opinions, all workers would be better represented.

It is very easy to complain that trade unions are dominated by one political force or another if we do not get involved ourselves.

The Life Chances speech – “a signpost on social justice”

MS: You were delighted by the Prime Minister’s recent ‘Life Chances’ speech.

RH: I think that was one of the most important speeches the Prime Minister has ever given. It followed the Party Conference speech and it was a loadstar for us, a signpost on social justice because it makes the Conservative case for from the cradle to the grave. But not through dependency and socialism, through real Conservative measures. By ensuring that early years have a good education, by ensuring people get work, by ensuring that the poorest people are looked after.

Any Conservative interested in social justice should really read that speech. I keep it now in my case and take it everywhere because I think it is an important signpost of what we need to do.

“We are the party of the builders”

MS: Was the Chancellor of the Exchequer right in his 2015 Conference speech to declare ‘we are the builders’ and ‘we are the only true party of labour’?

RH: It was an incredible speech. He stated “we are the party of the builders” and by that he meant that we need to be the party of housing, and affordable low cost housing in particular. He also said we need more houses across the country because the more houses that are built the less houses will cost.

In fact whenever we have been the party of housing – and I am thinking back to Macmillan in the Sixties, and Thatcher’s Right to Buy – we have always benefited. It is again perhaps one of the biggest policies of this government.

“Everyone deserves some Conservative representation”

MS: What is the geography of the Workers’ Party?

RH: We are very much a One Nation movement but I would also like us to be active in the areas where there is the least Conservative representation. That will obviously include parts of our inner cities, Northern England, as well as Scotland and Wales.

We have to show that everyone across our country deserves Conservative representation, even if there is only one Conservative councillor in their area. We have to give a Conservative voice to the many Conservative voters that are scattered across our country.

MS: What is your vision for the Conservative Trade Unionists and where do you want the CTU to be in two years’ time?

RH: The first step is to ensure we get a good membership. That we have events and that we act as a voice for Conservative-minded trade unionists and workers in the Party.

The second is, in the long term, to see the CTU to develop as offering similar services to a trade union. So we act as an alternative. This will of course be very challenging and require a lot of work. But we are not just another pressure group or think-tank. It is a real voice, a real body for Conservative-minded trade unionists. We are lucky to have people like you Matt and Dr Spencer Pitfield and others helping.

That is the long-term aim: to offer services, retail offerings, support and to have branches up and down the country. In the way that it existed when Conservative trade union in the 1970s and 1980s flourished. It should be remembered that under Mrs Thatcher, there were about 170 if not more Conservative trade union branches all over the country.

“People are yearning for moderate, sensible, common sense policies”

MS: Does the current leadership of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn allow the CTU and the ‘Workers’ Party’ to step into a space vacated by Labour?

RH: People are yearning for moderate, sensible, common sense policies. There are many moderate working people who are worried about the extreme direction of the Labour Party, who doubt whether it can really represent them, or fear they will put taxes up.

So actually I think it is an incredible opportunity, almost a once in a lifetime opportunity, to win over moderate working people. People who may not instinctively be ardent Conservatives like you or me, but may be willing to listen to what we have to offer. And that is why the work of the Prime Minister and Chancellor, in talking about working people and developing key policies like the living wage, lower tax for lower earners, the NHS, the thirty hours a week free childcare, is incredibly important.

The work of the CTU is the body that can express this as a voice for moderate working people.

“Whenever we have been the Party of working people we have benefitted”

MS: What Conservative statesmen and stateswomen do you most admire and why?

RH: That is a good question. I don’t think I can answer it because there are so many that I admire. If you look at the Conservative Party throughout history, whenever we have been the Party of workers, we have benefitted electorally. Think of Disraeli. In fact the Earl of Derby legislated to allow trade unionism. That is not often known. Macmillan’s commitment to building houses. Margaret Thatcher’s policy to allow people to buy their own council houses, ensuring workers could become shareholders and cutting taxes for working people. John Major, a working class Conservative Prime Minister and getting the highest number of votes since the War.

Whenever we have been the Party of working people we have benefited. So I wouldn’t say that there is only one leader. But I would say that there are things that leaders have done right through our history that I support and admire.

‘Opportunity, Aspiration, Encouragement – why I, as a young and ambitious Northerner, am a Conservative through and through’

bethprofileTwenty-three years old, Yorkshire lass, no degree, former apprentice, former supermarket worker and the child of a family who work in the NHS and in local education.

Labour voter?

Nope.

Conservative Party Parliamentary Candidate for the 2015 General Election.
Yes.

I was born and bred in Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire, and grew up under Labour. Simply because of where I am from, I was often told: ‘you are not going to make anything of your life’. This is the atmosphere Labour create. Labour claim to be the party of the North but they are actually the Party which keeps the North down and people where they are.

Spending my young adult years under a Conservative Government, I learnt it is the Conservative Party that teaches if you put the work in, no matter what your background, we will help you and we will reward you. It is the Conservative Party that is continuing to put in place important measures to make sure young people, like me, are given the chance to earn or learn. It is the Conservative Party that is the true party of opportunity.

How?

By increasing apprenticeships, by increasing employment and by making university accessible for anyone who wants to go.

After showing some academic skill at school, I was pushed in the direction of University. I quickly realised that University was not for me and I dropped out on two separate occasions.

Throughout this time, I was working at a supermarket. This was a job I had finally got under the last Conservative-led Parliament after trying for years beforehand to get one. Many of my friends also managed to secure their first jobs at this time. Youth unemployment has fallen since 2010 and the Conservatives are working to make sure it continues to do so. The Conservative Party is determined to abolish long-term youth unemployment.

Like many young people, my first job was stacking shelves and I have also worked on minimum wage. The Conservative Party has raised the minimum wage and we will do so again and again, as well as introducing a new National Living Wage in April. I benefited from the increase in the tax-free Personal Allowance in 2014 and I am pleased it will increase even more this year. More of your hard-earned money will be just that, your hard-earned money.

When I dropped out of University the second time, people tried to tell me I had ruined my career. However, the Conservative Party was powering on towards its goal to ensure each young person is given the opportunity they need and deserve. I was about to realise just how much that would change my life.

I am proud be part of a party that oversaw the creation of more than 2 million apprenticeships over the course of the last parliament. A few months after dropping out of University for the second time I became one of those apprentices. My apprenticeship was a huge opportunity and I would not be where I am today without it. Since finishing my apprenticeship, opportunity has followed opportunity.

For me, supporting apprenticeships is not only absolutely the correct thing to do, but it is personal and we will not stop where we are. We will fight even harder to make this figure even bigger. The Prime Minister has set the ambition of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. Each one another fantastic opportunity for another young person, like me.

I had no problem with being encouraged in the direction of University and I am proud that there are now record levels of students from disadvantaged backgrounds going to University. What I did have a problem with was being made to feel like it was the only way. What I love about the Conservative Party, is that it is working to help young people recognise they have a choice. We want every young person leaving school to view both apprenticeships and university as equally great opportunities of equal value. Our job in government should not be to target one more than the other, but to encourage young people to realise that they can choose either option, knowing both will lead them towards a bright future.

Under a Conservative Government, I have been provided with opportunities beyond my dreams. My passion to give everyone else the opportunities I have been blessed with drove me to stand in the 2015 General Election as one of the youngest Parliamentary candidates in the country. This was another opportunity the Conservative Party did not hesitate in giving me. This is a Party that does not just talk the talk, but it walks the walk.

What did the Conservative Party do with a working-class lad from Brixton? It made him Prime Minister. What has the Conservative Party done with a working-class lass from West Yorkshire? It has given her an apprenticeship, it has given her a job, it has given her a run at Parliament, a run at her dreams.

The Conservative Party is the party that makes this possible. The Conservative Party is the party of the ladder, which includes a safety net. The Conservative Party is the party of opportunity, aspiration and encouragement. I would not throw my weight so passionately behind it, if I did not know it to be true.

Beth Prescott is Head of Campaigns at Conservative Trade Unionists. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of Conservative Trade Unionists or Christians Against Poverty.

Conservatives must lead the way in tackling UK poverty

spencerprofile

In David Cameron and Ruth Davidson, today’s Conservative Party has two leaders who care passionately about ending UK poverty.

I recently had the privilege of hearing Ruth Davidson MSP speak at the third annual UK Poverty Lecture hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Prospect Magazine in central London.

As leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Ruth is working around the clock ahead of the crucial Holyrood election in May. Scottish Conservatives have, in some opinion polls, been coming in second place ahead of Labour and her excellent team of candidates are promoting an energetic platform not only for the Union, but also in support of all hardworking families and dealing with UK poverty.

Her speech on 8 February echoed the statement by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that ‘poverty is a cost that the UK cannot afford.’ In a recent report the organisation said that poverty ‘wastes people’s potential and drains public finances, hampering economic growth. If we don’t act it is likely to increase.’

Ruth has taken seriously the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s message regarding poverty and expanded upon it, putting forward a Conservative vision for social justice. Among the many insightful comments that she made – and I recommend that you read her full speech on our Conservative Trade Unionists website – was the idea that ‘we should not stand idly by as we watch failures of both state and market alike affect poverty and gross inequality.’

Fortunately, we are seeing record national employment figures and more people joining the workforce. This goes a long way towards tackling poverty and inequality but there is still a lot more to do.

In the three months to November last year, the national jobless total fell by 99,000 to 1.6 million – an eight-year low.

By way of comparison, in my region of Yorkshire, the count fell by only 3,000 to 164,000.

As Ruth will know from her own constituency of Glasgow, we regularly see higher job figures in London and the South East of England than we do in other parts of the UK.

As such, critically, we need to ensure that economic growth, which the Conservative Government is helping to create, can be shared across the whole country.

Full employment however will never fully address the issue of UK poverty. Sitting as I do at Sheffield’s Magistrates’ Court I know only too well that there will always be people who need and require the full support and intervention of the state.

David Cameron’s Life Chances speech in January focused on more support for children and families to create a future that is brighter and with less risk of poverty for all.

The Prime Minister spoke about what he called a ‘simple ambition’: ‘To give every child the chance to dream big dreams, and the tools – the character, the knowledge and the confidence, that will let their potential shine brightly.’

He announced a range of new investments and policies, including extra funding for childcare and relationship support, a new ‘help to save’ scheme so working families can be ready for any future difficulties, and plans to direct £70m towards careers over the course of this Parliament, primarily through the Careers and Enterprise Company – which will result in a major effort to recruit mentors and role models for teenagers from less fortunate backgrounds.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found recently that four in five young people who go from a position of unemployment to low-paid work are still poorly paid ten years later. This should be unacceptable for anyone who wants to build a better and fairer society.

We need to be ambitious about the goal of ending poverty in the UK, including, crucially, in-work poverty, by drawing upon the important research available. Such a framework must have the levers to deal with all aspects of UK poverty, which is a highly complicated area of policy delivery.

Ruth Davidson declared that ‘Government can be a force for good’ while David Cameron laid out the vision of a ‘more social approach’ in 21st century politics, saying: ‘we need to think big, be imaginative not just leaving behind the old thinking but opening ourselves up to the new thinking.’

Our leaders are setting out a bold governing agenda and it shows that the Conservative Party offers real solutions to the social justice problems of today. Significantly, if we are to succeed we must not lose sight of the fact that economic growth cannot deliver for all people in poverty and the state will always have to be there to support those in need.

The challenge put to us all is to keep progressing our Conservative campaign against poverty, creating in the process the positive ‘life chances’ that the Prime Minister has referred to. We can do this by making sure our politics continues to support the most vulnerable in our society whilst also helping those that can to prosper and flourish.

Dr Spencer Pitfield OBE is the Director of Conservative Trade Unionists. This piece is a version of one which originally appeared on ConservativeHome.

Ruth Davidson MSP: Third Annual Poverty Lecture, hosted by Joseph Rowntree Foundation / Prospect Magazine

ruthdavidsonBelow is the text of the Third Annual Poverty Lecture, hosted by Joseph Rowntree Foundation / Prospect Magazine, given by Ruth Davidson MSP on 8 February 2016

Good evening

I’d like to thank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Prospect magazine for inviting me. I am in the middle of a Holyrood election campaign and, to be frank, there aren’t many votes in London right now – but this was an invitation I couldn’t turn down, given the subject matter.

You’ll be glad to hear that this is a short speech where I just want to set out my thoughts, as a centre-right politician, on how we best tackle poverty – and set out some of the ideas I’m going to take into the Scottish Parliament elections over the coming weeks which would help that into action.

Let me begin this evening by rehearsing the old-fashioned right wing stereotype about how to solve poverty.

I’m sure you’re familiar with it.

We start with the argument that all individuals are able, through will power and sheer guts, to make it in life.

The story goes on to declare that, in order for them to do this, we need the State to clear out of the way, let these powerful and empowered individuals access markets, and, hey presto – poverty will be sorted.

The story ends by concluding that, if you haven’t made it- if you’ve failed to get on – then it must therefore be somehow your own fault, as others have managed.

Let me say where I agree with and disagree with that story.

I agree with where we begin.

That starting point is both optimistic, virtuous and noble.

Who doesn’t actually think that each of us, as individuals, have it within us to clear our own path, to make our own way in life?

Who doesn’t think it’s important to stand up for individual liberty? I don’t believe anyone does. I bet – even in his quiet moments – even Jeremy Corbyn believes it true .

But then, just as our story grasps something true about human nature, I fear it misses a whole lot else.

It forgets that – while all individuals should be equally free – not everyone is equally empowered – either offered the opportunities or has the resilience to take advantage of those freedoms in the same way.

In a blithe, off-hand kind of way, the story just kind of assumes everyone does and leaves it at that.

And it picks sides. It enshrines individual freedom – good. It then sets up State action as its polar opposite, as the enemy of progress. Not so good.

It doesn’t, if I’m honest, speak to my life or my belief as a Conservative.

I believe that we as a party are now moving to a deeper, more complex position.

…one that is now trying to see beyond the easy simplicities of the past and move to a better, more nuanced understanding of how we address poverty.

I’m at a disadvantage this evening because that case was set out far more elegantly that I could only three weeks ago, by the Prime Minister in his speech about life chances.

In it, he talked about how, if we are to defeat poverty, we need to move to a more social approach.

…which doesn’t simply look at people as economic statistics – but examines the richer picture of how economics, social problems, family breakdown and individual difficulties combine and conspire to leave people behind.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am explicity not saying that income and money and the benefits at the end of the week, don’t matter. Of course they do; and it is patronizing to suggest otherwise.

But only focussing on the economics doesn’t quite get the nub of it.

And there is, in the Conservative party, a growing interest in how we deal with these human problems in a more social, a more rounded way.

Again – let me repeat – I am absolutely not saying that sustaining benefits and income for the poor is somehow unnecessary – we have a welfare state , and it is one of our great achievements.

I also would argue that it is only through building the economic security of our country, with a Government in charge that is trying to grow our wealth for the long term, that we can afford these benefits in the first place.

But that can’t be it alone – we need to dig deeper.

As Joseph Rowntree himself famously put it: “Much of the current philanthropic effort is directed to remedying the more superficial manifestations of weakness or evil, while little thought or effort is directed to search out their underlying causes.”

I agree with that. And we can’t, as Conservatives sit back and ignore it.

We should be clear – it is quite simply wrong for us to accept a country where it is better for your life chances to be rich and thick; rather than poor and clever.

That it is wrong for – in Scotland – a child from our poorest area to be twenty times less likely to get 3As at Higher than a child in our richest areas.

That we should not accept a situation where– by the age of 5 – children from the top two deciles are fully 13 months ahead in their vocabulary than children from the bottom two.

We believe that, together, our social institutions – the family, community and –yes – the Government – can help to create a more balanced and equal society.

So what does this look like in practice? Allow me to talk about two visits I have made in the last few months.

The first was to the Dundee Families Project last summer. Outside, it’s a scruffy grey block of flats on the edge of the city, the kind of place that doesn’t feature on estate agent windows.

Inside, it’s an utter inspiration. We went in and spent an afternoon speaking to a young couple whose three year old son was playing in the room next door.

The dad had a history of alcohol abuse. The mother, still in her teens, suffered from bipolar disorder. They had been deeply in debt and out of work. Their life was spiralling into chaos, with their child facing an upbringing in care.

Then the Project got involved. Its method is to bring such families into one of the flats, where trained personnel are on hand 24 hours a day to help them with everything they need – cooking, bills, timekeeping, you name it. They didn’t do everything for the family, but taught them to do it for themselves. The couple had stayed there for a few months.

And they told us about how they planned to get their lives back on track. How they just wanted to build a stable home for their child. They weren’t oblivious to the challenges they faced. But now, they believed they could overcome them. The Project had given them the stability and the confidence to cope with their issues.

The other visit I made was in Manchester a few weeks later – to a project called Reclaim, which works with young people from some of the city’s toughest estates, giving them the soft skills to aspire for better things.

It wasn’t the easiest trip for a Tory to make. It was during the Conservative Party

Conference and the young people were running a campaign – pointing out that while 19 Prime Minister’s went to Eton, – the whole of Moss Side, Salford and Gorton have yet to produce a single occupant of number 10.

A statistic I have yet to share with our current PM….

Again, it was a complete inspiration. We met youngsters from tough backgrounds who told us how they were going to blue chip companies like KPMG giving presentations, demanding internships.

Having met them, I would fear for KPMG’s HR people if they had the temerity to say No.

Now, I know politicians like me always draw lessons from visits like this which tally with our own political philosophy.

But it does seem to me that there are some obvious points to be made from such projects.

They need funding and supervision – which is where government comes in.

But it’s the networks that make them work – the networks between government, community, local families and individuals.

It’s when we connect that we make progress.

And I think there are some other lessons to be drawn too, of how this interwoven society gets the best results.

By intervening as early as possible, so we prevent social problems occurring or escalating.

By government and society taking joint responsibility for creating a genuinely meritocratic education system

And by not giving up – by understanding that early intervention isn’t just about supporting babies and toddlers – and then declaring that you’re on your own.

It’s by recognising that it means intervening early at every stage of life when peoples’ lives are upended by poor health, by mental illness or redundancy, when support is so required.

That’s not bleeding heart liberalism by the way. It makes fiscal sense.

In Scotland, a Commission led by the late Campbell Christie not so long ago examined the future delivery of public services. It concluded that “dealing with negative demand – ie: negative outcomes retrospectively, absorbs 40% of local public service spending”.

We are, in other words, spending £4 out of every £10 alleviating social problems that could have been avoided – we are spending money tackling the consequences, not the causes, of poverty.

So the question is: at a time when finances are tight and as we try to reduce the deficit hanging over us, how do we best use those resources to make this shift?

I am about to take part in an election at the Scottish Parliament so forgive me if I keep my answers to issues which are devolved.

First of all, child care.

Both north and south of the border, governments are now offering significant extra funding for childcare. In Scotland, the proposal by the Scottish Government is to extend childcare for 3 and 4 years olds to 30 hours a week, mirroring the UK Government’s extension.

I know this is an issue close to your heart. Indeed JRF published a paper on this only last week, emphasising the need not just for more hours, but for more high quality care.

I would add something else. The proposals the Scottish Government have announced for 2020 apply to more hours for 3 and 4 year olds.

Given the gap that opens up among children from poor and wealthy homes before the age of 3, we think action is required earlier.

So in our manifesto for the Scottish election, we will argue that instead of extending that provision across the board for 3 and 4 year olds, we should provide more high quality childcare for more 1 and 2 year olds, starting with those in disadvantaged homes.

We also believe more funding will be required to train up a more highly qualified professional workforce to carry out that childcare. As JRF suggests, there has to be a point to this childcare.

It has to be about offering proper early years skills to children, developing literacy and numeracy, so that the gap that opens up at this young age is closed.

I think it’s the right thing to do if we’re really going to show we intend to back up our words with action – bridging the gap that currently exists after maternity leave ends and free childcare currently begins.

And once children are at school, we need to continue this work.

We need to learn from the excellent work of Professor Sue Ellis in Scotland where focussed work on literacy in disadvantaged areas has had huge effects in boosting pupils’ performance.

We would introduce Teach First in Scotland, recruiting the best graduates we have and directing them towards our most challenging schools.

We would buddy up the worst and best schools so that no schools were, in the words of our former Education Secretary, allowed to “drift”.

And we would ensure that funding for poorer children followed the child, rather than was handed en bloc to some poorer local authorities by government, as happens now.

And we need to extend the support around our schools and colleges as well.

This goes back to what I was saying about early intervention before. If young people are in danger of simply dropping out of schooling, we need to act.

And how telling – and how depressing – is it that we have a nickname – NEETS – specifically for young people who are excluded? Doesn’t that just show the need to act?

So I’d like to see more mentoring and outreach programmes.

And I think we need to do far more to support Further Education and Apprenticeship programmes so young people can get the skills they need.

As JRF has found, four out of five young people going from unemployment into poorly-paid work are still in low paid work ten years later. We talk about providing a ladder of opportunity for young people – too often, that ladder runs out of rungs all too quickly.

And the truth is that, for all their complaints and hectoring of the UK Government’s supposed unfairness, it is the SNP Government in Edinburgh which is the worst offender here.

Only last week, we had statistics showing that Scotland has the lowest percentage in the UK of state school pupils and college students winning University places.

They also showed that – while there was an uptick of deprived kids getting into Uni – the rise elsewhere in the UK was much greater.

I have to say, I find the SNP’s moral superiority complex appalling in this regard.

You may have seen the photos: not long before he left office, our former First Minister – never one to hide his hubris – arranged for a monument to be built at Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh praising his decision for government to meet the cost of tuition fees in Scotland.

Well, what he didn’t mention was how the cost of that free tuition led to funding for Further Education being slashed, with a reduction of 152,000 places as a result.

Classic SNP: a middle class freebie, tarted up as an egalitarian policy, slashing funds for less high profile areas – and slaps on the back all round.

Well, I reject the cosy consensus in Scotland, led by the SNP and Labour, which congratulates itself on providing “free tuition”.

My view is different: I would bring in a graduate contribution – no upfront fees and not anywhere near as high as here in England.

I would use those funds to back bursaries for poorer students, and I would reverse the SNP cuts on FE Colleges.

I reject entirely the snobbish view that values Higher Education much more than vocational and practical training. Do the Germans think like this? Of course they don’t. It is time we redressed the balance.

And lastly, I couldn’t make a speech at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation without mentioning housing.

I want to encourage more house building in Scotland. We have seen work done to address house buying – schemes like shared equity, government grants and Help to Buy..

But I want to address housebuilding, by giving encouragement and certainty to both public and private housebuilders and also through a comprehensive revamp of our planning laws in Scotland.

The lack of new housing built in recent years has been shameful. The UK government has committed to building one million extra homes. I want to see a similar sense of ambition from Scottish Government too.

So these are the kinds of policies I’ll be taking forward over the next few months at the Holyrood election.
….

I will close shortly – but this being a UK audience, I’d like to end this evening by expanding my argument beyond the confines of my job.

We live in a time of ever increasing resentment at the perceived inequalities around us – one highlighted by the row over the tax paid by multinationals in the last few weeks.

As I said in a speech last week to the David Hume Institute, it might be right to say that Google, Apple and the rest have paid the tax asked of them. But it doesn’t feel right – not when small firms and families have no choice in the matter.

In other words, it feels too often that there is one rule for those at the top, and one rule for the rest of us.

We ignore this growing sense of resentment at our peril. And if you want to see what happens when we do, look at the anger and resentment felt by people voting in the primaries in America right now. Or in Greece. Or the rise of the Front Nationale in France.

We must take some practical steps to address this.

So let me suggest just one.

One thing that I would like to address is the question of fairness at the workplace.

It is a fact that FTSE 100 CEO pay is now 183 times that of the average employee, compared to just 47 times in 1998.

And, not surprisingly, this breeds resentment and anger.

A recent study by CIPD – the Chartered institute of Personnel and Development -found that seven in ten employees in the UK believe CEO pay in the UK is too high or far too high.

Six out of ten concluded that the high level of CEO pay demotivates them at work. A similar number think it damages their reputation.

Now there have been several proposals put forward about CEO pay – capping it, for example, so that it can only be a certain multiplier of the lowest paid at an organisation.

That seems to me to be a recipe for confusion and bureaucracy.

However, I do think we should consider the CIPD’s proposal for companies to ensure that reward packages are more aligned to financial and non-financial performance.

Not just based on profit margins – but also on how engaged employees are, and how workforce development is improved. Publishing the pay gap, having employees on the remuneration committee.

I don’t really think people resent the fact that a Chief Executive gets paid well or is the highest earner in an organization.

I think they DO resent it when they see CEOs cashing in hundreds of thousands in the bank no matter whether the company they run is going up in the markets or going down the pan. I think they resent it when record bonuses are paid to the boardroom, when members of the workforce are laid off or facing a pay freeze.

So to sum up, as JRF rightly say: “Poverty is a cost that the UK cannot afford.” And they are right: we need to move from treating the symptoms of poverty to tackling its fundamental causes.

I could have stood here tonight and read directly from the Conservative CCHQ playbook.

That since Conservatives took office in 2010, millions of low paid people are better off.

Employment is at its highest ever level.

More low earners have been taken out of tax, the minimum wage is about to have its biggest ever rise – the state pension already has – and that’s why, as well as the lowest level of child poverty since records began; the GINI coefficient which measures inequality has also dropped.

All of which is true, and none of which you want to hear.

It’s also not the speech I wanted to give. Raw numbers don’t speak to real people.

I want us to have a more thoughtful debate.

I believe we should not stand idly by as we watch failures of both State and market alike affect poverty and gross inequality.

This should be our priority.

And while you may find it easy to criticize the centre-right when it comes to reducing poverty – no doubt some of that criticism merited – I would ask you to honestly recognize success where it arises.

And I would argue that it is precisely the things that make us Conservatives – respect for institutions, a belief in the individual, a One Nation outlook – that provide some of the answers to how we make poverty history.

So if we do leave aside the easy slogans:

It is possible to say; all at the same time:

We are individuals

The State doesn’t have all the answers

The market is not king

There is such a thing as society

And Government can be a force for good.

Thank you.

Ruth Davidson MSP is Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and a member of the Conservative Trade Unionists Advisory Panel. She is on twitter at @RuthDavidsonMSP

The Workers’ Party will provide more hope, opportunity, and security for young people

mattsmithprofileApprenticeships and skills are key components of this One Nation Conservative government’s strategy to transform Britain from a welfare society into an opportunity society.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has said that apprenticeships can promote the development of ‘skills to compete with the rest of the world’ while offering ‘more hope, more opportunity, and more security for our young people, helping them get on in life and make something of themselves.’

In the aspiration nation we are building, this Conservative government recognises that vocational courses and apprenticeships are as important as academic degrees.

Most recently, the new ‘Super-apprenticeship’ route, which incorporates a degree level qualification, opens a new door in to the world of the qualified and regulated professions for many new school leavers.

They also send a powerful signal that apprenticeships enjoy the same esteem as undergraduate degrees.

On the demand side, many school leavers will seek out these apprenticeships.

For many school leavers, being paid to learn while at the same time embarking on the earlier stages of a career, may prove far more attractive than the traditional, three year, undergraduate degree course.

The ‘wage premium’ enjoyed by graduates relative to holders of A-Levels has declined by 29% since the early 1990s.

This is compounded by the fact that graduates will pay back average debts of £44,000 in tuition and living fees before they have even considered a mortgage.

On the supply side, it is also highly likely that employers will soon cotton-on to the advantages of apprenticing into the senior professions as they contemplate less costly trainees who can be specialised at an earlier stage of their careers.

This signaling is also important to the wider context of apprenticeships. Over the five years to the last General Election, 2.2 million new apprenticeships were delivered nationally. Over the next five years, this radical Tory government plans to create 3 million apprenticeships nationally by 2020.

For the beneficiaries of apprenticeships that do not entail a qualifying degree or equivalent professional qualification, their achievements must not be overshadowed by the ‘ideology of the universities’ and the low expectations too often cast on those who in the past have not taken this ‘conventional’ route.

Minister of State for Skills and Equalities Nicholas Boles MP said it was ‘incredibly important’ that all commencing apprenticeships see that a degree level qualification may be the result: ‘…so that they all sense that there is no cap on ambition.’

It is also welcome news that the Department of Education will create a legal duty incumbent on schools to allow employers and apprenticeship providers to visit and address pupils to ensure they have a breadth of careers advice and guidance on all options, in addition to applying to university.

It goes to show that in the Britain of 2016, it is a radical, One Nation Conservative government that is offering young people the ladder of opportunity. Previously the ‘natural party of government’, Conservatives can now claim to be the ‘workers party’ in power.

Matt Smith is CTU Events Programme Manager and eBulletin editor. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Conservative Trade Unionists as an organisation.

The people’s flag is deepest blue

murrisonprofile“I’m a Tory, why aren’t you?”

JEREMY CORBYN is hardly going to be singing this at Labour Party Conference in 2016.  Perhaps because Labour people in the know are already numbering his days.  There will be many more after the May 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Ruth Davidson MSP – quickly becoming the darling of all Unionists across Scotland – set out in the inaugural article for the newly reformed Conservative Trade Unionists group the case why Tories should also be Trade Unionists.

As a previous representative for Scotland in the Tory Reform Group, holding a fringe event at the Scottish conference in recent years on the importance of greater devolution for Holyrood before it was de rigueur to believe so, I believe the re-establishment of the CTU to be a fundamental move for our recovery in Scotland, and our establishment as the moderate party across the UK.

For many years being a Tory and being in a Trade Union were never considered mutually exclusive points of principal.

It is important Conservatives do join a workplace Trade Union, and more so, it is crucial Conservatives make their voices heard within their Trade Union. That will prevent the polarisation, such as that which we saw during the 1980s, from occurring in future.

Everyone has a right to a safe workplace and to be treated with dignity within it, and to have a functioning democracy, we do need decent, moderate and balanced Trade Unions. But also, Unions need democracy, and that has always been the Conservatives’ goal.

Remember this – most Trade Union leaders are not representative of the majority of their Trade Union members. Look at how few people participate in strike ballots these days. This shows the major disconnect between workers and the Trade Union barons such as Len McCluskey.

As a candidate in Lanarkshire – a region steeped in Trade Unionism and industrial history – I am perfectly aware that in days gone by, there were plenty of Unionised workers here who voted Tory and nobody batted an eyelid about it.

The drift leftward by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn presents an opportunity for the Scottish Conservatives to be the first party of choice for any pro-UK worker who wishes to build a stronger Scotland in a strong United Kingdom.

And as someone from a typical Labour background myself, I faced a tough choice when I became politically aware: be on the right of Labour, where the New Labour project never fully happened in Scotland, or be on the progressive wing of the Scottish Conservatives.

You only need to look at who is winning the battle of ideas and vision, and who is losing, to see which has the best long-term answer.

I have registered support to join the Conservative Trade Unionists group, and would encourage all other supporters to do likewise. 

Andrew Morrison is former Chairman of the Scottish Tory Reform Group, the constituency candidate for Uddingston & Bellshill, and is one of nine candidates for the Central Scotland region, both for the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016. 

An extended version of this article was originally published on the Think Scotland blog. You can read it here.

Why, as a card-carrying union member, I’m still a Conservative through and through

jacobprofileI was born in the industrial town of Middlesbrough in the North East of England and I’ve lived here all my life. I’m state-educated and showed some academic ability at school, meaning I was on the non-stop train to university, as was Labour policy at the time. Realising this wasn’t for me, I dropped out and started an apprenticeship in Chemical Processing.

From enrolling on my apprenticeship, it didn’t take me long to learn the value of hard graft. I worked five days a week, from 8am to 4pm, and spent my evenings and Saturdays working in retail to make a bit of extra money.

It was during that year I began to realise that the Conservatives were the party for me. Recently elected, they wasted no time fixing our broken economy, taking difficult decisions and rewarding hard work. As the government raised the personal tax threshold, I was able to give up my second job and focus on completing my apprenticeship.

I completed my apprenticeship in 2014, joined a union and started working as a Process Operator in the chemical industry.

When I introduce myself as a northern, state-educated, former apprentice, unionised chemical in-dustry worker, a lot of people are surprised that I’m also a Tory. All too often, people hold the mis-taken view that you have to have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth to be a Conservative or a chip on your shoulder to be a union member. The reality is something very different, and as each year passes by, I become more confident that the two go hand in hand.

In many ways, I’m a union member for the same reason that I’m a Conservative. I believe in, as Margaret Thatcher said, “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”, and I think we’ve gained a lot from the hard-won rights that the unions were formed to protect.

Trade unions, throughout the decades have done a lot to help workers like me, and looking back on nearly six years in government, the same can be said of the Conservatives.

There are now more people in work than ever before, of which I am one. In fact, the people who have gained jobs since 2010 could fill Wembley Stadium 25 times over, and 75% of these jobs are full-time. On top of this, since 2010 two and a half million more apprenticeships have been created, just like mine.

The Government’s spending decisions and work to cut the deficit, means that the economy is much more stable. Inflation is low, meaning the cost of living for everyone is falling, and interest rates are low, keeping my family’s mortgage affordable.

My tax bill has been cut, as have those of 27 million other workers, and 3.3 million people have been lifted out of income tax altogether, including one of my brothers. If you have a Conservative council, you’ve probably experienced a council tax freeze, and because George Osborne scrapped the Fuel Duty Escalator, fuel is now 17p per litre cheaper than it would’ve been under Labour.

The Conservatives are doing what’s right for those who work hard: the homeowners and the home-buyers, the apprentices and the pensioners, the employed and the soon to be employed.

They’re not perfect. Just like anything, some policies I struggle to agree with, and others I agree with wholeheartedly. The same can be said of my union for that matter.

But if, like me, you think more people in work is a good thing, more people in training is a good thing, and that low mortgages and lower taxes are good things, maybe the Conservatives are your party too.

Jacob Young is Head of Campaigns at Conservative Trade Unionists. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Conservative Trade Unionists as an organisation.

Employment figures show more people with a foot on the ladder

bethprofileEarlier this year I started a new job working for Christians Against Poverty. Christians Against Poverty, based in my home county of Yorkshire, is a charity dedicated to helping lift people out of poverty and freeing them from the chains of debt. Working for this charity, witnessing the stories of clients and seeing the positive impact the hard work of our brilliant staff has on helping people find work and pull themselves out of debt has reiterated to me that work well and truly is the best route out of poverty.

That is why each time I hear the positive news about employment figures I cannot help but smile. That same feeling of delight has swept through me once again today. The latest figures show employment has risen again and is sustaining at the record levels it has achieved under this Conservative Government.

Employment is at a record high of 74%, up 588,000 over the past year. The number of women in work is also at its highest since records began, increasing by over a million since 2010.

Each extra person in employment is another person on their way to sustaining themselves, another person providing for their family, another person feeling the satisfaction that comes with bringing home your wage slip every month.

I, like many, will never forget receiving my first paycheque. I had just started my first paid job working for Sainsbury’s. I remember getting passed my wage slip at work and suddenly I could not wait to get home after my shift. The minute I walked in the door I held it up in front of my parents, full of the joy and pride that comes with knowing that this was your own hard-earned money.

There is no feeling like the one you get when you receive your wage slip after another month working hard to provide for your family. The Conservative Party knows this and places a huge focus on helping people find employment. Our goal to reach full employment is at the forefront of our long-term plan to secure a better future for you and your family. This is what makes us the only true Party of the Workers.

Under this Conservative government, employment has risen and risen. More jobs are being created for more people. More people are getting up each day and going to work. More people are going home with their paycheque at the end of each month. More people have their foot on the ladder and are beginning to climb.

Some people will try and tell you all these new jobs are part-time and zero hour contract jobs. They are wrong. Three quarters of the rise in employment since 2010 has been full-time employment.

Employment is rising and wages are rising. However, we know there is still more to do. We will not rest until we achieve our goal of full employment. We will carry on helping the hardest to reach get work and ensure everyone benefits from the good news of a growing economy.

Beth Prescott is Head of Campaigns at Conservative Trade Unionists. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of Conservative Trade Unionists as an organisation or Christians Against Poverty.