With no clear frontrunner and despite recent surges in support for smaller parties such as the SNP, the Green Party and Ukip, the Conservatives must retain power over Labour.
The last Labour government left a huge mess, including a financial crisis, recession, excessive public spending, and massive levels of debt. Under the coalition, things have steadily improved, and confidence is gradually creeping back.
Britain can boast that it has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, that it has created over 2m private sector jobs in the last five years, and that it has cut its deficit as a proportion of GDP in half.
Chinese, European and US firms have been investing more in the UK, snapping up British businesses to benefit from our economic success story. Money is flooding back into real estate. A recent report by DTZ revealed that a record £89bn of capital is currently targeting European commercial property, of which a third is expected to come to the UK.
The current government has improved the earnings potential of many, by raising the income tax personal allowance to support the lower paid and cutting the top rate of income tax to 45p.
Labour is on the back foot with an unpopular leader. While Gordon Brown was liked by Labour voters, not many believe Ed Miliband is up to the job of being Prime Minister.
Miliband will introduce greater regulation of banks and increase the bank levy, which will slow lending and impact growth. Banks will be forced to find further efficiencies, reducing their headcount as new regulations come in. A Labour win will mean more penalties and redundancies, with further restrictions on what banks are able to do.
Labour wants to bring back the 10p rate of income tax, thereby complicating the tax system, impose a “mansion tax”, and reintroduce the 50p rate for those earning over £150,000. This latter policy will damage incentives to work and, in January 2014, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that it will only make a marginal contribution to reducing the deficit.
The Conservatives are the only party that can be trusted to sustain and continue the progress already made. They recognise that people need job security and to feel well off. The income tax personal allowance is scheduled to rise further, aligning it with the minimum wage.
Although I’m fully in favour of a Conservative government, there are uncertainties. First, how will some of the proposed policies be funded? Second, there’s the big question of the 2017 referendum on our EU membership. While it is important that the country is able to decide whether we remain in the EU, this can only be done if people are fully versed on its benefits.
Should the UK remain in the EU, it must be empowered to run its own financial services sector. Being told how to run one of the most powerful financial centres in the world is not sustainable and fails to make any commercial sense. Brexit, however, would be detrimental. Not only would major global institutions look to relocate their HQs, but German think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung has stated that leaving the EU could cost Britain up to £215bn. The country would suffer from slower growth if we lost the benefits of trading with our EU partners.
But it is worth asking whether our EU partners would want the UK to leave. Of course not. Hence the Conservative position of seeking reform to get more say over how the UK runs its own affairs is right.
The Conservative track record speaks volumes. They have ably driven the country forward and Britain has not been sucked into the woes of other European nations. Just think what could be achieved if the party is given another term in office.
The Conservatives must be given the opportunity to finish what they originally set out to do. As in football, changing managers isn’t always the best strategy. Greatness and success come with time and consistency.
Voting for Labour is asking for relegation and a return to financial meltdown. The Conservatives deserve the City’s votes today.
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