At least the shadow Chancellor did not try to throw a little red book at me this time. He attacks the decisions that were made over the last decade to restore the nation’s finances. He attacks the same free enterprise system that has delivered the prosperity that our nation enjoys. He refuses to understand that a strong economy is absolutely necessary to pay for public services.
Why have we made these decisions over the last decade that get us to where we are now, where we can properly end austerity for good? Labour trashed the economy the last time it was in power, like it always does. The shadow Chancellor talked about cuts that were made to public services over the last decade. Let us just remember what we inherited—the absolute mess that we inherited—in 2010: a deficit that was 10% of GDP, with £150 billion in borrowing in that year. It was the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history and the biggest budget deficit of any large industrialised nation. Labour was borrowing £5,000 a second. There was the deepest recession that we had seen in almost 100 years. The shadow Chancellor talked about the bankers. Which Government gave us the biggest banking bailout in global history? It was the last Labour Government. That was our inheritance.
It was absolutely clear that had that unsustainable rate of spending continued, with no link between what was coming in and what was going out, the country would have gone bankrupt, just like it did with Labour in the past, when we had to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund. That is the legacy of every Labour Government. It took Conservatives to clear up Labour’s mess, bringing the deficit under control, bringing debt under control—having it falling for the first time in a generation in terms of the proportion of national income—reducing taxes for 40 million people and backing millions of businesses. And we have had a jobs miracle, with more people employed today in Britain than at any other time in our history and the lowest unemployment rate since 1975.
The shadow Chancellor talked about the impact of our policies on economic growth. Let me tell him about the impact on economic growth: since 2010, since the Conservatives were back in office, our economy has grown by 18.7%—faster than the economies of France, Italy and Japan. I will tell him about the risk to the economy—the only risk to the economy is from the shadow Chancellor, his policies and the entire Labour party. They have a tax hike for everyone. They have a tax hike if you happen to own a garden, if you want to give a gift to someone, if you want to go on holiday, if you own a home—whoever you are, they have a tax hike for you. They want to raid private pensions. Just this week, we learned more about their plans. They want to confiscate 10% of almost all our large companies. That is £300 billion that they want to confiscate from pensioners’ private plans. They also want to renationalise industries—is it seven, eight or nine? I do not know how many industries they want to renationalise—