Rehman Chishti, Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham
Exclusive: May’s election is the most important in a generation. That means that when you put a cross next to someone’s name and vote, you’re making a real choice about the future of our country.
It’s a choice between David Cameron as Prime Minister or putting Ed Miliband into Downing Street. It’s a choice between working through a plan that is helping fix our economy, or giving up the progress we’ve made. And it’s a choice that has real consequences for you, your family and Britain.
We all know that the Government has had to take some difficult decisions over the past five years. That’s because after thirteen years of Labour, Britain just wasn’t living within its means. One in four pounds the Government spent was borrowed – and Labour’s mismanagement of the economy saw people losing their jobs, savings and homes.
Since then, the Conservatives have been working to a plan to build a healthy economy. This helps people, rewarding them with a meaningful job and a decent standard of living. We’ve backed the businesses that create jobs with better infrastructure and lower jobs taxes. Compared with 2010, there are now over 180,000 more people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicity in work. Think about the difference that makes to the lives of each of those people – the security of getting paid each month, and being better able to look after their families.
Our plan is also about helping our young people reach their potential and succeed in life. We protected the schools budget and are working to ensure children get the high quality education they deserve. We’ve seen big rises in the number of children taking the GCSE subjects that are most valued by universities and employers. Four in ten Asian pupils are now taking these subjects – nearly double the level in 2010.
We’re also delivering record numbers of apprenticeships. These ‘earn while you learn’ schemes combine training and qualifications with real work. They mean people can learn a skill, and get on in life. Since 2010, nearly 40,000 apprenticeships have been started by British Bangladeshi or Pakistani people.
Our growing economy helps us fund good public services that people can rely on when they need them. Last year Britain’s was the fastest growing major, advanced economy in the world. We need that strong economy to have a strong NHS. In Government, we’ve increased the NHS budget by £12.7 billion. That means we can have thousands more doctors and nurses in our hospitals helping treat the sick.
As well as delivering a strong economy – Conservatives have taken action on the issues that specifically affect the Muslim community. I know many people are worried about Islamophobia. We’ve set up a new team in Government that brings together the people responsible for tackling anti-Muslim hatred, and Ministers are working with the police to ensure mosques get the protection they need. And at a time when some are calling for restrictions on halal food, David Cameron has said clearly: whilst he is Prime Minister, halal is safe.
On international aid, the Government is committed to spending 0.7% of our national income on aid and development – helping those in poverty and need this includes many Muslim countries around the world.
These are just some of the ways we’ve made progress and there is more we want to do. But the alternative is clear. Ed Miliband isn’t up to the job of Prime Minister. But he would be in Downing Street getting pushed around by everyone – and it’s people reading this who would pay the price. Labour simply haven’t got a plan for the economy. That would mean more borrowing, more taxes and putting at risk the stability of our whole economy.
So when you go to the polling station on Thursday May 7, less than two months time, you’re making an important choice. Choose Conservative, and you’re choosing a competent Prime Minister, a strong team, and a plan for a better future for you, your family and this country.