A FAMOUS advertising man once said, ‘if an ad campaign is built around a weak idea – no matter how good the execution, it’s going to fail’.
Ed Miliband should take note. Whether it’s a pink bus to appeal to female voters, or a manifesto to convince BME communities they care – Labour are making a lot of noise. But their record paints a very different picture to the one they are advertising.
Less than three weeks away from the most important general election of a generation, we shouldn’t let these empty promises go unchallenged. Why? Because the choice is clear – it is between a competent Conservative government that is delivering for hard-working people, regardless of their background, religion or sex and the chaos of Labour, propped up by the Scottish Nationalists, who will tax you more, rack up the deficit, and wreck the economy.
It will take us back to where they left us in 2010. So let’s consider Labour’s women’s manifesto. In it, there’s a pledge to increase free childcare for three and four-year-olds, from 15 to 25 hours. The Conservatives have already announced 30 hours a week for working parents.
Many parents want to go back to work but can’t afford to – this policy is designed to give them that choice. Tackling the gender pay gap in large companies also crops up. The Conservatives are taking action to root out inequality in the workplace, and as a result the gender pay gap is now at its lowest-ever level.
When Labour were in power, there were 21 all-male boards in the FTSE 100. Today, after five years of a Conservative-led government, there are none. If you are talented, if you are ambitious, if you work hard, nothing should stand in your way. That’s what Conservatives believe, and that is why we are serious about ensuring the same opportunities are open to men and women.
By crashing the economy, Labour made everyone worse off – and women were hit the hardest. On their watch, the number of unemployed women went up 25 per cent. Now the same people who left the coffers empty in 2010 are promising to tackle women on low pay. The cheek! It’s the Conservatives, working through our long-term economic plan, who have cut tax for over 12 million women and taken 1.9 million women out of income tax altogether. And in the next Parliament, we will cut tax for millions more, and scrap income tax altogether for everyone on the minimum wage working 30 hours a week.
It’s only right that people who work hard and want to get on in life keep more of the money they earn. The facts speak for themselves: under the Conservatives there are more women in work, more women starting up their own businesses and more women have been taken out of tax. We are delivering, while Labour is talking. And their BME manifesto is no different. Guaranteed jobs for 3,200 BME youngsters, they claim, despite presiding over the doubling of ethnic minority unemployment between 2001 and 2010.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have seen BME employment increase by more than 20 per cent and over 200,000 good-quality apprenticeships started by BME people. We are arming our young people with the skills and the opportunities they need to succeed in life. There is also a pledge to support small business and BME entrepreneurs.
Judge us by our record, and it’s clear to see the Conservatives are the true champions of SMEs – a quarter of our start-up loans have gone to entrepreneurs from ethnic minority backgrounds; we have cut corporation tax and the jobs tax to help businesses take on more staff; and we have made it easier for small businesses to get finance to grow.
Our goal is to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business – because that means more jobs and more people enjoying the security of a regular pay packet. On education, on policing, and on so much more, it would appear that this BME manifesto is banking on the electorate’s collective amnesia. It pledges to improve school standards. But it was a Labour government that saw Britain plummet in the international league tables. It promises to reform stop and search. Conservatives are already doing that – the use of stop and search powers has fallen by a third from its peak under Labour in 2008/9.
As an Asian woman, I know that the Conservative party is delivering for me. Not because I’m Asian, and not because I’m a woman, but because I’m a part of a fantastic community called Great Britain. And because the Conservative party has a plan for that community: building a strong, healthier economy and securing a better future for you, your family and for Britain.
What Labour have done in the run-up to this critical election is what can only be described as false advertising. Ed Miliband must take us for fools. But here’s a sobering thought for anyone leafing through Labour’s BME and women’s manifestos – in all my years, the most sexist and racist attacks I experienced came from a Labour politician. The story’s well documented – he’s currently standing against me in my Witham seat.