DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Now Hunt must match fine words with deeds
For months the Mail has exhorted Jeremy Hunt to articulate a vision – and a detailed strategy – for Britain’s economic renewal.
Still reeling from a year of vicious party infighting and spiralling inflation, the Chancellor and his boss, Rishi Sunak, have naturally been preoccupied with steadying the ship.
But while they have been cosseted in Downing Street trying to balance the books, Labour, aided and abetted by the pathologically Tory-hating BBC, has been hawking a relentless narrative of declinism and despair.
Is this jeremiad really valid? It’s true that Britain is in a sharp economic downturn but claims that we are languishing far behind our main competitors are simply false.
It was good to see Jeremy Hunt defying the doom-mongers and spreading a message of optimism
UK inflation and growth are comparable with Germany’s and the EU average. Meanwhile, our unemployment is less than half that of France.
Contrary to almost all forecasts, we are not yet in recession. However, if the Government’s enemies keep talking Britain down, they may well succeed in putting us there.
So it was good to see Mr Hunt defying the doom-mongers yesterday and spreading a message of optimism. And his ‘four pillars’ of reconstruction undoubtedly identified the areas where improvement is vital if we are to bounce back.
They are, enterprise (incentivising innovation and hard work); education (upskilling the workforce); employment (getting Britain back to work and cutting welfare dependency); and ‘everywhere’ (his shorthand for levelling up).
However, diagnosing the problem and administering a cure are two very different things. Mr Hunt’s rhetoric must be followed up with urgent and effective action.
For example, taxes are far too high and yet still Mr Hunt increases them. He speaks of Brexit being a ‘catalyst’ for creating the most competitive tax regime in the developed world – but is planning an unprecedented six percentage point hike in corporation tax.
Still reeling from a year of vicious party infighting and spiralling inflation, the Chancellor and his boss, Rishi Sunak, have naturally been preoccupied with steadying the ship
This paper understands the need to tame inflation and repair our rickety public finances but the Chancellor must also be careful not to choke off the growth he says he craves.
Infrastructure, too, is essential to recovery, so the current confusion over HS2 does nothing to inspire confidence. The suggestion that the line could terminate at an obscure station in the west London suburbs rather than Euston is almost too absurd to take seriously.
We should either build the thing in its entirety or not at all. This constant vacillation over HS2 just adds to a more general sense of dither.
The opinion polls demonstrate that the Government has a long way to go to restore public trust. Setting out a positive Tory vision is a good starting point. The task now is to match words with deeds.
Children suffer again
Some 4.5million pupils face being turned away at the school gates next week, once again the innocent pawns in a political game being played by their teachers against the Government.
Having lost so many months of schooling during Covid (when most of those teachers enjoyed an extended holiday on full pay) the seven separate days of strike action announced by the National Education Union are a further body-blow to their life chances.
Don’t children deserve better than this from those who are supposed to be their mentors?
Tony Danker, head of the Confederation of British Industry, says most bosses would ‘secretly’ like all their staff to come back to the office, rather than spend their days working from home. Why secretly? Isn’t it their right to demand a full day’s work for a full day’s pay? If they think that principle is being flouted, and productivity falling as a result, they should say so loud and clear.
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