How have David Cameron and the Conservatives done since they came into power in 2010? Here’s our rundown of the good and the bad since Gordon Brown left Downing Street.
While Britain might have the sixth largest world economy, the Conservatives have been quick to realise this definitely won’t be the case forever and have been quick to visit our rapidly expanding rivals in an attempt to flog British goods. Some have criticised the type of merchandise he’s been involved in promoting (arms for example), but the fact remains Cameron is acutely aware of the need to increase overseas exports and isn’t afraid to do what it takes to help.
While many people were baffled by the union between the Conservatives and Lib Dems it has actually panned out better than anyone would have expected in terms of cooperation. Cameron and Clegg seem to have a pretty decent working relationship and the Lib Dems have been able to balance out a few decisions in their favour. If they remain on good terms till the next election there’s no reason why coalition politics can’t be a regular occurrence at Westminster.
Gadaffi is dead and while that was never publicly Cameron’s objective, the dictator’s removal has stopped the short lived civil war in Libya from trundling along indefinitely. Less hawkish than Blair, Cameron (alongside Nicolas Sarkozy) took an early lead on the crisis helping to pave the way for the air strikes which were essential in the battle to wrestle the country away from wayward ruling regime.
Raising the IncomeTax threshold
Raising the income tax threshold to £7,475 might not seem like a bigdeal, but giving people a little more breathing space has been a welcome boost to those earning very little. Hints that there might be another rise before too long are also welcome.
Lowering Public Borrowing
While the government’s target of cutting public borrowing from last year’s level of £137 billion to £122 billion might seem a tall order,the signs are there it is at least going down rather than up.
An Increased Respect for Scotland
While the Conservatives are hardly the most popular party in Scotland, Cameron has been extremely respectful of the country since becoming Prime Minister. His visit to the country in his first week in power was a good move and his willingness to examine increased devolved powers is another sign he’s taking the views of the people seriously. A few choice speeches on the importance of the Union and appointment of Scots in key cabinet positions suggest he appears more clued up on his northern neighbours than the conspicuously confused Labour leader Edward Miliband.
Cameron might have tormented Labour with his relatively witty putdowns when he was in opposition but he seems increasingly insipid and repetitive in his verbal sparring contests with the opposition since he became PM. ‘We’re all in this together’, ‘mess we inherited’ and the cringe worthy ‘calm down dear’ . . . can he please think of something else?
While Scotland hasn’t been as hard hit as the rest of the UK, its unemployment levels are still extremely unsettling. Under Cameron the UK unemployment rate has risen to levels not seen since 1994. Mixed messages about making people get a job (when there aren’t many) and failing to understand people’s situations hasn’t helped.
The future of the country as a whole depends on its young people right? Well thanks to new university fees being introduced applications in England are down 9% on last year according to UCAS. That’s a depressing statistic no matter how you look at it. The knock on effect in Scotland is that the SNP have introduced fees for non-Scottish students in an effort to protect the natives. Fine for us, not exactly fun for the rest of our island neighbours.
A Smattering of Scandals
A couple of old-school Tory gaffes were easy enough to write off, but Cameron could yet find the disgraced Liam Fox or Andrew Coulson coming back to haunt him. Still though he’s some way off dodgy dossiers and allegations of bullying.
The Millionaire Cabinet
Obviously having people in the cabinet who have been successful in their lives outside politics is desirable. However of the estimated 22 millionaires in the current cabinet not all of them have accumulated their fortune for themselves – with many high profile members relying on family wealth for their fortunes. It’s difficult to feel that ‘we really are in this together’ when many of the people making the decisions haven’t experienced the rougher end of the job market for themselves.
Cameron invested a fair bit of energy on promoting his ‘Big Society’ vision before he came to power. Instead of seeing the country pulling together the way he’d intended England has witnessed its worst acts of civil disorder since the 80s. While the violence might have ostensibly been led by a series of disenfranchised opportunists, it still raises questions about the effect cutbacks are having on the vulnerable and underprivileged members of society.