But as we all knock on doors and listen to what voters are telling us, one message is clear: we’ve lost the support of our public sector workers. This must not go on. Britain’s public sector workers have bent over backwards over the last nine years and delivered some of the finest public services in the world, even though the government hasn’t always been able to pay them what we would like to. They have done their bit to help us repair the broken economy we inherited from Labour and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude. It’s now time for us to acknowledge their sacrifice, to say a huge thank you and to give our public sector workers a pay rise.
We are the party of aspiration and social mobility and that’s why I want to stand up for those workers who, day in day out, simply get on with their jobs and make this country work.
I’m talking about those who keep us healthy, who teach our kids, who keep us safe on the streets, the nurses and care workers who look after our elderly relatives and the prison officers and firemen and women who do such dangerous work on our behalf.
There are over four million public sector workers earning under £50,000 and each one of them will get a pay rise in line with inflation or the recommendation of their pay review bodyunder my Public Sector Pay Guarantee.
Of course we have still got to live within our means as a country, and only the Conservative Party will ensure that that happens.
Nothing is more unkind than racking up millions of pounds worth of debt and recklessly passing it on to our children and grandchildren to deal with.
But we will ensure that we get our priorities straight and don’t balance our books on the backs of public sector workers, especially those on lower incomes.
We also need to reduce the amount of money we’re sending overseas while we’re struggling at home. I can’t explain on the doorstep why we don’t have enough money for our schools and our police whilst we have allowed the overseas aid budget to double since 2010.
We must do our bit as a country to stand tall in the world and help the world’s poorest.
But in the same way that we have expected our public services and public servants to live within the country’s means, the same standards should be applied to our spending overseas.
There’s nothing radical about wanting to put an extra £4 billion into education, £3 billion into the Police and then ensuring that over four million public servants who actually provide those services are paid a bit more for the excellent service they provide.
The Conservative Party should be the proud party of law and order and yet we cannot keep our streets safe and the Police are crying out for extra money.
Our teachers are begging us for more money for schools so that they can give our children the best possible start in life.
Unless we want to usher in a new era of economic carnage and vandalism under Jeremy Corbyn, it’s time we did a bit of listening and gave our public services and the people who work in them the support they need and deserve.