Cameron: 2011 ‘the year we get back on our feet’
David Cameron delivers his new year message to the country:
“After eight months in this job, I am acutely conscious of the challenges we face as a country. But I begin this New Year in the same positive frame of mind as when I set out the task of starting a new government back in May.
“By nature I am an optimist – about people, about human nature and, above all, about the future of our great country.
“If we sort out our problems, and make the most of our many opportunities, we can be one of the international success stories of the new decade.
“As for politics, my approach is simple: politics is public service in the national interest.
“We all have our dreams, ambitions and principles that we cherish and want to put into place.
“But most important of all, particularly at times like this, is to deal with the real problem in front of us.
“And there can be no doubt what that is: the state of our economy and the budget deficit.
“We have been living seriously beyond our means. We have to sort this out. Every sensible person knows this.
“The national interest dictates that we do the right thing, which is to act, not the easy thing, which would be to delay.
“In doing so, we should be clear: Britain has a really bright future to look forward to.
“2011 is going to be a difficult year, as we take hard but necessary steps to sort things out.
“The actions we are taking are essential, because they are putting our economy and our country on the right path.
“Together, we can make 2011 the year that Britain gets back on its feet.
“Eight months ago we inherited an economy in deep trouble.
“The previous government had racked up the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history.
“We only have to look at what’s been happening in Greece and Ireland to see the kind of danger we were in.
“Rising interest rates. Falling confidence. Others questioning whether you are still credit-worthy as a country.
“And, remember, the deficit we inherited back in May was actually forecast to be bigger than that of Ireland or Greece – or any other developed country for that matter.
“But we’ve pulled Britain out of that danger zone.
“Through the Budget and the Spending Review we’ve taken some really tough decisions to rescue our public finances and fundamentally change the direction of our economy.
“The new independent Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts the economy will grow continuing into 2011 and to rise further in 2012.
“So we have a credible plan for restoring confidence in our economy.
“But we have to see it through.
“A lot of the heavy lifting will happen in 2011.
“Each and every minister in this government is acutely aware that the plans we have in place are tough, in fact incredibly difficult, but we are clear that the alternative – indecision and delay – would mean taking unacceptable risks with our economy, our country and our people.
“I didn’t come into politics to make cuts. Neither did Nick Clegg. But in the end politics is about national interest, not personal political agendas.
“We’re tackling the deficit because we have to – not out of some ideological zeal.
“This is a government led by people with a practical desire to sort out this country’s problems, not by ideology.
“When we talk of building a bigger, stronger society, we mean it. These debts are not the government’s debts, they are the country’s debts. We’re all in this together.
“As we deal with the deficit we are protecting the things people cherish the most – like the National Health Service and the old age pension that we are re-linking to earnings. We want to take people with us.
“The coalition – two distinct political parties, working together to tackle a national economic emergency – is the embodiment of that spirit.
“Of course Coalition politics is not always straightforward. We don’t agree on everything. We never said we would. But I believe we are bringing a new style of government.
“A more collegiate approach. One where we’re prepared to argue things out and then act to do what we both believe is in the national interest.
“The political risks are greater this way. But so too are the rewards. As a Coalition government we are governing to the needs of the country.
“And, in the last eight months, I believe that the government has been decisive, bold and determined.
“We must maintain that drive in the months and years ahead. As we start 2011, our priorities should be about enterprise, aspiration, the modernisation of our public services and the security of our people.
“First, enterprise. Uppermost in my mind as we enter the New Year is jobs.
“Now ultimately it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s businesses, entrepreneurs, wealth creators.
“And that is particularly true when governments are so deeply in debt that they have to cut back their own spending programmes.
“So small and growing businesses will be our most important job creators.
“And I want us to look at all the reasons why people find it hard to start a business and all the barriers that stop a small business growing and really get tough with ourselves in addressing them.
“I want us to create a new economic dynamism in our country. I want to see more bank lending, particularly for small businesses. More deregulation. More investment in the sectors of the future – like with our reform of the electricity markets which will help to create tens of thousands of new sustainable green jobs.
“From the start of the year right through to the Budget and beyond, we are resolved to be relentlessly focused on supporting growth and driving job creation across our economy.
“Second, aspiration. In spite of some good measures in recent years – Sure Start and the Academy programme for instance – social mobility has stalled.
“Bright children from poor backgrounds do much better in other countries than here in the UK. That shames us.
“It is in the very earliest years of a child’s life that disadvantage really takes hold. That’s why we are protecting schools spending and enhancing it for the least well-off, offering free nursery education for disadvantaged two-year-olds and introducing a pupil premium, worth hundreds of pounds for each disadvantaged pupil.
“But unless we modernise our public services, like education, we will never build a country of real opportunity. Nor will we ever sustainably live within our means with outdated public services, pensions and welfare.
“So our third priority must be to modernize those public services. We will shift power away from central bureaucracy and give choice to the parents, patients and local citizens who use public services.
“This will mean more open public services, more innovative, more responsive to what people want, and better value for money.
“Fourth and finally, I want to say something about our national security. For many years now we have been aware of the threat we face from international terrorism.
“Recent arrests show that that threat is still very much with us. And it is as serious today as it ever has been.
“As we enter the New Year our police officers, together with their colleagues in the security and intelligence agencies, are working round the clock to foil plots that would do terrible harm to our people and our economy.
“This government will be unstinting in the support it gives them. But they also depend on the support of the public as they go about their work: together we will defend our values and way of life and defeat those who threaten them.
“But we must ask ourselves as a country how we are allowing the radicalization and poisoning of the minds of some young British Muslims who then contemplate and sometimes carry out acts of sickening barbarity.
“And the overwhelming majority of British Muslims who detest this extremism must help us to find the answers together. But in the fight against terrorism we cannot just protect ourselves at home.
“We also need to take action with our international partners abroad.
“Just before Christmas, the Prince of Wales and I visited service personnel being treated at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham.
“It was a stark reminder of the incredible bravery and sacrifice being made by all our servicemen and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
“For those serving in Afghanistan, 2011 is a crucial year in which we will start to transfer security responsibility for districts and provinces to Afghan control.
“As the Afghans become steadily more capable of looking after their own security, so we will be able to start to bring our own forces home.
“Enterprise, aspiration, public service reform and national security – these are the things that will determine whether in 2011 we take the steps towards the better, stronger, safer Britain that is within our grasp.
“I am determined that we will. That together, we have the right plan to pull through the tough times ahead.
“And that if 2010 was the year we stopped the rot, we can make 2011 the year that Britain gets back on her feet.”