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Sir Tony addresses Oxford East Conservative Association

27 February 2015

I am very pleased and indeed proud to be here to support Melanie Magee.

I have known Melanie for many years.

I know Melanie to be an excellent Town and District Councillor.

As it happens, Melanie represents two different Wards on the Town and District Councils but is exemplary in her commitment to all of her electors.

Melanie communicates regularly:

• via social media
• via face to face meetings and “drop-ins”
• public meetings and
• “In touch” newsletters
• Ward “walk rounds” to ensure maximum access to her for her electors and
• via all new social media

I know that Melanie will bring all of that commitment and campaigning skills to Oxford East.

Moreover I am confident that Melanie would be able to work effectively with all the communities of Oxford East – a constituency of which Melanie already has a very good knowledge – both as a consequence of her work and through campaigning work that she has already previously done in the constituency.

Melanie was a student at Oxford Brookes University.

She has worked within the Oxfordshire NHS Trusts and also worked locally within the private sector.

So I think Melanie fully reflects the life of Oxford City.

Since 2008, Melanie has worked in the City centre in Oxford – working closely with the local community.

As Melanie’s Member of Parliament, I have seen the many projects that Melanie has initiated – so whilst Melanie was working for Oxford City Council, Melanie initiated and led a project on youth employment which resulted in substantial local media coverage and as importantly, substantial collaboration with local employers.

I know that Melanie is acutely aware of the different groups that make up the local area – with there being some areas of comparative affluence and other areas of comparative depravation

• and I have absolutely no doubt that one of Melanie’s key areas of interest is – and will be – wanting to see the creation of employment opportunities in Oxford.

I think Melanie has already been involved with:

• establishing a local Job Club in Oxford City Centre
• initiating events on youth employment – and particularly promoting apprenticeships and seeking to attract wider participation into apprenticeships from local people and importantly local employers
• in particular initiating apprenticeship initiatives with local business who have not previously been involved with apprenticeships.

Indeed Melanie is unique as being a Councillor who has on her own local Council – Cherwell – the role of lead member for apprenticeships in youth employment and I think Melanie is the first person in the UK with this specialist remit.

Melanie was an outstanding Mayor and I know that Melanie is passionate about improving local communities and I have every confidence that Melanie will be a very active and visible Parliamentary Candidate with a real impact.

Melanie would be an extremely active Member of Parliament also with considerable impact.

Melanie is a Candidate who I know will want to talk and meet with as many people in Oxford East as possible to show that she and the Conservative Party offer the real alternative here in Oxford East.

Nowadays, there is no such thing as a “safe” seat.

At 7 am on Polling Day 1983, found me “telling” at a Polling Station on the Blackbird Leys estate for Steven Norris, my fellow Conservative Parliamentary Candidate.

That evening Steven Norris was elected the Conservative Member of Parliament for Oxford East.

Contrary to pollsters’ expectations, Stevie had seen off both the Labour and SDP Parliamentary Candidates.

A Conservative victory in Oxford East is perfectly possible.

There is much good news that we can give to electors.

• the number of people in work are a record high

• official figures show that there are 1.85 million more people in employment now than when the Conservatives came to power in May 2010.

Under David Cameron and George Osborne, the economy has bounced back to such an extent that last year an average of 1,600 people found work every single day.

• the Office for National Statistics has revealed that wage growth is out-pacing inflation at the fastest rate in almost five years, leaving people with more money in their pockets

• inflation has fallen to its lowest rate since the 1960s – just 0.3%

• shares on the London Stock Exchange have risen to their highest level since the turn of the century providing a boost to investors and for those saving for a pension

• sterling recently hit a seven year high against the Euro and

• industrial output is now 1.7% higher than this time last year.

Let’s be clear – we inherited a situation where far too many people were unemployed, where enough jobs weren’t being created in the country.

I think it is fair to say that since David Cameron became Prime Minister, we haven’t necessarily tackled all of the unemployment but we have got 1.85 million more people in work today than when the Conservatives came into office in 2010.

Indeed Britain in the last four years has created more jobs than the rest of Europe put together.

The Conservative Government’s long term economic plan is working and we are determined to secure the best possible future for hard-working people.

Recent figures showed that three quarters of people in Britain aged between 16 and 64 are now in work since the employment rate reached over 73% which is the joint highest level since records began in 1971 – and unemployment is forecast to fall to 5.4% by the end of the year.

So the straightforward facts are that unemployment has been falling time and time again – it is now at its lowest level for more than six years.

And whilst the job figures are on the up, inflation and interest rates are on the way down.

At long last, wages are outstripping the cost of living.
A sense of confidence is returning as consumer spending rises.

As a result, people are able to pay more tax to fund the public services we depend on.

The Labour Party have got this wrong time and time again.

At the start of this Parliament, I can remember Miliband and Balls issuing dire nightmare predictions that there would be rocketing unemployment.

They got that wrong.

They drew a gloomy picture of an economy by this stage of the economic cycle at best becalmed in freefall at worst.

Well they certainly got that wrong as well.

Even Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices looks somewhat threadbare with the continuing fall in worldwide oil costs but perhaps most significantly is the complete failure of Ed Miliband to pay tribute to businesses and salute the large numbers of small firms up and down the country that are the backbone of our economy.

The last speech that Miliband made about businesses to a Labour Party conference was to talk about “predator” capitalism, not the benefits business brings.

Bizarrely Miliband seems to have an avowed admiration for French President, Francois Hollande’s economic policies.

I have got to tell Ed Miliband that UK businesses don’t want Britain turning into France with a French style equivalent of a straight-jacket for businesses.

Where everyone looks, there is good news with the UK recording the fastest growth for seven years and with Britain being in “pole position” to be the best performing economy in the developing world after clocking up our strongest year since the financial crisis struck.

What is Miliband’s and Balls’s response to this, well it’s to “bill somebody” but generally Labour are only happy when they are promising higher taxes, higher spending and higher borrowing.

Oxford is a great medical centre – indeed Oxford University Medical School is one of the leading medical schools in the world.

Labour have said that they want the NHS to be their focus in the General Election.

Indeed Miliband went further in his approach to the NHS in that he wants to “weaponise” the NHS

- although if Miliband felt that the NHS here was in some way doing badly, why is the NHS IN Wales, which is run by Labour precisely on the lines that Miliband advocates, performing significantly worse than the NHS in England.

Maybe we ought to look and see what has actually been happening across the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust over these last five years – and it is a picture of widespread and across the board improvement.

Since 2010, the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust now has 264 more doctors.

415 more nurses – of which 35 are extra midwives.

In 2010, the Trust carried out a total of 104,963 operations.

Last year – in 2014 – the Trust carried out 134,998 operations.
A difference of 30,035 operations, ie an increase in operations and activity in the operating theatres in Oxford in the Trust over the last four years of 8.6%.

In 2010 the Trust treated 2,909 people for cancer – last year they treated 3,688 people for cancer – an improvement of 779.

In 2010, the Trust carried out 145,936 diagnostic tests, including tests for cancer.

Last year they carried out 230,258 diagnostic tests including tests for cancer.

An increase of 84,322.

Whether it be MRI scans, CT scans or endoscopy tests, the Trust is carrying out substantially more now than they were in 2010.

And at the same time as employing more doctors, more nurses and more midwives, the Trust has succeeded in getting its books into balance and has an overall CQC rating of good.

Across Oxfordshire, more patients are receiving more treatment than ever before.

That is the reality of the continuing achievement of the NHS under this Government.

Of course, there is much more to do – there is still further work to reduce unemployment to get people off welfare, to improve social care for the elderly, to tackle remaining areas of depravation

And that Conservatives are determined to do.

We are determined that our long term economic plan will continue to deliver benefits for everyone and that no-one will be left behind.

Of course, we have to work to win but I am convinced that in Melanie Magee, you have a candidate that if we work for and work with, Melanie can win here in Oxford East – and David Cameron and the Conservatives can win in the UK and for the people of Britain.