As the summer break approaches, I am writing to thank you for all your support over the past few months, particularly in the run-up to the AV referendum. This victory was a crucial moment for our Party and our country - and it was only possible with the tireless campaigning of Conservative supporters across the country. We can be truly proud of the campaign we fought and the result we achieved. Our voting system is safe, and electoral reform is off the agenda for a long time to come.
As recent weeks have shown, being in government produces all sorts of challenges that need a clear response. The hacking scandal has been shocking in terms of the dreadful things that have happened, and profound in terms of its long-term impact. I hope you agree that with a Judge-led inquiry now being established; a proper police investigation under way; the BSkyB merger now off the agenda; and maximum transparency being delivered, we have dealt decisively with this issue.
Overall, I believe we can be proud of the progress we're making in government. In all the years in Opposition, I had a clear idea in my head of the kind of government I wanted to lead: one that thought about the long term instead of tomorrow's headlines; one that did the right thing by decent, working people; and one that restored Britain's standing in the world. In our actions of the past few months, we're making progress on all three fronts.
First, we're doing what's right for our country in the long term, however difficult that may be today. One of the big tests in recent months has been our plans to modernise the NHS. The decision to pause those reforms was the right one. It gave us the time and space to get the involvement and support of doctors and nurses, and we came back to the table with a package that is changed for the better, but not changed in its fundamental drive to make the health service more dynamic, efficient and effective.
We've applied the same long-term approach to pension reform. We all know that the pensions system as it stands is unsustainable, and that to duck this challenge would have been a dereliction of our long-term duty to this country. The decisions we have made on raising the pension age are tough, but right. However choppy the political waters may be as we pursue these plans, it is vital we stick to the course.
Second, we're doing the right thing by decent, hard-working people. Nothing so undermined the value of responsibility in this country than the woeful welfare system allowed to spiral out of control by the last government. That's why in June we launched The Work Programme, the largest-ever welfare-to-work scheme of its kind. We're bringing in a whole range of new providers and paying them on the results they achieve - getting people into work and keeping them in work.
We're also doing the right thing by the Equitable Life policyholders who were so cruelly let down. In Opposition we promised to help those people, and it's a promise we have kept. Last month the first cheques were sent out - the start of a three-year programme of payments totalling £1.5 billion.
And third, this is a government that is restoring Britain's standing in the world. In little over a year, through one Spending Review and two Budgets, we have restored this country's reputation for economic competence. At a time when the shadow of sovereign debt problems is falling across Europe, we can be more confident than ever in the action we are taking. Market interest rates in the UK - vital to encouraging the investment we need - are falling; in so many other countries they are rising.
Holding a Strategic Defence and Security Review when our inheritance was a MoD budget that was out of kilter by £38 billion was always going to be difficult, but we now have a long-term plan to deliver the right defence forces for Britain's future. Our plan to increase the trained strength of our Territorial Army from 14,000 to around 40,000 in the next few years is something that all Conservatives can be proud of.
And just as we have shown responsibility in our domestic affairs, so we are playing our part in global affairs. Along with our allies, we continue to enforce the UN resolution in Libya, protecting the civilians there from Qadhafi's murderous regime and pressuring him to go. In Afghanistan, we continue our efforts to pursue a lasting political settlement. The transition of security responsibility to Afghan control for selected districts throughout the country is just about to start and, in line with progress in this area, we have made some plans for modest troop reductions by the end of 2012, with the ultimate aim to have no UK troops in combat roles by 2015.
We have also made good progress in meeting our promises to limit immigration and stop powers being passed from Britain to Brussels without a referendum, and we have severely limited Britain's exposure to future EU bailouts.
So while the day-to-day of politics can sometimes be tough, I hope you can be proud that you have a government that does the right thing for the long term, that is on the side of responsible people, and that is restoring Britain's standing in the world.
I wish you and your families a relaxing summer.
With best wishes,
David Cameron signature
Saturday, 30 July 2011