What would inspiration sound like if we loosened our ties, rolled up our sleeves and showed some real energy and passion? Well, I guess Americans do that best, so with some ideas from Mr Obama – this is what it would sound like.
In one week, you can choose policies that create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom-up so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the caretaker; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.
In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Scot against English; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.
In one week, at this defining moment in British history, you can give this country the continuity we need.
Five years ago, we were in the middle of the worst economic crisis since WWII. Hundreds of thousands of workers had lost their jobs this year. Businesses and families couldn’t get credit. Home values were falling. Pensions were disappearing. Wages were lower than they’d been in a decade, at a time when the cost of groceries, fuel and University had never been higher.
At a moment like that, the last thing we could have afforded was four or five more years of the tired, old theory that says when we are in a hole we should keep digging, when there is no more money, we should go to the IMF and beg for more, in the hope that more debt means economic growth by some miracle.
The job is not yet finished. You don’t turn out the lights just as soon as it’s begun to dawn. It’s not change you need when the alternative is more debts payments to overseas lenders. It’s not change you need when the alternative is borrow, borrow, borrow to spend, spend, spend.
It’s not change when the alternative does not give tax breaks to the poorest. It’s not change when you had the chance a decade ago and you didn’t clamp down on the banks, and all those with their hands in the cookie-jar. That’s not change.
Not this time. Not this year. Not when so much is at stake. Some are worried about losing an election, but your leaders should be worried about Britons who are losing their homes, and their jobs, and their life savings.
The question in this election is not “Are you better off than you were five years ago?” We know the answer to that – yes. The real question is, “Will this country be even better off five years from now?”
Remember, we still have the most talented, most productive workers of any country on Earth. We’re still home to innovation and technology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses and our research facilities. So there’s no reason we should throw all of that away.
What we have lost in the great recession cannot be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits alone. Each of us has a role to play. Each of us has a responsibility to work hard and look after ourselves and our families, and each of us has a responsibility to our fellow citizens. That’s what’s been lost – our sense of common purpose, of higher purpose. And that’s what we need to restore right now.
To all those campaigning in this final week, I ask only this of you – on the days where you feel so tired you can’t think of uttering another word to the people, think of those who need you. When those who oppose you have you down, reach deep and fight back harder.
Don’t believe for a second this election is over. Don’t think for a minute that opposition to continuity concedes. We have to work like our future depends on it in this last week, because it does.
In one week, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up.
In one week, we can choose to invest in health care for our families, and education for our kids, and renewable energy for our future.
In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of continued growth over reversal.
In one week, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.
(With thanks to Mr Obama)
Alpesh Patel is CEO of a UK Asset Management Company investing in Global businesses. He is a Board Member of the UK India Business Council and a former Financial Times columnist and Bloomberg TV presenter on global investing – as well as the author of 18 books on investing.