The Tories’ economic record is one of repeated broken promises
If the consequences for people here in Birmingham were not so serious, it might even have been funny. On Wednesday, Conservative Chancellor George Osborne came to the House of Commons to make all sorts of boastful claims about the way he has managed the economy.
From the arrogance of his tone you might have thought he expected spontaneous applause from a grateful public to break out across the length and breadth of the country. If George Osborne had such expectations, they were short lived. Within a few minutes it was clear that he had no answer to a series of targeted questions from Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on living standards and the state of the national debt. In the hours that followed, economic research bodies were further blowing apart the Chancellor’s claims, as the bleak small print of his Autumn Statement became clear.
Remember when David Cameron and George Osborne promised we’d be all in this together? The reality was they gave millionaires a huge tax cut but hit tax credits for the lower paid, and hit all of us with a hike to VAT. Remember they promised people would be better off? People where I live here in South Birmingham tell me they are not feeling the recovery. Working people are now £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories
And this cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor has finally had to admit that his key promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year – now lies in tatters. Because wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get the deficit down aren’t coming in.
Unlike Labour, the Tories don’t understand the fundamental link between the living standards of everyday working people in Birmingham and Britain’s ability to deal with the deficit. George Osborne has now borrowed a staggering £219 billion more than he planned, and the economy is set to slow down next year after forecasts for wages have been revised down again.
Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. How out of touch can you get? What we needed yesterday was the better and fairer plan that Labour has set out.
Labour will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents and scrap the bedroom tax. We will also cut business rates for small firms – that’s practical help for the businesses every political party will claim to support on Small Business Saturday this week. And in contrast to the Tories, our approach to balancing the books will be based on fairness. We will start by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion a year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.
Changing stamp duty to help people on middle and low incomes is welcome, but we also need to get more homes built and we need a Mansion tax to help save and transform our NHS. With an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of the Tory spending plans, we can get the extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs needed to help transform our NHS and save it from the chaotic and expensive top-down reorganisations that the Conservative–led Government has imposed.
The Tories promised to eliminate the deficit by 2015. But with less money coming in because of their economic decisions they’ve broken their promise, failed their own economic test and its hardworking people who are paying the price. It’s time for an economic recovery for the many, not just a few.