Press Column
Press Column

Last Friday’s mini-budget – and there was nothing ‘mini’ about it – was the new Prime Minister’s opportunity to see off her critics and prove that she had a grip of the economy and the nation’s health, housing and energy crises.

Instead, even Tory MPs were stunned at her plans, as the pound fell to a thirty-seven year low against the dollar.

Moments later, when the Speaker called me to question to the Chancellor, I had noticed that the markets were already in meltdown and UK Government bonds were in free fall.

I challenged him on how he was going to pay for the loss; he had no plan. By Friday night, we were £45bn poorer from the tax cuts to the super-rich alone, not to mention the disinvestment in the state.

It was more than economic incompetence, which saw the pound plummet last Friday, but the result of an ideological Government with their Bankers’ Budget that gave further favours to their donors and cronies, at the expense of us all.

The Financial Times estimates that a staggering £1bn of gains from axing the 45 per cent tax rate will go to just 2,500 individuals, who each have an income of over £3.5m.

Something like this was last witnessed 50 years ago under the then Tory Chancellor Anthony Barber’s ‘dash for growth’. Friday’s budget is set to follow the same fate.

Back then, the economy sunk into a recession and launched the three-day week with inflation reaching crippling levels.

Today, where the economy is a lot ‘tighter’ and labour shortages abound, the consequences could be even more severe.

If bonds fall, that means that even long-term investors don’t see this as a blip, but a serious downturn as they sell their investments before they lose out too.

Ultimately this means less money to spend on capital and revenue commitments, a country getting poorer, interest rates rising and an economy faltering.

At the time of writing the markets are still in shock. The pound fell to its lowest ever level against the dollar and analysts fear it could reach parity or worse.

In response to this chaos, it now looks inevitable the Government will start recklessly slashing public services and investment. Infrastructure projects will be delayed or disappear, school budgets will be cut, and our NHS will be ever more vulnerable to privatisation.

Wage restraint and real term cuts are also on their way: as the super-rich are given handouts, workers are told they must graft ever harder just to keep their heads above water.

If this wasn’t enough we have also heard that agricultural support schemes are being scrapped – which is expected to lead to food price increases – and that planning laws are being ripped up, putting our wildlife and environment at risk and providing even less of the affordable housing we desperately need.

Meanwhile, the new Home Secretary has taken a swipe at the police, and the new Health Secretary, in setting out her ‘ABCD’ for the NHS, has missed the central challenge – workforce.

If we do not have the staff, and do not pay our care and NHS staff a fair wage, then you cannot deliver improvements. We are in for more difficult winters.

In huge contrast, this week’s Labour Conference is setting out a very different plan for Government, one driven by economic competence and set on tackling the energy and cost of living crises.

Instead of protecting the super-rich, we will restore their tax obligations and protect those in greatest need.

Instead of driving small businesses into debt, Labour has set out how it will invest in business, focus on greening the economy, and investing in a new generation of entrepreneurs.

We know that talent sits in all our communities and why we must invest in growing out the economy with firm foundations.

When it comes to energy, we will retrofit homes to meet the decent energy standard and reduce demand, creating skills and jobs in doing so. Unlike the Tories, who are now set on fracking, our focus will be on renewable energy.

Meanwhile, with York covered by a fracking license (Petroleum Exploration and Development License), Labour will fight off any attempts to drill in any part of the city or surrounding area. We are clear, that this is expensive, will not deliver the energy return we need and is bad for the climate.

I will be playing my full part in Parliament, challenging every single decision that will make people poorer, that will cut and sell off our public services and will harm our environment.

Instead, I will fight for your values. We have to stop all this damage, and work together for a brighter future that only Labour can provide.


This article appeared in the York Press on 28th September 2022

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