We can build a better Britain – under Corbyn’s leadership

31 Mar 2017
The Tory claims about standing up for working people are all unravelling. Philip Hammond made sure of that with his planned hike in national insurance contributions (NICs) rates.

Even so, Labour cannot expect that the government’s spectacular policy failures will automatically turn popular opinion our favour. As the Tories represent the interests of the oligarchs and the offshore trusts and our press is largely owned by the oligarchs and the offshore trusts, we should not expect much fairness or objectivity.

Instead, we need to demonstrate over and over again how we truly are the party of the overwhelming majority, the poor, low-paid workers as well as well-paid workers, the party that defends women, the party of young people, of left behind communities, of black people, of Asian communities.

Ever since the Tories began their austerity policy in 2010 it should have been clear that we are not really ‘all in it together’. The first Osborne Budget which raised VAT to 20 per cent also cut the tax on  corporate profits at the same time and the Treasury expected these two measures to almost exactly equal other. This was not deficit reduction, but Robin Hood in reverse. Robbing the poor (whose incomes are caught in the VAT net) and giving to big business.

Hammond has trod the same path. The debacle over NICs arises because  the reality of Tory policy is so clearly at odds with its propaganda.  Some of the lowest paid workers in the country, forced off payrolls but still in effect full-time employees will lose out. Having pretended thatan army of casualised workers were budding ‘entrepreneurs’ that they cherish, the Tories then tried to clobber them.

At the same time my colleague Rebecca Long-Bailey came in for ferocious criticism on the Tories’ tax and benefits giveaways to the rich and big business amounting to £70bn. The ferocity is because she is
right. This is the scale of the Tory subsidies to their backers.

Less widely discussed is the simultaneous and vicious onslaught on the most vulnerable. A recent house of commons research paper itemised both recently implemented and recently adopted cuts to social welfare spending. This includes everything from child allowance, to personal independence payments to the continued freeze on most working age benefits. These measures amount to over £15.5bn in further annual cuts or ‘savings’. This is a one-year total and of course is much higher over the entire parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have never accepted that austerity is an economic necessity. It is a political choice. It hits workers and those on middle and low incomes so that big business and the very highly paid can be given a bigger slice of the cake.

Labour has already outlined plans showing how it will invest and boost prosperity. This will create better-paid jobs and generate new tax revenues. We can use these to begin to repair the NHS, fix broken
social care, end the public sector pay freeze, and more.

That is a message that Labour will hammer home, all the way into the May elections and beyond. We will show how we can begin to reverse some of the hugely damaging and unfair Tory policies that benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.

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