The Tories: cuts for you, bonuses for bankers and yachts for royals

by John Woodcock

You don’t need to be mystic Meg to predict that the next general election will be fought on the twin pillars of economic credibility and who has the right priorities for Britain.

The great importance of Ed Miliband’s and Ed Balls’ excellent speeches over the past few days is to make crystal clear how serious Labour is about demonstrating the former, and to open up the space for us to take on the Tories over the latter.

The public are understandably deeply anxious about the economic turmoil that is afflicting economies across the world. They are concerned by a deficit made even harder to shift by the Tory failure on jobs and growth, and rightly believe major and sustained belt tightening will be necessary to get back on track. And they will simply not listen to what we have to say if we allow the political debate to be dominated solely by an argument between more versus less, with Labour on the side of spending more.

So on Saturday, Ed Balls reminded the Fabian conference of the discipline and drive the party showed in the early days of New Labour to dispel the myth that it would return to the days of tax and spend.

It is now up to us to show that same discipline and hunger to rebuild the faith in Labour’s economic competence which the public lost when the global crash happened on our watch. And, as Ed and Ed have made clear, the foundation for that must be to show people that we understand the scale of the economic challenge that will confront us if we win in 2015. It’s a task made significantly harder by Cameron and Osborne’s mistake in choking off the recovery by cutting spending and raising taxes too far and too fast. Now they are set to break their promise to balance the books by 2015, with £158 billion more borrowing than they had planned to pay the price of slower growth and a longer dole queue caused by their economic failure. 

But spelling out that we get it is also the foundation for the debate we need to have on the different choices we would make. Because when everyone accepts that money is tight, how you will spend scarce resources and how you will make the overall cake bigger by returning to growth become the central questions rather than how much you will spend.

That is an argument we can win hands down against an unreformed Conservative party that has the wrong priorities for the country. We are up against a Tory chancellor that refuses to tax bankers’ bonuses to get more young people to work. A prime minister that now speaks Ed Miliband’s language on creating a fairer economy but refuses to take the action needed to deliver it; and an education secretary that happily took an axe to Labour’s school building programme but thinks that the country should spend millions on building and maintaining a new royal yacht.

These out of touch Conservative ministers are not governing in the best interests of the British people. The tough economic message with which Labour has kicked off the new year helps us in getting out to make that case.

John Woodcock is Labour and Cooperative MP for Barrow and Furness and a shadow transport minister.

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14 Responses to “The Tories: cuts for you, bonuses for bankers and yachts for royals”

  1. figurewizard says:

    “Labour’s discipline and drive ….. to dispel the myth that it would return to the days of tax and spend?” (Ed Balls)

    If the country’s finances had been wisely managed by Brown we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today and Balls was by Brown’s side throughout.

  2. Gary says:

    I despair. This article doesn’t help Labour. It positively harms.

    You want to ‘make space’ for the real issues’ ?!!! As an ex-Labour voter, that just stinks.

    When *you* are spending *my* money, you might be hoping to ‘make space’ for other issues, but for me I have to believe you are spending my money with the same level of regard that I would have.

    As long as we think you want this issue out of the way like it is some sort of inconvenience, then you continue to disrespect my tax contribution and I remain convinced you will ultimately waste it.

    The answer is simple. Labour will commit to no debt or deficit to fund any current account spending on the current generation of voters. Capital spending on the other hand *will* be debt funded. That way our children are saddled with infrastructure to enjoy and benefit from (while paying their share), but they are not paying later for our ongoing expenses today.

    That would work for a left-leaning party interested in investment and a better, fairer world for our children. But I’m not convinced that party is the Labour Party.

  3. Shinsei1967 says:

    “We are up against a Tory chancellor that refuses to tax bankers’ bonuses”

    Under Labour in financial year 2009/10 there was a bonus tax (paid by the banks) of approx £2bn and the bankers paid 40% tax on their bonuses.

    Under the Tories there is a bank levy of approx £2bn (paid by the banks) and the bankers’ bonuses are taxed at 50%.

    Banks and bankers are paying higher taxes this year than last.

  4. Madasafish says:

    The tough economic message with which Labour has kicked off the new year helps us in getting out to make that case.

    Sorry. Labour’s economic message changes from week to week. It cannot be credible when the Shadow Chancellor has been campaigning against cuts for the past 4 years and is now in favour of them.

    As for “ tough It’s bs. It the Conservatives have “the wrong priorities for the country” , how can Labour adopting the same policies be correct?

    An d it’s written by an MP.. people who enjoy subsidised food, and a range of benefits better than anyone in the country.. Yes “we are all in it together”.. NOT.

  5. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:

    I don’t hear any bankers signalling worry at Labour being re-elected, what with the powerful voice they have……

  6. Tim Swain says:

    I joined the Labour party 2 years ago and voted for Ed Milliband hoping that the party could, at last, reduce the influence of the Blair cabal.Speeches by Balls and Milliband in the last few days represent, in my view, a shift back to Blairism.It is time for me to go again, I think, and find a party that believes in something vaguely left-wing.Any suggestions?

  7. Paul Kruger says:

    Vote Tory, cheers.

  8. AmberStar says:

    That is an argument we can win hands down against an unreformed Conservative party that has the wrong priorities for the country.
    If only that were so.

    All we are going to hear for the next 2 years (maybe even 3 years, right up to the GE) is: “Labour will be exactly the same as the Tories.”

  9. Frederick James says:

    This article manages to be vacuous, badly-researched and sycophantic all at the same time. I sincerely hope it gets the author the sweetie he is angling for from “Ed and Ed” (awww) but I suspect even the mediocrities at the top of his party demand a higher standard of arse-licking than this.

  10. Ray_North says:

    Sadly, despite the continuing failure of the austerity programme and the continued disparity between those who are still making money and being paid huge bonuses and those who are being asked to take pay cuts just to keep their jobs – Labour, are picking fights with the public sector workers! it’s very very bad politics and pretty incoherent in terms of economic as well.
    Follow the link to read my article on the failings of the labour leadership:

  11. Henrik says:

    I’m beginning to be slightly concerned that the junior partner in the Coalition is going to have to take on the role of HM Opposition, as the current shower of eejits occupying the Opposition front bench seem more concerned with rooting out right deviationists and democratic centralists from their progressive fraction than, say, articulating a consistent, convincing and credible strategy for which the poor old electorate might actually choose to vote.

    Comrades, really. I’m not going to vote for you, anyway, but as a good democrat, I do rather approve of proper politics, you remember, a competition of ideas. This pretty much requires two sides for the debate and sufficient credibility for both sides to be taken seriously by the audience. You’re becoming an embarrassing slapstick comedy feature – please, for the love of God, sort out all this factionalist nonsense and then, the bloodletting over and done with, get on with producing some sort of reason why folk might consider voting for you.

  12. R.henry says:

    10 of my closest tory friends dislike cameron and would be happy to vote for david m. Sadly not one would vote for ed m.
    Until the leader is changed I am afraid, however good the policies may be, labour will be unelectable.

  13. swatantra says:

    I’m afraid the Media have ot it in for Ed. After every PMQs its Ed’s performance that is under the microscope and discussed ad nauseum, not Camerons.
    The day will surely come when Ed throw in the towel and calls it a day.
    Cameron is getting so bigheaded that he can get away with putting down Denis Skinner when he sould show a bit more respect for his elders.

  14. Henrik says:

    @swatantra: I’m puzzled as to why anyone would want to show personal respect to that vile old man. Professional respect, sure, he’s not dead yet and he has undeniably held successive governments’ feet to the fire, but personal? Have you listened at all to his constant unpleasant sledging when anyone from the Government is on their feet? Deeply personal, profoundly offensive and not even funny. He ain’t got nothin’comin’.

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