Shabana Mahmood MP, Shadow Exchequer Secretary
Exclusive: The key job of Government is to collect taxes and to decide how to distribute the money. Party political manifestos are primarily put together to tell people what each party would do – what they would spend and what they wouldn’t – if enough people voted for them to form the next Government.
The global crash in 2008, followed by the worldwide recession was caused by irresponsible bankers in America but is still being felt by workers here; wages after inflation are still on average £1,600 lower a year than they were in 2010. But the crash also means there is an added dimension to the debate; the parties also need to explain how they are going to reduce the remaining budget deficit. The Government still spends more money each year than it takes in – a necessity during the dark days of the recession but not something that should be sustained indefinitely.
The Labour Party has made its priorities very clear. We will:
• Make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and introducing a lower 10p starting rate of income tax to help 24 million working people;
• Get at least 200,000 new homes built a year to relieve Britain’s housing crisis;
• Increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour before 2020 and give tax breaks to firms who start paying the living wage;
• And get the NHS back on its feet by employing 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives by 2020
And we know exactly how we will pay for it.
We will ask those who have a more to pay a little more. We will introduce a mansion tax for people who own a house worth over £2 million. We will also reintroduce the 50p rate of tax for people who earn more than £150,000.
We will also clamp down on tax avoidance. We will close tax loopholes that are being exploited by companies to avoid paying tax such as the Quoted Eurobond Exemption and we will stop the abuse of self-employment in the construction industry.
And we will make some cuts – for example we know we can make £250 million of savings in the police budget – savings would include scrapping elected Police and Crime Commissioners and reforming police procurement through mandatory joint purchasing of equipment by police forces.
Our financial plan allows us to make significantly different choices to the Tories and it will allow us to get rid of the budget deficit – to balance the books – at the very latest by 2020.
The Tories however are not being quite as upfront in their plans. They have told us that their goal is to get rid of the deficit and in fact run a surplus of £23 billion by 2019-2020.
What they haven’t told us, at all, is how on earth they are going to get there.
Because if that is really their plan then to do that they will have to make cuts twice as large as those that they are admitting to. Cuts that would change the face of Government in this country.
Cuts to public spending of this magnitude would lead to the smallest police force since the late 1970s (the earliest available comparable data), the smallest army since Cromwell ruled Britain in the 17th Century, and a third of older people in social care losing their entitlement to it.
Cuts that would affect each and every one of us in this country.
And the Tories, of course, as a political party have every right to put that political choice on the table for voters to chose. But at the moment they are not being honest with people about exactly how they would achieve it and what that choice would mean.
In my constituency of Birmingham Ladywood I have no doubt what that would mean.
People waiting longer and longer for NHS treatment; more foodbanks; fewer police on the beat and more vulnerable older people trying to fend for themselves. And I don’t think it would end there.
So there is a big choice for voters in the 2010 election. It’s a choice about who you want to be the Prime Minister of our country; which political party you think will be best for you. But more than that, it’s about the kind of country you want to live in. A country where Government creates the conditions to enable people to get on or a country where most people are left to sink or swim. I know which kind of country I will chose.
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