keir starmer budget response 2024
keir starmer budget response 2024

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

There we have it. The last desperate act of a party that has failed.
Britain in recession. The national credit card – maxed out. And despite the measures today, the highest tax burden for 70 years.
The first Parliament since records began to see living standards fall, confirmed by this budget today. That is their record. It is still their record.  Give with one hand, and take even more with the other, and nothing they do between now and the election will change that.

I mean – over 14 years, we have all seen our fair share of delusion from the party opposite. A Prime Minister who thinks the cost-of-living crisis is “starting to ease”.
An Education Secretary who thinks concrete crumbling on our children deserves our gratitude.
The former Prime Minister who still believes crashing the pound was the right path for Britain.
And today – a new entry in this hall of infamy.
The Chancellor, who breezes into this chamber in a recession and tells the working people of this country that everything is on track.
Crisis, what crisis?
Or – as the captain of the Titanic and the former Prime Minister herself might have said. Iceberg – what iceberg?
Smiling as the ship goes down.
The ‘chuckle brothers of decline’.
Dreaming of Santa Monica, or maybe just a quiet life in Surrey not having to self-fund his election.
Whilst the crew behind them scramble around for a GB News lifeboat.
If only it weren’t so serious.
Because Madam Deputy Speaker, the story of this Parliament is devastatingly simple.
A Conservative Party – stubbornly clinging to the failed ideas of the past.
Completely unable to generate the growth working people need.
And forced – by that failure – to ask them to pay more and more, for less and less.
And as the desperation grows they torch, not only their reputation for fiscal responsibility, but also any notion they can serve the country, not themselves.
Party first, country second. While working people pay the price.
Food prices – still 25% higher than they were two years ago.
Rents up 10%.
An extra £240 pounds a month for a typical family remortgaging this year.
Because they lost control of the economy.
They sent interest rates through the roof.
They made working people pay.
They should be under no illusion – that record is how the British people will judge today’s cuts.
Because the whole country can see exactly what is happening here.
They recognise a Tory con when they see it, just as they did in November.
Give with one hand, take even more with the other.
Madam Deputy Speaker, people have been living through this nonsense for 14 years.
They know the thresholds are still frozen, dragging more and more people into higher taxes.
They know that a Tory stealth tax is coming their way in the shape of their next council tax bill.
The Levelling-up Secretary has told, not just this house, but every house in the country – he is coming for their council tax.
Give with one hand, Gove in the other.
But most insultingly of all the British people know, that the only cause that gets this lot out of bed is trying to save their own skin.
Take the desperate move, after years of resistance, to finally accept Labour’s argument on the non-dom tax regime.
Has there ever been a more obvious example of a government that is totally bereft of ideas?
And if they are sincere in support for this policy now, then the question they must answer today is – why not do it earlier?
Why did they not stand up to their friends, their funders, and their family?
Because if they had followed Labour’s example
3.8 million extra operations would have taken place by now.
1.3 million emergency dental appointments.
Free breakfast clubs for nearly 4.5 million children.
But if instead, this is just another, short-term cynical political gimmick then honestly – what is the point of them?
What is the point of a party that is out of touch, out of ideas and nearly out of road.
And we saw it last year as well – when only Labour’s policies on the cost-of-living made the difference.
And for those opposite a little downbeat about another intellectual triumph for social democracy, I say – get used to it.
Because with this pair in charge – it won’t be long before they ask you to defend the removal of private school tax relief as well.
But Madam Deputy Speaker, the harder they try with cynical games like this, the worse it will get for them.
Because the whole country can see exactly who they are.
Fighting for themselves. Politics not governing. Party first, country second.
And Madam Deputy Speaker, because we have campaigned to lower the tax burden on working people for the whole parliament – and we won’t stop now – we will support the cuts to national insurance today.
But I notice this – in 2022, when the Prime Minister was chancellor, he made this promise –
“I can confirm, in 2024, for the first time the basic rate of income tax will be cut from 20p to 19p.”
Having briefed that all week – that an income tax cut was coming – that promise is in tatters today.
And of course we support the fresh investment in our NHS.
Although I have to note, that the Chancellor – when he was health secretary 10 years ago – promised to make the NHS paperless by 2018.
And I know the Prime Minister’s fondness for Elon Musk extends to an enthusiastic embrace of his community notes on fact-checking. So I will say this bit slowly.
Labour supports the fuel duty freeze. That is our policy.
And I look forward to the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of that in coming days.
We do ask the Chancellor to set out how he will make sure that this policy gets passed on to hard-pressed families at the pump?
Yet Madam Deputy Speaker, for all the fanfare around the tax measures today that straightforward story remains true.
Taxes – a 70-year high.
The British people – paying more for less.
An unprecedented hit to the living standards of working people.
The first time they’ve gone backwards over a Parliament, and they were cheering that today.
And the reason is equally simple. There is no plan for growth. How can there be?
He can say “long-term plan” all he likes. We see the results.
Last year he announced 110 growth measures. He said we’ve “turned the corner” – and where are we now, Britain in recession.
An economy smaller than when the Prime Minister entered Downing Street. The textbook definition of decline.
That is their record.
I mean, after 14 years, who do they actually think feels better off?
Productivity is flat.
Mortgages – through the roof.
Housebuilding – off a cliff.
Worklessness – rising and rising.
Homelessness – never higher.
Crime – virtually unpunished.
Children who can’t see a dentist.
Sewage in our rivers.
Billions and billions of taxpayers’ money wasted.
£7bn by the Prime Minister on Covid fraud alone.
£500m on the Rwanda scheme that has achieved precisely nothing.
I can keep going – a railway line that will never reach our great Northern cities.
In fact – might not even reach central London.
Billions upon billions for a white elephant without a trunk!
While today we learn – taxpayers are picking up the bill for the Science Minister’s libel.
And all the time – one thing that is growing – the waiting lists in our NHS now nearly 8 million.
They’ve had 14 years. 14 years. Running out of road.
Madam Deputy Speaker – this is what decline looks like.
And the complacency they have shown today – it takes your breath away.
Britain deserves better. Britain deserves – a real plan for growth.
An end to the 14 years of stagnation.
Wealth creation across the whole of our country.
Higher living standards for working people.
This is the mission we need.
But yet again, what we got was the same tired, old formula.
The sticking plasters. The chopping and changing. The party-first, country-second politics.
With no repudiation of the utterly discredited idea that economic growth is something the few gift to the many.
But even then Madam Deputy Speaker – I think his backbenchers are owed an explanation.
Because when the Chancellor says Britain has grown more quickly than countries like Germany, over the last 14 years, I am sure they will be shocked to learn that this is a statistical sleight of hand.
And when it comes to GDP per capita. In other words – the growth that makes the difference to the pockets of working people. Their record is much worse.
Indeed, in per capita terms – our economy has not grown since the first quarter of 2022.
The longest period of stagnation Britain has seen since 1955.
In fact, the Chancellor invited us to look at those figures – the OBR says GDP per capita will be 0.75% lower in 2028 than they forecast in November of last year.
That was the number they said we should watch – 0.75% lower in 2028.
And they can call this a technical recession.
But there is nothing technical about working people living in recession for every second the Prime Minister has been in power.
This is a Rishi recession.
And if the party opposite really wants to know what hides in the Chancellor’s spreadsheets, then they will see that it is only the record levels of migration they have delivered which has prevented an even deeper decline.
And that is a record they must stand on at the election.
Because – while on these benches we do not demean for a second, the contribution migrants make to a thriving economy – it is high time the party opposite was honest with the British people about the role migration plays in their economic policy.
Because right now – in terms of growth – that is all they have. There is nothing else.
No plan – to get Britain building again with a reformed planning system.
No ambition – to invest in clean British power for cheaper bills and energy security.
No inclination – to move away from insecure, low-paid jobs and strengthen employment rights so we can finally make work pay.
And Madam Deputy Speaker – where is the urgency on affordable housing?
How can they look at Britain now – and not see this is a massive priority?
Never again – will they be allowed to pose as the party of home ownership and aspiration.
Although I have to say – given the disaster that has befallen his childcare plans. Perhaps that is for the best.
Because Madam Deputy Speaker, the cost of childcare is a huge challenge for millions.
Parents need him to deliver on his promise.
And it seems the Chancellor has been taking lessons on marketing from the Willy Wonka Experience in Glasgow.
All is not as it seems.
And with just over three weeks to go he has to came clean.
Because up and down the country – parents need to know.
Will they get their entitlement in April?
Or is this just another example of their reckless on governing?
Headlines over delivery.
Promises without plans.
Policies that unravel at the first contact with reality.
The lesson – crystal clear, that those who broke our economy cannot be trusted to repair it.
The Tory credit rating is zero, it is time for change with Labour.
And that is what today’s budget should have been about.
A last chance for the Government to show it understands the economic reality of our volatile world.
That global supply chains can be weaponised by tyrants like Putin.
That a sticking plaster approach to public investment will cost Britain more in the long-run.
And that trickle-down nonsense means working people pay the price.
It could even have been a moment of contrition. A reflection on their fiscal recklessness.
An apology perhaps. For the ridiculous chaos they inflicted on the businesses, communities and investors in this country.
And yet still no stable industrial strategy.
Still no national wealth fund to crowd-in private investment.
Still no urgency on speeding up critical infrastructure projects.
And no recognition that they have left our standing as a country that always keeps its promises in tatters.
And if they don’t like that accusation. Then look no further than the grotesque spectacle of ducking their responsibility to the victims of the infected blood and Horizon scandals.
“One of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history” – those were the Prime Minister’s words just two months ago.
Today – justice kicked beyond the general election.
No, Madam Deputy Speaker – Britain can see exactly who they are.
And the reality is, there is no path to economic stability, no way to a calmer, less chaotic politics, with the party opposite in power.
Because chaos is now their worldview. A mindset that sees Britain’s problems as opportunities they can exploit.
Whether, like the Chancellor, that’s out of desperation because they can’t solve them.
Or whether, like the Members for Fareham or South West Norfolk, they have no intention of solving them whatsoever.
For a party this weak and divided – the end result is always the same.
A vicious downward spiral.
Chaos feeding off decline.
Decline feeding off chaos.
While working people pay the price.
The British people know – this will not stop. Five more years and it will only get worse.
There will be no change in direction, without a change of government.
And that leaves Britain a nation in limbo.
Unable to shake off the Tory chaos that dragged us into recession and loaded the tax burden onto the backs of working people, and maxed out the nation’s credit card.
Britain deserves a government ready to take tough decisions.
Give our public services an immediate cash injection.
Stick to fiscal rules without complaint.
Fight for the living standards of working people.
And deliver a sustainable plan for growth.
So we say to the Chancellor and Prime Minister.
It is time to break the habit of 14 years.
Stop the dithering, stop the delay, stop the uncertainty.
And confirm 2 May as the date of the next general election.
Because Britain deserves better.
And Labour are ready.

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