An unfair Budget from the same old Tories - Speech by Ed Miliband

21 March 2012

ed milibandAn unfair Budget from the same old Tories

-Check Against Delivery-

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party, in response to the Budget, said:

Mr Deputy Speaker.

The Chancellor spoke for an hour.

But there was one phrase that did not pass his lips.

One claim he has abandoned.

“We’re all in this together.”

And it’s no wonder.

Because after today’s Budget:

Millions will be paying more so that millionaires can pay less.

A year ago the Chancellor said in his Budget speech:

“Now would not be the right time to remove [the 50p tax rate] when we are asking others in our society on much lower incomes to make sacrifices...”

Well that is exactly what he has done today.

Tax credits cut,

Child Benefit taken away.

And fuel duty up.

And what has he chosen to make a priority today?

For Britain’s millionaires, a massive income tax cut each and every year.

The fairness test for this Budget was whether the Chancellor used every penny he could to help middle income families that are squeezed.

He has failed that test.

Anyone who listened to the Chancellor will be asking the same question:

What planet are he and the Prime Minister living on?

Doesn’t he know:

1 million young people out of work.

50 businesses going bust every day,

A cost of living crisis for families.

They promised change, but things have got worse not better.

What did he promise us in last year’s Budget?

He said he would, and I quote: “put fuel in the tank of the British economy”.

He promised growth of 2.5% in 2012.

But today tells us it will be just 0.8%.

Growth down last year.

Growth down this year.

Growth down next year.

Every time he comes to the House he offers a different excuse but the reality is:

His plan has failed.

Last year he told us unemployment would peak in 2011 and what has he delivered?

We’re into 2012, and unemployment is rising month upon month upon month.

His plan has failed.

He promised us last year the deficit would be gone by the end of this parliament.

But he is borrowing £150 billion more than he said he would.

He has failed.

And in the face of failure, what does he offer?

Not a change in economic strategy.

Not a guarantee of jobs for the young unemployed.

Not targeting every penny he could at working families.

No.

The driving ambition of this Budget, and this Chancellor, is to deliver a tax cut for people earning over £150,000 a year.

There are 30 million taxpayers in this country.

This policy will do absolutely nothing for 29 million, 700,000 of them.

How can the priority for our country be an income tax cut for the richest 1%, at a time when the squeezed middle are facing rising petrol prices, higher energy bills, tax credits and child benefit being cut?

Instead, he could have reversed his cuts to tax credits.

He could have done something for pensioners.

He could have done more to undo the damage from his reckless child benefit change.

But he claims he can’t afford it.

Let me tell him, every time in the future he tries to justify an unfair decision by saying times are tough, we’ll remind him:

He’s the man who chose to spend millions of pounds on those who need it least.

Wrong choices.

Wrong priorities.

Wrong values.

Out of touch.

Same old Tories.

And let’s come to his claims on stamp duty.

There are 300,000 people benefiting each and every year from his top rate tax cut.

But there are just 4,000 houses sold each year for more than £2 million.

So 99% of those who gain from his millionaires tax cut will be totally unaffected by his rise in stamp duty, and get a massive windfall from this Chancellor.

The Chancellor didn’t tell us what this meant in pounds and pence, so let me read out the figures just so there is no doubt.

There are 14,000 people earning over a million pounds in Britain.

The Chancellor’s decision today means that each of them will get a tax cut.

Not of a thousand pounds.

Not of five thousand pounds.

Not of ten thousand pounds.

No.

A pay rise of over £40,000.

Not just for this year.

But every year.

That is this Chancellor’s priority – giving 14,000 millionaires over £40,000 each.

And what happens to families who earn in one year half what the Chancellor has so casually given away to the richest in the last hour?

Families on £20,000 a year – the nurse, the lorry driver.

Even after the personal allowance change, they’re not going to be better off, they are going to be worse off.

Putting aside the VAT rise.

And all the other tax rises that have already happened.

From this April alone they will be a further £253 a year worse off.

All he is doing for ordinary families is giving with one hand and taking far more away with the other.

It’s a millionaires budget that squeezes the middle.

Wrong choices.

Wrong priorities.

Wrong values.

Out of touch.

Same old Tories.

Under his tax cut, a banker earning five million pounds will get an extra £240,000 a year.

Let’s call this what it really is:

The Government’s very own bankers’ bonus.

Presumably he wants us to believe that the £240,000 tax cut is necessary to make them work harder.

And it’s one rule for them, and another for everyone else.

On the very day his millionaires’ tax cut kicks in, this Chancellor will be telling a family working for sixteen hours on the minimum wage that if they don’t work more hours they will lose nearly £4,000 in tax credits.

It tells you everything you need to know about the values of this Chancellor and this Prime Minister.

The poor will only work harder by making them poorer.

And the rich will only work harder by making them richer.

Wrong choices.

Wrong priorities.

Wrong values.

Out of touch.

Same old Tories.

While everybody else is squeezed, what’s the Chancellor’s priority?

A massive tax cut for his Christmas card list.

And what about the hapless accomplice to all this, the Deputy Prime Minister.

Only the Liberal Democrats could be dumb enough to think that a George Osborne budget is a Robin Hood budget.

Calamity Clegg strikes again.

This is what he said just a few months ago about the 50p rate:

"I do not believe that the priority at a time like...[this]...is to give a tax cut to a tiny, tiny number of people who are much, much better off than anybody else."

The party that once followed Lloyd George is now reduced to following George Osborne.

The party that delivered the people’s budget of 1909 supporting the millionaire’s budget of 2012.

They should be ashamed.

For all the talk, all the briefing, the Deputy Prime Minister has done exactly what he’s done on every big issue, from tuition fees to the betrayal on the NHS.

Rolled over and said ‘yes Prime Minister’.

The truth is that for ordinary families, it’s hurting but it’s not working.

And we know why.

Because this Government has been cutting too far and too fast.

What did the Chancellor say in August last year about America’s more balanced deficit plan:

“Those who spent the whole of the past year telling us to follow the American example need to answer this simple question: why has the US economy grown more slowly than the UK economy?”

Mr Deputy Speaker, the numbers are in.

And the Chancellor is plain wrong.

The US economy grew at 1.7% last year, twice the rate of ours.

This Government have run out of excuses.

It’s their mistakes which are damaging our future.

It’s the failure of their plan.

Today we heard about more schemes for growth from the Chancellor.

But why should we believe it?

Because every scheme he has put forward so far has failed.

What was the big idea of his first Budget?

The national insurance holiday.

Not a word about it today.

And it’s no wonder.

He told us back then it would help 400,000 firms.

Now we know he’s missed his target by 97%.

This Chancellor’s plan has failed.

What about the centrepiece of last year’s budget?

The Budget for Growth.

This is my favourite.

The Business Growth Fund.

Six regional offices opened.

And how many businesses benefiting?

Six.

One for each office.

The Chancellor’s plan has failed.

We needed a plan for growth that will work.

We needed a guarantee on youth jobs.

We needed a British investment bank to help small businesses.

But on growth, on jobs, on how we pay our way in the world, this Chancellor has failed.

On the proposal on film tax relief, let me say this:

It is great to support the great British success stories like Downton Abbey.

A tale of a group of out of touch millionaires.

Who act like they’re born to rule.

But turn out to be no good at it.

Sound familiar Mr Deputy Speaker?

We all know it’s a costume drama.

They think it’s a fly on the wall documentary.

This Budget will be remembered for his failure on growth and jobs and the top rate tax cut.

This isn’t just a bad policy, or a misjudgement.

It destroys the claim the Prime Minister made about who he was and what he believed.

What did he personally say in his aims and values document, sent out to every Conservative Party member.

“The right test for our policies is how they help the most disadvantaged in society, not the rich”.

It was called Built to Last.

That was his test.

A test this Budget fails spectacularly.

It’s the death knell of his project.

His compassionate Conservatism.

He and the Chancellor have shown their true colours.

They promised change.

But they have failed on growth, on jobs, on borrowing, on fairness.

Unfair. Out of touch.

For the few, not the many.

An unfair Budget built on economic failure.

An unfair Budget from the same old Tories.