That’s the legacy of more than a decade of failed governments. The impact of Tory incompetence is clear: higher bills for families, our energy security weakened by a dependence on fossil fuels, squandered opportunities for the jobs that clean energy can bring, and a dangerous lack of pace in tackling the climate crisis.
Nothing could make this more obvious than the Chancellor’s opening boast in his Budget statement yesterday that things aren’t as bad now as they were in October last year after their own kamikaze budget that crashed the economy, something that will cost us all for years. To label this a Budget for growth when it has downgraded the independent growth forecasts would be hilarious if it wasn’t so insulting.
Before this latest Budget, the Tories had delivered the highest tax burden on working people since the Second World War, the largest fall in living standards since records began, a no-growth economy and the highest mortgage rates in decades. After the Budget, none of that has changed.
The Chancellor rightly sorted his own error to resolve the pension bombshell for NHS workers, but he didn’t have to extend it to give the 8,000 richest an eyewatering pensions tax cut paid for by the rest of us.
As Keir Starmer said in his response, “we are the sick man of Europe once again”. The UK’s historic growth rate since 2010 has been around one per cent, less than half of the growth recorded during the last Labour government. This has a real impact on people’s lives: holding back opportunities for higher wages and preventing businesses from expanding. It means this government has failed a generation on growth and continues to do so.
If that wasn’t bad enough, our economy is still the only G7 economy smaller today than pre-pandemic and it’s predicted that we’re not expected to get back to that level until 2026 at the earliest.
Labour has a plan to change that. Our first mission in government will be to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7, with good jobs and productivity growth across the country. We’ll achieve that with our Green Prosperity Plan, an active partnership with business, and our modern industrial strategy, all built on the rock of economic responsibility.
We’ll get more people back into work by localising employment support and targeting help to those stuck outside the jobs market. It’s this sort of ambition, with a proper growth plan, that the government should have produced in yesterday’s Budget.
But Jeremy Hunt completely failed to address the most pressing issue facing our country today: the cost of living. He chose to prioritise short-term gains for the wealthy while neglecting the needs of working people.
We know that the UK has potential for growth, and it certainly has the talent. But we need a government to match that national ambition. The Tories certainly don’t, and it’s clear from this week’s SNP leadership debacle that the nationalists don’t have that ambition either. All they have to offer is a variety of different ways they want to drive up support for separation, which is far from anyone’s priority.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South