While Labour supports working people, the Tories prioritise the privileged few

Cameron and Osborne are more concerned with defending bumper bonuses for bankers than measures to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Over the last 24 hours we've seen the priorities of David Cameron's government exposed once again. While Labour has been setting out concrete policies to tackle the cost of living crisis facing ordinary families, George Osborne has decided to become the champion of bankers' bonuses.
 
At our conference in Brighton, Labour unveiled a number of policies, including measures to tackle low pay, expanding free childcare to support working parents, and a pledge to cut business rates for small businesses, all with the aim of helping struggling families and businesses in these tough times.
 
And, as Ed Miliband announced on Tuesday, the next Labour government will reset our energy market so it works for Britain’s families and businesses, with a new tough regulator to stop overcharging. While we put that in place, the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. This will save a typical household £120 and an average business £1,800.
 
But David Cameron and the Tories have different priorities. They are determined to stand up for the privileged few. Earlier this year, they cut the top rate of income tax – giving 13,000 millionaires an average tax cut of £100,000. Bonuses soared by 82% in April as bankers deferred their payments to take advantage of the tax cut.
 
And this week they’ve outdone themselves again. Yesterday, George Osborne launched a legal challenge to defend bankers’ bonuses from an EU cap, which would limit the size of their bonus to one year's salary - or two years' with shareholder approval.
 
This move tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of David Cameron and George Osborne. Since they took office, prices have risen faster than wages in all but one month. Yet they have prioritised defending bumper bonuses for bankers over measures to tackle the cost of living crisis facing ordinary families. By contrast, Labour would tax bank bonuses to fund a compulsory jobs guarantee get young people back to work. With youth unemployment at almost a million, this should be the government’s priority.
 
The lesson for the public this week is clear. Labour will stand up for what working people need to deal with the cost of living crisis. David Cameron and George Osborne will stand up for bankers’ bonuses.
 
Chris Leslie is shadow financial secretary to the Treasury 
 

Chris Leslie is chair of Labour’s backbench Treasury Committee and was shadow Chancellor in 2015. 

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Theresa May defies the right by maintaining 0.7% aid pledge

The Prime Minister offers rare continuity with David Cameron but vows to re-examine how the money is spent. 

From the moment Theresa May became Prime Minister, there was speculation that she would abandon the UK's 0.7 per cent aid pledge. She appointed Priti Patel, a previous opponent of the target, as International Development Secretary and repeatedly refused to extend the commitment beyond this parliament. When an early general election was called, the assumption was that 0.7 per cent would not make the manifesto.

But at a campaign event in her Maidenhead constituency, May announced that it would. "Let’s be clear – the 0.7 per cent commitment remains, and will remain," she said in response to a question from the Daily Telegraph's Kate McCann. But she added: "What we need to do, though, is to look at how that money will be spent, and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way." May has left open the possibility that the UK could abandon the OECD definition of aid and potentially reclassify defence spending for this purpose.

Yet by maintaining the 0.7 per cent pledge, May has faced down her party's right and title such as the Sun and the Daily Mail. On grammar schools, climate change and Brexit, Tory MPs have cheered the Prime Minister's stances but she has now upheld a key component of David Cameron's legacy. George Osborne was one of the first to praise May's decision, tweeting: "Recommitment to 0.7% aid target very welcome. Morally right, strengthens UK influence & was key to creating modern compassionate Conservatives".

A Conservative aide told me that the announcement reflected May's personal commitment to international development, pointing to her recent speech to International Development staff. 

But another Cameron-era target - the state pension "triple lock" - appears less secure. Asked whether the government would continue to raise pensions every year, May pointed to the Tories' record, rather than making any future commitment. The triple lock, which ensures pensions rise in line with average earnings, CPI inflation or by 2.5 per cent (whichever is highest), has long been regarded by some Conservatives as unaffordable. 

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has hinted that the Tories' "tax lock", which bars increases in income tax, VAT and National Insurance, could be similarly dropped. He said: "I’m a Conservative. I have no ideological desire to to raise taxes. But we need to manage the economy sensibly and sustainably. We need to get the fiscal accounts back into shape.

"It was self evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly."

May's short speech to workers at a GlaxoSmithKline factory was most notable for her emphasis that "the result is not certain" (the same message delivered by Jeremy Corbyn yesterday). As I reported on Wednesday, the Tories fear that the belief that Labour cannot win could reduce their lead as voters conclude there is no need to turn out. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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