Ed Miliband delivers his speech on the EU at the London Business School last week. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Ed Miliband's response to the Budget: full text

"This is the Budget that confirms people are worse off under the Tories."

The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour.

But he did not mention one central fact:

The working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories.

Living standards down: month after month, year after year.

2011 - living standards down.

2012 - living standards down.

2013 - living standards down.

And since the election working people’s living standards £1,600 a year - down.

You’re worse off under the Tories.

Their 2010 manifesto promised:

“An economy where…[people’s] standard of living...rises steadily and sustainably”

But they have delivered exactly the opposite.

Standards of living not rising steadily and sustainably, but falling sharply and steeply.

And today the Chancellor simply reminded people of the gap between the Chancellor’s rhetoric and the reality of peoples’ lives.

Living standards falling for 44 out of 45 months under this Prime Minister.

Unmatched since records began.

No amount of smoke and mirrors today can hide it.

We already know the answer to the question millions of people will be asking in 2015:

“Are they better off now than they were five years ago?”

The answer is no.

Worse off.

Much worse off.

Worse off under the Tories.

And the Chancellor trumpeted the tax allowance today.

But what he didn’t tell you is that it is the same old Tory trick.

He didn’t tell you the rest of the story.

He didn’t mention the 24 tax rises introduced since he became chancellor.

He forgot to mention that he put up VAT.

He taxed away Child Benefit.

He raised insurance tax.

And gave us the ‘Granny Tax’.

It’s a classic Tory con.

Give with one hand and take far more away with another.

Same old Tories.

Now the Chancellor painted a picture of the country today that millions of people simply will not recognise.

Because this is Cameron’s Britain 2014.

350,000 people going to food banks.

400,000 disabled people paying the Bedroom Tax.

1 million more people paying 40p tax.

4.6 million families facing cuts to tax credits.

But there is one group who are better off.

Much better off.

We all know who they are.

The Chancellor’s chums.

The Prime Minister’s friends.

The Prime Minister rolls his eyes, he doesn’t want to talk about the millionaire’s tax cut.

No mention of it in the Budget speech.

The beneficiaries of this year’s millionaire’s tax cut.

Because if you are a City banker earning £5m and you are feeling the squeeze, don’t worry because they feel your pain.

Because this year that city banker was given a tax cut.

Not just any tax cut.

£664 a day.

£20,000 a month.

A tax cut worth more than £200,000 a year.

So the Prime Minister chooses to afford a tax cut of £200,000 for a banker.

But he can’t afford a pay rise of £250 for a nurse.

And these are the people that had the nerve to tell us we’re all in this together.

It’s Tory values.

It’s Tory choices.

It’s the same old Tories.

And of course, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, with them every step of the way.

Day after day he claims he doesn’t support Tory policy.

But day after day he votes for Tory policy.

Now to listen to the Chancellor today, for a recovery that arrived three years later than he promised, he expects the country to be grateful.

Back in 2010, he told us that by the end of 2014, the economy would have grown by nearly 12 per cent.

Today the figures say it has been barely half that. And he wants the country to be grateful.

Back in 2010 he said the Government would clear the deficit in this parliament by 2014/15. Today he wants the country to be grateful because he says he can do it by 2018/19.

Three years ago the Chancellor told us in his 2011 Budget speech he would deliver an economy “carried aloft by the march of the makers”:

But what has actually happened since then to the rebalancing that he promised?

Manufacturing output has fallen by 1.3 per cent.

Construction output has fallen by 4.2 per cent.

Infrastructure investment down 11 per cent.

Every time he comes to this house he promises a rebalancing.

And every time he fails.

He talked about housing today, but what has he actually delivered?

They’ve overseen the lowest house building since the 1920s.

And rents have risen twice as fast as wages.

At the heart of the argument we will have over the next fourteen months is this question: whose recovery is it?

Under them it’s a recovery for the few not the many.

Bankers pay in London rising five times faster than the pay of the average worker.

This recovery’s not working for working people whose living standards are falling.

It’s not working for millions of women who see the gap between men and women’s pay rising.

It’s not working for low-paid people promised by the Chancellor a £7 minimum wage, but given just 19p more an hour.

Under this Government it’s an economy of the privileged, by the privileged, for the privileged.

And instead of today admitting the truth about what is happening in most people’s lives, they want to tell them the opposite.

They tell people their wages are rising when they’re falling.

Just like they tell people their energy bills are falling when they’re rising.

And they tell people they’re better off but everyone knows the truth.

You can change the shape of the pound.

But it doesn’t matter if the pound is square, round or oval.

If you’re £1,600 pounds worse off, you’re still £1,600 pounds worse off.

You’re worse off under the Tories.

And the reason they can’t deliver is because of what they believe.

His global race is a race to the bottom.

People forced to do 2 or even 3 jobs to make ends meet.

Not knowing how many hours they will get from one week to the next.

And no idea what the future holds for their kids.

Low wages.

Low skills.

Insecure work.

That’s how they think Britain succeeds.

That is why they’re not the solution to the cost of living crisis.

They are the problem.

We needed a Budget today that would make the long-term changes our economy needs in housing, banking and energy.

But they can’t do it.

They won’t stand up to the vested interests.

They won’t tackle developers sitting on land, even though they can’t solve the housing crisis without it.

They won’t force the banks to improve competition, even though small businesses say they need it.

They won’t stand up to the energy companies and freeze energy bills, even though the public support it.

Same old Tories.

We know what their long term plan is: more tax cuts for the richest, while everyone else gets squeezed.

What does the Chancellor say about the people dragged into paying 40p tax?

He says they should be happy.

It’s good news for them.

So this is the new Osborne tax theory:

If you’re in the middle paying 40p you should be pleased to pay more.

But if you’re at the top paying 50p, you should be helped to pay less.

Same old Tories.

It’s no wonder that even their own side think they’re totally out-of-touch.

And even now, even after all the embarrassment of the millionaire’s tax cut, they won’t rule out going further.

Maybe today we can get the straight answer we haven’t had so far?

Will he rule out a further tax cut for millionaires to 40p?

Just nod your head if you’re ruling it out!

There they go again.

They won’t rule it out.

Doesn’t it say everything about them?

They really do believe the way you make the rich work hard is to make them richer, and the way you make everyone else work harder is by making them poorer.

And just like they paint a picture of the country that working people will not recognise, so too themselves.

Now the Prime Minister is an expert in rebranding.

Remember the huskies, the bike, the tree?

That was before they said cut the green crap.

What is the latest rebrand from the Bullingdon club?

It is beyond parody.

Because what does this lot now call themselves?

They call themselves ‘The workers’ party’.

And who is writing the manifesto for this new workers’ party?

We already know the answer and I quote:

“There are six people writing the manifesto, five went to Eton...”

By my count more Etonians writing the manifesto than there are women in the Cabinet.

No girls allowed.

And this week we’ve heard it right from the top.

Here’s what his former best friend, his closest ally, the Education Secretary had to say about the Prime Minister’s inner circle.

He said it was, and I quote:



Unlike anywhere else in the world.”

You know you’re in trouble when even the Education Secretary calls you a bunch of out of touch elitists.

And where is the Education Secretary? I think he has been banished … He’s hiding! I think he has been consigned to the naughty step by the Prime Minister.

I think it’s time we listened to Baroness Warsi and took the whole Eton mess out of Downing Street.

And what a mess it is.

There are more sides in the Tory briefing war than there are on the new pound coin.

We don’t need a party for the privileged few.

We need a party for the many.

That is why a Labour government will:

Freeze energy bills.

Guarantee jobs for unemployed young people.

Cut business rates.

Reform the banks.

Get 200,000 homes built a year.

And abolish the Bedroom Tax.

This is the Budget that confirms people are worse off under the Tories.

A worse off budget, from an out-of-touch Chancellor.

Britain can do better than them.

Britain needs a Labour government.

Photo: Getty
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Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.