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