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Jonathan Ashworth MP speech to Labour North Regional Conference


Labour's Shadow Minister Without Portfolio, Jonathan Ashworth speaking to Labour North Regional Conference in Newcastle on Saturday said: 

“Every week we see more and more Tory ministers putting more and more of their energy into plotting and scheming for the Tory succession rather than doing what is best for the nation.

We’ve seen Boris Johnson put his narrow personal political interest ahead of the national interest.

Next week we’ll see George Osborne’s latest moves in the Tory leadership skirmishes as he unveils his budget  He’s already u-turned on pension tax relief for the wealthy. We’ve seen him spray extra cash on Tory shire councils while cutting deeper into the funds Labour Councils rely on.

So be under no doubt George Osborne and his £700,000 team of 10 spin doctors in 11 Downing Street will be working out his latest wheeze to win over Tory supporters and put Boris and Theresa on the back foot.

But whatever happens let me assure you we in the Labour Party are getting ready for the upcoming change in Tory leadership. The test for George Osborne, for Boris Johnson, Theresa May and others isn’t the quality of their leadership campaigning but the quality of their judgment. And on all the big questions, time and time again they have got it wrong and failed the decent hardworking people of this country.

Just looks at George Osborne’s Budget record and the judgements he has made -

Remember his first June Budget in 2010: He claimed “it is a progressive Budget”.  A ludicrous claim for a Budget that hiked up VAT to 20 per cent, costing a family with kids £450 a year.

That was the budget that set a fiscal mandate to deal with the deficit in 5 years. But more than five years on it’s still set to be over £70bn

And then Budget 2011: He said would deliver ‘a march of the makers’ but five years on manufacturing has flat lined and is still well below its pre-crisis peak.

I know none of you can forget Budget 2012? Yes it was an ‘omnishambles’ but it was also where he promised to double exports to £1trn by 2020. But the reality us he’s set to miss that target by more than £350 billion. It was also Budget where he said “it is fair when money is tight, and so many families could do with help, that those buying the most expensive homes contribute more” and then cut the 50p rate, giving millionaires a tax cut.

In Budget 2013 he announced Help to Buy to help get young people on the housing ladder. But in 2014/15 there were 344,000 fewer households headed by under-35s owning a home than in 2009/10 – a 21 per cent decline

Budget 2014  he set out details of his welfare cap, stating “in future, any government that wants to spend more on benefits will have to: be honest with the public about the costs, need the approval of Parliament, and will be held to account by this permanent cap on welfare”. Embarrassingly for Osborne he had to announce at the Autumn Statement  last year that he was set to breach his own welfare.

Then March Budget 2015 before the election: The big pre-election budget give away where he made a big deal of increasing the bank levy rate to claim that banks would pay their fair share – but once the election was over he cut the bank levy rate at the Summer Budget.

And then of course followed after the election by his July Budget 2015: Where having promised not to cut tax credits in the general election campaign George Osborne gave us tax credits cuts that would have seen 3 million families lose £1,300 a year. Because of the Labour fight back in the Lords we, this Party forced him to u-turn on immediate cuts, but in the longer term his cuts to Universal Credit will still leave more than 2 million families £1,600 worse off.

So friends whether its Osborne, Boris or Theresa we stand ready to take them on."

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