The main aim of Miliband’s speech today: expose the extent of Osborne’s planned spending cuts

8:00 am - December 11th 2014

by Sunny Hundal    

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If the general election in May 2015 is fought on who is best placed to deal with the deficit, then the Labour party will lose. Both Labour and the Tories know this. Miliband will focus on living standards, the NHS and inequality. So why a major speech on the deficit today, six months before an election? And why a pledge to cut spending and the debt?

Both the politics of what’s going on, and the numbers that underline it, are important.

The Labour leadership feel, quite rightly, that George Osborne wants to push public services off a cliff with unprecedented cuts. They lost the first fight on austerity, for reasons I outline here. But they recognise that if they don’t fight Osborne back this time, he will once away get away with having the media debate on his own terms.

Which is why Miliband’s speech is important today. He wants to hammer that the extent of Osborne’s cuts will “return Britain to the 1930s” if he is allowed to hoodwink people into accepting them.

A few things to remember.

1) Labour has not signed up to the extent or the way Tories plan to cut the deficit. Ignore the hype, read this piece.

2) Miliband will say quite emphatically, as one of his key principles: Britain will only be able to deal with the deficit by tackling the cost-of-living crisis. That means a focus on raising wages, and cutting spending like housing benefit by building more housing.

3) Labour will “ensure that those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden” – will be another key principle. That means a much bigger emphasis on tax rises than the Conservatives, to close the deficit.

And this is the key paragraph:

This is now a fight for the soul of our country. It is a fight about who we want to be and how we want to live together. The Tory vision is clear: the wealthiest being looked after, everybody else on their own, public services not there when you need them. Our vision is different: a country that works for everyday people, with public services your family can rely on, a government that prioritises working people so that we can earn our way out of the cost of living crisis, a Britain built on strong economic foundations.

I’m pleased that Miliband is seeking to expose Osborne’s horrendous plans and set up a clear dividing line.

Rather than complain that this is another speech about the deficit than something important like the NHS, we need to see it for what it is: an attempt to expose Osborne’s ideological agenda to permanently slash Britain’s public services.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

1. Rebecca Devitt

I request your tolerance and hope you will allow me to make a comment on behalf of disabled people and carers. The Labour Party, perhaps inadvertently, is putting us in a very difficult position. Life long supporters of Labour who are disabled, carers or concerned about either, are being offered nothing by Labour. This is a problem because all disabled people have suffered multiple cuts to benefits and services under the Coalition. Severely disabled people with the recent loss of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and loss of support services are left in serious circumstances, many are now unable to meet their most basic needs. Severely disabled people who used the ILF to support their independent living are now trapped in their homes and cannot leave, indeed, many have become bed bound and left using adult nappies because they lack the means to maintain assistance to get out of bed. I am sorry if this upsets people, but I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that Coalition cuts have left disabled people in crisis. Please if any one has any influence ask the Labour Party to put together a rescue plan for the disabled to ensure basic needs are met and independence is restored. Continuing with further cuts to disability welfare and services will have dire consequences affecting an increasing number of disabled people. Please help if you can, thank you.

Thank you so much!

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