The West Wolds Labour Party column with Alan Beynon

Labour invested in the future with more schools being built.
Labour invested in the future with more schools being built.

The Chancellor says austerity is nearly over, but promises mean little to this Conservative Government and the budget did nothing for millions of ordinary hard-working people who are struggling to get by.

In 2010, David Cameron said “we’re all in this together” – sacrifices were needed to put the economy on a sound footing.

Eight years on, it’s clear who has made the sacrifice.

Cruelly and deliberately, austerity has impacted most harshly on the most vulnerable. 100,000 children are housed in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation and child poverty is predicted to rise another 7% by 2022. 1.5 million people suffer destitution whilst 14 million – 1 in 5 of us – live in poverty. When did food-banks become acceptable as the new normal?

Most people’s wages have stagnated and rents increased.

Our children have little hope of buying when £250,000 is considered an “affordable” home.

Social housing has been sold off and not replaced and public services are chronically underfunded.

The Government has halved local authorities’ spending and councils can’t afford to maintain critical services. Libraries have closed and social services are crippled.

There are not enough doctors, nurses or ambulances and schools are sacking teachers to balance the books.

Why are we here? The Conservatives claim profligate public spending caused the 2008 crash. Not so. Public finances were sound in the decade before 2008.

They worsened drastically not because too much was spent on nurses, doctors and children but because the government had to pump vast amounts of money into failing banks to shore up a financial system on the brink of meltdown.

This crisis was caused by the banks themselves, selfishly chasing ever-increasing profit through ever-dodgier financial wheeler-dealing. Millionaires became billionaires but who paid the price?

You and me, paying our taxes, certainly – but not the super-rich beneficiaries of this skewed, avaricious system.

As austerity bit, their wealth kept growing, safely tucked away in offshore tax havens, whilst multi-national companies found ingenious ways to pay fewer – or even no – UK taxes.

There is another way. Labour will invest in the economy and in people and will open to scrutiny detailed financial and spending plans when the election is called.

Can Labour be trusted?

Of course it can.

Labour managed the economy effectively and achieved 13 years of prosperity and growth between 1997 and 2010.

Labour invested in the future. New schools were built, properly staffed, with 21st century facilities.

Children were truly put first, through initiatives such as Surestart.

Housing improved and, of course, the NHS was safe in Labour’s hands.

Compare that with this so-called “strong and stable” government, staggering from crisis to crisis and riven by dissent.

The Tories claim to be “one nation” Conservatives.

Not so.

They govern in their own narrow, sectarian interests. In seeking to deal with their own internal divisions first, the country’s interests have come a poor second.

Time for a change? It can’t come soon enough.