For too long, those who’ve worked the hardest have been the least rewarded.
The last Labour government did a lot to help with measures like the minimum wage and tax credits designed to make work pay. But it did not do enough.
And, under this government, we have an economic policy that consists only of trickle down from the top, a relentless squeeze on the middle and a race to the bottom which Britain cannot win.
Unless we change course, the burden on working people is going to grow – year after year after year.
That’s why Ed Miliband has outlined a vision for a One Nation economy that puts prosperity and fairness together as equal partners for working people. As one of the foundation stones of a recovery made by the many, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have said we want to reintroduce a 10p band for income tax paid for by a new mansion tax on houses worth more than £2 million.
And alongside fairness for working people this kind of One Nation thinking is also the best way to deliver a successful economy. By doing what we can to ease the burden on tens of millions of hard-working families rather than hand out more money to the already rich, we can begin restoring the confidence of people that they have a government and an economy which will work for them.
Time and again we have seen how this Government is for the 1%, not the 99%. When working people are earning less and paying more, the Tories are cutting taxes for the very richest in society. It’s not fair, it’s no way to build a successful economy, and it’s not on.
So many working families are finding life really tough at the moment. They do the right thing, get up early, work a long day but still they struggle to make ends meet. Many of them get tax credits to top up their income as without them work wouldn’t pay – and the Tories are hitting these people hardest.
In my constituency of Gedling, near Nottingham, 7,100 families are currently in receipt of tax credits. They are being asked to pay the price of Tory failure and to shoulder the burden of these cuts while those who earn over £1million are getting a handout.
Because the Tories would have us believe that it’s the shirkers who are affected by their cut to tax credits. But it turns out it isn’t true. The truth is that six out of ten people hit by these cuts are people who get up every morning and go to work. In my constituency, like many others, that is the factory worker on the night shift, the carer who looks after elderly people around the clock and the new mum who will lose her maternity pay. These are people David Cameron and George Osborne never meet and whose lives they will never understand.
But the truth is that sometimes the last Labour government also failed to understand the needs of working people. And in opposition, we have had to work to regain their trust and confidence so that they know we are on their side and always should be and will be. Ed Miliband has shown this week that he is committed to that, and that One Nation Labour is committed to that.
Because the people that are losing out in Britain aren’t skivers; they’re strivers. It’s hard-working people, trying to do the right thing, who are paying the price for the Tories’ economic failures.
I think working families in Gedling who are feeling the pinch will be angry at a government that leaves them worse off, but gives £100,000 to every millionaire.
Because however they try to spin it, the Tories can’t hide the truth – they’re cutting taxes for millionaires while millions are struggling to make ends meet. This is an out of touch government making the wrong choices and standing up for the wrong people.
One Nation Labour believes that we should be helping the grafters and triers, those who work hard and those who’ve worked hard all their lives. The working parents struggling with childcare costs. The pensioner who can’t afford the rising price of electricity and gas. The commuter who is being ripped off by train companies on their journey to work. Ordinary people need a government that acts in their interests, not vested interests. That’s why our approach is different to this government, and the last government.
One Nation Labour is on the side of working people. One Nation Labour will stand up for working people. And under Ed Miliband’s leadership, One Nation Labour will create a One Nation economy that delivers prosperity for working people.
Vernon Coaker is MP for Gedling and Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary