“By any measure, this is a Budget to be ashamed of” – McDonnell’s speech

John McDonnell

Below is the full text of John McDonnell’s Budget speech.

With limited time, let me cut to the quick. This is a shameful Budget.

Whether you are a family in the food bank queue in Britain struggling to feed your children or a child in Yemen, this Budget, this Chancellor, these heartless Tories are turning their backs on your suffering.

Shameful because, as many have said, the very hypocrites who stood on doorsteps to clap the nurses are now slapping them in the faces by cutting the pay of our NHS heroes and heroines.

It’s especially shameful because at the head of the government that is insulting our NHS workers is a Prime Minister whose life they saved.

The ultimate irony is that the Prime Minister is riding high in the polls on the backs of the hard work and dedication of the NHS staff that are rolling out the vaccination programme so successfully, whose wages he intends to cut. 

Anyone voting for this Budget will forever bear a mark of shame for throwing another 500,000 people into poverty when they cut £20 a week of universal credit off the poorest families in our community.

A mark of shame for yet again failing to provide even that meagre uplift to disabled people living in poverty on legacy benefits and to tackle the low level of sick pay that is forcing many workers to put their health at risk by return to work.

The latest research actually no longer just highlights poverty or severe poverty in our communities but a doubling of destitution.

I have tabled an amendment to the Budget resolutions calling for a distributional analysis of the Chancellor’s proposal to freeze the tax thresholds.  

Because I’m sure the Chancellor did not mean to mislead the House when he said: “Nobody’s take home pay will be less than it is now, as a result of this policy.”

As I am sure that as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon member for Richmond, understands inflation.

The tax threshold freeze is a real terms pay cut for millions of workers. The OBR estimates this will mean 1.3 million more people paying income tax. Their take home pay will be less.

As we know many millions of workers are taking home less this year because of the public sector pay freeze, because they are furloughed on just 80% of their pay, because they have unscrupulous employers who have fired and rehired on lower wages.

The Conservative manifesto, like the Labour manifesto, in 2019 pledged no rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance for basic rate income payers. This Budget breaks a pledge that over 550 members of this House were elected on.

Many low-paid workers are in rent arrears, household debt or have taken mortgage holidays accruing more debt interest. We should not be legislating to cut their take home pay.

I have seen it reported that in this Budget the Chancellor is stealing my policies. No, he’s not. His Budget plagiarises the rhetoric but not the substance with promises of tax rises delayed and overridden by tax give-aways.

Tokenistic gestures to levelling up contaminated by pork barrel politics. Taken alongside the fast track award of crony contracts to Tory friends and donors, it’s hardly surprising that many now refer to this government as corrupt.

The decision to freeze fuel duties, dig a new coal mine and the pathetic scale of the environmental policies set out in this Budget don’t just pay lip service to the climate crisis we face but put future generations further at risk. 

By any measure, this is a Budget to be ashamed of.

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