The ‘mini-Budget’ was an unfiltered and shocking act of class war. Kwasi Kwarteng went out yesterday to bat for the wealthy as he scrapped the cap on bankers’ bonuses, abolished the 45% additional rate of income tax, abandoned the planned rise in corporation tax, cut stamp duty, promised legislation to tackle “militant trade unions” and pledged to create 40 new ‘investment zones’. The statement means that someone earning £200,000 will be better off to the tune of £5,220 next year, rising to £55,220 for a £1m earner – meanwhile, those on £20,000 a year will gain just £157. A graph put together by the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank, here, helpfully shows the impact of the mini-Budget in weekly family income for different earners.
It is safe to say that I am not a fan of Kwarteng’s statement. More pertinent, however, was the reaction of a focus group of 2019 Tory voters in Bassetlaw – the seat that saw the largest swing towards the Conservatives as Labour lost it at the last election. The group, commissioned by LabourList and run by Public First, reacted strongly when shown the impact on different households in the IPPR graph. The words “shocking” and “rubbish” were used and one woman argued: “It’s pretty disgusting.” Another added that “the rich will always look after themselves, the MPs and the bankers”, while one simply said “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer”. The full findings of the focus group will be published later today.
While the Tories are making sure that their mates get to keep more of their cash, Labour is promising to be responsible with yours. Angela Rayner will unveil Labour’s new ‘national procurement plan’ in her conference speech on Sunday to end “the Tories’ procurement racket run at the expense of British taxpayers” and create jobs and boost growth. The party plans to reward businesses that “play by the rules, create wealth in all our communities and contribute to a fairer society” while making sure that Labour’s “value for money guarantee will ensure every penny of public procurement spend will be guided by the national interest to support the return of local jobs, skills and wealth-building”.
The pledge builds on Rachel Reeves’ 2021 conference pledge to establish an ‘Office for Value for Money’ and comes as research shows that nearly £40bn worth of public contracts were won by businesses with connections to a tax haven between 2014 and 2019. “The Tories have left a legacy of sleaze, cronyism and corruption, with the British people left to pick up the bill,” Rayner said. “We’ll give the Tory sleaze merchants their marching orders, end handouts to tax havens and strike off failed providers. The Tories’ policy of rewarding failure will be brought to an end.”
As Labour members head to Liverpool today, we have a piece from Olivia Blake MP, arguing that Labour must embrace an agenda for a “green, democratic national renewal of our economy – to build the fairer, greener future our conference slogan rightly announces”. And co-chair of Momentum Kate Dove has also written for LabourList. She writes: “As the Tories veer off into neoliberal fantasy land, our party is perfectly placed to back the ordinary people of this country in their demands for decent pay and working conditions.”Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.