Politics UK: Culloden

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The United Kingdom faces a unique challenge: one where we need to live up to the promises that we made domestically and internationally while also making sure we take meaningful steps to help the economy recover and provide opportunity for millions. I know the Opposition is salivating at the chance to say Thatcherism is dead, that we need to go down their path, but nothing is further than the truth. I'm not interested in debating whose theories win the day, but rather at taking meaningful action to restore opportunities for innovation and growth in our economy. That's why the core of our budget is focused on the individual: on reducing the pain of joblessness. Of reducing the impact that defaults have on people. And on making sure that we have funding and support available for those that run and who want to start businesses to put Britons to work.
As Prime Minister, I promised a fresh start for this government and a fresh start for this nation. That is what the Budget delivers. It is committed to tackling the challenges in the economy, getting people back to work, and helping every family get ahead. From a doubling of child benefit to an expansion of the Business Start-Up Allowance, from the new investment in the NHS and schools to the cutting of income tax for the low paid, this is a Budget for the British people and families. It shows that only a Conservative Government is able to chart the course required for our nation with new solutions and innovative thinking.
One of the best ways to ensure that our economy can continue to grow in the years ahead is to make sure that we have the infrastructure that can move people and goods easily and efficiently throughout the country. This Government is making record investments in roads, in British rail, and in airports to do just that: to target and clear up high-congestion areas as well as to expand transport infrastructure in areas throughout the UK, both urban and rural. Our investments will put people to work as we build up our infrastructure and used UK-made goods and services in expanding transportation solutions to all. And over time, the costs of shipping and moving around will go down, so that higher investments now mean lower costs later. This Government's massive investment in infrastructure- £2 billion in England alone over the course of the next year- will get our economy moving again- figuratively AND literally. This investment will mean greater service on British Rail, all while keeping fares flat. It'll mean expansions of highways to reduce congestion in and around British cities. And it'll mean greater connectivity to rural areas so that businesses and people can continue to access markets they need for growth.

The Liberal Democrats have put forth a speech of meaningless platitudes for rural areas- saying that if you give them your vote they'll stand up for rural development and pubs and country walks... as though those are things we're trying to cut back. This Government's budget accelerates investment in Rural Britain beyond anything that the Liberal Democrats pretend to promise: new clinics, new schools, new transport links, and billions in funding for rural projects to help these communities grow and thrive. I didn't see the Liberal Democrats promising £300 million to promote access to rural areas- which this Government has put into our budget plan. I didn't see the Liberal Democrats promising to establish 250 new NHS clinics in rural areas that will help expand access to the high quality of care that only the NHS can provide- which this Government has put into our budget plan. I didn't see the plans for new schools. The billions in investment in rural areas of England, Scotland, and Wales that will increase opportunities. We understand the importance of rural Britain: what it means for families, for our economy, for our culture. And this Government is making sure that our proposals reach out there in a meaningful way to create growth and opportunities for rural communities and rural families.
I am very pleased and honoured to back this budget. It is a new direction for the Conservative Party as well as the whole country. We are promoting policies that are both conservative and compassionate. We are going to be there for people at risk of poverty and homelessness, we are going to be there for youth and adults who are struggling to find jobs, we are going to invest massively in medical and school infrastructure. Our investment into Family Hubs is an essential step towards more security and opportunities to young people. And generally, providing support for families is a core conservative value and we are backing this strong belief by investments in maternity leave, benefits for families with children, and other measures. Our economy needs a stimulus at this point and we are ready to do just that: focusing on investments that shall create jobs, supporting the British family by providing it with enough confidence and a safety net in this world, that's where we stand. While I agree that economically, this country is facing a challenge, I am confident to say that the Conservative budget proves we are ready to handle it more than well.
The Leader of the Opposition talks about how we need to "defog our world." Sadly, his meandering ramble through a response to the Government's budget only serves to obfuscate what this "new Labour" even stands for. While he quotes American leaders or waxes about old paintings, there are only two complaints: we don't spend as much as he'd like on the NHS and that we're not cutting defense. 

First, I want to point out that excluding capital construction funding- which is ample- this Government is increasing our expenditure on the NHS by 10% in one year. We're building 250 clinics throughout the United Kingdom, with a focus on rural areas. We're hiring doctors, nurses, and staff. We're expanding our budget for medical research and public health initiatives like those that are going to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in our communities. The Leader of the Opposition is merely upset that we didn't reach this arbitrary figure- and offers nary one suggestion of how that money will help people other than it's larger than our surge of funding for the NHS, for staff, for hospitals, clinics, and treatment all throughout the United Kingdom. 

Second, the Leader of the Opposition trots out every line he can think of about how bad and evil the Conservatives are, he clearly forgot to look at the budget. While he claims our focus is on the wealthy, he'll see our budget is the opposite. We're providing more funding to low-income workers and their families. We're increasing unemployment support beyond the increase in inflation to make sure that those that are temporarily out of work will be able to afford what they need. We're amping up spending on job training and placement programs. This Government absolutely cares about those that are going to be hit hardest in a recession or economic downturn- and it's clear that Labour can't- or won't- see that. 

Labour has talked about how our economy needs a change, that this Government isn't capable. And yet they're the ones bereft of ideas when it comes to making a meaningful difference. Thankfully the Government is ready to stand up with ideas and solutions that will benefit this country, the businesses, the workers, and their families. God knows what would happen if we didn't.
I am beyond proud of my friend the Chancellor's incredible budget, and I firmly believe that, with this budget, we are getting back on track as a nation. These are unprecedented times, and they call for an unprecedented budget. With this, the government has shown that we're not shackled to the orthodoxy of the past, or to idealistic visions of the future: this is a budget for the here and now and the best response to the times that we live in. There's a few areas I'll point out that are of interest to me in my job, and for my constituents. Firstly, we're bolstering our foreign aid budget, with £1 billion to be invested in post-Communist states. Whilst some at home and abroad look on the failures of these regimes with rose tinted glasses, the rest of the world is busy moving on, and we as a global Britain will be at the forefront of helping the seeds of liberal democracy grow to fruition. We're more than doubling the budget for our intelligence services, to allow them to move on from the scandal and disgrace of the past few months and to prepare them to fight on new battlefields of the intelligence war as we approach the 21st century. And finally, as MP for Eastwood in Scotland I am delighted to see an additional £4.5 billion in funding for Scotland in this budget. Whilst Labour continues to agitate and live in the past, the Conservatives are governing for the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, and with this budget, we'll continue to do that still.

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Labour's response to our budget was the first real test of their new leadership following the last few months, a chance for James McCrimmon and Tommy Dawson to finally do something of note after months of relative silence. But, for all their talk of "defogging our world," what Labour would actually do if they were in our shoes seems to be more opaque than ever. His response in the House managed to discuss everything under the sun, from FDR's New Deal to the Labour budget of 1975, which I hasten to add was almost 20 years ago now, the Leader of the Oppositon, like a political gymnast, deftly avoided actually addressing the current situation that we find ourselves in. Nothing on education, nothing on infrastructure and nothing on providing welfare to those who need it the most. Instead, they tried to take us on on defence. We're currently in the middle of a war in the Middle East, in which we are standing shoulder to shoulder with our Coalition allies in removing Saddam Hussein from power and freeing the people of Iraq. And, at this moment of history, Labour are spouting defeatist and incomprehensible nonsense about our status in the world. We may no longer have an empire, and the vast power that comes with that. We may not be on top of the dogpile any more. But just because our power is no longer at it's peak, does not mean we cannot continue to play a leading role, or that the world is somehow safer, safe enough for us to cut the military budget. This was a shambolic response from Labour, and I think they'll be looking back on it in shame.
I see that despite having all the time in the world, Labour has finally put forward a proposed shadow budget- one that is practically a cut-and-paste of the Government's budget with the exception of raising taxes on the richest. While the Government is focused on creating jobs, Labour wants to spend money "democratising the workplace" rather than providing economic support to businesses or homeowners that need it. They do even less than the Government does when it comes to helping to keep people in their homes.

Labour hasn't heard the message of the people of Britain- people need help, and people want to see solutions to our recession. Labour hasn't even tried that as they instead decide to use British people in need as some sort of experiment. This Government has a concrete plan to increase investment ad to provide relief to working families. Labour just wants to seem as left-wing as they can- even to the point of cutting defense spending which we can use as a force for good. Labour has said this Government is pandering for votes- we're not. We're focused on growth. Meanwhile, Labour seems to be pandering to a couple of academics who read a bit too much Marx... I hope it works out for them.
It doesn't surprise me that millionaire mine operators like Chancellor Westcott find the notion of a democratic workplace viscerally repulsive, but as a third generation steelworker who's laboured on the opposite side of the employer-employee relationship than the Chancellor I'm confident that workers are more than capable of deciding their own destiny and managing firms in a prudent, equitable manner. Our Democratic Workplace Center will save businesses from collapsing left and right throughout Britain amid this Tory recession and will empower the workers who create the wealth to organize and operate the firms they work at in an equitable manner. If Tory frontbenchers want to smirk as they strut out of their fancy dinner parties and make light of a proposal to save jobs and work towards the fairer, more democratic economy that working people deserve as we march toward the next century that is their prerogative, I suppose.

As for the Tory budget, I think it's clear that the same people who enthusiastically voted to sell off our industries to City of London speculators, gut public services like our NHS, and hollow out our communities are beginning to realize that those actions have consequences and the enthusiastic reception that their programme has received at those aforementioned dinner parties is not reflected amongst the public. Thus, just as begrudgingly scrapping the vindictive poll tax they imposed only a few years ago after a brilliant and energetic grassroots campaign against it represented a concession to reality, this budget represents the bare minimum the party of Thatcher is willing to concede in a year to preserve their project in the long term. Working people deserve more than the bare minimum and they certainly deserve more than a Tory Government that will revert back to Thatcherism when the wind is blowing in that direction. Labour understands that we can't tinker around the edges of a fundamentally rotten project and our budget reflects our commitment to building a better and just society to lead us into the next century. We're going to renew investment in our publicly owned companies, spend billions on creating affordable, comfortable, and modern social housing, take our social security programs which have been shamefully slashed by successive Tory Governments seriously and fund them with the dignity of those who need assistance deserve, scrap bus fares and prescription charges, hire thousands of new teachers and doctors and pay them wages that reflect the valuable work they do, build hundreds of new schools and medical facilities, and yes implement policies that foster a more democratic economy. During the dark days of Thatcher we fought for a just, fair economy and now during this miserable Tory recession we will fight for a hopeful, better century.
I was disappointed to read that Labour doesn’t support our policy to invest £210 million and start rolling out Family Hubs to give children the best start in life. These hubs will provide comprehensive early years support to 200,000 children across the UK. Thanks to a Conservative Government, disadvantaged families will be able to access childcare, early education, and family support - often for the first time. It is part of our commitment to ensure that every child has a healthy, well-rounded and vibrant childhood. Our children will be better off and our families stronger because of Family Hubs; something that Labour in its Shadow Budget was unable to support.

Under Labour, everyone - including the lowest paid - will pay more income tax than under Conservative plans. In our budget, we’ve cut income taxes by introducing a new lower rate of 15% and £5 billion will stay in families pockets rather than going to the state. This means families will be better able to afford the things they need, while also being able to access high-quality public services. A Labour Government would scrap that requiring some of the poorest families to contribute 10p in every pound more; a price for the Labour’s largesse that they can ill-afford. The British public face a choice: lower taxes for everyone or an unnecessary gimmick of a ‘Democratic Workplace Center‘.
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