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Leader of the Opposition Response


Harry West
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The Leader of the Opposition responded to the Prime Minister's love television broadcast:

 

Good evening.

 

What we heard tonight from the Prime Minister was an admission of defeat, paired with a complete inability to take any responsibility or put forward any real solutions to the crisis that we face.

 

What we also heard was extreme fear mongering. That there isn't enough food, or electricity, or water. 

 

Before I say anything more, I have to tell you that those statements are simply not true. The Prime Minister, in what can only be an extreme effort to deflect any blame or responsibility, is simply not telling you the truth. There is plenty of food, plenty of water, plenty of electricity. Every sensible industry voice says so. I urge everyone to remain calm, use your common sense, and see through this.

 

What we are seeing in Britain today is not just the sharp edge of an energy crisis, and certainly not a lack of food or water. The former is a symptom, not a cause. What we are seeing is the failure of this Government's twelve years of economic mismanagement.

 

How can it be that in twelve years, Britain has gone from the richest country in Western Europe to millions of us relying on foodbanks? To our Prime Minister on national TV appealing to charity, or to only turn the heating to 19 degrees? To British workers forced to strike or to beg simply to maintain their standard of living.

 

This isn't happening anywhere else. This is a uniquely British disease.

 

Solving the cost of living crisis isn't going to be a matter of some grand blitz spirit where we all have to spend the winter cold, hungry, and frightened. 

 

And for what it's worth, let's be honest with one another: it won't be Mike Marshall cold, hungry or frightened. It wont be his wealthy donors who pay thousands for access to Tory ministers, or the CEOs of energy companies taking record bonuses. It will be ordinary families trying to feed their kids, pensioners who need to heat their homes, young people barely scraping by in their first job.

 

No. The solution isnt more pain for you. The solution is real, practical action that supports families get through this tough time and prevents major falls in living standards. And reform that ends this broken Tory economic model.

 

The wealth and the money exists. Energy companies are making record profits. That's why Labour has proposed using those profits to stop major energy price rises, rather than just letting them happen.

 

Thats why we have proposed ending the Government's billions in tax breaks for oil investment and giving that help to families that need it right now.

 

That is why we have proposed getting rid of VAT on domestic fuel.

 

That is why we have consistently proposed mass insulation investment to cut all of our energy bills by hundreds of pounds.

 

That is why we have proposed an immediate increase in the minimum wage, an end to public sector pay restraint for the lowest paid nurses and teachers and police officers, and giving you more powers at work to protect your wages and living standards.

 

And yes, we need long term energy solutions: investment in renewables, nuclear, and low carbon heating.

 

Being in Government is about making the tough calls. Mike Marshall tonight decided that he didn't want to make any: he told you to make them instead. 

 

My message to the Prime Minister is this: ditch the war time rallying cries. Protect your people not your pride. And give us real solutions, don't spread fear and feign helplessness.

 

And my message to you is this: it doesn't have to be this way. Britain in the sixth largest economy on earth. We have huge wealth, natural resources, and we have strong communities that look out for one another. We can harness those to solve this cost of living crisis. Write to your MPs. Go to their surgeries. Support and join your trade union. Demand action and demand better. But more than anything else: look after each other. Thank you.

 

Harry West - Chancellor of the Exchequer

Labour MP for Coventry South (2010 - )

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