Monthly column: The virus exposed an unequal economy – we will not go back

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Mohammad Yasin MP
Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kempston Pic credit: Chris McAndrew

Keir Starmer gave his most important speech yet laying out Labour’s vision for the future.

“The Conservatives say they want to build back. But I don’t want to go back. You can’t return to business as usual. And certainly not back to an economy rooted in insecurity and inequality,” he said in a powerful and optimistic speech today.

It’s a message I know echoes with a lot of people.

The pandemic has been very difficult for everyone. All of us have made huge sacrifices and far, far too many have paid the ultimate price.

But while we all want the colour and joy back in our lives, we don’t want to return to the rat-race – to a society that was so divided, insecure and unequal.

We need a re-emphasised moral commitment to fighting social injustice; to protect families and children and businesses by reversing the planned £20 cut in Universal Credit; reverse the key worker pay freeze; provide councils with the funding they need to prevent huge rises in council tax; extend and update the furlough scheme to provide businesses with breathing space; by tackling business debt; and extending the business rate relief and the VAT cut for hospitality and leisure.

Keir’s plan to introduce a new British Recovery Bond will provide financial security for millions of people and help to rebuild communities and businesses across the country.

The Chancellor will deliver his Budget on 3 March. It’s likely to be a day of reckoning for the economic costs of the pandemic.

The big question is, who is going to pay for it, and will the burden be fair?

Despite successive Tory leaders’ rhetoric on creating change, tackling the “burning injustices” or “levelling up”, it never goes beyond the soundbites. The Tories have already pointed to big council tax rises.

Under Tory policy, the poorest always pay more.

It is already the working class, the small business owners and young people who are bearing the brunt of the Tories’ biggest fiscal policy in a generation – Brexit.

It was the poorest in society who paid for the banking crisis, whilst the bankers got off scott-free with bailouts from public money. Public money paid for by 10 years of austerity that broke families and decimated our public services, including the NHS, now battling valiantly against the virus yet chronically underfunded and dangerously understaffed.

The pandemic has shone a light in every crevice of society revealing the extent of inequality and lack of life chances.

As we emerge, we must seize this moment to address the deep inequalities and injustices in our country.

Keir Starmer
Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer MP

Labour want to take Britain forward to a stronger, more prosperous future through a new partnership between a supportive Government and enterprising business.

The Conservatives can’t build back better because they do not believe in the power of the state to deliver social justice and equality.

That’s why they will always be led by the short-term demands of the market and never puts the welfare of people first.

March’s Budget is a moment to take the road less travelled – to equip Britain for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

This is no time for a second wave of austerity or tax rises on businesses and families. That would waste the sacrifices of the last year, it would choke off our recovery and ensure that the next decade was wasted like the one just gone – with so many suffering at the hands of a failed and cruel economic policy.

We have a choice as a country: do we allow the Government to take us back to a society where public services are on their knees, where people work more for less, or do we take the opportunity to live in a fairer, more secure and less divided society that invests in our communities, looks after nature and understands that equality and prosperity go hand in hand?

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin MP and published unedited.

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