my weekly blog
Posted by Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, at 16:44, Thu 11 October 2012:
I'm very grateful to everyone who sent their good wishes for my father's return to health. He is back at home, and we are hoping he'll make a complete recovery. Meantime, I've been able to get back to Manchester, just in time to take notice of the Conservative party conference, which took place in Birmingham this week.
I found it a profoundly depressing and sickening experience. Watching the Tories return to their old "dog-whistle" politics - attacking benefits claimants, urging people to "have a go" at burglars. It's a crass attempt at populism to cover up their own failure to get the economy moving.
It's now abundantly clear that George Osborne's approach to deficit reduction, cutting without investing, draining money out of the economy, isn't just causing hardship, it isn't even working. Government borrowing is forecast to overshoot by a staggering £158billion. Just a few days ago the IMF downgraded its forecast for the UK economy, which it now says will shrink by 0.4% this year.
And this is just the start. Many of the cuts announced by the Tories in the last 2 years are only just about to come into effect. 88% of cuts to benefits and 94% of cuts to public services are yet to come in, according to the IFS. Now, Osborne's announced he wants to cut a further £10 billion off the welfare bill.
In Trafford, meanwhile, the MEN reported this week that the Tory council will make a further £33million of cuts over the next two years. The council's now consulting on another round of swingeing job losses.
The situation is set to become desperate for families and communities. Cuts to help with housing costs will force more families into B&B, or force young people to stay at home with their parents, unable to get work, and contributing to family tension. Cuts to youth services will drive young people out onto the street, bored, angry and looking for trouble. Cuts to the voluntary sector mean that organisations that provide advice on mental health, or on disability benefits, or support people recovering from serious illness, will no longer be able to provide this help, piling up costs in the NHS or for the Council. Parents will get into debt, face mounting bills, and may be driven to use food banks or go without themselves in order to provide for their children.
There are schools in my constituency which need significant capital spending to carry out essential repairs to make them safe for children to learn in. Everywhere I go in the constituency, roads are full of potholes. We've seen more burglaries in Stretford, and I've had complaints of increasing antisocial behaviour in Old Trafford - yet frontline police numbers in the borough are due to be cut by 10%.
This is what happens when a government hell-bent on shrinking the state ignores the social cost of its policies. Public spending under Labour wasn't about profligacy, it was about securing the public services that protect a better quality of life for everyone. It was about ensuring that people could find jobs, and making work pay. And let's not forget that much of the structural public spending under the last Labour governments was essential to repair the damage that had been done to the national infrastructure by the previous Tory administrations.
Of course, the whole world changed with the financial collapse in 2008, and it's certainly clear that we will need radically different economic policies in the future to ensure a sustainable, fairer economic recovery. We'll have to share scarce resources more equitably, and support a new kind of enterprise culture that helps build a strong and lasting economy, not simply rely on the state to pick up the pieces of a failed market model. But one thing I'm clear about - creating jobs and protecting services stimulates the economy, as well as protecting families. More economic activity means more taxes paid by individuals and companies, reducing the need for public borrowing. More people in work means more people spending in local shops and businesses, helping our local economy.
There's plenty of evidence now that the Tories' policies are doing exceptional damage. Yet this week we learned that the only plan George Osborne has is to continue with a totally failed economic strategy. Tragically, it's a strategy that will cause huge pain and hardship to families right across the country.
As ever, if I could be of assistance with anything, please do not hesitate to contact me. Best wishes Kate