Momentum slams Tory ‘Budget of Ruin’, calls for Labour leadership to ‘step out from its own shadow’

Reacting to Rishi Sunak’s budget and Rachel Reeves’ reaction in Parliament, Andrew Scattergood, Momentum Co-Chair, said: “Rishi Sunak has just plunged millions of working-class people into absolute poverty and despair. As bills soar and energy giants’ profits skyrocket, the Tories barely lift a finger to help, even cutting benefits and pensions in real terms.

“But Labour is passing up the chance to be the voice for the change that people so badly need. Instead of demanding our energy system be taken into public ownership to control prices, the Labour leadership’s proposals would still see bills rise by hundreds. While anti-poverty campaigners call for an 8% rise in benefits just to keep people’s heads above water, Rachel Reeves only proposes a 6% increase. For millions on the brink, these half-measures just won’t cut it.

“This tinkering around the edges fails to set Labour apart from a despised Conservative Party. The country is crying out for a socialist alternative to this Tory ruin – why won’t Starmer offer it?”

In recent days Socialist Campaign Group Labour MPs, led by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, have issued a series of policy demands to save, including public ownership of energy, a universal care service, a new right to food and new wealth taxes.

A new poll this week found that 55% of the public support bringing energy into public ownership, with just 8% opposed. This chimes with the position of last year’s Labour Party conference – composed of party members and trade unions – which voted strongly in favour of radical policy measures including public ownership of energy and other utilities, and a £15-an-hour minimum wage. 

According to anti-privatisation group We Own It, bringing the energy networks into public ownership would save the UK £3.7bn per year and research shows prices are 20-30% lower in systems with public ownership.

In his leadership election pledges two years ago, Keir Starmer committed to a series of radical policy measures including increasing income tax for the top 5% of earners, repealing the Trade Union Act and bringing energy and other utilities into public ownership. Since then, he has rowed back significantly from these commitments.

With energy bills set to rise by around £700, Labour’s proposals would see £89 cut by abolishing VAT, and a targeted £400 Warm Homes discount. For poorer families, this still leaves a considerable – and unbridgeable – shortfall.

Image: Rishi Sunak. https://api20170418155059.azure-api.net/photo/IoyxMWET.jpeg?crop=MCU_3:4&quality=80&download=true. Author: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_McAndrew, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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