Jan Royall says that LibDem words contradict the Coalition's lack of action to stimulate growth
'The importance of the Government’s growth strategy'.
As I saw the topic of Baroness Kramer’s debate, I thought it an interesting topic of choice for the LibDems. I realise the nature of the Coalition means compromise, but having signed up totally to the Conservative’s austerity programme, the LibDems share responsibility for shackling the growth our country desperately needs.
Indeed, in Baroness Kramer’s maiden speech as an MP, she spoke about the need "to reconcile the importance of environment and sustainability with economic development, prosperity and growth". Yes, ‘growth’. So how does this view reconcile with being a member of a government responsible for the UK economy’s failure to grow since the Coalition’s spending review?
A real life case of Kramer vs Kramer.
George Osborne inherited an economy from Labour that was starting to grow again after the global financial crisis. Unemployment was falling.
Now we’re in the throes of a double dip recession created in Downing Street. So what growth strategy does the Coalition have?
Does a VAT increase which takes from the poor to give to the rich count as a growth strategy? Does allowing net lending to businesses fall by over £10bn in the last year count as a growth strategy? Does creating an economy with 264,000 long-term unemployed young people count as a growth strategy? No, no and no.
Because there is no strategy – merely an economy that doesn’t work for working people. We have a cabinet of millionaires who don’t know anything about the struggle that small and medium enterprises face, and it shows. Just look at Michael Gove’s obsession with forcing children into a narrow education when we should be nurturing entrepreneurial flair.
What we really need is action and it’s time for the government to find a growth strategy and boost jobs and growth. It’s vital that Ministers bring forward long-term infrastructure investment, give tax breaks to small firms taking on extra workers, provide a temporary VAT cut to ease the squeeze on household budgets and implement a bank bonus tax to fund jobs for young people.
Unless businesses grow and we get people back into work, we will not succeed in getting the deficit down. And the price we risk paying is huge: endemic long-term youth unemployment; investment decisions cancelled and lasting damage to the industries at the heart of our country.
It is time to create a climate of economic confidence. Not only that, but we need to work multilaterally with other countries to help provide much needed stability into the world economy.
And it is clear that we have a simple choice between hope and fear. We can choose fear and say that Britain has no place in the forefront of global development. Or we can choose hope and a future in which a growing economy works for working people. By providing stability, confidence and infrastructure the government can provide that economy.
Britain is up for it, and hopefully the LibDems will snap out of their hypocrisy, match their words with actions and help make a growth strategy not just a reality, but a priority.
Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon is Labour’s Leader in the House of Lords