The Budget

It was billed as the ‘growth’ budget, that would get Britain moving again.  The problem was the central message was that growth is being revised down for the second time – for last year, this year and next year.

This time last year the economy was beginning to recover, growth was positive and unemployment was falling. A year on the Chancellor is presiding over an economy which is hardly growing, inflation at a 20 year high and unemployment rising to a 17 year high.

It’s clear that the Chancellor is taking an almighty gamble with the economy through the choices his Government is making. By cutting so deep and so fast Osborne is causing unnecessary suffering to families and great and permanent damage to the economy.

The cuts that start from 1 April include everything from tax credits to Sure Start Centres, with police and health services still waiting to see how many clinicians and constables are being laid off -  a week before the financial year starts.  Unprecedented savings of £81 billion will be made before the next election.

Some poor attempts to shield this with ‘giveaways’ lasted only a few hours before Osborne was rumbled.  A £45 a year cut in tax from April 2012 is balanced by changing the uprating of allowances to a lower rate (CPI not RPI).  Within three years this will claw back the ‘cut’, which is in any case one tenth of the  £450 a year the average family is paying through higher VAT.  In boasting a 1p cut in  fuel duty the chancellor forgot he has added 3p to a litre of petrol through the VAT rise.

This is economic policy driven by ideology, and lacking credibility. We are already seeing the longest squeeze in living standards since the 1920s, and Wednesday’s budget will do nothing to ease the concerns of  the millions of families up and down the country working hard to make ends meet.

‘No ID, No Sale’ policy to stop children buying alcohol and tobacco

Today I called on local retailers to support the ‘No ID, No Sale!’ campaign which seeks to ensure that only adults can buy alcohol, tobacco and other age-restricted goods. I was speaking at Dykes Road Post Office (Dyke Road, Glasgow G13), where I was joined by Bhubinder Burmy and CitizenCard’s Marketing Manager Nigel Catlow.

More than two million CitizenCards have been issued across the UK since the scheme was launched by then Home Office Minister George Howarth in February 1999. The new government has continued the previous government’s policy of supporting the police’s endorsement of CitizenCards and other cards bearing the PASS hologram.

Nuclear Energy in the UK

I am chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy as well as a member of the Energy and CLimate Change Select Committee. Due to the Tsumnami in Japan as a result of the earthquake last week nuclear energy has been called into question. However,  I strongly believe that if we are to keep the lights on and tackle cliamte change then nuclear energy has to be part of our national energy policy.

Below are a few interview which I have done this week:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/zp5tw/

Reverse the Tory VAT Rise on Fuel’ campaign

I and the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and the rest of the Scottish Labour party launched our campaign to reverse the rise in VAT today.

I am calling on the Chancellor George Osborne to reverse the government’s VAT rise on fuel.

The hike in VAT to 20 per cent in January has added nearly 3p to the price of a litre of petrol and will raise £700m for the Treasury, according to figures from the independent House of Commons Library.

The Labour Party says the VAT rise should be reversed immediately on petrol using the £800m extra the government is now getting from the bank levy, compared to what it was expecting in the last Budget.

You may remember these two posters, one by the Tories from 2008…

I wonder if the Tories remember this from 2008?

…and the Lib Dems campaign below launched only last year weeks before the election here in Scotland their VAT campaign… They seemed to know who was to blame for VAT rises then!

I hope the people of Scotland remember this next year...