If Boris Johnson’s government wanted to tackle the spiralling cost-of-living crisis, they could change things overnight, says Bridget Phillipson MP
The Prime Minister’s argument that wages are rising is as out of touch as it is dishonest.
For millions, their pay packets are being hit by skyrocketing prices.
Energy bills are reaching for the sky.
Petrol costs up.
Growing gaps in supermarket shelves.
Even Tory Cabinet Ministers know that wages are struggling to grow faster than inflation.
When asked how this so-called “wage growth” would feed into pensions, Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that “the earnings measure is a statistical anomaly and is not a real-life basis for considering this year’s uprating of state pensions.”
“Not a real-life basis.”
That seems to be the cornerstone from most Conservative thinking.
For weeks ministers acted as if supply chain problems didn’t exist, dismissing the industry and putting their fingers in their ears.
Now they expect us to believe that this was part of their grand plan all along.
That’s right – Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak planned for fuel shortages.
They sketched out a strategy that includes sparser supermarket shelves.
They dreamt of a Christmas where presents might not arrive on time, and they wanted an energy price rise.
They should admit the truth – which is that they don’t have a plan at all.
If the Conservatives cared about higher wages, they could change things overnight.
They could ban disgraceful employment practices like fire and rehire to stop the downward pressure on workers.
They’ve could stop repeatedly refusing to outlaw zero hour contracts that mean workers don’t know when their next shift is.
They could put in place Fair Pay Agreements as Labour would, and create security in everyday work.
They could have spent the last five years growing skills and dealing with the gaps for our post-Brexit future, instead of scrapping their Industrial Strategy.
Labour’s plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain would be tackling those gaps right now.
But, instead of raising standards and driving forward our recovery, the Conservatives are clobbering working people with increases in council tax, income tax, a jobs tax and a cut in Universal Credit.
The reality is that it’s Conservative choices that are creating a squeeze on the cost-of-living crisis.
And it’s a decade of Conservative choices, weak growth, poor productivity and a lack of planning that have led us here.
People have got enough to grapple with, and increasing prices are just one more thing to worry about.
Instead of wishing away the truth on people’s jobs and pay, isn’t it time to take action?
Labour would bring industry together for a positive plan to grow our economy and boost the skills and standards British people deserve.
Bridget Phillipson is the Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South. She is also Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury