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Spring budget falls short

Updated: Mar 14


The Chancellor’s budget statement offered very little respite for families who face a daily struggle with the cost of living. The 2p cut in National Insurance Contributions was all very well but as with any other Income Tax cut the people who benefit the most are the people who need it the least.

 

I led for the SNP on the second day of the budget debate. I said the most revealing thing was what the Chancellor didn’t say. In a speech of over 7,000 words he mentioned poverty once, never mentioned low pay or


zero hours contracts and never even mentioned climate change. He could have announced a proper Living Wage. He could have announced reforms to a Child Maintenance system that currently is not working for mums, dads or children. He could have announced policies similar to the ones the Scottish Government have used to lift 100,000 children out of poverty this year. He could have announced a “windfall tax” not just on Scotland’s oil and gas companies but on the arms dealers, dodgy PPE suppliers, bankers, supermarkets and many more who are making money out of other people’s crises.

 

But the most telling thing about this Tory budget is that a succession of senior Labour MPs have been unable to point to a single proposal that they’ll promise to oppose. It really is becoming impossible to tell the difference between Labour and the Tories on so many of the big issues.

 

In the space of little more than a week we’ve seen three senior Tories being called out for vile Islamophobic attacks. All of them were based on falsely equating the Islamic faith with support for terrorism, and on that basis accusing people of supporting terrorism just because they were Muslims. In the least well reported but perhaps most serious of the incidents a Tory in the House of Lords made claims like this against a University Challenge contestant who has been getting vile abuse and death threats ever since. Only one of these people has been disciplined by the Tory party – Lee Anderson was suspended but not for Islamophobia, he was suspended for failing to obey an instruction from the prime minister. Government ministers refuse even to admit that these actions were Islamophobic.

 

This matters. Abusing somebody or accusing them of supporting terrorism and war crimes just because of their faith is a hate crime under our laws regardless of whether the victim is a Jew, Muslim, Christian or anyone else. The UK government is helping extreme right wing elements to create a climate where Islamophobic abuse is seen as less abhorrent than other faith based hate crimes. We can’t allow that to happen.

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