Richard Burgon – It’s time to bury the tory policies that created this crisis


“Tory “trickle-down” economics has forced more people into poverty while sucking the vast wealth in our country up into fewer and fewer hands.”

Richard Burgon

Rebuilding Britain will mean ditching the Tory policies that have created the multiple crises we face writes Richard Burgon MP

Schools crumbling before our eyes. Record NHS waiting lists. Rivers turned into open sewers. Corrupt contracts. Millions in fuel and food poverty. And the biggest attack on living standards in decades.

Every day, the legacy of Tory misrule is brought into ever sharper focus.

Millions are paying the price.

A general election really can’t come soon enough.

We all hope that this is the last Party Conference in opposition. When we meet next year, let’s hope we’ve already kicked the Tories out and secured a Labour government so we can get on with repairing the widespread damage the Tories have caused.

Only a Labour government can rebuild Britain, restore hope to communities battered by successive Tory governments and tackle the deep inequalities that scar our country.

The Tories’ policies throughout their time in office have made life ever harder for ordinary people.

Austerity has not only deliberately undermined the very services we all rely on. It is thought to have caused over 300,000 deaths – with people living in the poorest areas hardest hit.

Tory “trickle-down” economics has forced more people into poverty while sucking the vast wealth in our country up into fewer and fewer hands.

And the pandemic highlighted the truth behind the Tory dogma that the private sector is best placed to deliver public services. Profit was put before public health, with deadly consequences.

Rebuilding Britain will mean ditching the Tory policies that have created the multiple crises we face.

Instead of more cuts – as the Tories have pencilled in for the next parliament – we will need public investment to kick-start the economy and rebuild public services like our NHS.

Instead of relying on the market to solve all our problems, we will need an active government to address the structural inequalities and low pay that scar our society.

Labour’s policies like the New Deal for Workers to strengthen trade union rights, for huge investment in renewables and insulating homes to tackle climate change and make Britain a clean energy superpower and for the renationalisation of rail services will all make a real difference to people’s lives.

But after nearly a decade and a half of the Tories, the challenges for the next Labour government will be huge. We will need to build on those policies to more fully undo the Tory damage.

In doing so, our movement can learn from left-of-centre governments already in power and the policies they are pursuing.

For example, Joe Biden’s push for a minimum tax level on the super-rich or the Spanish government’s Windfall Tax on the banks. These types of policies show how billions could be raised here from the wealthiest to fund, for example, free school meals and scrap the cruel two-child benefit cap.

Tackling the growing concentration of wealth in this way could also provide crucial funds for investing in our economy and rebuilding our key infrastructure.

It is only right those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest load in providing the resources needed to rebuild Britain. While life under the Tories has been cruel for so many, it has been boom time for the very wealthiest – those that the Tories really represent.

Take just one example. UK billionaires have added £120 million every single day to their already vast wealth over the last decade

What a contrast with the declining living standards and falling wages most people have faced!

People increasingly come up to me and tell me nothing works any more. People are crying out for investment in services now on their knees. They can’t afford a decent place to live. They’re sick of the inequality that has left so many people using foodbanks. And they say that the Government doesn’t seem to care about them – just about the wealthy.

Often they are without hope that things can ever improve. The Tories have no answers to that. Their plan is to use culture wars, including now on climate change, to whip up division. And they plan to trample on key freedoms like the right to strike in a desperate bid to blame others for their failures.

A wider vision of how Labour will bury the Tory cuts agenda can restore hope to our communities and not only help us win the next election but secure the decade in office that we will need to fully repair the ruin left by the Tories.

  • This article appears in the special Labour Outlook hard-copy bulletin for Autumn 2023. Download and read it here.
  • Richard Burgon is the MP for Leeds East and the Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
  • If you support Labour Outlook’s work amplifying the voices of left movements and struggles here and internationally, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.

Featured image: Richard Burgon MP. Photo credit: Banners Held High

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