SHADOW chancellor John McDonnell branded his opposite number’s Autumn Statement as “sheer economic illiteracy” and “not a long term economic plan but a political fix”.
Responding to George Osborne’s address, he accused the government of “systematically dismantling all those aspects of society that make our communities worth living in”, vowing that Labour would cut the deficit “fairly and effectively” and “invest to grow”.
His comment that “the chancellor’s got some front to come and lecture us about deficit reduction” was greeted by howls of laughter from the Tory benches, but this paled in comparison to his somewhat bizarre production and then read out a subsequent quote from Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book.
Calling the chancellor “Comrade Osborne” McDonnell he said “we must not pretend to know when we do not know.”
He poured scorn on the chancellor’s 2010 boast that after five years the deficit would have been wiped out in one parliament.
He said that the Department for Business was virtually being closed down, and britain’s once mighty solar energy industry is being destroyed.
McDonnell said the government’s economic policies would “bequeath a debt to the nation’s children” of £1.5trn.
On the NHS, McDonnell said the £22bn efficiency savings set to be extracted from the health budget was “unrealistic” and meant that the nation was facing “a massive winter crisis in the NHS” that would place the most vulnerable in society at risk. He said the proposed 2% social care precept was not nearly enough to fill the existing funding gap.
Responding to the chancellor’s much vaunted plans to start a determined house building renaissance, McDonnel said Osborne’s first act in office was to dramatically cut housing investment by 60%.
He said even the plans announced today “could still mean 40% less to build the homes we need, compared to the investment programme he inherited from Labour”.
Current house building was at its “lowest peacetime level since the 1920s” and that “if hot air built homes the chancellor would have solved the housing crisis”.
McDonnell said that Osborne’s announcement on police funding was “another Labour gain and victory”, and the Government had already cut 17,000 police jobs.
He went on to claim that “the louder the cheers on the day the greater the disappointment by the weekend” and that Autumn Statement will be seen as the apex of Osborne’s career, and that like Icarus, the chancellor is flying too close to the sun.
He said Labour championed investment and wanted to create a society of high skills, high investment, and high wages, a scenario that Labour will secure when it is returned to power.