It was an extraordinary sight this week to see Tory members of parliament rightly decrying George Osborne and David Cameron’s cuts to tax credits that is going to take an average of £1,300 away from approximately 3 million working families in Britain. Extraordinary because having shed their crocodile tears for the benefit of that all-important press release for their local media outlets, they then went and voted for the cuts anyway.
In my constituency, 50 per cent of children live in families receiving some form of tax credit. Working people are being treated with contempt by this government. It is a case of mind over matter – they don’t mind inflicting misery upon people who they don’t believe matter.
All of which tended to take a little of the sheen from the much hyped state visit from the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Let us be clear: Britain’s Chinese engagement strategy is the right policy to pursue and is entirely within the best interest of the United Kingdom. Diplomatically, politically and economically, it is a high-wire act. Is it worth the risk? Does Britain need the investment? The answer to both is a resounding ‘yes’. Popular and political opinion will increasingly question the approach we are taking, rightly so in many cases, but much of the criticism is badly informed. These fun facts tend to sharpen the mind: there are 88 million members of the Chinese Communist Party and only 80 million Germans. There are 350 million members of China’s booming middle class and less than 320 million citizens of the United States.
With this in mind, never forget that…
The Sun also Rises
And so it did again in Parliament this week at a reception staged by the Japanese Embassy to showcase the enormous Japanese investment already in Britain. Audaciously timed to coincide with the Chinese state visit, our relationship with Japan and Japanese industry is not just critically important for our economic future –in parts it is fundamental. As much as any other relationship, our relationship with Japan should be nurtured, recognised and protected.
And a point of agreement between our Asian benefactors? Both believe that the UK should remain within the European Union. Why? They want to protect their investments.
Get a Grip
We should of course be taking Cameron and Osborne to pieces right now. The tax credit broken promise illustrates much about the government and is an open goal waiting to be scored. Instead, as we have done for months, Labour is struggling to make its voice heard above the noise the party is itself creating. The ‘new politics’ should recognise these honest observations for what they are and not insist that any illustration of the patently obvious is in any way an ‘attack’. Poppies, the privy council, the national anthem and some truly extraordinary party appointments: it does look like there is a conspiracy against the party leadership, but it is not coming from the 21 fiscal charter abstainers.
If this is a strategy, I simply don’t understand it.
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.