Not for the first time, it’s Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh who’s provided the standout fireworks from Rishi’s treasury select committee appearance. With Sunak once again flaunting his supposed low-tax credentials, McDonagh repeatedly blasted the Chancellor for whacking up the tax burden to unprecedented levels – at one point even asking Sunak if he thinks the public “are stupid”. Which seems excessive, although given her line of attack, McDonagh needs to remind everyone she’s a member of the opposition – and not, say, the Tory backbenches – somehow…
Rishi: “…I think you’re talking about through to the end of the Parliament, we’ve already had that conversation.”
Siobhan: “With respect, you don’t decide what questions we ask, or how often we ask them. Let’s do the maths though. When you add up all the proposed tax increases, and subtract your fuel duty, income tax, and national insurance pledges, the net result is a 3.3% rise in the tax to GDP ratio between 2019-20, and 26-27.”
Rishi: “No it’s a reflection of the fact that public spending is also, over that period, going to rise by over 2 percentage points of GDP… Government has to pay for the things it’s spending money on… rather than cut public spending, we’re raising the taxes to pay for it.”
McDonagh then went on to question the timings of Rishi’s proposed 1% cut to income tax, suggesting it was a cynical election ploy. Maybe it is, although it’s still pretty good politics. Labour are probably going to have to vote against a tax cut now after all…
It was a Labour MP who provided the stand-out moment from Rishi’s Treasury select committee appearance yesterday. Siobhain McDonagh demanded Rishi name a proper tax cut he’d made:
“…it’s not a tax cut, that’s a benefit change. It’s not a tax cut. It’s a change in the taper rate to Universal Credit…you’re just desperate to find a tax cut. We’re sitting in the Margaret Thatcher room, and you hope to emulate her, but the British Prime Minister and British Tory government that you are most emulating at the moment is Ted Heath’s: low growth, and therefore high tax. Is that not the case.”
Rishi responded by saying the UK is forecast to grow at an historically high level next year, which is true, although it’s then to decline back below 2% from 2023. It shouldn’t take a Labour MP to be pointing this stuff out.
Guido can’t blame MPs for turning to Twitter during dull select committee hearings, though the perils of Zoom saw Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh interrupt this afternoon’s Treasury Committee hearing to proclaim to someone in the room with her, “Oh Margaret, I’ve done a Tweet I’m proud of!”. The Tweet in question?
There’s sheer bloody nerve & there’s @GavinWilliamson! He opens schools Monday, closes them Tuesday & threatens them with @Ofstednews Wednesday. I think @CraigDavid could write the song but if Gavin’s done this in 3 days God knows what he’ll do to pupils,teachers & families in 7!— Siobhain McDonagh MP (@Siobhain_Mc) January 6, 2021
Guido’s not sure 20 likes is worth getting too hyped up about…
Labour MPs are so consumed by “national living rage” in the run-up to Christmas that they have released a single accusing dozens of major employers like Waitrose and B&Q of cutting perks, slashing overtime pay and abusing workers’ rights. They sing: “be ashamed of how you treat your staff“. The choir was led by Siobhain McDonagh who this time last year trumpeted a “work experience opportunities scheme” in her Mitcham and Morden seat. Most places on the scheme were completely unpaid. A “Work Experience Opportunites” booklet produced by her office states:
“You do not need to sign a contract, but it is best to discuss/agreewith your employer, what experience you will gain during the placement. Any work experience placement is an informal agreement that can be broken with 24 hours notice by either you or the employer.”
McDonagh’s pet project effectively arranged free labour for dozens of local employers but also household-name retailers. The two biggest on the scheme? Waitrose and B&Q. Local priorities make principles flexible…