Ian Murray: We pay if Osborne can’t balance books

Chancellor George Osborne. Pic: AP Photo/Scott Heppell
Chancellor George Osborne. Pic: AP Photo/Scott Heppell
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It is clear from the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement that this government has failed spectacularly to meet its targets to eradicate the deficit by the election. In fact, it has failed to the tune of the entire UK NHS and pensioner support budget combined. The Chancellor has attempted to balance the books on the back of the poorest whilst giving a massive tax cut to millionaires. As a result, Edinburgh people have found themselves on average £1600-a-year worse off as wages have failed to keep up with prices.

The government itself has 
highlighted not only the failure to deliver on its main promise – to balance the books before 2015 – but the economy is set to get worse next year and forecasts for wages have been revised down again.

Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. That shows how out of touch the government is with ordinary people, and it’s hardworking people who are paying the price.

What we needed from this government was the better and fairer plan. A balanced approach, which deals with our debts, but does so sensibly.

A proper plan would include getting more money to the less well-off by raising the minimum wage and promoting the living wage, expanding free childcare for working parents, scrapping the bedroom tax and cutting business rates for the smallest firms. We must balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion-a-year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners and a more progressive tax system.

By following this approach we will cut the deficit, create the strong economic foundations needed to build a fairer economy for working people and provide the resources to protect and grow the public services we all value.

It’s time for an economic recovery for the many, not just a few.

Fairness is key to better future

I WAS delighted that Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale were elected as Scottish Labour’s new leadership team. I know that they will provide strong leadership and a new direction for the party.

Tomorrow will be Kezia’s debut First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament. I know Jim and Kezia will have the energy and determination to improve our country.

I’m particularly pleased with the focus on inherited poverty and the way it cascades down the generations. That fairness agenda is key to a better Scotland.

2015 pivotal for global poverty

THE year 2015 will be a pivotal one for global poverty reduction as the target for the Millennium Development Goals are renewed.

In 2000 world leaders and representatives from development institutions came together at the Millennium Summit to commit countries to a new global partnership in reducing extreme poverty. These targets became the Millennium Development Goals.

The eight goals, which range from eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to empowering women and reducing child mortality, are wide-reaching. These have helped to make significant progress in the reduction of poverty but it is clear that there is much to be done and the new targets in 2015 must be bold.

I am exceptionally proud of Labour’s record on international development, from cancelling international debt of the poorest nations to the Bill passed earlier this month which will enshrine a commitment for 0.7 per cent of national income to international aid. These actions have saved many millions of lives, educated tens of millions of children, empowered women and communities and made a huge difference to the poorest across the world.

Humbling tale of my pal Gord

MY friend Gordon Aikman’s campaign to raise funds for motor neurone disease research surpassed its £100,000 target this week. Gordon was diagnosed with MND earlier this year at the age of 29. It is a heart-breaking story but he is dealing with it by thinking about others and that is humbling to us all. You can donate at www.justgiving.com/gordonaikman

Working hard to help jobless

One of the biggest things I deal with in the constituency is unemployment, skills and benefits. Despite the Edinburgh economy being better than most there are still too many people across Edinburgh who are unable to get work.

Having spoken to many of them, on the doorstep, in my surgeries, or across Scotland in my role as a shadow business minister, I have arranged to hold an Edinburgh-wide jobs and skills fair on February 6 at Augustine United Church on George IV Bridge, from 11am to 4pm.

The fair aims to connect jobs to the people looking for them, and to make sure those looking for work are well equipped in the skills that will help their search. It will be the culmination of a jobs campaign for the month of January.

If you’d like to be involved in any way, please contact my office.