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Keir Starmer defends Labour’s response to cost of living crisis – UK politics live | Politics


Starmer hits back at criticism of cost of living crisis response, claiming Labour has been ‘leading’ on the issue

Keir Starmer claims Labour has been “leading” on the cost of living crisis following criticism of his response to the national issue. The Labour leader said he will announce further plans to tackle the crisis on Monday.

He criticised the Conservative leadership contest and “lame duck” prime minister as he called for a “strategic, credible plan” in the face of the cost of living crisis.

He also criticised the government for failing to prepare the UK for drought (see also 14:17).

He said during a visit to Scotland:

It was nearly 12 months ago now on energy bills that we proposed insulation of homes, a massive project to bring down the costs.
In January we said there should be a windfall tax, it took the government five months to catch up with that idea and implement it. We also said that VAT should be taken off energy bills – Rishi Sunak is only just now recognising that Labour got it right again.

After trailing plans for pre-payment meters, he added:

On Monday I’m going to be setting out a comprehensive set of proposals, a plan for how we handle the upcoming costs in the autumn, while what you’ve had from the Conservative Party is two leadership candidates arguing with each other about just how appalling their record in government has been, and a prime minister who’s a lame duck – he recognises there’s a problem and he’s not prepared to do anything about it.
So, for the best part of 12 months, Labour has been absolutely leading on this issue.

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Writing for the Guardian, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion said the declaration of drought across much of England is not a freak occurrence but the “consequence of years of inaction on the climate emergency”.

This is producing a perfect storm of energy insecurity, food supply chaos and extreme weather that is wreaking havoc on society.

Getting a firm grip on this crisis requires both immediate and long-term solutions. Our lame duck government is offering neither. It’s clear that the privatisation experiment for water companies has failed. They’re fit for profit, not for purpose.

Marina Hyde

Marina Hyde

Nothing could possibly be longer than this Conservative leadership race – not even the final minute of your washing machine cycle. Every promise made in it should be treated with the same deference you’d reserve for the claim that the tab closure on a cardboard cereal box “seals in freshness”. Given the crises raging outside, the contest resembles a Dickensian reality show, in which two grotesques compete to run the workhouse, simply refusing to be thrown off course by the increasingly desperate entreaties of their paupers. Who, as a mark of lavishly sarcastic respect, are these days referred to as “clients”.

Helena Horton

A drought has been declared across wide swathes of England after a meeting of experts.

The prolonged dry conditions, with some areas of the country not receiving significant rainfall all summer, have caused the National Drought Group to declare an official drought.

The Environment Agency has moved into drought in eight of its 14 areas: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Herts and north London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and the east Midlands.

Documents seen by the Guardian show the Environment Agency expects a further two areas will move into drought later in August. These are Yorkshire and West Midlands.

The Faulkland Inn near Bath has come through recessions, wars and Covid but is being beaten by soaring costs, writes Anna Tims:

When the Faulkland Inn first opened its doors, George II was on the throne and Britain was at war with Spain. Since then, the 280-year-old coaching inn has weathered a dozen recessions, two world wars and the Covid pandemic. Now soaring energy bills have proved a battle too far. The village pub near Bath is facing closure with the loss of eight jobs because it can no longer afford to keep the lights on.

Our gas and energy bills have doubled since April and we’re facing annual fuel costs of at least £20,000, which will wipe out our profits,” says the landlord, Andy Machen. “Until April we needed to make £2,500 over the four days a week we are open in order to break even; now we’d need to make £4,000 and are paying staff out of our personal savings.

Zoe Wood

Zoe Wood

A new campaign group urging the government to do more to tackle the cost of living crisis will kick off a series of 50 rallies across Britain with a launch event in London next week.

Trade unions, community groups, tenants’ organisations and politicians launched the Enough is Enough campaign this week and it has already received 300,000 sign-ups with the launch video viewed more than 6m times.

“There’s always another crisis and it’s always workers who pay the price,” said Dave Ward, the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who along with Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), will speak at the first rally on Wednesday evening at the Clapham Grand venue in south London.

Like the TUC, Enough is Enough is calling for this autumn’s energy price cap increase to be cancelled as soaring bills push household finances to the brink. There is growing evidence that people are already struggling, with the number contacting Citizens Advice because they cannot afford both food and energy having jumped more than threefold in a year, according to recent figures published by the charity.

Enough is Enough is also calling for a “real” pay rise for workers which it defines as a public sector pay increase in line with inflation and a pathway to a £15 minimum wage. The current minimum wage rate for adults aged 23 and over is £9.50. It also wants the government to end food poverty by introducing free school meals for all and reinstating the £20-a-week universal credit uplift.

Starmer hits back at criticism of cost of living crisis response, claiming Labour has been ‘leading’ on the issue

Keir Starmer claims Labour has been “leading” on the cost of living crisis following criticism of his response to the national issue. The Labour leader said he will announce further plans to tackle the crisis on Monday.

He criticised the Conservative leadership contest and “lame duck” prime minister as he called for a “strategic, credible plan” in the face of the cost of living crisis.

He also criticised the government for failing to prepare the UK for drought (see also 14:17).

He said during a visit to Scotland:

It was nearly 12 months ago now on energy bills that we proposed insulation of homes, a massive project to bring down the costs.
In January we said there should be a windfall tax, it took the government five months to catch up with that idea and implement it. We also said that VAT should be taken off energy bills – Rishi Sunak is only just now recognising that Labour got it right again.

After trailing plans for pre-payment meters, he added:

On Monday I’m going to be setting out a comprehensive set of proposals, a plan for how we handle the upcoming costs in the autumn, while what you’ve had from the Conservative Party is two leadership candidates arguing with each other about just how appalling their record in government has been, and a prime minister who’s a lame duck – he recognises there’s a problem and he’s not prepared to do anything about it.
So, for the best part of 12 months, Labour has been absolutely leading on this issue.

We reported earlier on Liz Truss’s claim that the civil service is beset by “creeping antisemitism”.

On this subject, the Sun’s Noa Hoffman says she has been contacted by a Jewish civil servant:

Message I received re Truss: “I’m a Jewish civil servant (grew up modern orthodox) and I have absolutely no idea what she’s referring to. What does ‘Woke civil service culture strays into antisemitism’ even mean? I’ve never worked in a more inclusive and diverse environment” /1

— Noa Hoffman (@hoffman_noa) August 12, 2022

“I feel these sort of comments try to victimise Jews and cynically instrumentalise (sic) our experience.” 2/2

— Noa Hoffman (@hoffman_noa) August 12, 2022

Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the government of failing to fully prepare the UK for drought, hitting out also at the response of water companies.

Responding to the news that millions of people across England face water restrictions due to the official declaration of drought in eight areas, he said:

There’s a familiar pattern here, which is we’ve got a government with no strategy.

This drought, this hot period, was predictable. But, as usual, we had no plan from the government and this is the pattern, this is the character of this government.

On the water companies, he added:

Water companies aren’t doing enough to deal with leakages and other problems.

We saw the sewage going into rivers and I think that some of the regulations should have been better used.

I would have liked to have seen much greater fines against those companies that aren’t doing what is necessary.

Government claims ‘better prepared than ever’ after drought declared across much of England

The government has claimed that it is “better prepared than ever” after drought was declared in several parts of England.

Water minister Steve Double has claimed that action is already being taken by the government and the Environment Agency (EA) after eight areas were moved to “drought” status – including Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Herts and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and East Midlands.

Low water levels at Ardingly Reservoir in West Sussex on Friday
Low water levels at Ardingly Reservoir in West Sussex on Friday. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

“All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it is their duty to maintain those supplies,” he said.

“We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed.”

The drought declaration comes after the driest July on record in some areas and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

The latest EA data showed rainfall totals for August have ranged from 12% of the long-term average in north-east England to 0% in south-east and south-west England.

River flow data indicates that close to 90% of measuring sites were showing below normal readings, with 29% classed as “exceptionally low”.

Ben Quinn

Ben Quinn

Boris Johnson has failed to deny claims by Rishi Sunak that he is refusing to take calls from his former chancellor.

A month after he resigned from cabinet – precipitating Johnson’s ousting from Downing Street – Sunak told a hustings event for the Conservative leadership race on Thursday night that Johnson was refusing to answer or return calls from him.

Asked if he would stop ignoring Sunak’s calls, the prime minister told reporters during a visit to north Wales: “That’s one of those Westminster questions that doesn’t change the price of fish.

“There are plenty of things that do change the price of fish, not least the price of energy, but that’s not one of them.”

Rowena Mason

Rowena Mason

Liz Truss has set out a plan to “protect British Jewry” from “creeping antisemitism” and “woke culture” in the civil service, while praising Jews for holding values such as protecting the family unit and setting up businesses.

The Conservative leadership candidate published a plan that targets “woke civil service culture that strays into antisemitism”. She did not give examples of this but it is thought to be a reference to councils and their pension funds that participate in boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) policies that involve cutting ties with businesses that invest in Israel.

Angela Rayner has criticised the Conservative party leadership contest structure – questioning why members of the party who live abroad are allowed to vote.

Citing a BBC report on Conservative Abroad – the 1% of Conservative party members (approximately 1% of its estimated 160,000 members) who are permitted to vote from outside the UK – the deputy Labour leader tweeted:

Why do some Tory supporters who don’t even live in this country have more say over the next PM than the public?

Families are sick with worry about how they’ll pay the bills. The Tories have no answers to the problems facing our country. https://t.co/GLU7g9eZ9H

— Angela Rayner 🌹 (@AngelaRayner) August 12, 2022

Truss’s civil service comments ‘insulting and abhorrent’

Liz Truss’s pledge to tackle “woke” civil service culture (see 11:38) have been condemned as “insulting and abhorrent” by a union representing civil servants.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA, said:

The Conservatives have been in government for more than 12 years now and, for most of that time, Liz Truss has been a minister.

So, accusations of ‘civil service wokeism’ are a little ironic, given it’s essentially a criticism of their own leadership.

However, Truss’s accusation of antisemitism goes further than the usual dog-whistle politics that has been on display during this leadership campaign when it comes to the civil service.

He added:

She provides no evidence for her accusation that many civil servants will find both insulting and abhorrent.

A prime minister is also minister for the civil service, and throwing around such unfounded inflammatory accusations illustrates a lack of leadership, the very thing that she claims to be demonstrating.

Rishi Sunak (see also 12:09) said he would seek a “constructive solution” to issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol through talks with other leaders.

Northern Ireland’s economy, he claimed, is being “pulled out of the orbit” of that of the rest of the UK.

The former chancellor told Times Radio:

Quite simply, at the moment the economy of Northern Ireland is being pulled out of the orbit of the rest of the economy of the United Kingdom, and that’s wrong.

He added:

The bill that’s in parliament is one that I support, that will address them, but it will take time, so I hope as the new prime minister I can sit down and have a constructive relationship with the Irish, French and European governments to make sure we can try and see if we can find a constructive solution to this problem, not least because it’d mean we could solve it far faster than the time it takes the bill to get through parliament.
People should be in no doubt that it’s wrong what is happening, the Northern Ireland economy should of course be an integral part of the UK economy, it shouldn’t be sucked out, and I will make sure that doesn’t happen as PM.

Sunak insists he still has ‘fantastic chance’ in Tory leadership contest despite Truss’s apparent dominance

Rishi Sunak insists he has a “fantastic chance” in the Tory leadership contest – despite the apparent dominance of his rival.

Many Conservative party members, he said, “have not made up their mind”.

In an interview with Times Radio, in which he was asked why he was still campaigning when his rival when Liz Truss appeared to be so far ahead, he said:

I’m fighting passionately for the things that I believe are best for this country and the reception I’m getting everywhere I go is positive, people are responding well and I think I’ve got a fantastic chance to make progress in this campaign.

All the polls don’t say that actually, there was a poll of councillors the other day – and there have hardly been any polls to be honest – which showed it was completely evenly split between me and Liz Truss and people who don’t know, and that’s the point.

Other extracts from the interview:

“I don’t need £200. You don’t need £200, why do you need £200 when people can’t afford to heat their dinner?” @MattChorley

“People on very low incomes and pensioners, Liz Truss’ plans do nothing for those people.” @RishiSunak

— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) August 12, 2022

Public services are on their knees in this country, whose fault is it? – @MattChorley

“I have been in the cabinet for the last few years. I’m really proud of my record … I’m looking to the future, I’ve got plans to reform the NHS.” – @RishiSunak

— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) August 12, 2022

How will the hosepipe ban affect you, how’s the swimming pool? @MattChorley

We need to make sure our water companies are held to account, and also our rivers are not polluted – @RishiSunak

— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) August 12, 2022





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