We need to build a strong economy

LAST Wednesday I got the chance to speak at Prime Minister's Questions.

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It's a unique opportunity to go straight to the top in holding the government to account.

In the week when the Tories and the SNP joined forces to vote against Labour's plans to freeze energy bills, I was reminded of another time 35 years ago.

A time when the Tories and the SNP united to bring down a Labour Government and to bring in Margaret Thatcher.

In his answer, the Prime Minister thanked the SNP for their support back then.

And today they are united on the side of tax cuts for big business, united on the side of the energy companies and united against a 50p tax for the very wealthiest.

Up and down the country, Scottish Labour members are working hard, speaking to people in their communities, on the telephone, on the doorstep and at public meetings.

Wherever we go, the message that comes back is the same - what people want is not separation between England and Scotland but liberation from right-wing economics.

People want policies that will help them and help their neighbours.

What they want is a rejection of the economics of Osborne, Cameron and Salmond.

We need a race to the top, not a race to the bottom.

Together we can work to build a new moral economy that delivers for the benefit of all.

We will not do this by cutting taxes for wealthy, or removing safeguards for workers, or letting energy companies boost bills that go up and up, year after year.

The new moral economy that we will build must go in another direction.

We need an economy where the national wealth is used for the benefit of all, not squandered on tax breaks for a few; an economy, driven not simply by the value of our currency, but by Labour's values.

A moral economy means fair taxes as well as fair pay, where large global corporations contribute their fair share to society as well as workers.

We must establish an economy that is balanced, the responsibility of rebuilding our economy must not fall on families alone, but be shared across society.

That means creating a fairer tax system that tackles the tax avoidance that is damaging to our common good.

We will tax bankers' bonuses, end tax cuts for hedge funds and crucially we will not go through with the tax cuts for millionaires and big businesses that David Cameron and Alex Salmond are so keen to embrace.

As the long overdue economic recovery begins, slowly, to take hold, the biggest challenge facing Scotland is not a constitutional one.

The Osbornomics advocated by Alex Salmond and the SNP in the White Paper will not deliver the change that we need.

The answer is to together build a strong Scottish and UK economy, where the wealth of the nation is used to benefit the whole of society.

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