Ed Miliband writes:
If you believed what some newspapers were saying last weekend,was going to be a breakthrough for the Tories and David Cameron.
Instead, it turned out to be just more of the same.
In his final budget as was supposed to be set to “shoot Labour’s fox” – on the NHS and on living standards – by convincing everyone that his plan for extreme cuts would not be quite as deep or painful as he had promised last autumn.
The Tories might like hunting foxes. But their chancellor is no good at shooting them.
At the end of his speech, I looked over at those Conservative MPs who usually spend their time shouting at me and saw people who feared he had not done enough to help them hang on to their seats on May 7.
They knew the Chancellor had ignored the crisis in. He had shown he doesn’t understand what’s gone wrong with living standards.
And independent experts were lining up to warn the looming cuts – “more severe” than those the Tories have already done – would mean a “rollercoaster” for our public services.
The British people don’t want their public services on a rollercoaster.
If the Tories win a second term, it won’t be a fun fairground ride for people who rely on decent schools and social care, who count on our police and armed services to protect them, or who need the NHS to be there when they need it most.
The truth is that a plan to deliver deeper cuts in the next three years than in the last five cannot be delivered without causing deep damage to the NHS and raising VAT – again.
For all the graphs and statistics they have piled up at Downing Street to convince everyone how well they’ve done, Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron don’t understand what goes on on streets where working people live.
These Tories could learn a thing or two about facts and figures in the real economy by talking to those who pay their taxes, struggle with bills, worry about the future and know this recovery is only for a few.
Whoever wins the election will need to reduce spending.
A Labour government would inherit a £75billion deficit and we will balance the books as soon as possible in the next parliament.
But we will not make the extreme and reckless cuts to public services the Tories are planning just so they can give more tax breaks to the better off.
We will make sure the richest, including those who avoid tax now, pay their fair share.
It’s all part of a better plan that understands we won’t be able to succeed as a country, get the deficit down and build a strong economic foundation UNLESS working families succeed.
It is a better plan which protects schools, equips young people and business with the skills they need, offers more apprenticeships while reducing the debt for young people and the taxpayer from their investment in a university education.
We have a better plan for our NHS, with money raised from on the most expensive properties helping pay for thousands of new nurses, GPs, and homecare workers.
We have a better plan for families so work pays again with an and the abolition of exploitative zero-hours contracts as well as cuts in energy bills by winter and a guarantee the state pension keeps pace with the rising cost of living.
This is a plan which can offer everyone hope again, whether it is older people needing to know they will be secure in the future or young people knowing they have one.
It is an election which offers a choice between fear and failure under the Tories or hope and a successful future with a Labour government.
It is an election that, more than ever after this week’s Budget, I know we can win.