The Labour Party are surging ahead in the polls after Sir Keir Starmer pledged to reverse the Government’s “wrongheaded” income tax cut for people earning more than £150,000.
The latest Savanta ComRes poll of 7,000 people shows Labour 12 points ahead of the Tories as their annual party conference kicks off in Liverpool.
— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) September 25, 2022
The Labour leader, who said his party now had a belief it would win the next general election, said the mini-budget announcements by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had set clear political dividing lines.
The pound’s value has dropped almost eight per cent against the US dollar in the past month. It has now shed 20 per cent of its value since January - hitting $1.09 on Friday - after the Government’s tax-cutting plans were introduced.
One Tory MP told the Telegraph: “My biggest anxiety is that I’m going to wake up on Monday and it’s going to be Black Monday.”
Sir Keir said the Tory policy was for the “rich to get richer” while offering little to ordinary workers but said Labour would reinstate the 45p additional rate of income tax for top earners which Mr Kwarteng abolished from April next year.
But Sir Keir said he backed Mr Kwarteng’s promise to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p.
He said people were facing a “very difficult winter” with supermarket customers “looking at the price of food and having to put it back down again” because of soaring costs.
“It’s on the back of 12 years of Tory failure. We’ve had an economy that hasn’t really grown very much for 12 years, we’ve had wages which haven’t really moved for 12 years, because they’ve taken the wrong decisions, they haven’t planned for the future.
“And now we’ve got this decision on Friday to take a very risky approach to the future, driven by this ideology, this argument – wrongheaded argument in my view – that if you simply allow the rich to get richer, somehow that money will trickle down into the pockets of all the rest of us.”
Confirming Labour’s opposition to the removal of the top rate of income tax, he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “I do not think that the choice to have tax cuts for those that are earning hundreds of thousands of pounds is the right choice when our economy is struggling the way it is, working people are struggling in the way they are … that is the wrong choice.”
At conference, Sir Keir Starmer faced fresh demands to pave the way for Jeremy Corbyn to stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.
Peter Talbot, of Islington North CLP, said: “If we don’t change the rules and Jeremy can’t stand for Labour at the next election, well that would just be a disaster for us frankly, it would not end well.
“It would be a gift to the Greens, to the Lib Dems and the Tories.”
Sir Keir Starmer faces a split with members over changing the voting system as the Labour Party conference chose to consider electoral reform.
Calls to ditch the first past the post system (FPTP) and replace it with proportional representation (PR) at general elections were made by several constituency Labour parties (CLPs).
They warned the current system – in which the candidate with the most votes in a constituency becomes an MP – favours the Conservatives and encourages voter apathy.
Instead they are calling for Labour to pledge to introduce PR, which would see the distribution of seats more closely linked to the number of votes cast.
Labour leader Sir Keir has insisted the issue is not a priority for him.
But it emerged as one of the six topics chosen by CLPs for debate in Liverpool after it received 195,844 votes on Sunday.
Sir Keir told the Observer: “There are a lot of people in the Labour party who are pro-PR but it’s not a priority and we go into the next election under the same system that we’ve got, first past the post, and I’m not doing any deals going into the election or coming out of the election.”