6 October 2010
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said this afternoon that the prime minister’s speech to the Conservative Party conference “clung to the ideological choice of devastating cuts and failed to look at much better alternatives.”
Speaking of the impending cuts, the prime minister told the Birmingham conference: “I wish there was another way. I wish there was an easier way. But I have to tell you there is no other responsible way.”
But Caroline Lucas MP responded: “There is an easier and better way, a way that will avoid hurting a lot of innocent bystanders through savage cuts.
“If we increase taxes on the highest incomes, scrap expensive and irrelevant projects like Trident, transfer money from roadbuilding to public transport and get tough on tax avoidance and evasion, we could afford a major public investment programme that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs while transforming the economy to help tackle climate change.”
The Brighton Pavilion MP continued:
“David Cameron accused Labour of being in denial about the debt they caused, but his Conservatives are in denial about so many things.
"He talked about how irresponsible it would be to leave our children to pay our debts – but that’s exactly what inaction on climate change is doing. In fact, listening to Cameron, you wouldn’t think there was a climate crisis at all.
“He described the NHS as ‘protected’ but in fact it’s still under threat of privatisation.
“He said those on higher incomes must contribute more, but his changes to child benefit do so in a way that is patently unfair.
“He talked about university and apprenticeship places, but in fact we can expect tuition costs to soar and education to become more about the haves versus the have-nots.
“He said he will give people power, such as to choose what school their kids will go to. But the issue isn’t choice, it’s making sure every child has a place at a good local school.”
Crime and penal reform – good rhetoric, bad policies
Caroline Lucas added:
“He said some promising things about reforming the penal system, for instance that we spend £41,000 a year on every offender in jail yet half of them re-offend within a year – but the Conservatives would need to change their attitudes dramatically if they are genuinely to put rehabilitation before retribution.
“For instance, he made a point of attacking the idea of treating heroin addiction on the NHS – but in fact we could cut crime significantly if we stop treating heroin addiction as a criminal problem and start treating it properly as a medical problem.
“Meanwhile he wants us to have ‘elected police commissioners you can elect and kick out’ – which basically means making the UK more like the USA. But given America’s appalling record of criminality and imprisonment, why on earth would we want to follow the US example?”
“Dream of utopia hiding nightmare of devastating cuts”
Finally, the Greens’ leader dismissed Mr Cameron’s rhetoric as “a dream of a ‘Big Society’ utopia hiding a nightmare of socially devastating cuts.”