Friday, 22 October 2010

Government’s cuts are “reckless gamble with the future of this country” - Lucas

The Chancellor’s strategy is to “close his eyes, cross his fingers, and hope that the private sector will manage to produce the jobs that have been destroyed in the public sector”, says Green MP on flagship current affairs show

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP made a powerful contribution to last night’s BBC Question Time programme, in which she condemned the government spending cuts as unfair and unnecessary.

The first question from the audience was put to Caroline first. Audience member Michael Teague asked: “Can the government really talk about fairness when it is talking about cuts that will devastate the unemployed, the sick and the poor?”

Caroline Lucas responded: “No, absolutely not. This reckless gamble with the future of this country and this economy is deeply unfair.

“And it doesn’t need us to say that, we’ve got people like the IFS – the Institute for Fiscal Studies – and many others, who are repeatedly saying that the poorest 10% are going to be paying at least more than the average when it comes to who actually pays the price for this.

“When you see what is being done, it is an absolutely wicked targeting of the most vulnerable.”

The Brighton Pavilion MP argued later in the programme:

“I do not think that the best way of getting the deficit down is through cuts, and I appreciate that sounds counter-intuitive, so let me explain.

“We do need to get the deficit down, but there is every risk that if we try to do that through throwing more and more people out of work, we will simply lose their tax revenues, we will have to pay out their redundancies, we will have to pay out benefits, and actually that’s going to make matters worse, that is more likely to tip us into that double-dip recession.

“George Osborne’s strategy is basically to close his eyes, cross his fingers, and hope that the private sector will manage to produce the jobs that have been destroyed in the public sector.”

She concluded:

“What this government should be doing is things like tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance in a serious way, not in the pitiful way they are doing at the moment, and use that money for investment, for example, in energy efficiency and renewable energies.

“This is the best way to get people back to work, it would also address the issue of climate change, getting our emissions down. There is an environmental crisis, there is an economic crisis: we can tackle them both at the same time.”

Caroline Lucas’s responses were greeted with applause and cheering from the studio audience.

At the end of the programme, “Caroline Lucas” was the most mentioned phrase in the UK on Twitter, and 7th most mentioned worldwide.

Caroline Lucas appeared on the panel alongside Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond; Shadow Business Secretary, John Denham; former head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt; former political editor of The Sun, George Pascoe-Watson and journalist Polly Toynbee of The Guardian.

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