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May I draw your attention, Mr Deputy Speaker, and that of other hon. Members to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and to my interests in venture capital and small businesses? I would also like to join others in praising Dan Jarvis for his maiden speech, which I thought was eloquent, relevant and insightful.
Unfortunately, I cannot apply those three adjectives to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, which is a great shame. When I listened to Edward Miliband during Monday’s debate on the UN resolution, I thought he spoke as a serious statesman on behalf of not only his own party, but the whole country. Today, however, I am afraid that his speech was more like a pantomime act than a serious contribution. I hope that the shadow Chancellor will provide a better and more insightful response tomorrow. It is a shame because the people of Bedford and Kempston want to hear not what is not going to be done, but what is going to be done. They heard very clearly from the Chancellor what he was going to do.
It is not my job to tell Opposition Members to do their job, but I think it is time that we heard from them what they would do, which I did not hear. Up until the last speech by Alison McGovern, I had not heard that at all. If Members are challenged and accept that there is a deficit, it is important for them honestly to come forward and say what steps and measures they would cut. They should not just throw out the next unfunded commitment in response. That does not help achieve consensus in what are very difficult times.
In addition, we are done a disservice because Labour Members’ failure to atone makes their constant outcries sound like a masquerade of keening by discredited professional mourners of the past. It would be much more insightful if they were able credibly to engage in the issue of how to get the deficit back under control. As their own unofficial website, labour uncut says, their current strategy of
“Hang on, I haven’t decided” does not answer the needs of the time.