I am glad that I gave way: thank you very much for being my straight man, Oliver. The Tories will have us believe that prosperity will trickle down. Where is it going to trickle down from? There is no proof of that. In my part of the world, 4,000 people will benefit from the income tax hand-back, but 144,000 have seen their tax credits cut at the same time. Young people and other people in my part of the world have lost £1,160 a year, so they will not be doing very much to create the wealth of this country.
In the programme that we will put forward, we will put small businesses first by lowering their taxes. We will promote a proper industrial strategy for our biggest employers, not just the high-tech firms, and work in partnership with them and the trade unions—I know that is a dirty word for Conservative Members—to create the situation where we increase the national minimum wage to a level it should be at, unlike the Conservatives, who opposed it at every step. We will reverse the cut in the top rate of tax, because that is the right thing to do. We will close the loopholes that have been exploited by the friends and funders of the Conservatives, who take the money off them to run their election campaigns.
We will freeze gas and electricity bills, because we are sick to death of these companies saying “We can’t do any more.” Now they are saying, “Leave us alone, leave us alone.” They have bled this country dry ever since they were privatised in the 1980s. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton South West complained about what was said in the 1980s, but what was projected then is exactly what happened. Public services were decimated and the people of this country are paying the price every time they pay an electricity bill, a gas bill or a water bill.
We will devolve power to councils and people at lower levels so they can take proper decisions on the front line and at the cutting edge, where they know what is going on in their areas. We will make work pay. We will stop exploitive zero-hours contracts, because nothing in the world will ever convince me that having people on tenterhooks, not knowing whether they will work the next day, is an absolute and utter disgrace. We will increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour. That will boost the pay of more than 76,000 people in my part of the world, which they will be really delighted about.
At the end of the day, we will end this system of despair. People have said, “We had no alternative. We had to do it this way.” They did not have to do it this way; they chose to do it this way—on the back of the most vulnerable in society.