Nadia Whittome – 2022 Speech on Achieving Economic Growth

The speech made by Nadia Whittome, the Labour MP for Nottingham East, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2022.

This is a Queen’s Speech that provides mediocre answers to the wrong questions. The Government acknowledge that there is a cost of living crisis, but they do not want to do anything about it. They acknowledge that there is a housing crisis, but they are not willing to control rent so that people can afford to live in their homes. They acknowledge that energy is expensive. But do they want to talk about meaningful price caps? Do they want to talk about retrofitting or insulation? Did they vote in favour of a windfall tax to lower bills when they had the opportunity yesterday? No, no and no.

This is a Government who tell us they want action on the climate crisis, and then, when a protest movement comes along to demand just that, introduce legislation to have them sent to jail. They want to invest, they tell us, in the future. But the Conservatives have been in power for 12 years and they have cut the public sector to shreds. Wages will be lower in 2025 than they were in 2008, when I was 12 years old. Since they came to power, the number of people on zero-hours contracts has risen more than fivefold. All of this happened on their watch—and are they going to reverse it? No.

In 2010, the Trussell Trust handed out 48,000 food parcels. Last year, it handed out 2.1 million. Meanwhile, Britain gained a record number of billionaires, between them owning £597 billion—about triple the annual operating budget of the NHS. That is the dynamism of the market for you—the kind of dynamism that makes an elderly lady sit on the bus all day to keep warm because she cannot afford to heat her home. We need a publicly owned energy system that delivers cheap, green energy; an above-inflation rise in the minimum wage; at least the restoration of the £20 universal credit, but really a reversal of all the benefit cuts since 2010; and rent controls.

Finally, I would like to address the disgrace of explicitly excluding trans people from the so-called ban on conversion therapy. Once again, the Government acknowledge that there is a problem, but will they extend the protection of the law to those who need it most—young trans people, half of whom have attempted suicide by the time they reach the age of 26? No. So transphobic parents will still be able to hire someone to psychologically abuse their child in an attempt to stop them being trans, and this practice will still be perfectly legal. What kind of message does that send to young trans people fighting to survive? We need a Government who are on the right side of history, but instead we have a Government of pound-shop authoritarians made on the playing fields of Eton and in the Daily Mail’s wildest dreams. They know there is a problem, but what they cannot do is recognise the truth—that the problem is them.