Labor leader Keir Starmer chose Bury to launch his party’s local election campaign today before meeting shoppers and traders in nearby Ramsbottom.
Sir Keir, accompanied by deputy leader, Ashton-under-Lyne MP Angela Rayner, called for a windfall tax on energy companies as most households face massive increases in bills after price changes come into place tomorrow.
He said taxing higher than expected profits on North Sea gas and companies could be used for a saving of up to £600 for each household.
In a speech ahead of local elections to be held in all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs on May 5, the Labor leader said his party is ‘on your side’, while attacking government policies for leaving households across the country thousands of pounds worse off this year .
He said: “In exactly five weeks, you get the chance to send the Tories a message they cannot ignore. A message that Britain deserves better than the pathetic response we got to the Conservative cost-of-living crisis in the mini-budget.
“You know the reality, prices are going through the roof, and wages are going through the floor. This is a Conservative government that takes far more than it gives to working people.
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“The biggest drop in living standards since the 50s. Taxes the highest in 70 years. Even allowing for everything the Chancellor announced, families are £2,620 worse off. Britain deserves better than this.”
The party leaders then went on a walk through Ramsbottom, meeting staff and customers at four shops and cafés before visiting the recently restored war memorial at St Paul’s church.
There was also time to pet a passing dog and speak to its owners and to greet a mother and baby out shopping on Bridge Street.
Among the businesses visited were Manning’s Bakery on Bridge Street, where stunned staff and customers were surprised to see the leader of the opposition and the accompanying media scrum.
Shop worker, Deb Metcalf, said: “It was nice of them to pop in. He seemed pleasant but they all do when they want something and I’ve got a lot of time for Angela Rayner, she’s a northern lass and she speaks in language that I can identify with.
“I must admit it was a bit chaotic in such a small shop. There were photographers round the back of the counter trying to get a clearer picture.
It was a bit surreal for a Thursday lunch time in Ramsbottom.”
Speaking outside St Paul’s, Sir Keir expanded on his key themes ahead of the local elections. “Next month people in Greater Manchester will get the opportunity to send a message to the Tories to say Britain deserves better than their pathetic response to the cost of living crisis. “We’re also in Bury to highlight our plan for energy bills, which is a windfall tax on oil and gas companies in the North Sea directly used to take up to £600 off people’s bills.
“This week in particular people are really worried about that hike in their bills so this is the chance to send a message to them to vote for a party which is on your side. The reason why we’re in Bury is to showcase the importance of having a local Labor council in power.”
He was also asked about plans for the controversial Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone, which proposes charging some vehicles at a daily rate to use the roads in the entire region.
He said: “The government has put everybody in a difficult position as they were the ones who introduced the legislation for this in the first place. The Prime Minister is trying to avoid any responsibility for his own legislation but I don’t think he can.”
He was asked what he would say to voters who maybe deserted his party in 2019 in the so called red wall constituencies.
He said: “Labour have changed, our priorities are your priorities and what I want to deliver is the security that people need, whether that’s for work, their bills or security of dealing with anti-social behaviour.
“We want prosperity for people and the chance to live out their ambitions and aspirations and to have local businesses supported, wherever you are and wherever you come from.”
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