Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has attacked the Tories for wasting “enormous amounts of public money” during the Covid-19 crisis as she set out a Labour plan for economic recovery.
Representing a clear break with the Jeremy Corbyn era, Dodds used a speech to Labour’s virtual conference to underline how the party will “confront financial mismanagement” and press government to offer “value for money every time”.
Keir Starmer’s choice to head his shadow Treasury team hit out at what she called a “file of failure” and “financial mismanagement” of public cash by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Calling for “targeted support” once the furlough scheme ends, Dodds also called for “proper oversight of government contracts” amid growing concern over the string of firms given work via NHS Test and Trace.
Dodds also offered a new partnership between business and Labour, and insisted the party can be trusted with the nation’s finances.
Her address comes after Starmer made clear his priority was to regain the political centre ground, targeting voters who had deserted the party or who had never voted Labour in the first place.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey – a close ally of Corbyn’s – has hit out at Starmer’s new direction, however, warning that he could “steer the ship on to the rocks” if he tried to ignore the Labour left.
Emphasising the “critical role” business played in creating jobs and supporting livelihoods, Dodds said: “Government working hand in hand with business and trade unions, in the best interests of our country.
“This is an ambitious Labour vision – where security and fairness aren’t just aspirations, but where they are a reality for families and communities across our country.
“As chancellor, I would restore that trust with business because I understand what a critical role business plays in creating jobs and supporting livelihoods across the country.”
Dodds will say that her three-step economic plan would be built around the principles of “recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild business”.
A Labour government would continue to help subsidise the wages of workers in key sectors in a way which would enable firms to bring back more staff on reduced hours, Dodds said.
Dodds will also attack Chancellor Rishi Sunak for his “cavalier” approach to public money, handing over large sums to support businesses with “no strings attached”.
Seek to contrast his record as a former hedge fund manager with her own “responsible approach to the national finances”, she accused of throwing away public money, adding: “It is a file of failure that no carefully crafted Instagram story from the chancellor can hide.
“Just some examples; £130 million to a Conservative donor for testing kits that were unsafe, £150 million for facemasks that couldn’t be used by NHS staff, over £2.6 billion to be handed over in so-called job retention bonuses, to businesses who were going to bring staff back to work anyway, outsourced contract after outsourced contract which has simply failed to deliver.”
Starmer will deliver his keynote speech to the Labour Connected event – which replaces the party’s annual conference which was cancelled due to the pandemic – on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Corbyn is set to address an online rally of the Socialist Campaign Group on Monday evening in his first major public appearance since the party’s general election defeat in December.
Earlier McCluskey warned Starmer he would face “trouble” if he tried to abandon the “progressive, ambitious alternatives” the party had developed under Corbyn.
“He needs to listen to the left because without the left within our movement, Keir will, I’m afraid, steer the ship on to the rocks and I don’t think he’ll do that,” he told Sky News.