Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said the party’s proposed multi-billion pound manifesto pledges for public service investment would spark an ‘economy boost for Lincoln’, but refused to re-commit to the business rate cuts promised by former leader Ed Miliband when he visited the city in 2015.
McDonnell rolled into a rainy City Square aboard the Labour battle bus on Wednesday, May 17 as part of the party’s election campaign tour and in support of the Lincoln Labour candidate Karen Lee.
Crowds of around 70 people gathered to hear a speech by the shadow chancellor, in which he offered his support to the local candidate.
He confidently announced that he did not believe in the polls which currently place the party in second place behind Theresa May’s Conservatives and described what he called a ‘subterranean rumbling’ of Labour supporters.
Addressing local residents, party members and the media, McDonnell said: “Karen embodies everything we stand for at the Labour party. Someone who has gone through personal tragedy and devoted her life to helping others.”
“I’m so proud of Jeremy’s manifesto yesterday”, he added on the day after its launch.
Among policies, the manifesto proposed an extra £48.6 billion in tax revenue to fund investments in areas such as the NHS and education.
When asked if proposed tax hikes to fund the schemes would discourage people from striving for highly paid, skilled jobs and cripple enterprise in Lincolnshire, McDonnell told The Lincolnite: “If I thought that we wouldn’t be introducing them.
“We’ve been extremely careful in that the amount we are asking for is only from the top 5%. The issue for them is those resources we take from income tax in particular will be invested back into the community.
“They will benefit as well from the children not having to pay tuition fees, from the health service they rely on and from the education their young children get.”
Faced with scepticism about the calculations, he added: “We’ve put together teams of specialist advisors in every area and we’ve drawn from the expertise of tax experts and lawyers. We’ve been careful to build enough head room so that if, for example there is behavioural change, we’ve got the flexibility to cover that.”
During the 2015 election campaign, Lincoln welcomed former leader Ed Miliband, who promised that business rates would be cut for small businesses in the city. The Lincolnite asked John McDonnell if the party could commit to this again following the disappearance of a number of businesses from the city’s High Street.
While he would not promise a cut in the rates, he replied: “We worked with FSB a few months ago in terms of what was happening under Philip Hammond’s botched business rates, intgional insurance contributions increase and the business rate reforms he introduces.
“What they will see is much more support going in for those businesses that need it.”
Karen Lee added: “It’s fantastic on the doorsteps in Lincoln. We have had teams of people out and about and we are getting a fantastic response on the doors. People are ready for change.”