Labour chooses wages as poll battleground

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LABOUR will highlight figures suggesting wages in Yorkshire have fallen in value by £1,800 in real terms since 2010 as it mounts a co-ordinated campaign today in constituencies it hopes to win at the next election across Yorkshire.

Senior party figures will join Labour candidates in seven Yorkshire seats among 106 nationally it is targeting in 2015.

In the face of growing evidence the economy is recovering, Labour is anxious to keep voters focused on what it calls the cost of living crisis.

Chancellor George Osborne’s speech this week, where he spoke of the “hard truths” facing the country on Government spending, was seen as an early effort to shift the political debate to different territory.

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, one of the key figures behind Labour’s campaign, said: “Ministers say they are delivering ‘hard truths’ but the real truth is it’s hard times for households across the country.

“Labour is campaigning in each of the seats we aim to gain in 2015 to highlight the damage caused by David Cameron’s Government. Whether in refusing to take action over energy bills, overseeing a 20 per cent rise in rail fares or refusing to scrap the bedroom tax, this out-of-touch Government is letting people down.

“Labour’s alternative is to earn our way to higher living standards for all. We would alleviate families’ hardship with a freeze on energy bills, support working parents by expanding free childcare for three and four year olds and tackle low pay by strengthening the minimum wage.

“Labour will be out in over 100 constituencies because we stand for all families of all backgrounds and every business of every shade in each region of the country. This is a One Nation campaign from a Labour Party intent on delivering an economy that works for working people.”

While the General Election is still 16 months away, the major parties are keen to build momentum starting in the local elections taking place in many councils in May alongside elections to the European Parliament.

Labour will is targeting 11 Westminster seats in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Hilary Benn will be campaigning in Bradford East which Labour lost to the Liberal Democrats in 2010 but by a wafer thin margin of 365.

Opposition chief whip Rosie Winteron, the Doncaster Central MP, will be in Leeds North West which is currently held by Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland who had a majority of 9,103 last time.

Elmet and Rothwell, Calder Valley, Colne Valley and Dewsbury - all lost by Labour to the Conservatives in 2010- will also be the focus of Labour’s campaign today.

Nigel Adams, the Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: “Under the Conservatives’ long term plan for the economy we have cut taxes for almost 2million people in Yorkshire and the Humber and taken 192,000 people out of tax altogether across the region. This means they have a bit of extra money at the end of the month to spend on the children, or put into savings.’

“We have only been able to do this because of the difficult decisions we have taken on spending, this is real action on our watch to help families across the country. The only way to secure a better future for Britain, for hardworking people and for their children is to stick to our long-term economic plan - reducing the deficit, creating jobs, cutting taxes, giving young people the skills they need to get on and fixing the welfare system so it pays to work.

“But Ed Miliband has no plan. All he offers is more of the same old Labour policy that got us into a mess in the first place - more spending, more borrowing and more taxes offering nothing for the future but debt and decline.”

james.reed@ypn.co.uk