Local elections a Labour Party turning point for 2024 - Rachel Reeves

The local elections this week have seen a turning point for the Labour Party.

Keir Starmer greets the media.
Keir Starmer greets the media.

After the disastrous results of 2019, as the sun came up on Friday morning, early results showed the progress we have made thanks to Keir Starmer’s leadership.

We’ve made headway in England, Scotland and Wales, taking over key Conservative councils.

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We’re winning back the popular vote share and making progress in key battlegrounds in Yorkshire and across the country that we need to take from the Tories in the General Election, which is due in 2024.

And if you project just some of the results from Thursday night to the General Election, we’d gain over 16 Leave-voting seats based on aggregate vote share across the North and Midlands. This is a solid foundation for us to build on.

Here in Yorkshire, I’ve been joining the many amazing activists pounding the pavement day in and day out in the lead up to the local elections, listening to voters, and setting out how Labour is on their side.

I’ve spent days in Wakefield, Heckmondwike and closer to home here in Leeds West – speaking to people about what Labour in power does and will do for them.

Across our county, we have brilliant local councillors winning and holding seats last night, determined to make a difference to the issues that matter to you – whether it’s fixing potholes, protecting community spaces or rejuvenating your local high street.

And voters have put their trust in Labour’s national plan to tackle the cost of living crisis too.

As BP and Shell announce astronomical profits again this week, we’ll keep heavy pressure on the Government to adopt our plan for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits now, to cut household bills by up to £600.

On the election trail we’ve been setting out how we’d grow the economy to get us out of the high tax trap we’re stuck in, how we’d start insulating homes to save you £400 off your annual energy bill in the long run – and how we’d stop huge amounts of money being lost to fraud and waste under this Tory government.

The reality is that a Labour government is needed now. In every corner of our country, the cost of living crisis continues to bite under this incompetent and out of touch Tory government.

With bills soaring and inflation spiralling, families are feeling worse off.

Warnings of an economic downturn from the Bank of England as interest rates rise underlines the poor Conservative management of our economy and their failure to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Time is up: the Chancellor and the Conservative government must stop being bystanders.

While rising prices aren’t unique to Britain, what marks us out is their unfair decision to hike taxes for working people and businesses while they’re struggling.

And what makes that choice even worse, is while people’s pockets from Keighley to Whitby, from Halifax to Hull, are emptied – a few at the top are getting out of paying their fair share.

They’re using outdated tax loopholes like non-domicile status, a loophole that’s over 200 years old, and which allows UK residents to claim their permanent homes are abroad so they don’t pay UK tax on overseas income. Even if you’ve lived here, for example, for 12 years – if you work here, and built a life here.

This is unjustifiable, unfair – and it’s why I announced this month that a Labour government would abolish non-dom status, and introduce a modern scheme for people who are genuinely living in the UK for short periods to allow us to continue to attract top international talent.

We would also crack down on the use of hidden offshore trusts that allow people to avoid paying tax here in the UK.

And we’d fast-track the publication of the much-delayed register of overseas beneficial ownership of property in the UK, crucial for preventing companies’ true owners from carrying out their tax affairs in secrecy.

This includes sanctioned states like Russia and elsewhere.

The idea that this will be bad for investment and business is as outdated as the loophole itself.

Take Canada or Germany which requires people to pay their taxes after just six months, or America where you pay tax from day one.

There is no question at all that the US isn’t a great environment for entrepreneurship and investment.

Labour is a pro-business, pro-worker party – that’s why we want to scrap business rates and replace them with a fairer system.

It’s about modernising our tax system.

These are choices the Conservatives could make too.

Instead of diving into working people’s pockets first, they could close loopholes like these.

It feels especially unfair to so many who are being asked to cough up, while others are getting out of paying their fair share.

That bites especially hard when it seems like senior Tories – not least the Chancellor and Health Secretary – might have benefitted from loopholes like these to reduce their own tax bills or those of their families.

With Labour, people who make the UK their home will contribute to this country by paying tax on their global income.

We will tax fairly, spend wisely, and grow the economy.

With the local election results this week showing that we’re on the right path into 2024, Labour is more determined and hopeful than ever that we can bring the people of Yorkshire the security, prosperity and respect they deserve.

Rachel Reeves is MP for Leeds West and Shadow Chancellor.