2011 has been a very tough year. 2012 could be even worse. Unemployment and prices are rising and living standards are falling. Public services are being cut but the misguided austerity policy of the Conservative led Government is failing. I asked David Cameron why his government are “closing the accident and emergency and maternity services at King George hospital, Ilford, cutting front-line NHS staff and borrowing £158 billion extra? Should he not have said, “I’ll cut the NHS, not the deficit”?
We also face instability in Europe.I pointed out that no previous Tory PM had walked out of a treaty negotiation. “ Does the Prime Minister believe that if Baroness Thatcher and John Major had followed his negotiating tactics, we would have had the Single European Act or the opt-outs on Maastricht that John Major negotiated with Chancellor Kohl?” . The Tories claim they "vetoed" a new European Treaty in order to stop Europe damaging the financial sector. But the decision for any financial transaction tax is subject to unanimity, not to qualified majority voting. There was no attempt at all by any country to impose such a “Robin Hood” tax on the UK at the EU summit. The Conservatives introduced this issue and the demand for safeguards at the last minute as a pretext so they could have a reason to block any changes to the EU treaties. This was done for internal reasons to avoid having a referendum because of hostility to the European Union on the Conservative benches. Business leaders are now concerned over the impact on exports, on inward investment and whether global firms will put their operations and European headquarters in Britain and over our influence of the operation of the single market. I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year .