Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Rachel Reeves borrows an attack line from Ronald Reagan

Rachel Reeves (Credit: Parliament TV)

Rachel Reeves is getting used to being nicknamed ‘the copy-and-paste shadow chancellor’ by the Tories. Today she leaned into that name by repeating a phrase she’s been using for a while; one she copied and pasted from another politician. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 question of ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ was the central theme of her Autumn Statement response. Her recast of it was ‘the questions that people will be asking at the next election and after today’s autumn statement are simple: do me and my family feel better off after 13 years of Conservative governments? Do our schools, our hospitals, our police today work better after 13 years of Conservative governments? In fact, does anything in Britain work better today than when the Conservatives came into office 13 years ago?’ 

Reagan’s question of ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ was the theme of her Autumn Statement response

Reeves wanted to make voters question whether they could really trust the Tories any longer, telling the Commons that ‘the reality is you can never trust the Tories with our NHS’. And ‘no one can trust the Tories with taxpayers’ money’.

‘Why on earth should people who experienced deteriorating public services under this government trust them to fix it?’, she added. Both parties will be fighting on this key issue of trust at the next election. The Conservatives will argue that things are already starting to get better, and urge voters to stick with them. Labour will say there’s no evidence this is true and that it’s time for a change. 

The speech straight after a fiscal event is one of the more difficult ones for an opposition politician. Reeves always does a remarkably good job of them and is getting better all the time.

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