Trust. That is the very simple word I use when I am asked to sum up my job as shadow chancellor. It is my responsibility to ensure that the British people can look at me and say: “I can trust her with my money.”
And it is my responsibility to ensure that businesses – including those I will be meeting at Davos this week – can say “I can trust her with the economy”. It is a responsibility I take deeply seriously.
Before entering politics, I worked in the private sector and as an economist at the Bank of England. I know what it takes to run a successful economy and I’ve seen the consequences of economic failure.
Families have been reminded of those consequences in stark terms over recent years: higher prices in the shops, rising mortgage bills, taxes at a seventy year high and public services on their knees.
If the duty of government is to create wealth and spread prosperity, then the Conservatives have fundamentally failed over the past fourteen years.
We have had more than a decade of stagnant growth. Wages have been stagnant and high inflation has eaten into the monthly pay packet.
These failures are not because we are any less creative, enterprising or hard-working. But because the Conservatives have wasted years fighting amongst themselves and fuelling chaos and instability, rather than fighting for Britain’s economic interests.
A decade of opportunity lost – working people left worse off.
This year Britain has a chance to vote for change. A change for our country and our economy. To vote for a changed Labour Party that will never waiver in its responsibility to be trusted with our nation’s economic security.
It is why I have said I will rebuild our economy on the back of iron discipline and tough fiscal rules. These rules come first. They are non-negotiable and I will not be deterred from them.
It is why I have said I will never put family finances at risk by playing fast and loose with the public finances, as we saw under Liz Truss.
And it is why Keir Starmer and I have made the defining economic mission of the next Labour government to create wealth and bring growth back to Britain.
Bringing growth back means a new economic model. The old model is broken and has not served us well.
We cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity. We have the highest tax burden in seventy years. There have been 25 Tory tax rises since the last election and the average family is forecast to be £1,200 worse off under Rishi Sunak’s tax plans.
The lifeblood of a growing economy can only come from bringing business investment back to Britain’s shores.
There are some in politics – including those of the old left and Conservative right – who have spent the past few years rallying against – or even insulting – business. I profoundly disagree with them. To be pro-business and pro-worker are two sides of the same coin.
That will be my message to business leaders in Davos this week. That the Labour Party is now the party of wealth creation in British politics – and I want us to be ready to work together from day one on rebuilding our country.
Together, we will usher in a new era of cooperation, with government and businesses working hand in hand in the national interest.
There are no policies that we can announce or plans that can be drawn up in Westminster that will not benefit from the input of business. It is the approach I have taken in opposition – and it is the approach I will take in government.
That’s why I have established a new British Infrastructure Council with some of the world’s biggest financial companies to work with me to look at how an incoming Labour government can boost investment in national infrastructure, including transport, energy and digital capacity.
It’s why I have pledged to work with industry to remove barriers to investment, including reform of our antiquated planning system, so we can be more competitive on the global stage.
And it is why I have said we will invest alongside business through a new National Wealth Fund that will leverage £3 of private sector investment for every £1 that is put in.
These plans will make a difference to families. It will mean homeowners being able to save for a mortgage and then meet the monthly payments, and it will mean pensioners in retirement not seeing their incomes eroded by rocketing energy and food prices.
I have never been more ambitious for the future of our country, nor have I ever been more determined to deliver the change we so desperately need.
That change will take hard work and commitment. It will not happen overnight. But, after years in the wilderness the Labour Party is ready for the chance to serve – and ready to return the public’s trust in us.
Rachel Reeves is Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Exchequer.