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Labour must challenge government failures on climate and corruption – Ian Lavery MP

The government’s failures on climate and corruption in just the past few weeks offer the perfect groundings … Labour must commit to cleaning up politics and have the actions to back it up

Ian Lavery MP

As delegates from countries all across the world flocked to Glasgow to participate in the COP26, the Prime Minister and his government had a golden opportunity to take centre stage to take the lead in a pivotal moment in our battle against climate change.

Not only did they utterly fail to achieve this but managed in the meantime to embroil themselves in what has become yet another all-out scandal on sleaze within the Conservative party implicating a number of high profile Tory members.

That the Conservative Party are in the pockets of those with narrow financial interests is hardly a revelation. Only a few months ago former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron was found to be at the centre of murky dealings over the Greensill scandal, and the handing out of government contracts to those with close ties to senior members of the Conservative Party throughout the pandemic was well documented.

But this time round it seems like the government’s attempts to institutionalise corruption is finally one step too far and the Teflon has worn off.

The scandal has opened up fresh divisions in an already deeply fractured party underneath the surface. The old Thatcherite loyalists stand at odds with the more One Nation socially conservative faction of the party, while the liberal Remainers of the Cameron years forge yet another distinct force at odds with Johnson’s premiership.

These fragile bonds will be put to the test more than ever if the polls continue to show the Tories lead nosedive. A number of polls released across the weekend reveal a pronounced dip in Tory support coinciding with the Owen Patterson scandal and their failure to deliver in Glasgow.

Whilst this has resulted in some slim leads in a number of polls for Labour, we would be wise to keep the champagne on ice for the time being.

In almost all of these polls the Labour Party has seen very small if any gains in support while the Green Party and to a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats continue to accumulate more support sometimes stretching into double figures.

Digging beneath the surface of the polls showing Labour ahead is evidence that those previously saying they will vote Conservative would now not vote at all, rather than them moving over to the Labour Party.  

This should be worrying for Labour. Polling suggest people still do not fully know what the party currently stand for and remain unenthused by the current direction it is taking.

The scandals and failures of the current government offer an opportunity to be seized. The Labour Party once again has an opening to define itself with another vision for the future of the country distinct form the Conservative party that is rooted in the founding principles of the party of solidarity and fairness. 

It is not enough to simply point out how bad the Tories are, however true that may be, and reiterate that we are a nicer bunch than them. We need to have bold policies that we can demonstrate will lead to genuine changes in people’s lives that take away the undue influence from those with narrow financial interest and back into the hands of the many. 

The government’s failures on climate and corruption in just the past few weeks offer the perfect groundings for this vision. Labour must commit to cleaning up politics and have the actions to back it up, as well as putting forward a radical Green New Deal that has the potential to create millions of new jobs as well as divert the worst effects of climate change.

Should we fail in doing this we risk the fertile grounds being washed away and yet another period in the wilderness.  

  • Ian Lavery is the MP for Wansbeck.

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