“Our Parliament is filled with MPs rolling around in the gutter of corruption, sleaze, and abuse, with the over privileged and the out of touch running the show.”
By Ian Lavery MP
What a shambles! I have spent much of the past week with my head in my hands, my anger growing as the pantomime at Parliament unfolded. Embarrassed that this is where our political system has brought us. Appalled by the circus of events taking place. But mainly angry. Angry that whilst this chaotic clown of a Prime Minister dragged out his resignation, the country goes ungoverned.
The cost of living crisis only intensifies, but it is a herald of worse to come. It is as clear as daylight that there is now zero political will in Westminster to tackle the real problems that we face. Instead, our Parliament is filled with MPs rolling around in the gutter of corruption, sleaze, and abuse, with the over privileged and the out of touch running the show.
Some evidently find scenes like this entertaining. I find it nauseating – that this is where we currently are in Britain. I know I might sound like a spoilsport, but when pictures of cheese and butter with security tags emerge on social media, baby formula wrapped so as to set off the alarms if a desperate parent resorts to stealing in order to feed their bairn, I can’t help but feel that the fight is much bigger than this Bozo. It is 2022, and this country has never been wealthier. Yet here we are. The divide between rich and poor is now a gulf so cataclysmic that basic food items are now becoming a luxury.
Obviously, I am pleased that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has finally been given his marching orders by his panicked party. But it must be made clear that the buck does not stop with him. Johnson is a liar. A charlatan. A documented sexist, racist, homophobic bigot who has had every opportunity life could offer sent his way. Connections, jobs, money, education, travel – all the spoils of his birthright as a member of the upper class. But he is part of a Parliamentary Conservative Party made up of so much more of the same. The rats may now be fleeing the sinking ship, but rats they will remain.
Do not be fooled that the removal of Boris Johnson will result in improvements in standards in public life, because it won’t. The problem lies far deeper than one man. It is structural. It is about who rules the country, and in whose interests. About who really calls the shots. The Conservative Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the billionaire class, at home and abroad. Until politicians in Parliament start acting in the interest of the majority of the public and not just their paymasters among the super-rich, whose garden parties they continue to attend, we will not see the necessary changes that are desperately required.
The cost of living crisis won’t address itself. Instead, it will deepen—driven by deep structural factors in the economy and the continuing supply shocks of an era of geopolitical instability and climate change. Unless we radically change course, ordinary people will be left to pay the price. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, published this week, show that nine in 10 households are now feeling the impact of rising costs—up from 62 per cent in early November.
I know full well that constituents of mine, like their compatriots across the country, are struggling with soaring food and fuel bills. It is affecting us all. For families on the very lowest incomes, this crisis means so much more – they face grim choices like whether to stay warm or to eat, whether to feed and clothe themselves or their children. And there is more to come, with the price of energy to heat and run homes expected to rise even further in October, potentially by another £1,000 per annum.
Getting rid of the clown at the top doesn’t change any of that! In fact, many of those contending to replace Johnson, like his erstwhile Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are motivated by the belief that he was wanting to spend too much. This leadership contest could see things shift even further to the right, with renewed calls for austerity.
Those already throwing their hats in the ring have supported every part of the authoritarian agenda that has sailed through Parliament, aimed at restricting our rights and freedoms as citizens to protest and strike and hold the powerful to account. While they are out on TV calling for the tightening of belts, they have launched attacks on working people and tried (and failed) to turn the public against trade unions taking action against the wages and earnings crisis they have overseen. Johnson was in charge for a while, but his lieutenants are now waiting in the wings ready to continue the programme, shorn even of the remaining crumbs of public spending that were on offer.
It’s time to stop expecting that change will happen through political leadership from Westminster. Change will and must come through the public demanding it. We saw an attempt to develop the policies and programme that could address some of the challenges that we face in the 2017 and 2019 Labour Manifestos, only to see every part of the establishment, including in my own party, turn hysterically against that. Now we are seeing things move backwards, with the Tory Party attempting to bring back Thatcherism and my own party stuck in a re-enactment of the late 1990s.
Nothing can change on that basis. We need real solutions, deep political and economic change. Britain needs a pay rise. We need a redistribution of wealth and power, building wealth and democracy from the bottom up in our communities. We need a new vision for how our society should be run, with people, place, and planet, and not the super-profits of the already wealthy, at its core.
I shudder to think what will happen if we don’t change course. If the pigs remain at the trough, and there is more privatisation, more outsourcing, more extraction of wealth from our communities and economy. If ordinary people continue to find it harder every year to keep a roof over their heads, the heating on and food on the table. Homeownership will become impossible for many, and access to quality education and healthcare unlikely.
The status quo simply does not work for many. We saw this in the vote for Brexit. The country is now coming apart, with turning to independence as the answer, in the same way so many in impoverished communities in England saw leaving the EU as the answer as Brexit. People are crying out for change, and Westminster politicians are failing to offer it.
If you are not already a member, join a union now! Be part of a collective fightback demanding more pay and better terms and conditions. A fairer slice of the already enormous cake! We need a strong union working in every sector up and down this country, and we must be prepared to use our collective muscle for the fight of our lives.
We built the NHS and the welfare state out of the ashes of a country that had been through depression and world war. Today, we one of the richest societies in the history of the world – we can afford to do so much better. But only if we use our immense resources to build a better, more equal and green society, rather than funnelling ever more wealth upwards to the very top, where can be found the billionaire class of the Sunaks and so many others in the Conservative Party—people who aspire to rule us but won’t even pay their taxes here.
The Parliamentary Conservative Party just collectively ousted their leader. They did this by walking out from the job, by withdrawing their labour to get what they wanted. We need to take a lesson from this – do what they do, not what they say! It’s time to stand together and recognise the real enemy holding us back. As the cost of living crisis and climate change threaten to engulf us, it really is now or never.
Let the real fightback begin!