“As they continue to shovel money and resources towards the rich, the Conservatives seek to divide the nation on social issues. Since 2010 successive Tory led governments have waged class war in the UK.”Ian Lavery MP
Yesterday’s Kings Speech comes against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis which shows little sign of abating, and that the ruling class show even less sign of understanding. As we face another winter where families will be forced to choose between heating their homes and putting a hot meal on the table there are plenty of problems that should have been at the heart of our legislative priorities.
Sadly, the priorities of the Tory government and ordinary people struggling up and down our country once again do not align. It isn’t something we should be terribly surprised by, indeed Boris Johnson’s former communications director admitted only last week that the government had a “blind spot” and didn’t understand poverty. Whilst that is beyond doubt, I’d go a step further and suggest they don’t give a damn about it either. Since 2010 successive Tory led governments have waged class war in the UK. They picked their side, and it’s certainly not that of the working class.
As they continue to shovel money and resources towards the rich, they seek to divide the nation on social issues. Instead of tackling rough sleeping and giving those affected dignity they demonise them and call it a lifestyle choice. Instead of ensuring young people have a hot meal they say the poor can’t budget. They really are a disgrace.
As people struggle to make ends meet the Tories have at least got round to using some of the powers they said they were taking back from the European Union. They have taken back control to emancipate the struggling bankers. Has there ever been a policy decision which highlights the gaping chasm between government and the people of the country more obviously than the decision to scrap the cap on bankers’ bonuses?
It is interesting too that the decision to do so was not accompanied by dire warnings of an inflationary spiral by politicians, pundits and indeed the Bank of England. Quite different from the reaction to the reasonable calls for fair pay rises for the ordinary workers who got us through the pandemic. In Tory Britain it seems wanting to feed your family and keep them warm is bad, but greed is apparently good.
This could have been a King’s Speech for ordinary people. It should have taken Labour’s new deal for working people as a starting block, enshrining rights at work from day 1, scrapping zero hours contracts and ending fire and rehire. But that’s not all, if a whopping pay rise is good enough for the bankers then it should be good enough for the people who actually make Britain tick. There should be legislation laid immediately to give Britain’s workers a boost to the money in their back pocket.
At the same time, we should have ended the profiteering of the energy industry who have made billions off the back of a global energy crisis and ensured Britain can be warm this winter. For too long have we been held ransom by big polluters and fossil fuel oligopolies. We should stop tinkering about the edges and commit to a full renationalisation of our energy systems, not only because we can’t control what we don’t own, but holding such crucial assets nationally is incredibly popular with the British public.
We shouldn’t just stop their either. This country is in desperate need of upgrading its infrastructure if we have any hope of being at the forefront of the green industrial revolution. The King’s speech should have provided a concrete road map as to how this will be done and how communities like those in South East Northumberland can benefit from the thousands of skilled jobs this could create, if delivered properly. Committing to the funding of a gigafactory on the old power station site in Cambois, as so many have promised, would have been a start.
Our highstreets also need urgent attention. A perfect storm of online and out of town shopping have combined with the lack of money in people’s pockets to leave many of our nation’s town centres in a desperate state. The King’s speech should have put this regeneration at its heart. Let us use the improvement in communications over the past decade to radically rethink government departments spreading civil service jobs around the country and underpinning our highstreets. Hundreds of jobs on Ashington, Bedlington or Blyth main street would make a huge difference to the so-called levelling up agenda.
For too long people across our country have almost come to accept that decline is inevitable and that communities like ours built around heavy industry have a future less vibrant than the past. It simply doesn’t have to be that way. The King’s speech could have outlined a positive future that we can all be part of, instead of the hateful dystopia the Tories are determined to create.
Labour now needs to take the initiative and give Britain a positive vision to vote for.
- Ian Lavery is the MP for Wansbeck, you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
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