Isn’t it odd that the Conservative Party have a reputation for various positive qualities that they barely, if ever, deserve?
I’ve discussed their reputation on the economy before, but in recent weeks I’ve been outdone by the OBR who condemned the government’s record on productivity, the IMF who called for higher taxation and the CBI who said austerity isn’t working. These aren’t left wing think tanks, they’re part establishment bodies.
So let’s unmask another myth then.
The Tories like to spout that they are the party for efficiency. They are the party of seamless transactions. Unlike socialists, they claim, they are the anti-bureaucratic party. But are they?
Well I’ll tell you one of the things I’ve found most striking about returning as the MP for Derby this year, and that’s the number of people trapped in bureaucratic purgatory set by this government.
We’ve all had our encounters with mazes of bureaucracy before, but more and more what for most of us is deeply frustrating experience has become for others a serious impact on their life. The government’s reforms to the Department of Work and Pensions have left many already vulnerable people in the lurch.
Since summer I’ve dealt with scores of instances where the DWP is failing the give people the basic help they need. People who, for one minor bureaucratic reason or another, have had their benefits suspended or removed. Lifelines have in instances appeared before claimants as nooses.
I’ve had some instances where all it took was the right phone call from my office for someone’s benefits to be unfrozen. It’s great to have the occasional victory, but why does it take a Member of Parliament to jump through hoops in order to stick up for someone’s basic rights? This can’t be efficient, can it?
I remember when the DWP was there to support you into work or claiming benefits depending on your needs and ability. I remember the person on the end of the phone being a person.
And yet it’s set to get worse. The government has bodged its initial roll out of Universal Credit, adding yet more chaos to the system. To add insult to injury, calls to the universal credit helpline are set to cost up to 55p a minute. If the public owned telecommunications how much do you think we could charge for a phone call? It’s outrageous.
The truth then is that managing inequality and enforcing poverty onto the nation creates inefficiency and bureaucracy. Bureaucratic purgatory is Tory’s way to threaten and police the most vulnerable.
And one thing leads to another: as welfare is denied, homelessness rises. Drug use increases as we’ve seen on our streets. Without local services as we demand action the prison population sky rockets. Lost to the world, inmates kill themselves, as they have done in Nottingham in recent weeks and prison officers both understaffed and underpaid begin to loose hope.
It’s wasteful cycle of decline and it’s a national disgrace.
This article originally appeared in The Derby Telegraph on the 20 October 2017