Politicians tell lies, don’t they? Jeremy Paxman, the bullish former presenter of BBC News Night, said that in an interview his overriding concern was to ask “why is this lying b*****d lying to me?” In a way –and probably without the swearing– that’s not too dissimilar to how I see my job.
As your Member of Parliament and as an outspoken member of the Opposition, I tell people I’m here for two things. First, to chew bubble gum and second to kick ass… Oh wait, no that’s not what I’m here for. Actually first, I see myself as sticking up for ordinary people in Derby. The door to my constituency is open to you for advice and advocacy. And second, until the very day a Labour government arrives, and probably after, I’ll be calling out the sheer negligence and hypocrisy of Tory politicians.
I could give you plenty of examples, but here’s one. This month the Conservatives announced that they will be distributing an extra £72 million for education across twelve so called “opportunity areas” that they identified as having low social mobility. Derby is one of those areas.
£72 million is not to be frowned at. It sounds like a lot of money and, quite rightly, reports in the local media welcomed it.
Now, peer behind the headlines for a moment and consider this. Since 2015 the government has cut a whopping £2.7 billion school budgets nationally. That includes £115m from the twelve “opportunity areas”. You do the maths and tell me if that still sounds like a good deal?
Here’s some more context. £420million has been cut from Sure Start since 2013 and the number of teachers quitting their profession is at an all time high, with 50,000 leaving their careers last year alone.
So when the government say they are investing in our children’s education, and the future of our economy, why are they lying? My answer is because this Conservative Party are bereft of ideas.
This zombie government hanging on with the thinnest majority has been a long time in the making. The Tories inched their way across the finish line in 2010 by claiming that Labour had trashed the economy. But for our part, we failed to do enough to combat this narrative. Trying to suggest otherwise was hard for Gordon Brown who as well all know cultivated his relationship far too closely with the banks and global finance – the exact place from which our economic problems flowed.
The Tories electioneering committed them to austerity. That means cuts to public spending and cuts to public investment. In their hands the country has been left to rot for seven years.
When the Tories say they are investing in our society the truth is that they are not. In fact, the Tories have a hands-off approach preferring business to lead the way in all affairs. But is it working? Growth in this country is weak, jobs are insecure, productivity is at an all time low and real wages are falling far behind the rest of Europe.
My job is to call all this out for what it is: a pack of lies masking a shameful record of failure.
This article originally appeared in the New Zealand community news letter