This week, we’ve heard multiple announcements from the Government, claiming to be investing in our communities and saving money for families across the country.
In reality, we have the Chancellor’s buy-now-pay-later plan meaning that some of the richest in our country receive help, whilst some of the poorest are left without help.
Tory tax hikes mean that we will be facing the biggest tax burden in 70 years. I questioned the Leader of the House on this in this week’s Business Questions, as working families are still being hit with steep increases in energy prices, low wages falling even further, and the anxiety of financial uncertainty. Ten years of failed Tory energy policy has left us uniquely exposed and vulnerable to the energy crisis, and frankly the steps they are claiming to take fall short of meaningful action for our constituents.
Labour has a plan. Fully funded measures to cut VAT on energy bills would save households £200 per year, with an extra £400 for families and pensioners who need it most. Labour won a vote unanimously on Tuesday 1st February to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, yet the Government still refuses to implement our plan. We have a solution. So why won’t they fix this? I asked the Leader of the House when the Government would implement Labour’s motion and frustratingly, he side-stepped but we will not give up. The Government must urgently escalate investment in renewable energy, something which has stalled when it should be escalated if we want to halt climate change and end our dependency on foreign oil.
It is incredibly difficult to comprehend the Government’s position of taking money from the taxpayer only to lose £4.3 billion to fraudsters. And that’s not all. The Government has given around £3.5 billion on crony contracts, £300,000 from the levelling-up fund to save a Tory peer’s driveway and £500,000 on a flight to Australia for the Foreign Secretary. Meanwhile, people struggle to afford heating bills, food and other absolute necessities for everyday life, and the Government’s abysmal attempt at ‘levelling up’ is dysfunctional and chaotic.
Earlier this week, a Minister for Levelling Up stated that levelling up funds had been allocated right here in Bristol West. I’ve checked and there is no sign of any funding received here. This is unsurprising, yet concerning that this Government struggles to keep track of where they have left their money when it is not landing in their mates’ pockets.
In what seems like an irony too on the nose for a Government who seem to have absolutely no standards, I spoke in the Chamber on Thursday about Parliamentary Standards and Code of Conduct for MPs. This came about because the Parliamentary Committee on Standards have published their recent review of the Code. After a tumultuous few months where an egregious abuse of position led to a long standing Conservative MP standing down, this review is welcome. The debate was a constructive one and the next stage is further work on the detail of the suggested strengthening of the Code, which I will be involved in. We MPs of all parties must be held to the highest of standards, and it would do the Government well to remember that.
We have a staffing crisis in the NHS. Whilst the Government want people to believe this is because of the Covid pandemic, the truth is most of this was happening before 2020. Today is World Cancer Day 2022. Over the years dramatic advances in medicine have saved lives, thanks to the dedication of researchers and clinicians. However, recent figures show that here in the UK, one in three people cannot get life-saving care within two months. This is a record low. Delays to treatment cause anxiety and also risk reducing the chances of long-term survival. I’ve been calling on the Government to sort out the workforce crisis since being elected. I’ve seen the problem myself as a cancer patient. They need to start treating NHS staff with respect and listening to them about how to retain good staff if they want this situation to be sorted. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working with our local health organisations to try to help and to advocate to Government.
This week also saw the appalling report from the police watchdog uncovering the disgraceful conduct of some serving officers at Charing Cross police station. Abusive, racist, misogynistic and disrespectful messages have been routinely shared by the very people there to protect us.
These are country-wide problems that a Labour government would tackle with a strong victims’ code, increased support for rape victims, and accountability in the police service. But this could and should be fixed by the current Government. The implications of their words and actions ripple out, and it is the people on whom the consequences crash down.
As we have recently seen a Conservative MP taking the best interests of his constituents seriously and becoming a Labour MP, letters sent in by Tory MPs calling for the Prime Minister to step down, and numerous resignations from Downing Street officials, it is clear that the Tories are aboard a sinking ship.
This Government is out of touch, out of control, out of ideas and soon to be out of office.