I began business of the House questions this week by reminding the chamber that we are approaching the 65th Birthday of the NHS. I asked Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, to admit the truth that in a reversal of their infamous airbrushed election poster – it is clear that this government has cut the NHS and not the deficit
I continued by asking the leader of the House if he agreed that James Wharton’s EU referendum bill is ‘A transparently cynical attempt to combat the rise of UKIP and to try to appease Tory backbenchers’. Those weren’t my own words, though; they’re the words of Stockton South Tory councillor Mark Chatburn.
Continuing the theme of European discontent the self-proclaimed Tory Taliban of mutinous backbenchers have put forward an alternative Queen’s speech. This kicks off next week with their plan to hijack the August bank holiday and turn it into Margaret Thatcher day. Luckily they only want this once a year, otherwise what would be next …Thursday, Friday, Thatcherday? I mused that if we could perhaps name other days after current members of the cabinet 29 February could be named after Nick Clegg because it only gets noticed once every four years and makes absolutely no difference to anything in the meantime.
I followed this by raising the spending review. It clearly underlined the scale of the chancellor’s economic failure: living standards falling, the economy stuttering, borrowing up, long-term unemployment up, prices rising faster than wages, bank lending down, and he has lost his prized triple-A rating. He is presiding over the slowest recovery for over 100 years and businesses and families across the UK are paying the price. He can put on a Mockney accent and eat as many posh burgers as he likes but unlike millions of people up and down this country, he’ll never understand what it really feels like to be paying the price for his failure.
I finished with the recurring theme of government not delivering on their promises. With a PR man as prime minister this government is all too quick to issue press releases but far too incompetent to deliver them. In their fourth year in office only one of the 261 new schools they promised in their ‘priority’ building programme has actually been built. Only seven of the 576 infrastructure projects they promised have been completed. And they have delivered a paltry 2,000 of the 100,000 new homes they promised under new buy. They said they want more infrastructure spending, but yesterday revealed a one billion cut in capital spending. They said they’d bring down borrowing, but it’s £245bn higher than they planned. They’re posturing, not governing. And they are spinning not delivering. It’s not just the chancellor’s burger stunt that was a sham it’s the whole government.
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
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