Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

The Last Word … Northern workhouse

George Osborne’s ‘powerhouse’ meme didn’t last long. Further anticipated cuts to local government – which hurt harder in areas based upon public spending than elsewhere – have been supplemented by cuts and/or delays to strategic rail upgrades. It’s almost as if he never meant the rhetoric at all …

100 weeks …

… since the government’s last A&E waiting time target in England was met. Don’t worry – as ever this is a surefire sign of the government’s success in the NHS and an ungrateful nation simply doesn’t know what’s good for it. In the intervening period since the waiting time target was last met, we’ve landed a probe on a rock hurtling through space, won and  Ambulanceslost the Ashes, seen a British Wimbledon champion, and witnessed the thawing of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.

The target may never be hit again, particularly if the government’s new direction of travel in the NHS continues. Continued failure to hit targets attracting scathing headlines? Solution? Get rid of the targets, or, as in the case of the child poverty statistics, redefine child poverty …

We’ve never had it so good.

After-dinner speed-date

The Ken Clarkelatest meeting of the leaders of the European Union was addressed by the prime minister when he told the EU chiefs – after dinner – what the basis of the United Kingdom renegotiation would be. Official sources say this took five minutes. That’s the kind of detailed pitch statesman are made famous by.

Once derided by Ken Clarke as being a ‘headbanger’ with regard to the EU, we can now safely put this claim to rest. Headbanging takes effort and that rules out our beloved PM. The lazy, lazy boy.

What about Grexit?

9 was only one of the questions fired at me by nine-year-olds from the St Begh’s School newspaper team when they interviewed me this week. In the EU or out? Are you New or old Labour? Who will win the leadership?

Nine years old. They’re nine years old.

Worthy, clichéd and yet true: It was a much better use of much of my time in Westminster.


Jamie Reed MP is member of parliament for Copeland. He writes The Last Word column on Progress and tweets @jreedmp


Photos: Chris Jones; Conservatives; Ian Poley

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Jamie Reed MP

is member of parliament for Copeland. He is shadow minister for health and writes The Last Word column on Progress


  • Cuts to railway infrastructure in the North of England put the Northen Powerhouse into joke territory.

  • To Matthew: well, at least this time Labour can use the broken promises and make sure that all those Midlands and northern constituencies who voted Tory will know how they have been betrayed.

  • The lies they told last time must have been forgotten for them to vote for them this time: no NHS reorganisation? It seems the media propaganda machine flooded our minds to bury the truth…

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