It’s not been a cracking few weeks to be a politician. We have all been tarred with the brush of the dodgiest among us. While I am provably, in every regard, not Owen Paterson, essentially we are all considered to be Owen Paterson thanks to the Conservative Party’s ability to take us all down with them. Cheers, lads!
It has always played well for them to make people hate politics; they have for a good few years dined out in the most expensive, men-only, private members’ clubs on the back of hatred of the establishment. Anti-politics has very much been Boris Johnson’s jam, largely because he has always got away with breaking promises and lying in both his political and personal life. No matter who he hurts, somehow he has come out rosy.
While I am not happy to be considered in the same sentence as Owen Paterson, I am pretty pleased that this completely unremarkable politician may finally be Boris Johnson’s undoing. Not just because of the dreadful way our prime minister behaved in response to his pal acting corruptly in his own interests, but because it seems to have finally tipped the country over the edge. It was one self-aggrandising lie too far, and it has exposed an inept prime minister who breaks promise after promise.
Hot on the heels of a load of old Tory lies about their dodgy earnings and back-room meetings with massive companies came the complete unravelling of their plans to level up our nation’s transport infrastructure. A couple of weeks ago, had Boris Johnson gone back on the promises he had made to the Midlands and the north, he probably would have got away with it after a few stormy days. But now the general perception in the country is that the fella is always trying to use sleight of hand on us. The nation is suspicious.
When the PM tried to do a press day – sitting on a train, telling us how grateful we in the anonymous regions away from the south should be, as if he was some benevolent uncle who had regifted us a battered old train set – the jolly act simply wouldn’t wash. Expecting gratitude for something rubbish, which is nothing like what you promised us, makes the country feel the difference between us and them. Are we meant to genuflect at the promise of new electronic ticketing systems like a stable boy to their master? Geoffrey Cox and Owen Paterson have certainly reminded us in the last few weeks who the masters in our country are.
In the very same week, Boris Johnson tried to slip out quietly that when he had said no one would have to sell their home to pay for social care in later life, what he meant was that people with assets (houses mainly) worth over £186,000 would not have to sell their homes. Pensioners with houses worth less than that (read: pretty much most pensioners in my constituency) will be hit even harder than before. So poorer people will be propping up the system for richer people, and will very much have to sell their homes or forgo leaving any inheritance for their children – who by the way are much more likely to be the people who are hit hardest by the tax rise the PM promised he wouldn’t make and then did.
Can you see a pattern? Here in the “Midlands and the north” we sure can.
The Labour Party has been very much on the front foot in the last few weeks, with attack after attack on the litany of lies and corruption that is taking money from the pockets of the people and very nicely lining the pockets of the blessed few. This is where we need to stay. We must mercilessly attack these inept charlatans in the same way they are mercilessly attacking the families and people just trying to get to bloody work in great swathes of the country.
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It is said that opposition parties don’t win national elections: that instead, governing parties lose them. This is probably quite right, but I honestly cannot see what actual governing is going on nationally. Their governance barely reaches beyond the M25, which is funny because the people in London are not that keen on the Conservatives either.
Tories are not going to cut our tax bills; they will not protect our assets; and as for tough on crime, or hard on immigration, the fact that both are rising, while the vast majority of criminals simply walk away scot-free, means that the only people the Tories are tough on are victims.
Owen Paterson and his inability to see he had done anything wrong, coupled with Boris Johnson’s collusion, really has served as a reminder that these people are nothing like us at all, and are more interested in protecting themselves than protecting us. I wonder which culture war they will try to lean on in the next few days to distract us. The bottom of the barrel is clearly in sight.
Jess Phillips is the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding and Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley
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