Andy McDonald on the lies that hide the truth of unequal Britain
I don’t know what’s shocked me more – Boris Johnson and his perpetual, monumental deceits, or his disgraceful resignation honours list. It’s beyond arrogance.
It’s the Tories – not just Johnson – and their sheer contempt for decency, good governance, truth and the British people that is jaw-droppingly staggering. Johnson was their lodestar, and they all turned a blind eye to his fundamental flaws so long as his lying could deliver them victory.
But right up there in the bogus claims stakes was the incredible statement by Michael Gove on Laura Kuenssberg’s show that the purpose of a Tory government was to create a “more equal society”. We on Teesside have a singular answer to such ridiculous claims: “Y’joknarnya?!”
The reality in my constituency is that Middlesbrough has seen a 16.7 per cent increase in child poverty since 2015, which means that these babies, children and young people are living below the poverty line, with many going hungry, undernourished and badly housed.
What an appalling indictment of 13 years of Tory misrule. It shames us as a nation.
We cannot go on seeing more and more reports published, detailing ever-increasing poverty and inequality, without taking very serious action that’s necessary to reverse these appalling trends.
People are poorer because of the political, social and economic choices that this Tory government has made over these long disastrous years in which their priority has been to look after the interests of the wealthy, often through secretive and dubious dealings, while inequality and child poverty has been allowed to let rip.
It was also announced in recent weeks that the profit margins of FTSE 350 companies are 89% higher than in 2019.
But workers’ real average wages are lower than they were in 2007, and if you are working to buy the roof over your head, your mortgage is about to go through it.
It’s not wage demands that have caused the crippling inflation that puts basic foodstuffs out of the reach of so many working families’ pockets.
It’s been caused by naked, “greed is good” profiteering and those in power looking after the interests of their friends, the elite and the powerful at everyone else’s expense.
It’s not wage restraints we need but price controls.
The Tories can blame Covid, Putin, the European Union, immigrants and trades unions all they like. But it is they, with their extreme and dangerous far-right ideology and their deceitful culture wars, who are the real problem and the direct cause of our economic decline.
However, it doesn’t have to be like this.
We can have a different economic settlement in this still very rich yet appallingly unequal country of ours, but it requires a fundamental shift in power and wealth in favour of working people.
We should indeed truly “Take Back Control” – of our public services and utilities, and put the people in charge of the services upon which they depend.
We should maximise our superb academic and research institutions and work with all those companies, big and small, who can provide good, secure, well-paid, unionised employment opportunities.
Our procurement processes should actively incentivise those companies that can demonstrate their commitment to their environmental and social responsibilities.
Our trades unions should be treated with respect and as partners in this common endeavour and in enacting the New Deal for Working People.
The whole philosophy of extracting value and profit from UK citizens at every opportunity, in pursuit of the wholly false narrative of “trickle down” economics whereby the wealth enjoyed by the small minority will somehow benefit the majority, is the great lie of our age, equalled only by the falsehood of “levelling up”.
Far too many people in places like my Middlesbrough constituency are really struggling on the receiving end of divisive and draconian Government policies.
Our health and education services are battling with a recruitment and retention crisis.
Our local authorities are in a constant state of emergency, with services beyond breaking point and with income streams based on grossly unfair and inequitable funding formulas.
This is a state of emergency, and our government needs to address this national crisis “no matter what it takes”.
We can only start to do that if we have an honest conversation and make the argument for redistribution.
And, as Sir Michael Marmot, the leading academic and policy authority on poverty and inequality opined, to do that, “you need to tell the truth about what’s gone wrong and be bold about how to fix it”.
Never more has this country needed a radical and bold Labour government.