Labour had a mixed bag in last week’s elections, losing the Hartlepool MP but gaining five of the seven ‘metro mayors’ including a new term for Sadiq Khan here in London.
We appear to have done better where we offer a positive vision for the future, matching people’s aspirations and expectations as we emerge from a national crisis.
The Queen’s Speech on Tuesday was an opportunity for the Government to show it also understands people’s desire to quickly recover from Covid and move the country forward, together.
Johnson has a whopping majority and can pass any legislation, but instead chose to break an election promise to fix social care, instead focusing his Ministers’ efforts on trying to fix elections and prevent scrutiny of Government actions by changing judicial review laws.
Older people, disabled people, carers and the social care workforce all need the plan they were promised in 2019.
The additional pressure Covid has imposed on care services has been extreme and the time is right to recognise the tremendous efforts of everyone involved. But Johnson is walking away from another election commitment.
His Government has already ditched his manifesto promise to keep TV licenses free for the over-75s. And the Tory manifesto also promised to retain our armed forces, but Ministers recently announced further cuts to their numbers.
The Queen’s Speech should have included support for people affected by the impact of Covid on jobs, especially young people and the over 50s. The current Government ‘Kickstart’ job scheme is seen as a bureaucratic nightmare by employers.
Youth unemployment has tripled in Southwark, but Kickstart has helped just nine young people into jobs according to DWP, but even this pitifully low figure includes schoolchildren on work experience!
The Government should also be investing in our schools to get children back on track after Covid, but instead ministers are fiddling with funding algorithms to axe £1.2million from Southwark schools and taking money from disadvantaged kids and schools up and down the country despite all the rhetoric about ‘levelling up’ after a decade of Tory cuts.
Housebuilding should have been a top priority for the Government, alongside wider infrastructure investment including digging the tunnels and laying the tracks for the Bakerloo line extension.
Labour run Southwark council is building 11,000 new council homes and an equally ambitious vision is needed at national level to build more homes of all tenures.
But instead of working with councils, ministers plan to minimise community input to planning proposals, undermine council controls, ignore leaseholders facing extortionate bills for fire safety works required by the Government, and hand a power-grab to Tory donating developers.
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