Opinion: Demand More This May
The Tory propaganda machine often tells us that a strong economy is vital to unlock certain ‘luxuries’ such as; a properly funded health service, high quality schools, welfare for people who are struggling to make ends meet, and so on.
Since 2010, we the people have come to expect less of our government and our councils: as the Health Department starts to quarrel with nurses over pay, many voices on the right have even argued ‘nurses have been guaranteed a job over lockdown, they should be grateful for a 1% pay-rise.’ The Tories failed to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs over the Coronavirus crisis and, rather than viewing that as a scandal, many of us have decided that nurses, just by having a job, have it so good that any talk of a pay rise in line with inflation is ‘asking too much’. It is time that we the people demand a basic level of protection from our government.
Locally, the so-called ‘sound economic footing’ that the Tories have provided is just as much a fallacy. At a district/borough level we have no real progress on climate change or achieving carbon neutrality, support for small businesses over the pandemic was rolled out too slowly and not nearly wide-reaching enough, most council departments are overly bureaucratic and in a state of paralysis due to underfunding, many people don’t have access to consistent, reliable public transport and across Worcestershire, and our planning system is heavily biased against our congested and over-crowded town centres.
At a County Council level, our roads are crumbling and have been for years, yet the Tories have waited until now to announce a package of improvements, two months before an election (wonder if there’s a correlation.) Our library staff are being laid off in droves, mental health services are chronically underfunded as well as our schools, and our social care system is in tatters. We’re sorry if this doesn’t match up with the picture the Tories have painted of our county, but it is the unfortunate truth.
At both a local and national level, the Tories have presided over a period of criminal negligence, driving services into the ground while hiking council tax year on year; if we lived in an area that wasn’t considered ‘safe territory’ for the Conservatives, they would have been booted out of office 15 years ago and in opposition ever since. It’s hard to find a worse, more incompetent group of malcontents in charge of a local authority in any other part of the country.
Our aim in writing this piece is not to contrast the unfortunate truth with a propaganda campaign about how Labour offers the change Worcestershire needs—you’ve heard it all before and, while we know it to be the case, trust in politics is so low that it just wouldn’t feel right. People don’t want to hear soundbites, they want to see improvements in their community. Instead, we would ask you to engage with Labour voices in your area on an individual basis, chat to them, ask them questions, let them make their case to you, and when May comes around, vote for the candidate that you trust to govern with you in mind; your voice at County Hall, not County Hall’s voice trying to justify yet more cuts and failure in order to get re-elected every four years. You deserve better.
Abdul Jilani (Labour’s Candidate for Bromsgrove South)
Cllr Harrison Rone-Clarke (Rock Hill Ward Councillor)