Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 5th July 2017

For the last seven years we’ve been told there’s no money for police and firefighters, no money for schools and hospitals, no money for transport infrastructure and council services. Last week, Theresa May found a billion pounds down the back of the sofa to buy the votes of DUP MPs, a party whose views belong in the Nineteenth Century, not English Government.

It’s a bad deal for England, it’s even a bad deal for the Conservatives. All the DUP have agreed is not bringing the Government down in a No Confidence Motion and to back financial bills, May remains unstable on all other areas of policy and what’s stopping the DUP coming back for more? Labour’s success in forcing the Government to acknowledge the the rights of women in Northern Ireland came about because May simply cannot afford to lose a vote. How can such a Government now deliver on any major issue?

I don’t begrudge Northern Ireland getting an extra billion, I begrudge the English being treated worse by Tories than Northern Ireland out of narrow partisan self-interest. Labour’s fully-costed manifesto proved there is another way, that the money is out there for public services. Austerity was never about the deficit, it was about cutting public services. Every painful set of service cuts was followed by tax cuts, that way the deficit continued and so could the cuts.

When you fail to invest properly in services such as Education, you limit the country’s ability to compete internationally. Frankly, it’s unpatriotic. Crawley has been particularly hard hit on education and I understand our MP has now left the Government’s Education team.

For councils, the long-promised local retention of Business Rates has now been dropped by the Government, leaving questions about how local authorities are going to provide residents with the services they deserve. I guess a billion pounds had to come from somewhere. Having never trusted the Tories to keep their word, in Crawley we’ve already been working to become financially independent of central government, nonetheless I worry about all of our other services which are now put at risk.

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