This column first appeared in the Telegraph & Argus
After the last few years, chaos has become the new normal when it comes to our politics. It seemed the transition out of the EU and the disruption from the pandemic were becoming part of our past and we were all finding a new sense of optimism with hope and potential for the future. Then a cost-of-living crisis brought our energy bills to record highs and many families have been plunged back into uncertainty and anxiety. It is times like this, more than ever, that we need a serious government.
People need real support and a proper plan.
What a disappointment then, that last Tuesday the Government matched people’s eagerness for change with a raft of tired and rehashed plans that will do little to ease the struggles that my constituents and families are facing right now.
Last week, the Queen’s Speech marked the opening of a new parliamentary session and was the opportunity for the Government to outline their plans to get us out of the mess we’re in. But 12 years of Conservative rule and they are out of ideas. There was nothing to tackle the cost-of-living crisis that is happening right now, no decent plan to protect our food and energy security from Putin’s Russia or other hostile states, and nothing to improve people’s daily lives. An employment bill which could protect workers, introduce minimum hour contracts, end fire and rehire practices, and stop people having to work multiple jobs just to get by, was completely left out.
This Government is out of touch and out of ideas.
As our energy bills skyrocket and the government makes undeliverable promises of rushed through nuclear power plants with no tangible plan for delivery, Labour has the plan and the seriousness to deliver an energy reform that is sustainable and ambitious, but also practical and protective of jobs.
Labour has consistently pushed for a Windfall Tax on the massive profits oil and gas corporations are making thanks to the huge rise in people’s energy bills. Whilst the government try and defend the billions of pounds in profit for these big businesses and stoke fear about long-term investment, BP’s Chief Executive admitted that all of the planned £18bn investment in Britain over the next eight years would go ahead, even if a levy were imposed to meet the demands of this emergency.
As the Government dithers, I will spend the next few months pushing them to urgently address the shortage of NHS dentists and appointments, so that charities no longer need to intervene to protect our children’s oral health. I have raised the issue of poor access to NHS dentists with the Government every year since 2016 and on Monday I did so again. Six years on, the government hasn’t acted, and now we face a dentistry crisis.
Earlier this month, I was proud to be sanctioned by the Kremlin for what they call “whipping up of Russophobic hysteria” and what I call fighting for Ukrainians right to live in peace and the freedom to determine their own future. My commitment to Ukraine is steadfast and I will continue to speak out against Putin’s shameful invasion.
I will also continue to tackle the scourge of spiking in the country which has devastating consequences for its victims, and push for its recognition as a standalone crime. In particular, I am working to ensure that the 7.1 million people who attend outdoor music festivals every year – many of them young people – are fully protected by from these dreadful acts. On Monday this week, the Association of Independent Festivals demonstrated their commitment to improving with their Safer Spaces campaign and acknowledging that everybody has a right to enjoy themselves safely, with support and without fear.
That’s a good start.
As money gets tighter and tighter and the Government delays and delays, I will continue to push for more relief from this strangling cost-of-living crisis that means proud and hard-working people of Bradford are turning to food banks or having to pick between heating and eating. This Government is out of ideas. Bradford and Britain deserve better.