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Editorial: People work harder than ever - yet see less for it

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

First published in the Telegraph & Argus on 2 Sept 2023.

Summer is a wonderful time for Members of Parliament to get out and about in their constituencies. This summer, I have had hundreds of conversations with my constituents on the doorstep, hearing about their hopes and dreams for the future, the ambitions they have for their families, and the concerns that cause worry day after day.

For many young people, September is a time of exciting new opportunities and a future of possibilities, especially after the tense summer wait for GCSE and A-level results. Thousands of students in Bradford will be moving on to secondary school and making new friends, heading to college or university, or joining the world of work. To everyone taking that bold next step after the challenges you have faced over the last few years, I wish you the very best as you start the next chapter of your lives.

Yet, for so many constituents I have spoken to, this hope to see their children succeed is tempered by the profound worry they have for their families’ futures. Time and again, my constituents share the same core concerns with me: the biting cost-of-living, energy bills that remain significantly higher than they were only three years ago, and an economy and a government that people don’t feel is working for them and their families.

People are working harder than ever but seeing less for it.

In my Bradford South constituency, people are seeing the effects as several major employers are either forced to scale back their operations or close altogether due to unsustainable energy prices and the dire stewardship of the economy by an incompetent Conservative government – at the cost of hundreds of good Bradford jobs. And, with the recent news of national retailer Wilko’s collapse, even as hopes remain for someone to step in, my constituents are worrying: Is it my job next?

The bitter fact is that, under the Conservatives, an insecure economy and the cost-of-living crisis are here to stay. The government has learned no lessons from how families have struggled over the last few years. Crisis after crisis at the very top of government has resulted in weak policies, knee-jerk reactions, coupled with a refusal to acknowledge and address these problems have made things worse for people.

As autumn starts and the colder weather appears on the horizon, families need reassurances now that they will get support over another difficult winter. In fact, bringing energy costs significantly down for everyone is the top cost-of-living concern for over half of us.

But, rather than meaningfully tackling the deep-rooted and long-term problems the country faces, the Conservatives instead continue to side with the very energy companies that are making record profits over hard-working British families. It just isn’t good enough.

A Labour government would close the loopholes protecting those vast energy profits and build the country’s energy independence, ensuring a diverse energy supply and weaning the UK off insecure foreign gas and oil to help protect families from the energy price shocks our country has been so vulnerable to.

I have always believed that the people of Bradford have a strong sense of fair play. No one is asking to have everything handed on a silver platter. People want a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, better long-term prospects, and a better standard of living for them and their families. They worked hard in difficult times and they want and need a Labour government and economy that supports their aspirations – not this Conservative government that continues to let them down.


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