Here’s my latest column for the Ham & High, published online on 18 July. Read online here and support your local paper.
“When the disgraced Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally departs Downing Street next month, he won’t just leave behind a government where lies, law-breaking, incompetence, and the utter debasing of standards in public life have become common place.
He will leave behind queues reaching the length and breadth of this country. Whether it’s getting a passport, a driving license, GP appointment, dentist, an ambulance, or a hip replacement, you will find yourself caught up in the misery and backlog that has become the defining feature of Tory Britain. 6.5 million people waiting for NHS treatment, 1.2 million people waiting for cancer tests, passports taking 10+ weeks to process and the highest asylum backlog since records began.
Barely a day goes by without my inbox bursting with desperate pleas for help. My office does everything we can and sometimes it brings results – a passport miraculously appears after months in limbo, or a Ukrainian family receive their visas after I contact the Home Office for the tenth time. But this is no way to run a country. We have the highest tax burden since the 1950s, but people cannot even get basic services.
This isn’t the fault of dedicated public service workers who are facing incredible pressures, never more so than during the pandemic, and all too often dealing with disgusting, unacceptable abuse as they bear the brunt of people’s anger. This is the deliberate result of 12 years of austerity economics which left our public services stripped to the bone even before the pandemic hit, made worse by the self-inflicted economic harm of Tory Brexit.
It will not be Boris Johnson and his chums who will suffer. It will not be the bankers whose bonuses they propose to uncap. It is the people who tell me they’re stuck at home in pain because their operation has been cancelled for the third time, who can’t be with a desperately ill family member overseas because they’re still waiting for their passport or the charity worker who told me she’s cutting back on food to try and save money.
What is the response of the Tory leadership candidates, one of whom will be the next Prime Minister, to this broken, backlog Britain? More cuts! How will staffing cuts of 20% help anyone to get their passport quicker, their disability benefits processed, or their case to court sooner?
I’m glad Boris Johnson is finally going, but the rot doesn’t end with his departure. We don’t just need a change at the top – we need a change of Government. “