The last few weeks have felt like an emotional political roller coaster locally and nationally for me.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we have all forgotten that bizarre period when we had a Truss premiership. Sadly the consequences of the madness will be felt by us all for years. The experiment with Tufton Street Trussonomics has damaged the reputation and economy of the UK for a generation. And just because Rishi Sunak is clearly not as terrible as Johnson and Truss it does not mean we are out of the woods yet when it comes to useless Tory premiers.
Whilst the Tories will try to pretend the Sunak Premiership is a new government and all the past 12 years can be swept under the carpet, we can’t let them off that easily. You hear Minister after Minister describing the broken immigration system, the broken energy market and the failings in the NHS and Education as though they had not been in charge and control since 2010. We must be relentless in reminding Ministers and Sunak that they created this mess. Their decade of Austerity – that political choice to run down the economy, growth potential and public services – means we are in a weaker position in 2022 than in 2012. And who has paid the price. Us. A decade of cuts and zero pay rises with inflation now at 10% has taken its toll on individuals as well as the fabric of our society. The job of the Opposition in Westminster is to make sure Sunak is seen for what he is – continuity Tory government.
The reason the Braverman and Williamson appointments are important is because they were made in weakness. Sunak is leader of a fractured party more interested in its factional fighting than the good of the country. It is also right to point out that he and the 1922 committee did all they could to avoid letting their members near the leadership election again. It is one Tory decision I am grateful for!
But we now await the 17th November Autumn Statement with fear and dread. Our underfunded public services will be further decimated. Our taxes and mortgages will rise to pay for Tory economic incompetence. I heard yesterday that the FSB predict 30-40% Business failure over the next 24 months. With my role at the LLEP I see both the best of our local economy but also the hardest stories. Hard working small business owners struggling to even make minimum wage for themselves as we all tighten our pockets. There is a grim couple of years ahead.
Johnson humiliated. The sweetest of moments
But the sweet moments have been joyous. When Johnson flew back from his holiday (What was a sitting MP doing on the beach in Central America when the House is sitting. Johnson has had nothing but holidays since quitting in July) I felt physically sick at the prospect of him returning to No10. Seriously I could feel my stomach churning at the prospect. So, you can imagine my joy when he clearly failed to get the support he needed and withdrew early (Insert your own joke here !!) In the meantime, our own local Tory MP had gone full throttle in her support for Johnson. After all that has happened those MPs that jumped back on the Johnson bandwagon should be humiliated and driven out of office. They knew he was a serial liar and yet still backed him merely three months after throwing him out themselves.
The relief is only temporary and only for the hope that the abnormal politics we have suffered since 2015 through Brexit, May, Johnson and Truss can be put behind us. The same sense of hope is coming out of the USA this morning as it looks as though some of the Trump balloon has been burst. The mid-terms have not been the disaster expected for Biden and the idea of a Trump second term doesn’t look as inevitable as it may earlier. Don’t get me wrong, a DeSantis Republican campaign is as politically toxic, like that of Sunak, but these people can be taken on politically rather than because of their irrational and dangerous personality traits. Seeing narcissists like Johnson and Trump humiliated gives me a strange pleasure.
And finally. As a family we do watch I’m a Celebrity get me out of here. So you can imagine we couldn’t wait to see Matt Hancock arrive. Matt Hancock should not be there whilst Parliament is sitting. It’s quite simple. But the worst thing yesterday was listening to him saying he has gone in because he wants people to see that’s politicians are normal has filled me with dread. Matt, you are the last person I would want from parliament to try to show the public of normality. You make me cringe. I find you very creepy at the best of times. The total lack of self-awareness in itself should prevent you from representing anyone. People like you give the 90% of hard-working MPs a bad name. Please stop. If you’re going to stay, I’m happy to vote for you to do the worst challenges possible!
Loughborough Selections starts..
My last quick blog highlighted that the selection for the new Labour candidate for Loughborough would start soon and I confirmed that reluctantly I wouldn’t be contesting the seat again. In the meantime, I was asked to open the East Midlands regional conference at Loughborough University last weekend, which gave me an even bigger taste of what I will be missing politically. I often cite my admiration for sports volunteers, but all too often we don’t praise political volunteers enough. Over 99% of people involved in politics are not paid. They deliver leaflets and knock-on doors because they are committed to the improvement of our country. Giving up a Saturday for a political conference (instead of playing sport) has always been a step too far for me!
But I couldn’t say no to a podium and conference crowd for a 10 minute cameo. It was also a bonus to be asked to introduce the formidable Margaret Beckett MP to the conference. I was fortunate to work for Margaret in her Ministerial team when she was SoS in Defra. She was one of the most impressive individuals I have worked alongside. Perhaps more of that for some longer memoirs for my grandchildren!
Some of the potential candidates had already been quite vocal and public that they would be standing. Quite a few have reached out to me for advice and a sense of the constituency and its issues. The longlist of six candidates. Two local and four others.
I will publish my questions to the candidates next week and see what response I get. I like the glossy videos but as I wrote in my last blog, this role requires a whole series of attributes for a job that doesn’t even have a JD or person spec!
I won’t be endorsing a single candidate, as I think it is unfair and to be honest I am not sure all that many people will care. We are all adults and can make our own choices. But I will say how think people will or won’t be able to perform the various roles I outlined last week. The final selection, like any interview is not to find the perfect candidate. But to hire the one with the most potential with the right support to be a good MP for Loughborough, Labour and the country.