I read with some bemusement the latest ‘View From Westminster’ (Shuttle, 2nd January 2014) written by our fine MP, Mark Garnier. Some of his spurious economic arguments and anecdotal tales of driving round the constituency witnessing the ‘green shoots of recovery’ remind me a pub bore I used to know down at The Seven Stars in Kidderminster.
The rosy picture portrayed will elicit some hollow laughs from most people in Wyre Forest who have had to suffer increasing hardship under this Tory government. Working people are now on average over £1,600 a year worse off since Mark Garnier became MP. It is true that unemployment is falling, but what kind of jobs have been created? Zero hours contracts proliferate and there are a record number of people working part-time and in low paid sectors of the economy. It is estimated that 1,472,000 are working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job. Add to this rail fares being up 20% since 2010, more than 500,000 using food banks since last April and a 30% increase in the cost of nursery places and you wonder what planet Mark Garnier inhabits.
Even by his own measures George Osborne has failed. For all the talk of a ‘march of the makers’, and a welcome renaissance of manufacturing, last month Britain chalked up another huge trade deficit. All the evidence shows that the much heralded recovery is being built on personal debt and another unsustainable consumer boom. The laudable ‘Help to Buy’ scheme is threatening to create another housing bubble as house prices rise out of the reach of ordinary families and rents balloon. This is now the slowest UK economic recovery for over 100 years.
Only today the man held up by Mark as an economic titan has been delivering more bad news. Osborne has told a nation already reeling from unprecedented cuts that there is more pain to come. Further cuts, including reductions in housing benefits and the possibility of scrapping free TV licenses, bus passes and winter fuel allowances for the elderly are said to be in the pipeline. The fact that this is happening at the same time that Cameron is preparing us for a further reduction in the top rate of tax for the rich show where the Tories priorities lay.
Dr Matt Lamb Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.