Gazette Column - 25/6/15

During the past five years we’ve withstood an assault from a Government callously using the fallout from a global financial crisis, a mess created by bankers who in Britain finance the Conservative Party not Labour, to punish middle and low earners, the working poor, disabled, and unemployed.

Instead of increasing, weekly earnings fell over the first five years of David Cameron’s reign of terror and are back to where they were in 2005 in terms of what they will buy. That isn’t progress. It is Tory failure.

On top of that the national debt’s soared, not fallen. And we’ve witnessed huge job losses in the public sector, worse pensions for the likes of nurses and teachers and outrages such as the proposed closure of popular local services like Jarrow’s NHS Walk in Centre in Jarrow. As I said, Tory failure.

Cameron isn’t making work pay when his £12 billion of social security cuts will grab money from the wallets and purses of people in jobs.

It’s why the Prime Minister is behaving like a despotic 19th Century pit owner. He’s reducing employment rights and shackling trade unions so it’s easier for bad bosses to cut the pay or sack employees who want a fair deal.

What hypocrisy of a Tory Government in office with the backing of just 24% of the electorate to demand 40% of ambulance crews, firefighters, rail workers, teachers, nurses and other workers in public services vote for industrial action for it to be lawful.  

What’s sauce for the Tory goose should be sauce for the union gander, especially when Cameron has significantly greater clout. He can sack thousands at the stroke of a pen or press of a button. Workers must hold a postal ballot to stand up for themselves. To demand unions jump a 40% hurdle the Tories didn’t clear is the sanctimonious arrogance of a Government misbehaving like an elective dictatorship.

The hot air from the Tories about being a party for workers and aspiration is propaganda for the gullible so was rejected decisively by the streetwise people on Tyneside and Wearside.

Cameron has some brass neck to claim he’s magicked an economic miracle when he’s produced the slowest recovery in history. If there was an ounce of decency in his body he’d be ashamed of the growth in zero-hours contracts and foodbanks.

In pretending the £12 billion social security cuts will create a fairer Britain he’s either on another planet or a liar. I’ll leave you to decide.

There are thousands of terrible stories of the harsh reality of life in Cameron’s country but my eye was caught this week by a bloke in his 50s. Made redundant by a bank, he signed on then had his benefits cut when a heart attack left him unable to attend a Job Centre interview.

No mercy was shown when he was under the surgeon’s knife, an inflexible system penalising him for missing that appointment.

What’s fair about that, Mr Cameron? Nothing.

Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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