This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 08/04/2019 [Online], Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-every-24-hours-uk-politics-has-more-plot-twists-than-a-season-of-house-of-cards/ [Accessed: 2019, Apr 9]
I have watched Prime Minister’s Questions for some time and I occasionally admired how eloquent an orator former Prime Minister, David Cameron, was. I have never voted Conservative nor do I ever intend to in future, but he had a style which enabled him to segue almost seamlessly from statute to statistic and deliver his message in a statesmanlike manner while undermining the credibility of his opponent.
Having secured an ongoing constitutional relationship with Scotland in 2014, gaining a majority and dispensing with their pitiful coalition partners in 2015, their party looked well-oiled and unstoppable. How times change. Since Theresa May took over, she has lost 70,000 members, her majority in the Commons, seen 41 resignations and, last week, she ceded authority over Brexit to a party who do not back Brexit.
These are indeed remarkable times. Every 24 hours, UK politics has more plot twists than a season of House of Cards and, yet, it is in this context of chaos that Labour appears to be on the ascendancy. The most recent poll conducted by DeltaPoll saw the Labour Party with a five point lead over the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn certainly looked in buoyant form at Prime Ministers Questions last week.
Having been invited into dialogue by the Prime Minister only 24 hours earlier, Mr Corbyn used PMQs to focus on the domestic, rather than international, agenda. He contrasted the effort of the former Labour government to lift pensioners and children out of poverty and cut homelessness in half with the current government, which has increased child poverty, pensioner poverty and doubled homelessness.
Mr Corbyn said: “There is nothing inevitable about rising poverty, homelessness and soaring foodbank use in the fifth richest nation in the world. So, yes, let’s work to try and resolve the Brexit deadlock but unless this government tackles insecure work, low pay and rising pensioner poverty, her government will be a failure in the eyes of the people of this country.” I found it hard to disagree with any of his comments.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) released figures last week in which their Deputy Director, Chris Goulden, raised concern about insecure employment, the benefit freeze and cost of housing keeping families tangled in a web of poverty. The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) also published figures revealing that the scale of food poverty in Scotland is significantly higher than previously estimated.
The current government has been hamstrung by the international agenda while people experiencing poverty are already sliding off the cliff edge everyone else projects will be the result of Brexit. The people who, three years ago, were feeling mildly scathed are now majorly scorched by the burning injustices she sought to salve. Moreover, those injustices are now becoming deeply embedded inequalities.