Politics in Westminster can seem a million miles from the lives of you and me. Rishi Sunak removed his Home Secretary (eventually), then moved a few other people around: James for Suella, Steve for Thérèse etc. He brought back one of the architects of austerity, David Cameron. So what? Does all this politicking really matter?
Unfortunately for all of us it does, a great deal. Because while the government are consumed with their own psychodramas, they are singularly failing to address the everyday challenges facing our country. And there are many:
- An acute cost of living crisis.
- Polluted waterways.
- Crumbling school buildings.
- Farmers with no clarity on financing.
- An NHS with dangerously long waiting lists. Doctors and nurses working to breaking point just to keep the health service itself alive.
The list goes on.
These issues affect people here in my home ground of The Cotswolds, as they do everyone across the UK. And while we are waiting for leadership, for action, the government are concerned only with the survival of the Conservative Party. In a vain effort to fix the divisions within their party, this self-proclaimed ‘government of change’ turned to none other than a disastrous former Tory Prime Minister. That’s right – the one who singularly trashed the UK’s reputation around the world and who promptly resigned at a moment of our nation’s greatest turmoil. They clearly have no new ideas, no new talent, and not even a sense of what they stand for. Worse still, they don’t seem to care. Care about us that is – they clearly do care about clinging onto power.
But what about Rishi’s war on potholes? Isn’t that a national policy for a local problem? It would be, were it not for the fact the government enabled these potholes in the first place through brutal cuts to local council budgets. Now they make matters worse by committing woefully inadequate funding to fix them. Yet somehow, they still seem to expect a fanfare for their efforts. Any of us who spend our time avoiding lunar sized craters on country lanes and urban streets can attest to the literally broken holes in the fabric of our country.
This drastic reduction in government funding for local councils means that the councils just cannot fulfil their duties. Many are threatened with insolvency.
To distract us from the dysfunction of their national leadership, Conservatives will argue the next elections are really about local issues. They’re right. We should be tackling our cost of living crisis, our waterways, our schools and hospitals, our roads. But these local issues are the result of years of neglect by central government, and they can only be resolved by a change of that government.
We in our local councils will continue to do everything within our power to deliver the services the public expect. But that will be tough as long as this government remains in power, and continues to be more concerned with who’s in and who’s out than with what really matters to people.
Ed: Paul Hodgkinson is a Gloucestershire County Councillor and Cabinet Member, Cotswold District Council. The views expressed here are his own.
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