Stephen Hepburn: Why the '˜end of austerity' is a Conservative con

Jim Royle sitting in the front room with Barbara, Denise, Dave and the rest of his family would've given a two-word answer if Theresa May popped up on his telly claiming Tory austerity is over.

Thursday, 8th November 2018, 11:17 am
Updated Thursday, 8th November 2018, 11:19 am
Prime Minister Theresa May. Pic: PA Wire.

The first word would be “My” and Scrabble players or crossword fans will have no trouble in rearranging the letters a, r, e and s to find the second, which is a coarse term for the human bottom.

The actor Ricky Tomlinson, who played Jim, is coming to Jarrow next March, but back to that Budget, which stressed the con in Conservative.

Anybody with kids in education or who watched School on BBC2 on Tuesday this week will know from bitter experience the horror of Tory austerity is continuing.

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Our area has endured the thick end of Conservative cuts for the past eight years.

The uncaring Tory Party is numbing austerity, and numbing austerity is the uncaring Tory Party, so if we want to see the end of one we must fight for the end of the other.

Our councils on this side of the river, South Tyneside and Gateshead, are performing miracles in the teeth of spiteful Tory cuts.

Central funding is down by roughly half, which smacks of a political vendetta by Theresa May and, before her, David Cameron.

The stark figures tell their own tale.

In South Tyneside, Government funding in 2010/11 was £116.738million compared to £53.306million for 2018/19.

Gateshead’s suffered a 52% hit, leaving the authority with no choice but to somehow try to find £157million in savings just to balance the budget.

This is why I will always stick up for our local Labour councillors when the blame is in Downing Street.

Tory austerity is a political choice, a Conservative choice, as are lower wages, squeezed living standards and the assaults on an NHS left on life support.

So don’t believe a word that May, Chancer of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and the rest of their cronies tell you.

Austerity isn’t over, no matter how many times they pretend it is.

Crippling cuts to the welfare state will continue, and our schools, police and councils will also be hit hard by a Tory wrecking ball which is still swinging.

These irresponsible Tory cuts have also hit our local fire service.

Earlier this week I raised the fact in Parliament that the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service faces £3million in cuts, with services at Hebburn Fire Station in jeopardy.

Eight and a half years down the line, the Tories have failed the North East more than most areas, which is why we’re sick and tired of it.

I’m proud that last year I was elected with an increased majority in the Jarrow parliamentary constituency on a Labour manifesto promising to truly end austerity.

No empty words from us. Jeremy Corbyn promises real change with properly funded public services and higher wages, including at least £10 an hour to replace the Tories’ miserable £7.83 rate.

We need to urgently invest and build a better Britain with an economy working for the many, not the few.

It’s what the people of South Tyneside and Gateshead deserve.

Labour offers hope, social justice and prosperity for everyone.

With the Tories it’s more of the same grim failed self-defeating austerity. No wonder Ricky Tomlinson’s on our side.