Saturday, 3 June 2017

Soundbites and policy chaos

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian is unsurprisingly about the General Election. It will be as follows:

In the pages of this newspaper, I have already expressed my exasperation at the cynical manner in which the Prime Minister called this snap General Election.

The Conservatives had certainly honed their soundbites in advance and it sometimes seems to me that they are struggling to utter a single sentence without saying “strong and stable.” I am likewise fed up with the ever-present and deceptive claim that other parties believe there is a fictitious “magic money tree.”

But I am astounded at how the policy basis of the Conservative campaign has been shambolic. This is very disturbing as they are the present party of government, but have nonetheless chopped and changed their policies during the election campaign.

First up, there was the announcement of their new approach to adult social care, which fell into disarray when it was widely branded a “dementia tax.” The Tories did a dramatic u-turn, but further let themselves down by repeatedly claiming that nothing had changed.

And then there was housing. I was quite surprised – but also pleased – when the Conservatives pledged they would build “a new generation of homes for social rent.” But they have already backtracked, saying that the properties would have to be “let at significantly less affordable rents.”

Worryingly, the Government’s housing minister tried to downplay the change which left professionals questioning whether he understood his own brief to provide genuinely affordable homes for local communities.

The extent of funding cuts to the Police has also been a massive issue during this most recent campaign, particularly following the terrible events in Manchester. The Chairman of the Police Federation has even gone public to raise concerns about the level of resources for local constabularies, while other officers have claimed that they are “desperately understaffed.”

Government MPs claim that since the 2015 Spending Review they have protected “overall police spending in real terms.” But they seem to forget to mention the massive cuts since 2010 which led to loss of 20,000 police jobs.

I am afraid that I cannot forget or forgive them for their broken promises from the 2010 General Election. In one local leaflet, the-then shadow Home Secretary claimed: “It is dishonest to claim that we will cut police officer numbers. In fact, our plans to cut bureaucracy and red tape mean that there would be more police on the street …” The local candidate in St Austell and Newquay added that her party did not “make any uncosted promises” adding “we have done the sums and will … put more police on patrol.”

As a councillor from the China Clay Area, who is presently campaigning against the loss of local Police Community Support Officers, I feel it is unconscionable that representatives of the present government failed to live up to their past election pledges and claims.

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