Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Tory “Summer of Discontent” – We need change NOW!

The sun has certainly been blazing down – in the world of politics you could be forgiven for thinking this is Theresa May’s “Summer of Discontent” – she lost Boris from the Foreign Office, she lost David from the Brexit Office, her great plan for Brexit that she drew up at Chequers is now nigh on defunct and to add to her problems, she hosted Donald Trump and inflicted him on the Queen! There is a serious point to this – this government moves from crisis to crisis and is stumbling along at the behest of MPs like Jacob Rees Mogg, Tory politics at the moment reminds me of the final days of John Major’s government. We need to be on standby, I know the Labour Party is ready for whenever the General Election may be called, lets hope it is sooner rather than later.

Towards the end of July the government announced it will raid the already under funded budgets of schools, hospitals, prisons, police services and armed forces for what amounts to a real terms pay cut for many of our public servants who work in them. The Tories continue to cut these services and the pay settlement that they announced will also mean further real terms pay cuts for our police officers, some teachers, doctors and dentists as inflation runs at 2.4%.

The Government needs to get its act together when it comes to pay settlements – they need to be properly funded, Theresa May cannot expect me to raid what little reserves I hold for emergencies or headteachers to spend the full school budget with no room for contingencies. Let me say loud and clear, our police officers, police staff and all public servants deserve a pay rise and I want that to happen and the government needs to ensure they fund it by making the money available. The government have shown (again) that they don’t believe that officers are worthy of the recommendations of the independent pay review body, and the announcement is another real-terms cut to officers pay. I am annoyed that the Home Secretary is threatening yet more cutbacks to front line policing as he won’t pay for the increase.

I will take this battle to the very heart of government, I will continue to do what ever I have to do to get the very best deal for our police officers and staff – however, on the past record of the Tory government I suspect not much will change. I had hoped that as the new Home Secretary’s brother is a senior police officer he knows the value of funding properly our police service.

Our schools, prisons, hospitals and police have faced the brunt of Tory austerity, our public servants are over worked and under paid. Something has to change and I sincerley hope it will be a change of Prime Minister. Labour has committed to not accepting any pay deal that cuts the salaries of our public sector employees and starves the public services that we all rely upon of the funding they need. Labour’s manifesto at the last election pledged to end the cap and budgeted for above inflation pay increases for public sector workers. Under Labour, public sector pay will be set by genuinely independent pay review bodies or through collective bargaining.

Our values are the right ones for our country, we need that General Electon to make it happen.