Mending Broken Britain

In My View… by Rich Clarke, Economics Coordinator, South East Cornwall Labour

I have lived on the Rame peninsula all my life. Sheryll Murray and I have always got on well, and one thing we should be able to agree on is not destroying what makes us a decent society. 

Our MP tells constituents Britain should be more like Singapore after Brexit. This tells us a great deal about Tory thinking because Singapore has no state pension, no NHS and no minimum wage.

I can understand why millionaires like Jacob Rees-Mogg and the London elite who fund the Tories think a Singapore economic model would help them. But how can someone who claims to represent Cornwall, where wages are among the lowest in the country, advocate such a dangerous and extreme idea? 

It might help a few London bankers, but a big financial sector makes it harder for ordinary people to live and work in the capital, while the rest of the country gets none of that wealth. It doesn’t help us in Cornwall; we have lower wages than Slovenia. Second homes mean youngsters can’t afford to buy or even rent. Some people get low paid tourism jobs for a few months, but for decent wages putting food on the table all year round we need Labour’s investment programme and a Bank of the South West creating thousands of well-paid high-tech green jobs.

It’s not the first time Mrs Murray has shown where her loyalties lie. Despite public money bailing out the banks, she voted against a bankers bonus tax but voted in favour of cuts to schools, hospitals, police and road budgets affecting people in her constituency. After years of policies making working people poorer, how can our MP believe more of the same will benefit South East Cornwall? 

A Singapore model can’t work for either workers or small business. Singapore is a tightly-packed city state with a population of around 7 million, whereas Britain’s population is 66 million. Even Singapore president Lee Hsien Loong warns against such an approach, saying: ‘I don’t know that it is possible to model Britain on the same basis as Singapore.’

Does our MP know any of this? Does she realise Singapore’s economic growth is based on immigration doubling its population since 1980?

Mrs Murray won this seat in 2010, at a time of David Cameron’s so-called ‘compassionate conservativism’, ‘economic competence’ and the promise of a ‘big society’ replacing ‘broken Britain’.

But where are we after a decade of austerity?

Compassionate? A joint report by disability charities says benefit cuts have ‘hit the disabled hardest’.

Economically competent? Wages are down and economists tell us austerity has made us poorer. 

Mending broken Britain? Violent crime has almost doubled since 2010 – a rise coinciding with cuts to police and youth services. Social mobility has stalled and a recent government report found ‘a worrying level of pessimism amongst young people who think they have little chance of moving up in society’.

Britain is a great country but we need to rebuild it, not declare it broken and then go about smashing the things we rely on. 

It’s time for a change. We need an MP who understands and represents Cornish constituents, not just a London elite. We need a Labour government investing in the many not just the few, and to give people hope.  

First published in The Cornish Times, 08/02/19

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