OPINION: ‘The Tories have really levelled down’

by Matt Smith, Chair or Rutland and Melton Labour Party

By The Newsroom
Friday, 11th February 2022, 3:22 pm
Updated Friday, 11th February 2022, 3:33 pm
Matt Smith, Chair of the Melton and Rutland Labour Party EMN-221102-151940001
Matt Smith, Chair of the Melton and Rutland Labour Party EMN-221102-151940001

They may not be honest. They may have been partying while the rest of us locked-down. But one thing the government is good at is – slogans!

Which is why we’ve all heard of “Levelling-up”. But what’s behind that catchphrase? And specifically, what does it mean for Melton Mowbray?

You would never guess the reality from last week’s spin by Michael Gove and Alicia Kearns.

Because actually, the recent “Levelling-up” bid for £millions of investment in Melton – for the livestock market, for the college, and to bring the crumbling old college building at the top of King Street back into use – was refused by Government in October, not least because our MP did not formally support it.

Yet now they pat themselves on the back, announcing a scheme “to bring devolved powers” to Leicestershire County Council.

The Conservative Government has had 12 years to get levelling-up right, and all we get is more powers to County Hall?

Where are the ideas? Where is the energy? Where is the ambition?

Government spin will not pay our rising heating bills, or rocketing food prices, or costs of care for our elderly relatives, or child care.

And spin does nothing to address our struggling town centre and local economy.

Boris Johnson and his collaborators have spent 12 years ‘Levelling-down’; trampling our community services, cutting the numbers of police, closing Sure Start centres, starving schools of funds. The list is endless.

These years of ‘Levelling-down’ have left more than 600,000 children in poverty, pre-pandemic record-high hospital waiting lists, millions using food banks, and the biggest tax burden for 70 years.

In Melton, police numbers, Sure Start services and youth services have all suffered, while our local food bank had to put out a plea for more food donations as demand for their support grows.

Melton is an expanding town, but has fewer services than ever, with pressures on school places, congested roads, and over-stressed health facilities (has anyone tried to get an NHS dentist recently?)

Meanwhile, with crime in Melton a genuine concern, the Tory police and crime commissioner reneged on Labour’s plan for extra police officers.

Of course, it would help if the government stopped wasting our money (£8.7 billion at the last count) buying unusable PPE and on Covid loan fraud.

How many fully functioning and properly monitored CCTV cameras could Melton town centre get for that?

It can’t be right for already struggling businesses in town to pay the price for anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.

Talking of criminal activity, it seems our MP is still trying to have her pork pie and eat it.

While other MPs are clear they do not support Johnson’s “porky-pies” and two-faced partying, she seems unconvinced that her leader has done anything requiring his resignation.

In this, she demeans herself and her local party, and insults the public.

Why she sits on the fence is anyone’s guess. Perhaps she’s hoping to “Level-up” her career. But truth and integrity really do matter more.