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Monday, 26 June 2017

A sordid "deal" with a big price tag, to keep Theresa May in Downing Street

Conservatives agree pact with DUP to support May government.

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Theresa May and her discredited minority government, have finally cobbled together, their sordid back room "deal" with the 10 DUP Members of Parliament. The "price" of keeping May in 10 Downing Street for what little time she has left is only just beginning to emerge. However, what we do know already is that the British government will pay to Northern Ireland a sum of £1.5 billion over the next two years, for "expenditure on the health service and on education in Northern Ireland". This expenditure will be prioritised and managed by the appropriate Northern Ireland authorities.
In exchange for this massive transfer of funding, the conservatives have agreed to shelve the manifesto pledge to end the "triple lock" on State Pension payments and the pledge to "means test" the Winter Fuel payments benefit. Two manifesto commitments which, in view of the calamitous failure of the conservative election campaign and the resultant minority government, were never going to reach beyond the imagination of a few hardliners on the conservative benches in any case.
No mention is made of any kind of quid pro quo for the remainder of the United Kingdom. There is no commitment to any additional expenditure for schools and education in Cardiff or Swansea, or Chatham, or Warrington or Sunderland or anywhere else  on mainland United Kingdom. Clearly, pupils and students will still be sent home with begging letters from their school heads asking for parents to contribute to the purchase of books pencils and other necessities. At the same time of course those same head teachers will be writing letters to some of their own staff, advising them that their hours must be reduced or worse that they can no longer be employed at the school as there is insufficient funding from central government to continue to pay them and that class sizes would be increased to compensate for the teacher reductions.
There is no mention of any pay award for NHS staff or any redress for the 14% cut in nurses pay over the past few years. Nor is there any movement towards increasing NHS staff levels to ensure that waiting times are reduced, doctors are trained to meet the acute shortage and ancillary staff are recruited to alleviate the chronic staff shortages in our hospitals. Over the past few years and  particularly over the past 7, our N H S has been systematically deprived of adequate funding, proper staffing levels in A&E, mental health and everyday medical care provision. In addition, large sections of the service have been sold off to private companies , whilst at the same time N H S wards have been shut, waiting times have increased for operations and A&E treatment, hospitals closed and the land sold off to private companies for "development". The NHS is being dismantled in the name of "austerity", as we cannot afford to fund the service, or so we are told and the education budgets are being cut "into the bone" for the very same reason. The country cannot afford the levels of expenditure currently allocated to education.
It is therefore rather bizarre that in the midst of such austerity on mainland United Kingdom, a "magic money tree" has been discovered in the Rose Garden of 10 Downing Street, which has produced £1.5 billion to be put into brown paper bags and dispatched to DUP headquarters in Belfast for the purpose of improving NHS services and educational facilities.
Members of Parliament from all parties, should demonstrate righteous indignation at this squalid exercise in self preservation from a Prime Minister without credibility, without honour and without shame.
These MP's must face their electorates and convince them that the essential new hospital wing will not now be built, or the local school will close from next term, or the specialist ward at their local hospital will close and that they now face a 300 mile round trip for the same services at another hospital, or that a reduction in teacher numbers and the resultant increase in class sizes will not affect their children's education and all in the name of austerity and living within our means. 
The people of this country must be made to realise, that this payment to the DUP is nothing but a disgraceful bribe,  disbursed by a desperate government in order to secure Theresa May in office for just a few more days.
Some MP's are already demanding answers to the question "If you can find money for the DUP in Ireland, what about my constituency too?"
Theresa May and her government have no credible response.