Politically Speaking: By Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
This government is failing to give us a fair deal
Yorkshire deserves better than we are getting from the government right now. Police officers have been cut, crime has gone up, investment is still being concentrated in the South East, our town centres need support, and the last thing we need is more Tory sleaze.
This week West Yorkshire will elect our first mayor with new powers over transport and policing and we need to make sure it’s a chance to get a better deal for our area.
That’s why I support Tracy Brabin’s plans for 750 more police officers, for bringing the buses back under public control, and for creating 1,000 new skilled jobs for young people.
We need neighbourhood police officers back in our towns, tackling anti-social behaviour and rising crime.
Ten years ago we used to have proper neighbourhood teams in every town but the government has cut them back every year. For local residents who have had to put up with anti-social behaviour, local drug dealing and crime, that’s just not good enough.
It’s time young people in our area had more support and job opportunities too.
They’ve been heavily hit this year, yet new youth opportunities are still concentrated in the South East and in our biggest cities. We need a West Yorkshire mayor who will fight to get skilled jobs and apprenticeships here in our northern towns.
We need our fair share of transport here too — they get two and a half times more for transport in London than we do here in Yorkshire.
That’s why there’s only one train an hour from Normanton to Leeds and services across our towns are always cancelled or delayed — it’s not good enough, that’s why I’m campaigning for more local trains and why Wakefield Council are pushing for more transport investment for our towns.
But it’s also time we had buses brought back under public control to put people first.
Northern mayors like Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Dan Jarvis in South Yorkshire have already exposed how the current government is failing to give the north a fair deal.
Remember how our Northern businesses got less support from the government last autumn under Covid restrictions than London and the South East?
Ministers are too often giving more support to areas that are better off — so they’ve admitted that Richmondshire is a higher Conservative priority for investment than Barnsley.
The problem with this government is that there’s a pattern.
They give favours to friends rather than making sure everyone gets a fair deal.
There’s been too many dodgy contracts wasting millions in public money while failing to deliver for the country. That’s why the mess that the Prime Minister has got himself into over the expensive refurbishment of his Downing Street residence tells you a lot about what is going wrong in this country.
Why won’t he just be open and straight with people about who first paid the expensive refurbishment bills — and who else he owes favours to as a result?
At a time when he is refusing to give nurses and NHS staff even a small pay rise, he should be honest about the extra benefits he’s been asking for himself.
We need a fair deal for the country, not hidden favours and deals.