Politically Speaking with Yvette Cooper MP: General election is needed - right now

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The continuing chaos in the Conservative government is letting the whole country down – and people in our towns are paying the price.

Yvette Cooper MP writes: We’ve now got the fifth Conservative prime minister in six years, the third chancellor and fourth home secretary in three months and no one in the government has a grip on anything. The damage may have been done in Downing Street, but it is people in Yorkshire who are being hit as a result – with higher mortgages, soaring bills, a winter crisis in the NHS, and continuing policing problems on our streets. Ministers who should be sorting it out are just reshuffling the deckchairs and making things worse. Our towns deserve better than this.

Practical problems just aren’t getting sorted. I’ve been calling for a long time for more police in our town centres, after the Conservatives cut neighbourhood policing right back. And I’ve set out a plan on how the government could put more community police on our streets. But they have refused to do so. Rishi Sunak’s decision to re-appoint Suella Braverman as Home Secretary even though she was sacked six days earlier for breaching the ministerial code and for security lapses, shows he put grubby party political deals ahead of tackling important policing and security issues.

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Neighbourhood police make a real difference. They are trusted and properly get to know communities, so can nip problems in the bud – preventing crime and catching criminals. But 6,000 of them have been cut across the country in the last six years alone, and here in Wakefield District we have lost more than half the officers and PCSOs we used to have under the last Labour government. That means there are fewer police to tackle problems, fewer police to prevent antisocial behaviour in local neighbourhoods and our town centres.

The Conservatives have run out of ideas. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Conservatives have run out of ideas. Photo: Getty Images
The Conservatives have run out of ideas. Photo: Getty Images

Town centres and community shops have been heavily hit which impacts our local economy too. I’ve heard from many shopworkers both here and across the country who have had to put up with appalling abuse, threats, increasing shoplifting and break-ins but the police haven’t come, and no one has been charged. That’s why I’ve worked with the shopworkers union USDAW to get stronger laws in place against attacks on shopworkers. But we also need more community police as otherwise it also prevents people going shopping and enjoying our town centres.

That is why I have set out a plan for the next Labour government to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs on our streets. By setting up national systems to save the 43 different police forces on their procurement bills, that would mean hundreds of millions of pounds to fund extra police and PCSOs.

The trouble is the Conservative government isn’t doing any of this because they have run out of ideas and they are just rowing with themselves. We may have yet another new prime minister, but for our towns it just feels like more of the same. That’s why whether it is to get more community policing, more doctors and nurses for our NHS, or a proper fair plan for some economic stability and for jobs and industry across our country, we need a general election now.

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