January 15, 2013 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson



This week, just over halfway between the last general election in 2010 and the next general election expected in 2015, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have reprised their Downing Street Rose Garden moment and reaffirmed their coalition vows. 
 
But no amount of re-launching can obscure the reality of the impact of their time in office. No doubt we’ll have more smiles and claims of success but people in Sefton Central won’t be fooled. They know that this is a Government that promised change but which has made things worse, not better. 

That David Cameron and Nick Clegg are keen to re-launch is predictable. In recent weeks this Government has revealed itself as hopelessly out of touch with the concerns of hard-working people in places such as Formby and Crosby. But their problem isn’t their media strategy – it’s their failed policies and a re-launch isn’t the answer. 
 
At the Autumn Statement George Osborne tried to claim he was making scroungers and benefits cheats pay the price for cutting the welfare bill, but that quickly unravelled when it became clear that his changes are actually going to hit people who are already in work.  In fact more than two thirds of the cuts to benefits are tax credits which are paid to working families. Of the rest, many are paid to pensioners and disabled people, while the other big cut is being made to people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. We saw people lose their jobs at Comet before Christmas, now we hear that Jessops is closing as well. The staff at companies like Comet and Jessops are desperate to find new jobs and are doing all they can to find new work yet the government stigmatises them for being out of work. The lack of jobs is the real problem with the rising benefits bill and government policies have put people out of work in both the public and private sectors.

This shambolic Government has failed to help hard-working people who are struggling to make ends meet. They have failed on growth and jobs; the cost of living is soaring, with prices going up faster than wages; the economy went in to double dip recession on their watch; and the benefits bill is set to soar by £13.6 billion higher than forecast. All of this means that government ministers having to borrow more than they planned to pay for their own failure while hard working families pick up the bill.   

And their failure extends far beyond the economy. They have pushed through a massive, wasteful upheaval of the NHS whilst almost 7,000 nurses have been axed and more people wait longer in A&E; 15,000 police are set to go by the next election despite their promises to protect the frontline; house building starts have fallen; and Sure Start Centres are closing. This is the price we are all paying for Tory-Lib Dem failure.

People in Crosby, Hightown, Formby, Maghull and Aintree don’t want relaunches. They want a One Nation government that will bring us together to overcome the challenges we face. The truth is that all David Cameron and Nick Clegg can offer is division and more of the same. They simply cannot be the change we so desperately need.