My Grantham Journal columns (published 13th & 27th July 2012)

Published 13th July 2012

This week I had the “pleasure” of watching our MP, Nick Boles on Newsnight, giving a preview of a speech to be delivered at the Resolution Foundation.

Now this is where Nick thinks he excels. He was a key player in drawing up the Conservative manifesto for the General election in 2010, and has been at the forefront of Conservative policy formation since he co-founded Policy Exchange.

However, on this occasion, he has outdone himself. He announced to great fanfare a series of cuts in spending that he feels are necessary not only to reduce the deficit but also to fill a skills shortage that will help make the British economy competitive again.

The cuts he suggests are the end to universal benefits for pensioners, the abandoning of any state funded social care programme for our elderly, as well as abandoning what he calls a “soggy approach” of SureStart children centres and child tax-credits.

I doubt that any parent who is in receipt of child tax credit and/or uses the great facilities of our SureStart centres believes that providing a strong Early Years grounding for our children is a “soggy approach”. The child tax credit also helps parents to pay for childcare so that they can go out to work.

I believe also that Nick underestimates the economic & societal benefits of having our older generation mobile with free bus passes, more likely to survive the winter with winter fuel allowances, and lead a more healthy & active life with social care. Not only will they be out and about spending their hard earned money, but they will be more able to support the working generation in bringing up their families and working hard in increasing difficult economic times.

What I would suggest to Nick is to spend less time arguing hypothetically and asking rhetorical questions, and get out into the community. See the people he is supposed to represent and understand what they need to achieve their potential. Spouting right-wing ideology may earn short term populism, but does not help find any long term solutions.

Published 27th July 2012

Last week, we saw Nick Boles MP answer his critics, drawing inspiration from the pinnacle of Conservative worship, Grantham-born Margaret Thatcher. He feels that he is standing up for what is right, whether that may be unpopular.

As far as I can see, there is only one thing that Nick Boles has in common with Margaret Thatcher. That is they both were elected in nice, safe seats that enabled them to say what they liked, when they liked without fear of being booted out. 

Nick says that these choices will be unpopular, but are necessary. These choices have to be made due to the state of the nation’s finances and the public will have to simply accept the choices he makes. Using his so-called “business” experience, he aims to reassure us that he has thought these things through.

However there are two things that Nick fails to recognise.

a)      The government can make different choices to deliver a balanced budget. They can choose to prioritise the most vulnerable in society, rather than choosing to give tax breaks to the top earners.

b)      People see through the simplistic pseudo-economic he employs, and they simply see a person who has no interest in the lives of their constituents.

The older generation have worked hard all their lives, saved hard, brought up their families, and have been the backbone of our society. As a society, we choose to universally protect the older generation, and I am proud that we do. I will not accept that Nick’s proposals are necessary, and will vehemently oppose any attempt to introduce them.

Over the last week, I have read many comments and spoken to many people who now say that they regret voting for Nick as he does not represent their views. Comments recognising that Nick is simply a career politician with no real interest in the lives of the Grantham people. After this episode, it is not hard to disagree with those comments.

The question remains. Will the people of Grantham pluck up the courage to vote for a true representative for the town?

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