After years of cuts, May’s ‘cash for votes’ talk is insulting

Austerity has devastated areas she now talks of bribing

The Times reported today that Theresa May is considering offering cash injections to the Leave-voting constituences of Labour MPs if the MPs back her Brexit deal.

The MPs she will have in mind are some of the 14 who rebelled against the Labour leadership to help defeat the Cooper-Boles amendment on Tuesday.

Most of these MPs represent Leave-voting constituences, many of them poorer than average and several former coalfield communities.

After decades of under-investment, even a vague offer of a cash injection may seem tempting.

But after eight years of devastating government cuts to these areas’ local council budgets, talk of a last-minute bribe is insulting.

One of the areas likely to be targetted will be Jarrow in South Tyneside whose MP Stephen Hepburn voted against the Cooper-Boles amendment.

The government has cut £156m from South Tyneside Council’s budget since 2010.

So Jarrow’s residents have had to pay more council tax for less services in order to make up for the government’s cuts. It will have to be a huge cash injection to make up for that.

After eight years of paying more and getting less because of May’s governments’ policies, should a vague promise of a “cash injection” sway Jarrow’s MP?

Other MPs who will be targetted, if Theresa May is serious about this offer, are Gareth Snell, Ian Austin, Graham Stringer and Sir Kevin Barron. They all voted against the Cooper-Boles amendment.

The areas they represent have also suffered severe cuts in services. Since 2010: Snell’s Stoke council has had its budget cut by 24%, Austin’s Dudley by 29%, Stringer’s Manchester by 17% and Sir Kevin Barron’s Rotherham has had to cut £177m.

Of course, all areas have been damaged by austerity, to a greater or lesser extent. Yet only a tiny few will benefit from any cash injection.

If Jarrow gets investment, what about neighboring Gateshead? Or all the other communities which need investment?

We need a systematic programme of investment in poorer communities, not a grubby ‘cash for votes’ deal.

Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and a reporter for Left Foot Forward

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