The sub-text appears to be: elect Labour - get punished.
A Conservative local election leaflet in Fylde South, Lancashire, has claimed that “putting Labour back in power …would reduce investment in Fylde”.
It follows a leaflet put out for the Southend Conservative Party earlier this week which claimed that ‘Government Ministers are reluctant to go the extra mile for an Opposition-controlled council’, purportedly quoting local MP Sir David Amess.
In both cases, the sub-text appears to be: elect Labour – get punished.
Amess’ office denied that he had signed off the statement, saying he was ‘shocked’. But even if it was the local party going ‘rogue’ – it sheds light on their thinking.
And – let’s face it – there’s some truth behind the idea that the Tories are dishing out cash to swing seats and Tory areas, and leaving the rest of the country to wither on the vine.
Recent FT analysis of the Towns Fund found that Conservative areas were consistently placed in a higher priority category than their deprivation level and many Labour voting areas in a lower one. In other words, it was a front for pork-barrel politics: shovelling money to Tory areas at the expense of genuinely deprived ones.
This goes way back. In 2018 the New Statesman reported that a Tory minister in a safe seat said “when she used to ask Osborne for something, he would first ask her how big her majority was – and then reply, with a smile, that it was too large for her enquiry to be worth considering.”
Analysis shows that opposition Labour councils have borne the brunt of local government cuts over the past decade, according to the Guardian.
With new ‘Levelling Up’ plans due to be announced later this year, No 10 has already dismissed calls for independent oversight of the proposals and where the dosh goes.
It seems a fair bet that public money will be used for electioneering. The next big sleaze scandal is growing. Who will step up and challenge it?
Josiah Mortimer is the editor of Left Foot Forward.
As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.
We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.