How can MP defend budget?


In her latest column, Erewash MP Jessica Lee defends the Budget; focus of ever increasing opprobrium – whether from trusted and popular traders such as Greggs; respected charities or pensioners of limited means.

Tory Chancellor George Osborne has united a diverse nation in outrage against these unfair measures and one is tempted to shed a tear for a humble backbencher like Ms Lee, called upon to defend the indefensible in her marginal seat.

Maybe. Or maybe not.

My sympathies evaporated when, instead of addressing legitimate concerns, Jessica Lee indulged in an attack on the media (‘The so-called ‘granny tax’ has been causing people concern – I can understand why, given the coverage in the national media’) and the previous Government (‘this inherited spiralling debt’).

However, I will concede her point that ‘we have to be strict with our spending’.

I would therefore like to ask Jessica Lee to comment on the findings of the influential Cross Party Public Affairs Select Committee in its Progress Report on Tory Prime Minister David Cameron’s flagship localism agenda.

The report (17th April 2012) is devastating for any MP with spending qualms because it concludes that the Tory-led Government’s drive to implement localism across the public services is ‘failing to demonstrate either probity or value for money’.

Ms Lee will find difficulty in charging the report with political ‘bias’ because the Committee has a Tory majority, including Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Chloe Smith.

The fact that these parliamentarians have accused the Government of failing to achieve ‘value for money’; ensure availability and transparency of spending records and keep tabs on taxpayers’ cash is terrifying because the localism agenda is being rolled out over a huge range of public services including foundation trusts, academies, free schools and elected police authorities.

This is financial catastrophe writ large; on top of a Budget that betrays little understanding of simple economics.

The Erewash MP tells us that ‘you can’t spend what you don’t have’, but instead of aiming her homilies at her constituents, she should have a word with George Osborne and David Cameron who are running the economy with the reckless abandon of Monopoly board players – except that at this rate, neither Erewash nor the nation will be able to ‘get out of jail free’.

Howard Griffiths

Erewash Labour Group