Threat to cut benefits harks back to Jarrow Crusade days

Kate’s latest column for the Shields Gazette: 

As most of you will know, 200 local people set off from Jarrow on a near 300-mile trek to London carrying a 12,000-named petition to the Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.

At that time around 70 per cent of workers in the town were unemployed. Britain in the 1930s was left crippled by the Great Depression, and its areas of heavy industry, such as Jarrow, were among those who were hit the hardest.

When the marchers reached London the Conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, shamefully failed to meet with them and when they returned home many found their benefits had been cut because they had not been available to work.

We see sharp similarities with the conservative government of today – threatening to cut benefits for those looking for work.

Liz Truss’s Government making incompetent decisions and lying to all of us – causing yet more devastation to our already struggling communities.

Yesterday Truss doubled down on her kamikaze budget – despite another warning from the Bank of England that the government’s budget is making their battle against inflation more difficult.

This Government’s budgetary plans have crashed our economy, mortgage offers have been withdrawn. Those with mortgages paying hundreds more.

Families struggling to pay rent increases, spiralling energy bills and food prices – yet Liz Truss failed to answer a single question at this week’s PMQs – instead, her Cabinet told us why the Bank of England were wrong!

The impact of the Tory-made cost-of-living crisis continuing is clear to see in Jarrow – this week’s polling showed us that 66% of people in our constituency are having to cut back on their essential groceries. 41% are worried about affording their rent and 28% are worried about becoming homeless.

We are already seeing more people using foodbanks and a further 32% are worried they will need to use one – the foodbanks in our constituency provide a wonderful service – including Bede’s Helping Hands’ new Community Fridge which I had the pleasure of visiting when it opened – but they should not be necessary. It is outrageous that in the sixth richest country in the world we have millions trapped in poverty.

The Government are repeatedly letting down our communities, up and down the country now, we are seeing more and more people take industrial action, unable to cope with the lowest wage growth on record. Thousands of workers standing up and saying to this government enough is enough. This week, nurses in the Royal College of Nursing started their ballot for industrial action – they have my full support – this Government as well as destroying communities is intent on destroying our NHS.

It doesn’t have to be like this – these are all political choices made by this government.

We must have urgent investment in our communities, in public services, in our NHS – not tax cuts for the wealthiest and a lift on the cap of bankers’ bonuses.

No one in Jarrow voted for these plans – I will continue to do all I can to stand up for and support the people of Jarrow – but we need a General Election now to stop this madness.