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Seeing Red: Fracking and a failing economy.

Seeing Red is my regular column in The Isle of Thanet News. This opinion piece was first published on September 26, 2022.

Forget fracking… it’s a deliberate smoke screen. A red herring. A diversion. The science is definitive, the UK is not suitable for fracking. Not to mention the fact that most communities will simply not want it.

So, in reality fracking is off the agenda. Exactly as it was before the Tories broke their manifesto pledge after spending weeks – wasting precious time – electing a new leader. Remember Liz Truss was elected by just 0.02% of the UK population. No wonder so many people of all political stripes feel disgruntled.

There’s no doubt that we have a number of crises to handle in the UK. The pound has plummeted to a new historic low against the dollar and is extremely low against the euro, worth just €1.08 today… and falling. We are now the lowest growth nation in the G7.

The Conservatives are a disaster for ordinary working people.

We also have an energy crisis (there is a plethora of crisis matters at the moment – thanks to 12 years of Tory misrule.) A housing crisis, a low wage economy meaning waves of industrial unrest looming, and a crisis in the NHS and social care. You name it, the Conservatives have failed us and failed to deliver a reasonable stand of living.

The Tories have now lost control of the UK’s finances. They have also lost their moral compass. Consider the latest fiscal event – (mini budget surely?) From the Financial Times, to Tory grandee and ex Conservative Chancellor, Lord Ken Clarke, this current low tax strategy is nothing more than a casino style gamble. The conservatives have bet the house.

But not only that, it’s Robin Hood in reverse. The richest 5% of our country will be a whopping £8,560 better off! In contrast, the poorest households will be an average £230 better off next year. Yes, that’s right, just £230, and ‘if’ interest rates have to go up, how much of that ‘gain’ will be lost meeting those higher living costs? The Bank of England has said it will not hesitate to raise interest rates to control inflation.

In particular I wonder how Thanet householders are going to meet these soaring costs? Even those in secure and well-paid work are telling me that they are struggling. The Government’s latest help to businesses, whilst welcome, has come too late for some and doesn’t give real assurance to plan for the long term.

Of course, Thanet has revoltingly high child poverty rates, 39% in some wards and growing unchecked. Our local MP seems utterly unconcerned about this and that is frankly unforgivable. Maybe somebody should tell him about a recent report by headteachers that details children who are so hungry that they are eating rubbers or hiding in the playground because they can’t afford lunch. Thanet’s food banks are stretched to breaking point.

You may think a ‘fiscal event’ costing us billions, might focus on this – but no. Instead we’re being asked to go along with the greatest political scam I’ve ever seen. (Disclaimer I was born in ’62 so I’ve seen a fair bit). Taking from the poorest to give to the richest. It’s blatant.

But something else has happened recently.

Everyone is talking about the cost of living crisis and the energy crisis. Many seem angry about not only what’s happening, but why it’s happening. After 12 years the Tories have not only lost touch with ‘ordinary’ people, but they’ve lost our trust. I think that feeling has now becoming widespread.

Labour have launched the Green prosperity plan, which will double the amount of onshore wind, triple solar energy production, and more than quadruple offshore wind power, “re-industrialising” the country to create a zero carbon, self-sufficient electricity system, by the end of this decade. And create jobs and become an energy exporter.

We propose to spend £30B on planned investment, to support up to 400,000 jobs in manufacturing and low-carbon industries, combined with a national procurement plan which will ensure every pound given out in procurement is guided by the national interest to create local jobs, skills and regeneration. Not to line the pockets of shareholders, and Tory party donors, but to support floundering local economies like ours.

We plan to end casino economics. The Tory approach is reckless and is an immense risk to family finances. Instead, we’ll boost growth in a green and sustainable way by tackling three crises jointly – the climate, the cost of living and the wider economy, while putting people at the heart of a green economic revolution.

My hope that Labour will win the next election has now turned into a belief that we will.