Why no u-turn on public sector pay?

Ronnie Campbell MP
Picture by Jane Coltman
Ronnie Campbell MP Picture by Jane Coltman
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Theresa May’s £1bn deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to keep her in power is one of the most shocking on record.

The prime minister was so desperate to stay in No 10 after her snap election resulted in a hung parliament that she was prepared to get into bed with a party even more to the right than her own, and pay it handsomely as well.

After years of austerity, spending cuts and public sector pay freezes, where has she found the cash? Is there a money tree hidden in the Downing Street garden?

In the Commons I asked the government if it is aware that the north east of England is one of the poorest areas in the United Kingdom. We haven’t got a Barnett formula to guarantee funding, and the government has only four or five MPs there so we are going to get nowt. But is it giving our money away to pay the DUP?

All I got was waffle in reply. But the money has to come from somewhere.

It seems like every day brings another Tory u-turn, ditching chunks of their disastrous election manifesto. On the triple-lock pensions uprating, grammar schools, the dementia tax, the winter fuel payments for pensioners, even the return of fox hunting, they’ve apparently changed their minds.

Yet the Cabinet, we’re told, is deadlocked over the miserable one per cent pay rise for our nurses and other hard-pressed public sector workers.

Pay rises for five million workers are meant to be set by independent pay review bodies, but have effectively been capped since 2013, before which there was a two-year freeze on pay for all but the lowest-paid workers.

The Conservatives pledged to maintain the cap until 2020, and the other day 313 Conservative and the 10 DUP MPs voted against a Labour motion calling for the public sector pay cap to be scrapped.

If there is one area crying out for a u-turn, this is it.

But that would cost money. And that money, I suspect, is earmarked for the DUP, which is just sickening.