CANDIDATES FOR PRIME MINISTER POSTED MISSING ON ROCKETING ENERGY PRICES
With people in shock at the near doubling of the Energy Price Cap from 01 October from £1,971 to £3,549 - it was £1,138 as recently as January last year - the seemingly never-ending and deeply divisive Tory Leadership contest drags to a close.
Both candidates were posted missing last week when asked to comment on rocketing energy prices. Instead, they are desperately seeking votes from the Tory heartlands. Indeed, at an event in Tunbridge Wells, once voted Britain’s second ‘poshest’ town, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak boasted of diverting public money from deprived urban areas to wealthy, Tory voting towns.
Mr Sunak revealed he had “managed to start changing the funding formulas to ensure such towns get the funding they deserve,” as the previous system “shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas.”
While it was unclear exactly which formulas he was referring to, the £3.6 billion Towns Fund introduced last year was heavily criticised by the cross-party Public Accounts Committee for a lack of transparency over how towns were selected for funding. Almost 90% went to Tory constituencies.
This, of course, is not the first time UK Ministers have used taxpayers money to shore up Tory votes at the expense of more deprived areas. Confidential papers from the National Archives reveal that former Prime Minister John Major diverted cash from the Highlands to support south-east England.
While under Boris Johnson’s premiership allegations abounded that party whips threatened Tory MPs with cuts to funding for their constituencies if they failed to vote with the Government.
Meanwhile, as the cost-of-living crisis deepens ever further, it’s far from clear how Liz Truss, likely to be the next Prime Minister, will fund her proposed £30 billion of tax cuts while simultaneously addressing soaring household bills.
It’s even less clear how she would do that with only lukewarm support from Tory MPs, given only 50 of 357 backed her for the top job when this contest started.
Both candidates played leading Cabinet roles in the Boris Johnson Government which stripped powers from Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament and centralised power deeper in Westminster.
The post-Brexit replacement of EU structural funds, Levelling Up fund and Shared Prosperity fund, where UK government ministers now decide where to spend money in devolved areas, has already resulted in a staggering 40% cut in these resources going to Scotland. That the allocation of these funds is being determined by political expediency rather than need is something that will not go unchallenged.
I wrote to Civil Service head Simon Case calling for an immediate investigation into any changes to funding formulas which would ensure wealthier areas benefitted from funding at the expense of more socially disadvantaged communities.
It’s vital there is transparency as to how taxpayers money is distributed when each Prime Ministerial candidate thinks it’s acceptable to use taxpayers money to shore up support for themselves and their party.
Quite frankly, Scotland deserves better than anything the Tory Prime Ministerial candidates offer, with their skewed priorities which short-change Scotland; particularly our most deprived communities.