CHALLENGING TORIES’ PORK BARREL POLITICS
In my new role as SNP spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government, I challenged the Tory UK Government on its rampant cronyism and hijacking of the Towns Fund for party political purposes.
The Towns Fund was billed as a means by which towns and cities in England could be ‘levelled up’, however it has been mired in controversy since its inception. Two thirds of the towns that were awarded funds were target Tory seats in the 2019 general election, and of the 100 towns that were invited to work with the UK Government on new towns deals, 61 were marginal seats. Even the Public Accounts Committee, which has a majority of Tory members said the system gave “every appearance of having been politically motivated”. You can read the damning report here: https://committees.parliament.uk/…/pac-not-convinced-by-ra…/
While the Towns Fund only applies to English towns, we in the SNP have repeatedly warned that this scandal highlights the threat posed to Scotland and other devolved nations through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This fund, which will replace European Structural Funds, cannot be trusted with the Tories following the blatant cronyism and gerrymandering of the Towns Fund, used as a political tool by the UK Government to try to win or hold marginal seats in the 2019 election.
These concerns are part of a common theme with the Tory Government of public money being used for the benefit of the Tory party and its donors, rather than for the public benefit. The lack of transparency and accountability is shameful, and we need action to prevent such conflicts of interest.
Please click to listen to my contribution below. The film clip is not available due to technical issues.