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The Failure Of Nick Timothy And The False Pretence Of Erdington Conservatism

10/08/2017 08:05
Peter Nicholls / Reuters

As Nick Timothy, a key architect of the Conservatives' dreadful General Election campaign, puts his head above the parapet yet again, my mind travels back just over a year to the day when Theresa May, Timothy's former boss, stood outside Downing Street and told us that her government would "be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours [ordinary, working people]".

This brand of conservatism is widely attributed to Timothy and was branded 'Erdington Conservatism' after the constituency he is from and the one I represent. While the Tories can repeat platitudes about appealing to working people and representing the most vulnerable in our society, the opposite is virtually always the case. We will never let the Conservative Party get away with any rebrand which paints themselves as the party of the working class when wages continue to be squeezed, living standards continue to fall and the rich receive further tax cuts.

The people of Erdington, one of Britain's poorest constituencies, have paid a heavy price for the failure of the Tories. Falling living standards and stagnant wages, cuts hitting disabled people hardest, 1,500 people in Erdington alone punished by the Bedroom Tax and a growing crisis in health and social care.

In their city, Birmingham City Council has seen cuts to its budget of £700million, the highest in local government history. This has meant 26 Children's Centres now facing closure across the city. Schools are facing such extreme budget pressures that they are laying off teaching staff and cutting time off the school day to save money. Timothy was a driving force in Theresa May's team when she was Home Secretary and she approved cutting 20,000 police officers across the country, including over 1,700 in the West Midlands. All the while, not once did Erdington Conservatism stick up for the people of Erdington. Instead, they simply offered slavish support to their government.

We were told repeatedly prior to the election that this new Conservatism would lead to a Tory victory in Erdington as one of Theresa May's gains on her way to a landslide victory across the country. They even talked up their high prospects of victory as a 'Portillo moment'. How wrong they were. We increased Labour's majority in Erdington from 5,000 to over 7,200 in June's election and this was reflected elsewhere as the Party enjoyed its biggest vote share increase since 1945.

Put simply, the Tories failed. The country has had enough of the longest squeeze in living standards in recent memory, rising prices but falling wages and the progressive degrading of the public realm. While Nick Timothy planned for Theresa May to have a 'strong and stable' general election and pass through Brexit without the 'saboteurs', constituents on the doorstep told a different story.

We were told time and time again that the real issues people care about were ongoing cuts to the police service, squeezed school budgets and the chronic under-funding of the NHS. The country saw through the Tories' spin and were inspired by the radical hope and change offered by the Labour Party.

And locally, my constituents saw through the fraudulent prospectus of the Erdington Conservatives. They thought that the odd bit of litter picking while trying to paint themselves as the 'party of the working class' would mean they could ride the crest of their wave into government. Well, to paraphrase the immortal words of Ricky Tomlinson: party of the working class? My arse.

It now turns out that Nick Timothy has no shame at all. After advising the Prime Minister to repeatedly claim she would support the 'just about managing', he joins his campaign mate Sir Lynton Crosby in being handsomely rewarded for abject failure, far more than 'just about managing'. While Crosby was paid £85,000 per day for the disastrous campaign, Timothy has since left government and fallen into not one, but two jobs, writing for The Sun and the Daily Telegraph. If any ordinary person had performed as poorly in their job as these two did, they would not expect such extraordinary rewards.

And while he enjoys the comfort his two new jobs will bring him, he leaves behind the very people of Erdington he once pretended to champion.

Jack Dromey is the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington

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