Labour leader David Ellesmere went for a cynical line today that characterises his core vote strategy to win the Parliamentary Seat of Ipswich in 2015. Using his weekly column in the Ipswich Star, he claims that restructuring in the NHS, and the possible closure of Royal Mail’s sorting office in the town, could lead to almost 1,000 job losses. He implies that these job losses will fall in Ipswich – a very worrying prospect indeed.
Yet even Mr Ellesmere’s article struggles to get to the 1,000 job figure. Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are looking to shed 177 posts in Suffolk. SERCO are looking to shed 137 posts. And the Royal Mail are considering closing the sorting office in Ipswich, with 230 posts at risk there. That adds up to 544 posts, a long way from 1,000.
Now an eagle eyed reader will note that we’re talking about posts here, not jobs. The number of posts that are removed will not always correlate with the number of people affected. Many of these posts will be job shares, with more than one person filling the post. Equally, many of the posts are currently vacant.
Why would Mr Ellesmere want to artificially inflate the figures, making people feel less confident about the economy and putting people in fear of their jobs? Well he wants to win in 2015. This over-arching ambition is beginning to cause problems with his “day job” as leader of the council.
Mr Ellesmere, as leader of the council, should be talking Ipswich up, telling the world about the benefits of investing in Ipswich. Instead he prefers to use his time attacking our popular MP, and talking down the town. 6 weeks before Christmas is not the time to be telling people that there might be a thousand people added to the dole queue.
Recently the council lost out on funding from the Department for Communities & Local Government, that was available for weekly bin collections. Yet the Labour led council wouldn’t go and ask the Tory MP, Ben Gummer, to help lobby on their behalf, because the leader of the council wants to be the MP in 3 years time.
This isn’t the only time Mr Ellesmere has put his ambition ahead of the town either. In Fore Street, where businesses are getting desperate after the road was closed for months, he won’t consider a business rates holiday or any sort of discount. He claims to be protecting the taxpayers elsewhere in the town, but if these businesses are forced out of business, you can bet the house that he will claim the Government’s economic policies forced them to the wall. That they won’t be paying ANY business rates next year if they are forced into bankruptcy this year seems to be lost on the Labour leader.
Mr Ellesmere also makes statements that are simply not true. He claims that the job losses all stem from Government policy to cut spending in the NHS and privatisation. Yet, unlike Labour, who pledged to cut the NHS, the coalition are actually increasing spending in the NHS. And the idea that the Royal Mail efficiency drives are a bad thing caused by privatisation is just bizarre. Thousands of post offices closed under Labour, including several here in Ipswich. Sorting office closures are a natural consequence of the increased use of email and the reduced number of letters sent by snail mail. The idea that this wouldn’t happen under a Labour government is just ludicrous.
He also claims that the NHS reform proposed by SERCO depend on “complex new IT system and the history of getting these to work – especially in the NHS – is not encouraging”. Well yes, Labour run IT systems did have a particularly bad history. To be fair, all public sector IT systems have had teething problems, are usually over budget, and don’t always do what they said on the tin. Yet this isn’t a particularly complex system. Nor does it rely on non existent broadband coverage. It is as though he imagines the AA or the RAC wouldn’t be able to use their computer systems in their vans in rural Suffolk.
Mr Ellesmere’s claim, of 1000 jobs at risk, is a massive exaggeration designed to scare voters away from the Tories, who are making ground with their targetting of strivers. It is a core vote strategy that will help his colleagues at local elections but will help Mr Gummer come 2015. But more worryingly it is a divisive strategy that sets groups of voters against each other. That relies on the politics of envy. That puts the have nots in opposition to the haves, rather than empowering them to become the haves. It relies on keeping people poor so they will vote Labour. How negative can you get. Does Ipswich really deserve this?
Filed under: Campaign Activity, Government, Ipswich Borough Council, Media, Public Sector Cuts Tagged: | Ben Gummer MP, Coalition Government, Conservatives, David Ellesmere, Labour, NHS, Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Mail, SERCO