Labour’s former MP for Lincoln Karen Lee has launched an attack on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and local MP Karl McCartney, accusing the PM of “half-truths and bluster” during his Conservative party conference speech.
It comes as fallout from the annual Conservative party conference, in Manchester, continues with many questioning the Prime Minister’s “build back better” pledges following Brexit stresses and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boris Johnson announced to his fellow Tory members on Wednesday he would invest in the private sector, boost infrastructure, build new hospitals, employ new nurses and police officers, aim for net zero carbon by 2050, and control immigration to boost working wages.
It was all part of the country “levelling up” following the difficulties of the pandemic, according to the PM, who also announced a council tax hike to help the social care sector recover from the financial turmoil left behind from coronavirus.
These pledges may have received a warm ovation from his fellow Conservatives, but Labour’s former Lincoln MP, Karen Lee, who lost her seat to Karl McCartney in 2019, has blasted the PM for his “typical Boris Johnson speech: full of half-truths and bluster”.
Mrs Lee, currently a Lincolnshire County Councillor for Ermine and Cathedral division, said: “The PM uses a lot of three word slogans and talked about ‘building back better’ but he’s completely lacking when it comes to providing the detail.
“In his conference speech Boris Johnson made an attempt to paint his party a vision, which quite simply isn’t the truth of what’s happening around us.
“After 11 years of Conservative austerity we see rising prices at the petrol pumps following swiftly on from the queues a couple of weeks ago. People were unable to buy petrol, many of my NHS work colleagues struggled to get to work as did my daughter who works in retail.
“We see massive hikes in energy prices and many Lincoln residents will have to choose whether they buy food or they heat their homes this winter. Bus services have been cut and there are empty shelves in our supermarkets.”
Mrs Lee told The Lincolnite that Mr Johnson discussing the prospects of “levelling up” while also ditching the £20 Universal Credit uplift is his “very worst bit of hypocrisy”.
“For people like Boris Johnson who can afford to pay that for a bottle of wine or a taxi, it’s next to nothing, but for those in receipt of Universal Credit it is huge; and 40% of these claimants are in employment.”
Conservative MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney told The Lincolnite on Thursday that his party are “getting on with the day job and delivering for the British people” after the Prime Minister’s speech at the party conference, which he attended.
Mr McCartney said he felt “hugely positive” about the topics brought up in the conference, to which Mrs Lee replied: “Things might look hugely positive for Lincoln’s MP, but they are not so positive for many of those he is paid to represent.
“There are 10,000 Universal Credit claimants in Lincoln alone and I have seen no mention of this from our current MP; his representation of those people appears to be sadly lacking.”
Liberal Democrat politician Ross Pepper, who stood for Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner in 2021, also criticised the Conservatives after their conference, saying the government are “out of touch” with the public.
Karen Lee is also an NHS nurse who returned to work during the coronavirus pandemic, and she has pointed the finger at government for their treatment of key workers during the past 18 months.
She added: “The PM spoke too about the NHS with his usual ebullient tone but our NHS is in crisis. Staff gave everything we had last year to fight COVID-19 and support our country and what did we get in return?
“After risking our lives on a daily basis to take care of people through a pandemic, we didn’t even get a fair wage rise which reflected what we put into our jobs. Most of us are feeling burnt out and sickness rates are high.
“Clapping doesn’t pay the bills, and witnessing the cronyism which has facilitated Conservative party donors and supporters being handed untendered contracts for huge amounts of public funding makes NHS and social care staff morale plummet even further.”
A key discussion point from the Conservative Party conference was the well-documented blunder from deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who claimed that men could be victims of misogyny as well as women, which is not the case.
In response to this, Karen said: “Racism and misogyny are very real issues in our society, and the PM casually dismisses those concerns as simply being ‘woke’.
“Alongside the fact that his Justice Secretary [Dominic Raab] doesn’t understand the meaning of the term misogyny, and his Home Secretary [Priti Patel] treats refugees in a manner which is shockingly heartless, it says everything about the band of Ministers our PM has appointed to help him run our country.”