November 23, 2021 11.27 am

Karen Lee: Yet more sleaze – our country and our city deserve better

Former Lincoln MP Karen Lee attacks the Conservative party over recent sleaze allegations and parliament votes

The latest episode of government sleaze, focusing yesterday on allegations that Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab used his taxpayer funded mansion to host a Conservative party campaigning event, means that allegations of government corruption simply won’t go away.

Less than a fortnight ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to speak publicly whilst at the COP 26 summit to attempt to reassure the world that our country isn’t corrupt, but each scandal following on swiftly after the last paints a different picture.

Last week, widespread concerns were raised that second jobs cloud the judgement of MPs whose basic pay is £80,000 per year.

Last month, local press reported that the MP for Lincoln had been found guilty of breaking the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament three times after failing to declare his ties to a family firm ironically named “Moonlighting.”

Labour have been unequivocal in saying that they would ban second jobs for MPs with the exception of public service jobs within areas such as the NHS, Police and Army Reservists.

All this background noise drowns the very real issues facing Lincoln residents whose everyday worries include: Government’s removal of £20 per week from families claiming Universal Credit. In Lincoln there are 10,800 families with 7,008 children living in households who claim the benefit. Low wages locally mean that many families rely on benefits to “top-up” earnings which simply don’t cover rising housing, heating, and food costs.

Earlier this month, the Tory government broke its manifesto pledge and voted to suspend the Triple Lock. This was brought in to ensure that yearly pension increases keep up with rising prices and this will force hardship onto both current and future state pensioners.

Our NHS is struggling because of shortages of both doctors and nurses, as well as ambulances queueing outside of A&E departments right across the country. On a visit to an NHS hospital recently Boris Johnson chose not to wear a face covering, at a time when staff are expected to wear a mask for the entirety of their 13-hour shifts. The PM displayed a shocking lack of leadership or willingness to abide by the rules the rest of us respect in order to help bring the COVID pandemic to a close.

Government voted changes through yesterday to the funding of social care, measures which mean that the poorest in society will pay as much as the wealthiest. The £86,000 cap on lifetime costs means many people may end up having to sell their homes to pay for care, something Boris Johnson promised the country wouldn’t happen.

“Levelling-up” is a Conservative election promise which has been broken time and time again over the last two years. At a time when this country needs strong leadership after a pandemic the reality is that we aren’t getting it. Our country and our city quite simply deserve better.

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Karen Lee was the Labour MP for Lincoln between 2017 and 2019. She is an NHS nurse and a Labour County Councillor for the Cathedral and Ermine ward of Lincoln