LETTER: Politicians need a ‘bit more of that realism’

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

I READ with interest, and not a little amusement, your column by our MP Iain Wright “Earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” (Mail,October 23).

Amusement because Mr Wright manages to gather all the warm and cuddly issues into his argument that “Hartlepool workers deserve a pay rise”.

Nurses and other NHS workers – tick (obviously “other NHS workers” aren’t worth a specific mention by title, they don’t have the emotional clout of nurses in the public mind), the sisterhood of workers – tick tick, including his wife – tick tick tick.

However, he ignores the ugly arguments about how we got here in the first place.

We got here because the last Labour government spent all the money we had, including a large proportion of our gold reserves at rock bottom prices, wrecked company final salary pension schemes with their ill-advised tax raid, then borrowed even more – leaving the country totally broke as they left power.

As Liam Byrne infamously wrote to his coalition successor: “I’m afraid there is no money”, later said to be “a joke”.

I’m still laughing, Mr Byrne, as are all Mr Wright’s Hartlepool constituents who “deserve a pay rise”.

As for his arguments on “nurses and other NHS workers” perhaps they are a good deal luckier than the “nurses and other NHS workers” in Wales, where a Labour administration has systematically cut the Welsh NHS budget in real terms by eight per cent over the last few years with disastrous results.

And that, while England’s NHS budget has at least enjoyed a one per cent rise above inflation year on year.

Yes, we would all like it to be more, but as Labour’s Mr Byrne honestly but inadvisably said “I’m afraid there is no money”.

Mr Wright says:“People are seeing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since the Victorian times”.

I fear Mr Wright is a little too young to recall previous hard times or perhaps he conveniently ignores them for exaggeration’s sake.

I was born in 1942 and grew up through the 40s and 50s in a family of five children.

My father was a railwayman, the branch secretary of the NUR and a lifelong socialist, and believe me, Mr Wright, my father and mother really knew about squeezes on their income – the like of which you obviously cannot understand.

But I never once heard a bleat like Mr Wright’s.

They just got on with it, recognising the parlous state the economy was in at the time, and looked forward to the better times they were working for.

Before that there were the 30s and the Great Depression.

At least there are increasing number of jobs now unlike the 30s.

Come off it Mr Wright, I think a bit more of that realism and economic awareness in my parent’s generation is called for today but we won’t get it with columns like this.

David Fanthorpe.