Labour Pressure forces Tory U-Turn

Labour has forced yet another Tory policy U-turn, this time on the rip off of the Severn Bridge tolls.

Theresa May’s Tories have surrendered to Welsh Labour pressure to end the Highway Robbery of Severn Bridges tolls.

Former Minister Alun Cairns planned to deceive the public by promising to cut tolls to £3.70 and then to £3.00 as though he was offering a bargain.  Then a new wheeze. It was to be cut to £1.50! Great. But bothways. Not great!  It was a con. This year the 50 year debt on the bridges will end. Any charge will then be a rip-off as local people are already paying full road taxes. The Tory con has been exposed. Toll-free bridges are our right.

This has been one of my calls in the General Election campaign following the Tories persistent refusal to end the cash cow of the bridges. In 1992, the clear promise was to end all tolls when the debts had been paid. Without this election the Tories would have persisted with the double-taxation for local bridge users.

Campaign diary, 26th April-2nd May

This election diary was published in House magazine on 4th May 2017.

26th April

Failed to be called for terminal PMQs so I raised a point of order about the health of members. Had Mr Speaker noticed the outbreak of Parliamentary Tourette’s caused by the Crosby chip implanted in the brains of Tory MPs. It compels them to make involuntary noises of repetitive mantra syndrome by saying ‘Strong and Stable’ every 18 seconds. Triple offender Michael Fabricant denied that the thing on top of his head is a chip. I’ve always thought it was a dead cat. But he denied the House further details.

27th April

My oral question on Brexit’s threat to Welsh farmers had a characteristically vacuous and meaningless answer. Minister said he would secure ‘the best possible free trade agreement.’ Time for farmers to dig out the worry beads.

Seeking the truth, I asked the David Davis to explain “Why we are going into this premature election? Remainers have fully accepted the decision and voted for article 50, as did the Lords. Isn’t the real reason for this election the Government’s wish to rat on the promise made two years ago—a five-year promise—not to raise taxes, and to respect the triple lock? What lies ahead on the economic front is a great sinkhole into which our economy will fall in a tailspin.

In the final Point of Order of the Parliament I said that our electoral system is the most vulnerable it has been since 1880. There is powerful evidence of foreign Governments interfering in the elections in America and overwhelming evidence of money being paid in huge amounts, entirely invisible to the system, using algorithms, botnets and artificial intelligence. The Electoral Commission does not have the tools to deal with interference of this kind. We are trying to run a modern election with the tools of the 19th century. Mr Speaker replied with kindness and courtesy.

28th April

Furiously writing election literature, trying to be persuasive without giving out too much information to opponents. The polls are dire but I am consoled. Newportonians have kindly been voting for me in elections since 1972. No sign of any Tory opponent but some prominent councillors are angling for support. Our election-winning machine purrs into confident activity. Evening exchange of unpleasantries with John Redwood on LBC.

29th April

Shock! My Tory opponent in 2015 tweets that he applied to be shortlisted this time but was rejected. Ingrates! What genius do they have lined up against me? Double shock! Tory Party Wales have imposed a shortlist of one on Newport West rejecting the Newport contenders even though they are all ‘strong and stable’. Their party will now feign unity but the resentment is palpable. The voters will not like this. Perhaps a vote bonus for me.

30th April

Furiously cleansing internet sites of the ‘MP’ appendage. Writing blogs and articles on interrupted campaigns plus a therapeutic ventilating shout on Paul Ross’s Radio show. News of the Tory candidate who is employed by an MEP and lost two previous elections in winnable seats. Third time unlucky, I hope.

1st May

Nation’s brain is deadened by merciless soundbites plus May’s insistence on speaking only to lobotomized Tories locked in hermetically sealed rooms.

2nd May

Visit from depressingly well-briefed reporter from the Today programme urging me to slag off my party. Told him that the Labour Party Wales has its own Leader who gained three seats last May in the Assembly election that we had lost in 2015. Reporter promised to be equally nasty to the Tory candidate. Optimism would not be reasonable. But every election surprises. Waiting now for the meek to inherit the majority.

2017, a unique election…

There has never been an election like this. Party loyalties are breaking down. I have been touched by the numbers from other parties who have promised to vote for me.

There is outrage that a candidate has been parachuted into Newport and accepted by Newport Tories only under the threat of disbanding their Newport party if they did not toe the party line. So many people have said to me, ‘Can you keep a secret? I am voting for you.’ My lips are sealed. The kindness of political opponents is welcome. I have long respected individuals from other parties. Many are old friends. They understand my devotion to our city above all other issues. That’s what keeps me angry and passionate.

Might mean nothing. Might mean a lot. 30 of my team were out canvassing this morning. Just 6 in a Tory picture, including 2 MPs & a Councillor!

Many are now asking the question, what will 5 years of hard right Tory Government do. Accelerating privatisation will degrade the NHS, Education, the Welfare state and put back cruelty into fox hunting. All the great reforms over the past 70 years will be under attack.

Fake News?

Interesting the the Argus is running a FAKE NEWS love-in this
morning after an appalling fake news headline that Tories up, Labour down.

Using the old trick of comparing apples with pears, they compare an election RESULT with a POLL. The last poll that had vast publicity in Wales was one that put Tories on 40 and Labour on 30. This POLL puts Labour on 37 and Tories on 27. That is Labour up, Tories down.

This is FAKE NEWS.