This week the Leicester Mercury re-introduced their readers to two wannabe Tory heroes. The first was former Blairite Labour Councillor Leon Spence, who at long last has found his natural home in the Conservative Party. The second was the up-and-coming Tory star, Jack Hickey, who is the young chair of the Leicester City Conservative Association.
In a strange twist on history, the Leicester Mercury (February 15) explained to their readers: “The Tories are to launch a new ‘Save Our City’ campaign in the light of recent city centre retail failures.” Raging with ruling-class anger, Mr Hickey frothed: “Sir Peter Soulsby is cutting the very lifeblood of the city…”
Needless to say, many local business owners do take issue with the dictatorial fashion in which our city boss Sir Peter Soulsby is re-furbishing our city in a bizarre attempt to make it attractive to elite investors, but most shop owners will recognise that the true villains in this story are the Tories themselves.
“The Tories have invented a non-existent crisis,” Sir Peter Soulsby explained, “and seem to think they can claim to be the solution.” The irony of course is that it is the Tory government who are “cutting the very lifeblood of the city” (and others) by slashing the funding they provide to all local authorities.
So while working people face a funding crisis for the provision of their public services, Mr Hickey well understands that there is plenty of money to go around, that is, if the Tories weren’t so keen on giving the super-rich so many lucrative tax breaks. As Mr Hickey boasted on social media last month:
“Proud that the Bank of England has confirmed that we Britian have the best performing economy in the world.” (Twitter, January 8)
But despite his upbeat words, there is a major crisis in our city; and our city does need saving! But it needs saving from Tory funding cuts! Although it might also help if Sir Peter gave up his obsession with encouraging “massive private sector investment” (his words) in our city to the detriment of our impoverished suburbs, and paid more attention to how his Labour-led Council could fight against and reverse Tory cuts.
As one might expect, when Mr Hickey was last featured in the Mercury (December 8), his solution to Tory austerity and cuts was to say that Sir Peter should be moving more quickly in the direction of privatising public services. This suggestion included a word of encouragement to speed up the conversion of Council-maintained schools into academies.
Sir Peter again responded, but not as one might hope. Rather than oppose the turning over of public assets to the corporate world, Soulsby replied by noting: “We are doing that with great enthusiasm but it does not get anywhere close to filling the £155 million cuts imposed on us by the Government he (Mr Hickey) supports.”
Little wonder Sir Peter cannot be bothered to engage with the very real and pressing demands of Leicester’s trade unions and community groups. Sir Peter is more concerned with privatising publicly owned assets “with great enthusiasm” and riding roughshod over local democracy.