Opinion: We deserve a better level of debate

Those of you who read this column are likely to have a passing interest in the politics of the city, writes Labour Group leader Dennis Jones.
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If you are one of those people, you will be aware that there will be two elections next year. The City Council elections next May and the General Election. If you are fortunate enough to be able to vote in both, you will have the opportunity to pass judgement on not only 14 years (by then) of Tory government at Westminster but also 24 years, nearly a quarter of a century, of their administration in the city.

Peterborough has changed beyond all recognition since the Tories came to power. A financial crisis, the impact of which a Labour chancellor, Alistair Darling, skilfully lessened in 2008. Since 2010, we have endured years of austerity under a Tory government, told it was over by another Tory government in 2017 followed by the ‘B word’. ‘Oven ready’ deal to get Brexit done? Nope. A blatant lie to win an election followed by a series of half-baked solutions that are still in development.

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Last September, the economy was tanked by the shortest reigning PM in British political history, Liz Truss. In between, we have endured more lies about ‘Partygate’ that has led to the man who was PM a year ago now being out of parliament altogether.

Peterborough Town HallPeterborough Town Hall
Peterborough Town Hall

Locally, the Tories promoted free bulky waste collections to keep power two years ago. That lasted just 12 weeks, but it was widely used in their election literature.

Just when you thought the lying was over, our Boris and Liz backing MP is encouraging Conservative city councillors to publicise another lie – and a damned lie it is, too. Working on the principle that you, the voter, will believe anything, our MP is getting otherwise decent (we hope, for the city’s sake) councillors to put forward motions to full council that are simply lies.

One lie is Labour will introduce a congestion charge here in Peterborough and charge you £12.50 per journey for the privilege.

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So here is what the Conservatives don’t tell you. The first ULEZ charge in London was introduced by a Tory London Mayor and the government the city MP supports and called on it to be expanded as part of their funding deal with the London Mayor. As the saying goes, the Tories are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Peterborough Labour is crystal clear: a Low Emission Zone or road charging would not work here. Peterborough is simply not suited to anything like that. Attempts to smear Labour locally show just how desperate the Tories are.

Labour’s priority is growing the economy to improve living standards and tackle the cost-of-living crisis, not pushing up costs for hard working families.

Once again, there will be no LEZ or charging with Labour in Peterborough. With so many Tory councillors up for election next year, we can expect more of this from a party desperate to hang on by any means they can. We deserve and need a better level of debate in the city. How politicians handle themselves

with a losing hand says much about their character.

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People, locally and nationally, are sick and tired of nothing working, whether that is scrambling to get a doctor’s appointment, the cost of the weekly shop, or rising anti-social behaviour across the city. So, ignore the lies. Let’s have a real debate about the future of our city. And no more lies.