The speech made by Jonathan Gullis, the Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2022.
The hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Chris Stephens) talked about my alleged withdrawal of labour last week. The only withdrawal of labour that the people of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke are seeing is 70 years of failed Labour Governments, failed Labour MPs and a failed Labour-run council. By not investing in high streets, investing in heritage, building the new homes we need or creating the new jobs, the Labour party once again shows it is out of touch and is forgetting the people of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke.
I am fully supportive of the specific SI on trade unions. I welcome the Minister to her place and congratulate her on an excellent opening speech. I spent eight and a half years teaching in state secondary schools in inner London and inner Birmingham. I was also a trade union shop steward for the NASUWT in that time, and there was many a time when we came close to potentially having to ballot on strike action, but only as a last resort, after negotiations had failed, freedom of information requests had not been granted and there was a breakdown of morale in the school. It is the absolute last resort.
What we have seen from the RMT is a politicisation from the communists and Putin apologists who want to use this opportunity to bring this country to a halt and make sure, very clearly, that tourism to the great city of Stoke-on-Trent is destroyed, that people cannot get to work and earn a salary, and that those uni students who travel in by train to Staffordshire University cannot sit their summer exams.
Then we have the “not education union”. Hansard always corrects me when I say the “not education union”, but that is its name. I do not want to hear its official name, when it is obsessed with bringing these silly 120-point plans for when schools can reopen during covid—one of which was somehow about reforming the welfare state, which had nothing to do with education—and when it has the audacity to tell kids that it will potentially have teachers out on strike at the start of the new term, further damaging the education of children who have been affected by covid. The Labour party is silent about that. Labour does not have it in it to stand up to those trade union barons on their six-figure salaries, in most cases earning more than the Prime Minister of this country, because it simply wants to make sure those donations keep coming in to its party coffers and its constituencies as well.
This Government are trying to take action to ensure that if the service level is being lowered and agency workers want the opportunity, or wish to choose—it is a choice—to cross the picket line, they should have that right. It is deeply Conservative to allow people to choose. I know that the Labour party, or the socialists opposite, are obsessed with us having one set standard for all, but that is not what the people of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke want.
The people of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke want to see a party that is on their side, helping to get their schools open and ensuring that hospitals are running and public sector workers are working. They want to see the very best, world-class services. It is under this Government that they have already seen £56 million from the levelling-up fund, £31 billion from building back better, 500 brand new Home Office jobs, £29 million from the transforming cities fund and £17.6 million in the Kidsgrove town deal, which means that Kidsgrove sports centre, which Labour closed—they did not want to save it for £1 back in 2017—will be refurbished and reopened.
That is the record of this Government. That is why this Government want to make sure that areas such as Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke have people on their side. I welcome the Minister for all her fantastic work and I hope the socialists opposite will realise the error of their ways.