Tory MP Andrew Bridgen receives criticism for ‘blaming’ lorry driver shortage on Tony Blair

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen receives criticism for ‘blaming’ lorry driver shortage on Tony Blair

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has been roundly roasted after he appeared to blame Tony Blair and his higher education policies for the current shortage of lorry drivers.

Writing in the Express in a column entitled “Blair’s university drive is real reason behind HGV drivers shortage”the MP claimed that by encouraging people to go to university and by advocating “loose migration policies”, Blair undervalued vocational jobs leading to shortages years later.

He said:

“For many years I have been raising the issue of the shortage of lorry drivers.

“The Government has its part to play here. For many years, well over half of graduates have found employment in non-graduate jobs, an issue exacerbated by New Labour’s fixation that half of young people should go to university. Blair’s target, together with loose migration policies, naturally placed less value on vocations and began the schism between the Labour Party and what were once their traditional supporters.

“To deliver on its levelling up agenda, the Government has to highlight the value of skilled manual vocations and start an honest conversation on the worth of many degree courses.”

It comes amid reports that there is a shortage of some 60,000 lorry driver, according to Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates.

It estimated about 30,000 HGV driving tests were lost last year because of the Covid pandemic and the RHA also said that recruitment has been difficult in part due to European workers leaving the UK after Brexit.

Meanwhile, Arla, which supplies milk to about 2,400 stores each day in the UK, said it was unable to deliver to 600 shops last Saturday due to dwindling driver numbers caused by drivers being forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Writing on Twitter, many people were quick to disagree with the MP and said he had simplified the reasons behind the shortage and had ignored these other causes. They also pointed out that Blair left office 14 years ago and so pointing to his policies seemed a bit odd:

Oh dear.

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