Minister advises struggling families to use ‘value brands’
Independent

This week, politicians prepared for Thursday's local elections.

With the Tories getting trashed in the elections, losing stronghold councils like Wandsworth and Westminster, you would think they would try their best and hold it together elsewhere, for the sake of their party.

You would think wrong and this week Tories screwed up on everything from the cost of living crisis to electoral pacts.

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Read on, if you can stomach it.

Because here are the nine worst moments from Tory Britain this week.

1. Tory party chairman hypocritically moans about electoral pacts

On Sunday, Oliver Dowden left people rolling their eyes when he complained about a suspected electoral pact between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Noting that the Labour party was fielding fewer candidates than in previous years in some areas, with the Lib Dems in comparison fielding more, and visa versa in other areas, he wrote a letter to Labour leader Keir Starmer saying the plan will “deny voters a proper democratic choice”.

A fair argument to make, perhaps, except in 2019 Nigel Farage stood down 317 Brexit Party candidates ahead of the general election to help the Conservatives deliver Brexit. He called it a "Leave alliance" but Johnson said they hadn't made a pact.

A more official pact, then, was when the Tories went into coalition with the Lib Dems in 2010.

Better luck next time, Dowden.


2. The spectre of Right to Buy returns

From pacts to flats now and according to the Telegraph, Johnson wants to give housing association tenants the right to purchase their homes at a massive discount. It is giving people major Right to Buy flashbacks when Thatcher oversaw a similar scheme.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, has labelled the plan a “hare-brained idea” that is “the opposite of what the country needs”.

And shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said it is “desperate stuff from a tired government, repackaging a plan from 2015”. She added: “Millions of families in the private rented sector with low savings and facing sky-high costs and rising bills need far more ambitious plans to help them buy their own home. These proposals would worsen the shortage of affordable homes.”


3. Nadine Dorries' attacks on Keir Starmer backfire, twice

Their policies might not be popular, then, but what of their conduct. Let's take a look at culture secretary Nadine Dorries and find out.

When the Mail ran stories about Starmer having a beer and a curry while campaigning during lockdown last year, it divided people. While some Tory MPs said it was comparable to Johnson being "ambushed with a cake" - which he was later fined for - others pointed out that Starmer was working at the time and that the event was not pre-arranged. Police are not reinvestigating it, after all, so perhaps it is time to put the matter to bed.

But enter Dorries, one of Johnson's most loyal supporters who not once, but twice slammed Starmer - with limited success- for not going without dinner. Firstly, she met backlash for being misleading when she shared a Mail story about the issue on Monday because it used a stock image of Starmer eating a curry that was taken in 2015.

Then, she told Starmer that those wishing to be PM should be honest with the public, and people found it very ironic indeed.


4. Boris Johnson has ridiculous response to pensioner facing cost of living crisis

After all, Johnson has a reputation of not always seeming honest so we watched with gritted teeth when he appeared on GMB for the first time in years, reading to see if he would make misleading claims.

Reader, it went so badly, we doubt he will appear on it again soon. One of the worst moments happened when Susanna Reid spoke about a 77-year old widow named Elsie whose energy bills have increased from £17 a month to £85 meaning she will pay £816 more a year.

To cut costs, she has "resorted to eating one meal a day" and is "losing weight". "She goes to the supermarket at the end of the day to buy yellow stickered discounted items, she gets up early in the morning to use her freedom bus pass to stay on buses all day to avoid energy at home," Reid said.

Reid asked Johnson want Elsie should do and after saying he didn't want her to cut back on anything, he said:

"Just to remind you, the 24-hour freedom bus pass was something that I actually introduced."

"Marvellous so Elsie should be grateful to you for her bus pass," Reid quipped back, before Johnson started talking about giving more money to councils and tax rebates.

Speaking after the interview, Reid explained why his answer wasn't good enough at all.


5. And he doesn't even know who Lorraine Kelly is

Having upset everyone who cares about people facing financial issues, he then upset anyone who has so much as turned on a television in their lives.

At the end of the interview, Reid cut Johnson off as he was chuntering on about crime and said: "Lorraine is waiting to take up all the issues you have brought up on this interview."

"Who is Lorraine?" Johnson muttered, and Reid said: "Who is Lorraine? Lorraine is a legend!"

Kelly took it on the chin, though. She said: "Why should he know who I am? I mean he's busy in the morning he wouldn't be watching us although he would learn a lot as you know".

6. He also made false claims during the interview

If that wasn't bad enough, fact checkers found that Johnson's claims about free bus passes, the Conservative's record on cutting council taxes and the UK's economic growth weren't exactly true. Someone tell Dorries...

On bus passes, for instance, they said councils have used the scheme since the 1980s but Johnson made them apply for 24 hours a day when mayor of London, in 2009. He also restored free bus travel for Londoners when they reached 60 back in 2012, as part of the 60+ London Oyster photocard scheme.

Not like Johnson to get things wrong...


7. Minister suggests people buy value brands to cope with soaring prices

Johnson wasn't the only Tory to screw things up when speaking about the cost of living crisis and this week a minister also angered people when he piped up with a silly solution to combat soaring inflation.

Asked about what families could do to cut costs if they want to cook a Sunday roast, George Eustice told Sky News: “Generally what people find is going for some of the value brands, rather than own-branded products they can actually contain and manage their household budget.”

Green party MP Caroline Lucas said it was a "staggering comment".


8. 'Local' Tories accused of misleading voters

It is no wonder then that some Tories might not want to be seen as Tories... In the lead-up to the local elections, people noticed that some Tories had splatted "local Conservatives" all over their posters to distance themselves from the national party and their mistakes.

Areas including Birmingham and St Albans listed people running for council as "local Conservatives" and in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Conservative leaflets said: “this election is about local issues, not national issues”.

Labour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said they were being a bit suspicious. She said: "It speaks volumes that Boris Johnson’s own Conservative candidates are ashamed to be associated with him and trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.

“With no answers to the cost of living crisis, Tory candidates are trying to hide from their own government’s record. A vote for Labour on Thursday is a vote to send the Conservatives a message they can’t ignore. Britain deserves better.”


9. Messing up the local elections

We don't mind, but Tory supporters will have been very disappointed to see the Tories defeated in key councils this week, including London's Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster. Perhaps people were protesting against the Marble Arch mound...

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