Schools crumbling; terror suspects escaping prison; toxic sewage pouring into our precious rivers and seas.
Pile these crises on top of a cost-of-living emergency and an ever-worsening climate catastrophe, and you might be forgiven for thinking that Rishi Sunak had plenty of legislation his in-tray to be getting on with.
There is so much legislation that could be introduced, and actions that could be taken, to at least start tackling the huge problems our country is currently facing.
Yet it seems like nothing is happening; Rishi Sunak’s Government simply isn’t governing.
It’s out of ideas, running scared of scrutiny, and stumbling lifelessly towards the next election.
A figurative tumbleweed has been rolling across the House of Commons for months, with the daily order paper, a list of the day’s business, getting thinner and thinner.
Last week, the Energy Bill – a vitally important piece of legislation offering an opportunity to regulate our energy market and begin to address the climate crisis – came back before the House of Commons.
Normally, entire sitting days or even weeks would be set aside to discuss complex legislation. Yet how long were MPs given to discuss the remaining stages of this vast Bill, and its 300-plus amendments?
Barely three hours – showing again Rishi Sunak’s complete lack of interest in, and willingness to tackle, the most pressing issue of our time.
There is a total absence of new proposed legislation – this government doesn’t even properly advance laws like the vital Renters’ Reform Bill, which was first promised three whole prime ministers ago, under Theresa May.
The number of urgent questions – a chance to grill Government Ministers on an important issue of the day – granted by the Speaker in this current Parliamentary session is one of the highest in 25 years. I believe this is due to backbenchers stepping up to fill the vacuum of government action.
That’s not to say the government hasn’t made announcements – but new policies were announced over the summer Recess period when Parliament isn’t sitting, avoiding scrutiny from MPs.
Rishi Sunak’s decision to rubber stamp hundreds of new oil and gas licences was announced in late July via press release.
People desperately need some hope for a better, more liveable future
The Prime Minister didn’t offer MPs even the slightest opportunity to challenge from the green benches the obscenity of new licences in the middle of a climate emergency.
In August, ministers announced they would scrap critical EU rules on pollution with regard to new house building projects.
If I hadn’t dragged the Levelling Up Minister to the Despatch Box for an urgent question to explain why on earth these vital rules were being ditched, the Government’s decision wouldn’t have faced even the slightest query in the House of Commons.
It’s pure cowardice. If the Government has policy announcements to make – which have enormous implications on the future of our country and planet – ministers should come to Parliament and make their case, face scrutiny, and have the guts to put its measures to a vote.
That’s how the Government, Parliament, and our democracy function and Sunak’s administration isn’t functioning.
People desperately need some hope for a better, more liveable future.
But they’re certainly not getting it from Keir Starmer’s Labour Party either, which only seems to be saying what it wouldn’t do in Government, rather than what it would: no free movement of people, a refusal to ditch the two-child benefit cap, no scrapping of tuition fees.
With so many crises facing our country – inaction from either party is not an option.
If we’re going to fund our NHS and schools properly after 13 years of Tory austerity, we need to reform our country’s deeply regressive tax system.
And in order to give our railways, postal services and water companies a much-needed jolt of life after decades of stagnation, we must bring these public services back into public hands as soon as possible, so they work for people not profit.
This zombie Parliament we’re currently witnessing doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests: neither MPs, who are unable to scrutinise vital legislation; nor the public, who aren’t seeing the Government even attempting to make their lives better.
The best way to bury it once and for all? Call a general election – and end this stagnation once and for all.
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