Opinion with County Councillor Karen Constantine: What are the priorities of Liz Truss?

Cllr Karen Constantine

Welcome to our new Prime Minister. But what are Liz Truss’s priorities?

We are in the grip of a political and economic crisis – the like of which I’ve never witnessed in my 59 years. During the last few months our already buckling political system has simply stopped functioning, while the Conservatives have held a drawn out leadership pageant.

Apart from Conservative loyalists – MP’s, members (and money wicking donors) – many of us have looked on in horror, or changed the TV channel, whilst wishing this predictable farce was over. It’s been like a never-ending nightmarish episode of The Voice, featuring two singers neither of whom can hold a note, neither of whom have talent.

The conclusion of this charade was transparent from the get go.

Well now we have Liz Truss as our Prime Minister. As local MP Tory Craig Mackinlay tweeted eagerly, encouraging local card-carrying members of the Conservative Party to follow his lead. Craig promoted Liz in a tweet saying,

“We’re in the closing stages of the @Conservatives leadership election. A call to members & my advice is @trussliz for leader & #PrimeMinister. New thinking across a range of issues to deliver across tough times, not least #costofliving & a more business friendly environment.”

Interestingly, our local MP wasn’t exactly quick to throw his weight behind Liz Truss, rather he waited until she was a shoo-in.

As the country lurches forward into a problematic Autumn, with no plan in place to deal with the cost of living crisis, out of control energy costs, and inflation prediction to continue to rocket, and our NHS is on its knees – can we trust Truss? Or will more of the befuddled thinking that got us into this mess, simply see us sink more deeply?

Indeed, I wrote to KCC Conservative Leader Roger Gough in early August calling for the County Council to show leadership to start to plan how residents and businesses could be supported through what will be a difficult winter. I was told to wait until mid-September.

Liz has stated today that her priorities are to tackle the fuel crisis and energy supply, and the NHS. She’s told us she’s going to – Deliver. Deliver. Deliver. We are waiting.

The very first thing I want the new PM to tackle is the economy. Urgent action is required to ensure decent jobs are created in Thanet – now. Not pie in the sky jobs, or ‘jobs in the future’ promises, but immediate work opportunities. South Thanet has languished for far too long, scraping along with a lack lustre labour market.

The next thing in Liz Truss’s in tray is the NHS.

There are 132,139 NHS staff vacancies. Or put another way, almost 10% of the entire NHS workforce is missing. In fact in the last three months vacancies have surged by 26,000. Consider also the Royal College of Nursing’s warnings about a 7% fall in enrolments to train. More nurses leaving the profession and less people training to enter into it.

Why exactly is the NHS losing staff at such a rate? Why is it failing to retain competent and highly skilled and much needed employees? Why isn’t it a Government priority to ensure a plentiful supply of NHS staff, especially when training for many clinical roles takes many years?

The Royal College of Nursing are calling for: “increased financial support for nursing students” Pat Cullen, General Secretary & Chief Executive adds “to address the staffing crisis and give the kind of care patients deserve, we need these figures to look even stronger. Sadly, they have headed in the wrong direction. The impact of this drop in acceptances to nursing courses, along with the drop in applications this year, must not be underestimated. It will add to the growing nursing workforce crisis. We need to show tomorrow’s staff that a career in nursing shouldn’t come with a personal finance sacrifice.”

The RCN, along with a growing number of health unions, is calling for an NHS pay rise of 5% above inflation. Don’t our NHS staff deserve that? We certainly need to do something to fix our NHS.

We know there are serious problems across the NHS in East Kent. Our stroke service isn’t fit for purpose. Emergency care has been difficult all year. People cannot get GP appointments, nor obtain dentistry. Winter pressures in hospitals are now ‘normal’ all year round. I’ve repeatedly called for a Public Inquiry into our maternity services, yet another ailing area.

Liz, we are waiting for the ‘new thinking’ that Craig has promised us you will deliver. What does that look like? How fast can we expect to see much needed improvements? How will the vulnerable be supported? How will hard working Ramsgate residents and businesses be supported? Most are worried. Urgent action is required.

I’m sure no-one needs to point out to our new PM ‘we’re in a terrible mess.’ Can Liz, and her supporters, such as our own local MP, meet the challenges. Or is it time for a General Election?

74 Comments

  1. Karen, I’m sure you’ll at least welcome the fact that Liz Truss is the third female PM of your (and my) 59 years – as well as the fact that the last 4 finalists were ALL female and/or ethnic minorities?

    You never did answer several peoples’ question after you wrote your last column: When was the last time you used a bus, and what was your bus/car usage ratio for August? Mine was about 1/20.

    Lastly, the best way we can ALL do to help the NHS is to get fitter and healthier, don’t you agree? This 59 year old cycled from Birchington to Herne Bay this morning. I know it isn’t easy for some, but I do hope you’re at least trying to do your bit to ease their burden.

    • Oh dear Peter, I can see that the matter of my use of public transport is going to eat away at you. Let the record show, in August I used 2 trains per week and also took several tube journeys. I would have driven myself a couple of times to the supermarket. Although I mainly try to walk to get my steps in – 10k per day. You know how it is. No buses. Not one. I’d used public transport to cover the majority of my travel. There are much more important issues than whether I take the bus.

      • Yes there is Karen. Like the illegal entry into this country everyday of individuals arriving in inflatable boats. How do you think this should be stopped?

          • I didn’t ask you! Or are you Karen Constantine in drag? By the way you think the UK is a mess look at your beloved EU with Italy and other states in a shambles economically (the northern countries v the south) Remember Greece! and at least one seeking closer ties with Russia and the Baltic states looking on in horror! Oh by the way Christine Legarde had made a right mess of the ECB!
            Finally hopefully we have someone in charge who will drive through some change and tear up red tape left over from what in effect is a failing European superstates!!

          • I didn’t ask you! Or are you Karen Constantine in drag? By the way you think the UK is a mess look at your beloved EU with Italy and other states in a shambles economically (the northern countries v the south) Remember Greece! and at least one seeking closer ties with Russia and the Baltic states looking on in horror! Oh by the way Christine Legarde had made a right mess of the ECB! Now that’s my synopsis and going back to the question of what’s arriving on our shores your solution just shows how little you grasp what is happening. No problem with people who are desperate and in fear of their lives. The majority are economic migrants shipped in by gangs Who once over here disappear to do god knows what!
            Finally hopefully we have someone in charge who will drive through some change and tear up red tape left over from what in effect is a failing European superstates!! By the way any response from you or others will be ignored as I haven’t got anymore time to waste countering some of the bilge spewed out on here!

    • This 61 year cycled from Margate to Upstreet, to Little Bourne, to Wingham, to “Wendy’s” at Stourmoth where I enjoyed a nice piece of cake and, then home.

      I took the bus to work this morning and walked the two miles home this evening.

      Endorphins and dopamine are nature’s antidepressants. They should be prescribed by the N.H.S!

      • You are quite right Harry. But sadly this common sense lifestyle doesn’t make billions for big pharma, so natural well-being tools and looking after your natural immunity are not priorities for the NHS or any main political party. Interesting that.

        • I’m sure it IS something the NHS want, but how many people, when told to lose weight/exercise more/give up smoking/ease up on drinking/etc, actually take any notice? GPs are apparently going to start prescribing exercise to many suffering from both physical and mental illnesses, so it would be interesting to see how that goes down.

        • Which is why I’ll shortly be getting an invitation to have a needle stuck in my arm… Again. Treasury Corporation Tax receipts.
          Not that I’ll accept. Who knows what intracellular functions may be affected by alien R.N.A. The late ’50’s and early ’60’s was also the time of Thalidomide. Thank goodness the only side effect of the morning sickness drug my mother took was that I have always had yellow teeth & bones!😂

    • Mmmm! The Tory’s have inflicted 4 prime ministers on us, in just six years, that says it all really Peter! I give this current Muppet a year tops! My newspaper this morning had an article by John Curtice the well know Pollster, who says the Conservatives are now 17% behind labour! Thats why the two chocolate tea pot MP’s for Thanet are trying to big up reopening Manston! They think this will garner votes for them in the next election, the traitors!

        • Thats because we do not have democratic representative electoral system! Its skewed in favour of the Tories, and since 1945 more people voted against every government, of both persuasions, than voted for them! I am not a member of any political party, but I am member of the Electoral Reform society. Its time the UK adopted a grown up Proportional Representational system where every vote counts. The referendum to do this was badly flawed, and many people didn’t understand it. A start would be something like the Scots, Northern Irish, and Welsh have to elect their Assemblies, not perfect, but better that First Past the Post, that disenfranchises millions. Why do you use your title? I have letters after my name, but never use them unless its pertinent to the debate. Not impressed!

          • “… many people didn’t understand it.”
            How patronising (or matronising)!
            Especially from someone to cowardly to use their own name. No wonder you’d rather not vote for an individual representative. P.R. and personal responsibility/accountability are anathema to P.R.

  2. “… the like of which I’ve never witnessed in my 59 years…)
    Really?
    Well I’m two years older and I remember the early 1970’s very well. Why don’t you? Not paying attention? Didn’t notice sitting in an unheated schoolroom with your coat on because the power was rationed, when the snow was on the ground outside.

    • I was born in that horrendous winter of 62/63, and spent the first 4 years of my life living with my parents in a chilly south London “prefab” – in fact I never lived anywhere with central heating until I was 36 years old! Our lunch of choice was usually either bread and dripping, or sugar sandwiches, as jam was too expensive. Looking at old photos now, me and my siblings were all very under-weight (though fat kids were a great rarity back in those days). This is why I insist that most of the people today “in poverty” don’t understand what it is like to be REALLY poor.

      • I was born in the spring of 1961. I have a very faint recollection of being on Sheerness seafront in my pushchair watching men walking on the sea.
        We were more affluent than your family, but at that time we had a coal fire and a paraffin heater.
        My sister is the same age as Ms. Constantine. She remembers Ted Heath’s time. Why doesn’t Karen?
        Not to mention the “Winter of Discontent”, before I first got to vote (not for Margaret Thatcher!). Ms Constantine doesn’t remember the news programmes depicting this and the demise of Labour’s Jim Callaghan? She would have been taking her “O-Levels” the following summer. Was she really that unaware? Or, has she got amnesia?
        Either way, it doesn’t do much for her credibility.

        • That’s the year I was in a care home. I was despatched many miles from home, into a mother and baby home. The following year, I was homeless with a babe in my arms. But I was very lucky. Back in the day, work was a route out of grinding poverty. You can’t say that now.

          The point here is about comparative poverty, and growing wealth inequality isn’t it? Because we experienced hardship; cold, hunger and cardboard in our shoes when the soles worn out – should we really allow it to persist?

          Everyone should enjoy a decent and dignified standard of living. Let’s see what Truss offers the hard-up and scraping by amongst us. Let’s judge her on her achievements.

          • “… comparative poverty.”?
            Another euphamism.
            I loathed and still do loathe what happened during the 1980’s. However, your euphamism is precisely “… The Politics of Jealousy.” of which That her spoke.
            There is only one “Poverty” and work is the only way out of it.
            Well done to you for coming through it with your child.

      • I’m sure this thread is inspired by the wonderful “ Four Yorkshiremen “ sketch by Monty Python where they try to out do each other with how bad things were as they grew up.
        Check it out if you’ve never seen it before , as it’s very funny .

      • Hahaha. I’m a big fan of Monty python too. I’m loving all the python fans recreating one of their funniest skits here. Very good. I agree it’s pathetic to keep harping back to how bad we had it years ago and ask why would we want to go back there?

      • I remember sugar sandwiches and dripping sandwiches although in our prefab it was lovely and warm in winter as well as the rest of season Iwe then had a coal fire which my mom would bring in a bath boil water on fire and we would share bath water

  3. No food banks in 1962.No waiting 40 hours for an ambulance.electricity generated by coal.The same coal industry the Tories destroyed.
    I was at school then.I walk more and use the bus more.even though they are becoming rarer than hens teeth.
    Physical health is fine but brain training is as important.
    I am not sure we have advanced on all fronts!

    • There wasn’t food banks because no-one would’ve been able to afford to donate to them. We (at least where I lived) were all in the same boat.

      As for electricity, could you imagine the fuss from the left if they built new coal powered generators these days? NOT that I’d object.

      Reading and writing is a great way of keeping one’s brain fit! I watch very little TV.

      • My grandad was in the war and dodged bombs. He says your generation had it easy and moaned about a few blackouts and strikes.

        Perhaps we need a few bombs dropped on us to toughen us up? Coz people survived the war right….

        What a ridiculous argument constantly saying you were cold as a kid and didn’t have heating. Society evolved. Why do you want to go back?

  4. Maybe some of the 2000 invaders from the weekend can be brain surgeons in the NHS eh …
    Never labour
    Never KC and the sunshine band

  5. Theresa took over from David, Boris took over from Theresa, Liz took over from Boris. The Tories have been in power for 13 years – don’t be fooled into thinking this new figurehead represents anything ‘new’.

    • Yes Mark my Words, the Tory’s have had 4 prime ministers in six years inflicted on us, and overall 3 women prime ministers, but it must be remembered that they sacked two of the women prime ministers, Thatcher and Theresa May, and my guess is they will soon do the same with Truss!

  6. What are the priorities of Liz Truss?

    This article could have been so much shorter.

    – Tory financial backers & any businesses that pay Tory MPs.

    The richest ten percent will continue to get richer at the expense of everyone else’s standard of living.

  7. All main political parties have failed and appear to sing from to the same hymn sheet. Left vs right is a complete false illusion of choice. The UK energy system has become dysfunctional over years and has been taken down a very illogical path. As has the NHS. The covid lockdown measures are now seen to have been a complete disaster by so many – politicians, think tanks, businesses, health professionals etc. etc. The harm from the covid jabs is unprecedented globally as illustrated by the official governments adverse reactions reports – continuing to cause much sickness, long term disabilities and sudden deaths. And the war mongering from the West is continuing the war in Ukraine with the only winners being the arm industries (including that of the UK), with no thought being given to the history of what happened in Ukraine with the 2014 regime change etc. If any politician of any colour ignores these key facts, they are not brave enough to tackle any real solutions. And you have to ask yourself why.

      • Doc Jones you appear to have forgotten about about aggressive Nato expansion around Russia, civil-war in Donbas, Odessa 2012, the Minsk Agreement, Nazi battalions (referenced in the past by papers such as the Guardian) endemic corruption in Ukraine, Crimea’s military importance and historical ties to Moscow, the CIA coup- d’etat in 2014 etc etc. This has all been airbrushed out and replaced by juvenile and simplistic propaganda promotion of a very clear puppet – Zelensky – by the West. That’s the Zelensky who owns multi million pound villas in the US and Italy, and was a minor reality celeb prancing around in high heels. Does anyone have the capacity to study the history of it all anymore. Does the Labour Party?

        • You’re right here. This time Doc is not. Obama and Europe were playing in Putin’s front garden and breaking his windows. The Obama was ousted and a clown took over. Tensions decreased. Then an aggressive old man stole the elections (NO, he did not!)and called Putin a murderer (YES he did) and they he was coming after him (with his Zimmer frame probably). Oil on the fire and innocent victims as a result. Soaring energy prices, recession coming, thank you old man. You’re much better than the clown. Ask an Afghan?

  8. Of course you want a new general election. And if Labour loses again you’ll call for a new one, and a new one, and a new one, until Labour wins. A monthly Scottish independence election would please Nicola as well. That’s why some people play online casinos. They want the big bucks as well. And they won’t stop until they achieve it. The more they play the bigger the chance they’ll get it one day. Unfortunately General Elections are quite expensive for the taxpayer.
    Create decent jobs you said?
    There are a few vacancies in the NHS. But maybe you don’t call that decent jobs. After all they must deal with drunks and druggies. And victims of muggings and stabbings. Tories roam the streets at night? Not sure. But a lot of pressure on the NHS, and that’s a fact.
    Airport: any number of jobs is welcome. That’s families getting a future. Not politicians fishing for votes.
    I’m not a lefty nor a fascist.
    I served for over 30 years. Now I am just a charity volunteer with my eyes wide open.
    And I beat all of you: I’m 62!

      • I know Samantha, there are lots of vacancies to be filled in. But the mentality of SOME is “better on benefits” and we’d rather be complaining then to retrain and get a job.
        They can afford Sky & Disney, but not their utility bills. Someone else must provide for them as well. And, (and I am unanimous in this), as it is not given to everyone to study , jobs in leisure, catering and agriculture are open to anyone who enjoys the pride of EARNING instead of leaching.
        Mind you: Age and medical conditions are exceptions and must be treated with due respect and consideration.

          • Yes, you’re right. And that’s a problem created by the councils (Tory and Labour alike) over the years. Housing credit made it possible for landlords (e.g. in London) to charge unreal rents, instead of moving to cheaper alternatives further away. The market is no longer self regulating (liberal capitalism). Prices of homes being turned into multiple open prison cells has soared. Stop putting tax money there, and the prices of the rents will have to come down. Or flats stay empty. This will affect the “buy to rent” adventurers as house prices will come down and become more affordable for us.
            This will of course create a huge problem for people who recently bought at an overrated price. An very temporary injection of capital saved on the housing benefits should smoothen that for the new owners avoiding foreclosures.
            After that the market will regulate itself at a much more affordable level. I own my flat and I know it’s value will come down, but stupid decisions from the past always produce innocent victims in the future. So be it.

  9. Wow! That’s a big rant, even for someone from the Labour party! However, I have some issues with the content of your piece:
    ”We are in the grip of a political and economic crisis – the like of which I’ve never witnessed in my 59 years” But, surely, you’re old enough to remember the Labour government of 1974-1979? Inflation much higher than now, mass unemployment, overmighty unions crippling the economy with wildcat strikes against a spineless government who just folded to them every time. From March 1977, the Labour government was a minority one, relying on Liberal votes. Did Callaghan call an election? No. When the Liberals stopped supporting him in Parliament? No. Yet, you expect the new PM to call an election when she has an 80+ seat majority. Absurd.
    As for a lack of funding for student nurses, wasn’t it Blair’s Labour govrenment that brought in tuition fees, then tripled them, and ended the student grant? (that I got when I was at uni)
    ”We are waiting” – you mean the new Conservative Party leader, not even officially PM yet, hasn’t solved all the nation’s problems by waving a magic wand within 24 hours? AND in ways entirely to your liking. How can that be…? Absurd.
    ”The very first thing I want the new PM to tackle…” like the rest of us, you’re entitled to your opinion, and are fortunate enough to have a wider platform than most of us to voice it. However, I assume that you are neither a Conservative Party member, nor someone who voted Conservative at the last General election. As such, you are nowhere near the front of the queue of people who Truss should be listening to first. After all, enough people voted Conservative in that election for an 86 seat Parliamentary majority.

  10. Surely Liz Truss’ priorities should not be focused on members of the Conservative party, but on all members of the population equally?

  11. It’s so lovely to read all the racist comments usually posted on this online news platform. No matter the topic, racists will raise their head (and arm) and feel compelled to write something nasty, wrong, and racist. Many thanks to all. And to the barristers (surely, pesky leftists ones) using the posts to teach us about current legislation.

    • “Antifa”?
      What does that mean?
      Does it mean, “I’m too much of a coward to call other people names and identify myself”?
      I know that in this country we have freedom of choice and secret ballots at elections. However, if you turned up to a polling station and demanded your vote identifying yourself only as, “Antifa”. Do you think you’d get to cast your anonymous vote?

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