Seeing Red with County Councillor Karen Constantine: Tory blame game

Cllr Karen Constantine

You may think that’s a provocative title – but I think that is exactly where we are. The big question of the day is who will carry the can for a floundering, decaying political party? For a discredited, disreputable Government? Or for a country that’s going down the pan?

As we witness the Rwanda Safety Bill pass I can only conclude this is a new high (or rather low) in British politics – others have said it better than me. Stephen Kinnock MP took to X to say, “The Conservative Party is no longer a serious party at all. It’s a rabble. An alphabet soup of factions and cabals.”

It remains to be seen how the Bill will progress from this point, and what factional disruptions and costly, time consuming challenges there will be.

Frankly I’m worried. All of this is wholly performative. It’s politics thinly, bleakly weaponised to stir up division and legitimise racism. It’s simply all about the blame game. The narrative is transparent, don’t blame us – blame them. Please don’t fall for it!

Think about those who reach our shores in small boats – humans – skin and blood just like us.

Think about the death of the man on the Bibby Stockholm barge this week. It was predicted and preventable. Another Tory cock-up. Another example of performative political engineering. 500 people forced to live in a prison like structure designed to hold just 220 people. It’s inhumane.

Even if we can ‘disapply’ the Human Rights Act (whatever that actually means and ignoring what it does to the UK’s global reputation) the cost of the Rwanda plan is estimated to be £400m. It seems not only an extremely high price to pay to remove a couple of hundred people, but money that could be more wisely spent actually tackling the gangs trafficking people and reducing the asylum claim backlog. And will the Rwanda plan even work as a deterrent? Probably not when you have 99% chance of not being sent to Rwanda. So I doubt it. And just watch those costs escalate…

Can we really ignore genuine asylum seekers? Like the women I met who was a domestic slave, who fled for her life when the wealthy family she was literally shackled to bought her to London. She was on duty 24 hours a day and forced to sleep on the floor, frequently kicked awake… and worse. Or the women that was horrifically sex trafficked. Or the man I met whose mother, fearing he would be beaten to death, scraped every penny she could to get him  – a gay man – out of a country where homosexuality is still outlawed.

These asylum seekers often suffer from serious mental health issues, and have suffered immeasurably getting here, yet we stuff them into unsuitable places like the Bibby Stockholm and hotels that currently cost £8M a day and we give them £9 per week to manage on. (We’re all heart eh?) While we delay processing their legitimate claims for years. Many of them could be earning and contributing. Most want too. U.K. businesses report they have vacancies they can’t fill.


What exactly are the plans for Manston now it’s been deemed a permanent processing centre?

I’ve long advocated that local councillors – such as myself- should be able to gain access to the Manston processing centre. So that those being held there – and you can be held for up to 96 hours – can have someone independent from the immigration processing centre to confide in or to seek advice from. Also because many members of our local community want to show care and compassion.

To date this has been flatly denied.

Recently I wrote to Phil Douglas Director General at the Border Force to ask about the £50M food contract for Manston. I was frankly concerned by the quality and volume of cheap un-nutritious food that was being offered – as it approached its sell by date – to various Thanet food projects. I was amazed to find out that unbranded pot noodles which can be purchased for around a pound were costing the public purse £5 each! Someone is doing very well skimming the top of this contract!

Now we know the next phase of the Manston project is likely to cost £1B between now and 2034, and as 100 hotels used to house asylum seekers are earmarked for closure by Spring ‘24, I’m concerned the expansion at Manston and elsewhere will see a growth in substandard and possibly tented accommodation. Or maybe construction firm Laing O’Rourke, who have been given a million-pound contract to help with the “rapid construction” of new blocks at immigration removal centres will be deployed here in Thanet. I think we should know. Don’t you?

It’s the economy stupid! 

Britain has become a poorer, more unequal country under the Tories. That’s a fact. Inequality has increased, record numbers of children are being pushed into poverty, the gap between rich and poor is widening.

A recent Resolution Foundation report shows that fifteen years of economic stagnation have left the typical UK household £8,300 poorer than peers in countries like France and Germany. It certainly feels like that to me.

Even right wingers are warning that Britain is slipping back to the social divide redolent of the Victorian era. (That’s not a typo!) A recent Centre for Social Justice’s (CSJ) report ‘Two Nations: The State of Poverty in the UK’ highlights the U.K. is marked by a widening gulf between mainstream society and a depressed and poverty stricken underclass.

With wage growth slowing to 7.3% and job vacancies also declining we are being warned that Britain’s economy is stagnating. Some analysts have said we could go into a shallow recession over the coming months. Great.

But still – stop the boats!

Last but far from least – Health is wealth. 

We’ve been struggling to meet out cancer targets in Kent for a long while – certainly all the while I’ve been a member of the Kent HOSC – Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. As far back as 2013 our cancer death rates were high and the impact was most severe in the poorer areas of Kent – like Thanet.

“Tory health cuts have led to the shocking inequality in cancer deaths across the U.K. experts claim. A study found people in poorer areas are more likely to die from disease than those living in wealthier spots.” Jeremy Armstrong Daily Mirror 11/12/23.

The latest official figures show that the NHS waiting list in England has hit a record high of nearly 7.8 million, which includes people waiting for multiple tests or procedures. It is the highest number since records began in August 2007. Access to GP’s remains tricky and this too slows down diagnosis and vital treatment.

At the HOSC I was concerned that Kent is still failing to meet nationally agreed cancer targets and that committee members aren’t being presented with the detail on a sufficiently granular level. I’ve requested ward by ward detail on cancer treatments, especially Breast, Bowel and Cervical cancers. The devil as always, is in the detail.

You can always depend on the Tories to exacerbate inequality.

The charts speak for themselves.

Graph 1 Cervical screening coverage: aged 25 to 49 years old for NHS Kent and Medway ICB.

Graph 2 Cervical screening coverage: aged 50 to 64 years old for NHS Kent and Medway ICB.

Graph 3 Breast screening coverage: aged 50 to 70 years old for NHS Kent Medway ICB.

General Election anyone?


      • If Labour had a more charismatic leader (like ’90s Blair), they could have a landslide at the next election. Even Labour’s most extreme anti-Tory mob – such as Ms. Constantine – can’t find it in them to say “Vote for Starmer!”.

    • Karen Constantine is the far left Labour that Kier Starmer has tried to eradicate. Anyone that believes Kier Starmer has wrestled the Labour Party to centre ground is seriously deluded.The far left are waiting in the wings and will bankrupt this country in the first year of their government.

      Constantine and her far left cronies don’t believe in borders, (neither did Kier Starmer up until a couple of years ago). Controlling who comes into your country is a must in securing the safety of a country and countries that have no borders are usually classed as failed states.

      If people are worried about the uncontrolled chaos of hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants now, just wait until the Labour Party declares Britain open to anyone who wants to claim asylum, the numbers of people arriving in our shores will dwarf anything that we have witnessed so far. We are already overwhelmed, we already have over 300 thousand homeless, but the problems we face now will be insignificant compared to the Pandora’s box that the left and their everyone is welcome policies are going to open up to the people of Britain.

      • Really “Concerned”? The reason why the Rabid Right like you are still shouting the odds, is because Labour aren’t right wing enough for you. Well I agree with everything Karen said, and more, the Tory’s have succeeded in turning Britain into a 3rd world country, nothing works, and its corrupt from top to bottom.

        This Rwanda thing is a gimmick and meant to appeal to people like you, the no nothing numpty’s who really think flying a few hundred people to an African dictatorship will stop Asylum seekers, and Refugees trying to get here! Incidentally, I was a member of the Dover Detainee Visitors Group many years ago, visiting the Napoleonic prison to make sure the detainees were not being ill treated, until the Tory government stopped our grant!

        The inmates were largely Chinese, Caribbean, Nigerian, Pakistanis, Indian, and a few others from various countries, but none from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and other war torn middle eastern countries! Why was that, well we were still in the EU, and anyone entering this country from an EU country could be returned to the first safe EU county they entered. So you see so called “Concerned” the small boats are coming here because they can’t be returned to the EU, and I am guessing here but I expect you voted to leave the EU didn’t you?

      • I’ll be voting for the Labour Party. The Tories -not all, but more than enough- are selfish and heartless. Or is that just the way they like to appear?

  1. I had a director who once told me don’t give me problems give me solutions. The labour party can always find lots of problems, unfortunately they seem to be incapable of finding solutions to anything.

  2. Until you have the answer to the boat problem, have you the right to question, what the other party are trying do, if it was left to your Labour party, the flood gates would be open, to all and Sundry to come in.

  3. All talk no action, take the money and I’m ok so it’s not my problem. Not a single backbone anywhere is government just deep pockets of cash

  4. 1) The deceased on the Bibby Stockholm is not the person who was originally named. We, the voting, taxpaying British Public do not know who died, or the circumstances. We probably never will do because of commercial confidentiality clauses.
    2) Manston is the perfect place from which to launch deportation flights to third party client states. Our National and cultural Security are worth more than the face value of board, lodging and a prepaid credit card.
    3) Absolute Poverty has been a thing of the past in the U.K. for several decades now. If you want to know what that looked and felt like read former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson’s “This Boy”. U.K. poverty is now relative. Meanwhile, the “politics of jealousy”
    and Intersectionalism are now peddled simultaneously by a party which name bears little relation to its membership of history today.
    4) In reality, our personal health is pretty much down to a combination of personal lifestyle choices and genetics. Even though the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry will scream otherwise. Anyway, if we are in a “Pensions Crisis” , why is any serious politician calling for life extending meficine?

    • Well said Harry. It should be Stressed Karen getting Red faced as with all that stress she will soon be a shadow of her former self. The very thought of Flip Flop Starmer and Karen welcoming a multitude of ILLEGAL immigrants & their families is truly a sobering thought. The Tories have suffered many problems ; Covid being a ( hopefully ) once in a lifetime disaster – but would Labour have fared any better – NO – but are quick to carp on about how bad things are , without a single policy of their own . In fact no policy; no solutions ; no hope ; but I fib as Karen has a solution = Get Stressed = Tital Disaster 🤔🤔🤔

      • Labour’s “solution” to the small boat crossings is to “go after the people smuggling gangs and bring them to justice” (quoted by Yvette Cooper).
        That is easily said and might even sound like a good idea to voters but the UK does not have the power to arrest people outside of the UK.
        Even if they did, is selling someone a boat actually breaking the law?

    • Harry Webb you are one of the ignorant, and ill informed numpties that do not understand the reasons why failed asylum seekers cannot be returned to their home countries, its because their home countries don’t want them back! The reason is they can’t prove their identity, I knew of an Indian man who had spent 6 years in gaol because India didn’t want him back until he could prove he was Indian, Duurh!

      Albania has been bought off and their citizens are being flown back, but Turkey won’t sign an agreement to take their nationals back, so they stay here, again Duuurh! There are many other countries who refuse to accept people back, if they can’t prove who they are, which is most of therm, as they don’t have passports! I only met one man who was sent to France when we were in the EU, because he had entered the UK on a false French passport, and he didn’t speak a word of French!

  5. they will all be our best friends and promising us all sorts came election time , show me one of them from any party thats not in it for themselves ?

  6. I’m 63 and have seen a fair few mps come and go . One thing I can honestly say is I’ve never heard any mp give a straight answer to a question. Trained to evade the truth. As for the boats the quick çure is tow them back. To france

  7. The way to stop the rubber boats is for the U.K. government to pay the French police officers £500 for every rubber boat they puncture BEFORE it goes in the water so it can’t be used.

    • Bill & Superchip are displaying their supreme ignorance again! Why should the French stop people trying to come to the UK? Its not illegal to get in an inflatable boat and try to cross the Chanel in it! Also, its not in the interests of the French to stop them getting here, they have more than enough Asylum Seekers, and Refugees of their own!

  8. What I find hilarious and highly entertaining is the Conservative Party members themselves have been the planners and architects of their own party ruination. They called for the referendum to leave the EU because Cameron was stupid to allow it. They
    Allowed headbangers like Mogg &Co to form the ERG clique to cause division amongst their own MPs. They voted Boris Johnson to be their leader knowing he was absolutely useless ( hilarious) They then voted for Truss (hilarious)
    They then allowed Sunak to become leader WITHOUT anyone actually voting for him hilarious and even more hilarious.
    Sunak then goes on national television to tell us “ it’s time for a change” ha ha ha Yes Mr Sunak that’s the one thing you have got right a change form you and your disgusting joke of a government. In the name of God go man go.

  9. False illusion of choice for the Tories or Labour. They all capitulated to the weaponised fear propaganda of highly destructive covid lockdowns and toxic experimental jabs for their unseen masters, and continue to censor information to this day. But they will not be able to keep a lid on it much longer. Playbook is no doubt that the Tories hand the baton to Labour and we continue with the same socially engineered agendas run by unelected bodies such was WEF and WHO. Until the awakening is big enough that is.

  10. I’m laughing my nuts off at the fact that not one person can find it in them to say “Vote for Starmer”, hahahahaha…. ooops!

    • Here in Thanet we can’t vote for Starmer.
      I will be voting Labour, because it’s the best chance of getting shot of this dreadful government.
      A previous comment said that Labour would bankrupt the country.
      Too late, the Tories have already done it.
      Under this government, the rich get vastly richer, whilst the poor get poorer; we pay huge amounts to keep warm; sewage pours onto our beaches; the railway franchises are falling apart; waiting times at hospital A&Es are getting longer.
      Under this government, the very Sovereignty of Parliament is threatened as the Government tries to enact bills to take authority away from the courts and give it to ministers instead.
      Yes, I’ll definitely be voting Labout at the GE.

  11. Health is wealth.Just driven from London and admiring the surrounding countryside.Then I hit the borders of Thanet.TDC the whole area is covered in litter,every roadsign covered in graffiti, weeds on mass and dog mess everywhere.The blot on the South East of England and when I last looked Thanet Council was Labour.Dont think you car about my mental health.

  12. I partly agree with Bill, the Tories have been a great comic show for a few years, but the’re wearing a bit thin, same old hilarious dialogue, same crazy characters, weird tall stories. Its time we had a real government. We need a GENERAL ELECTION NOW, but they just won’t stand down, harder to get rid of than black mould.

  13. No Labour politicians ,local or national, have said ,what they will do to stop the small boats .Why??? because they have no idea, what to do except ,blame a stupid Tory government

    • No-one will be able to “stop the boats” as long as conditions in the countries from which these people are fleeing remain dire.
      I don’t think Amy government is going to succeed.

  14. All very laudable Karen but you are going to have to come up with something a little more inventive than “The Tories are terrible” to persuade people to vote for Labour next year.

  15. countrywide Labour are 20 points ahead in the polls so all the idiots whining locally better get used to a Labour victory
    Sunak has really got confused over Rwanda and his blinkers stop him actually doing what the French have offered that is a base in Calais to process applications for asylum. No need for smugglers then

  16. Not that it’s any of Laurence Davies’ business but I don’t have any dresses.

    Why do so many men posting on these comment threads seem to be trapped in their adolescence? It feels as if they are vying with each other to see how rude they can be, especially to and about women.

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