In this opinion piece, Labour member Tom Nichols argues that the Tories aren’t just inept, they’re also deliberately diverting public resources as part of broader policy.

Tom Nichols

We hear time and time again tales of the inequities, blunders and outright stupidity of the Conservative powers that be. However, I would argue that the economic failures of this government at a local and national level are not a result of ineptitude but a deliberate attempt to divert public money into private coffers. This is not wastefulness, nor is it a blunder or lapse of judgement.

The origin of this diversion often has it’s roots in a conflict of interest for those in the upper echelons of Conservative power. MP for Bromsgrove and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid is a convenient example. An investigation by Private Eye revealed that Mr Javid was working as a director for his brothers multi-million-pound buy-to-let property firm as recently as 2005. A firm that his brother still runs. Which brings into question the possibility of a severe conflict of interest for the housing minister and at least hypocrisy when it comes to party pledges to provide affordable houses for all.

On top of this, Mr Javid along with a number of his Tory colleagues are private landlords themselves. The conflict of interest this creates was most recently exposed last June, when 309 Tory MP’s, 80 of which operate as private landlords, voted against a bill that obligated landlords to make their properties ‘fit for human habitation’. (A motion that was supported by all other parliamentary parties).

This whimsical tale regarding the foolishness of those in power is not just confined to secretaries of state however, we see it too being used to explain away the ‘wastefulness’ of local councillors. With recent revelations regarding the finances of local councils the same fiction was used to justify the discrepancies. Serious critical questioning is surely necessary when faced with the fact that some Tory councillors were bringing home salaries of up to £80,000 a year, and even more absurdly why a mystery ‘advisor’ was being paid two £50,000 salaries by neighbouring local councils.

It is my opinion that we need to reject these tales of foolishness and begin to analyse these situations critically, by presenting them as what they are, deliberate acts of economic diversion.