Pork barrel comes to the UK


Some time ago I told one of my granddaughters that I had no friends; I was hoping to elicit some sympathy from this excellent child. Her response was both perceptive and pertinent “Well you should be more polite to people and not so grumpy”. Serves me right – I had lied, I do retain some friends – but she was telling the truth.  Age has made me grumpy, but I feel that I have good cause. Yesterday’s news made me feel that our politics has hit rock bottom.  Everything I espouse seems to be under threat.

The shameful manoeuvres of Theresa May to secure any sort of Brexit have been matched only by the dismal failure of Jeremy Corbyn to articulate any sort of compelling vision of a future.  Sadly Parliament has failed to grasp the initiative, although there was a valiant effort by the person who should be Labour leader, Yvette Cooper.  All of this was predictable and one crumb of comfort is that our North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb voted the right way in all the divisions – he seems to have overcome any ambivalence.

What, however has shocked me is the report that, in order to secure support from anybody and at any cost, Theresa May is preparing to ‘entice’ certain Labour MPs to vote for her deal by offering a ‘”cash injection into deprived areas that supported Leave, including former mining communities”. A front-page report in The Times went on to quote ‘a well-placed government source’ saying “it’s about allowing Labour MPs representing Brexit communities to show that they have extracted something tangible in return for their vote.  And, frankly, it’s not an unreasonable ask” (The Times 31stJanuary).

This is what is known as ‘pork barrel’: a US term defined as the appropriation of government spending for localised projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district. The Prime Minister did just this to secure DUP support after the 2017 General Election and, if The Times is correct, will continue on these lines. Is there no sense of shame? This approach is wholly alien to our tradition of democratic politics.

Moreover it fails to recognise the changing nature of economic geography.  It is not just the former mining areas that are suffering from a lack of opportunities and declining living standards.  Here in North Norfolk the changing demography means that the opportunities for the Sixth Form Students that I mentor are dwindling.  There are almost no apprenticeship places in ‘new economy’ industries this side of Cambridge, which is a two-hour drive.  There is a general economic problem that requires a clear national strategy – and remaining part of the European Community is essential to its achievement.

If ‘pork barrel’ is accepted in this way our politics will be severely diminished.  Given this it is, in a strange sort of way, a relief to report that some things never change. Norfolk parish-pump politics continue to bump along much as they always did.  I attach a link to an article from the North Norfolk News on a no confidence vote in a local councillor.

Both the Councillor concerned and the Town Mayor mentioned in the article are Labour Party Members and the Councillor is a firm supporter of the Labour Leader.  So much for Mr. Corbyn’s ‘kinder, gentler politics’




leftyoldman blogs will appear occasionally as the Brexit battle continues and the shape of post Brexit politics emerges.  If you would like to receive email notification of future blogs, please press the ‘followleftyoldman’ button on the left hand side above. I continue to tweet at @eugrandparents.


3 thoughts on “Pork barrel comes to the UK

  1. As ever, you are spot on regarding the events at North Walsham. I am openly ashamed of our party leader and his extremist politics.
    Having read the report in the local paper, I am also embarrassed at the alleged behaviour of a so-called Labour councillor in North Walsham. No doubt this will be fully supported by the Constituency Party.


  2. Thanks Martyn.

    I am literally aghast at the behaviour of Corbyn and his acolytes.
    Everyone knew that the no confidence motion would fail, so why on earth go ahead with it. Winning it revived May from a defeat that in a normal world would mean she had to resign. There is little chance of the Tory’s calling a election before 2022 and most people know it. The more often he calls for one the more stupid he looks.

    His late and half hearted endorsement of the Yvette Cooper/Nick Boles amendment as well as the miss information that he wasn’t going to support or whip it, gave notice to the likes of John Mann that he could vote in favour of the amendment to renegotiate the backstop with impunity.

    The biggest laugh of all was him then deciding to go into negotiations with May on the basis of the Spellman/Dromey amendment which is purely advisory and can be ignored..

    Then he goes to meet her with Karrie Murphy the Marxist brexiteer, not his Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer, a complete joke.

    Was this crass stupidity or a calculated attempt to kill off the Peoples Vote?

    I have heard John Mann speak a couple of times, a nasty piece of work,

    Your problems in North Norfolk don’t surprise me, I know someone who is on the interview panel for labour candidates in the West Midlands. Many have no idea of how local government works, and frankly don’t care, their knowledge of the party and procedures are non existent. They are often inarticulate and incoherent.

    The panel rejects them and they are then reinstated by the increasingly Corbynista Regional Party.

    A disheartening and tragic state of affairs.

    Best wishes


    Liked by 1 person

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