Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen the Government limp from one crisis to another which all comes against the backdrop of the Tories ripping themselves apart over our continued membership of the European Union and who will eventually succeed David Cameron when he steps down as Prime Minister.
Firstly, we had the ultra-shambolic Budget which saw the resignation of the then Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith because of the divisive measures in the Budget and the Government’s failure to support the most vulnerable in society.
This was then followed by the decision by TATA Steel to sell off their entire UK Steel business, which sent shock waves right through the steel industry and its supply chain, and connected industries, all whilst the Business Secretary was away in Australia on a business trip knowing full well that crunch talks in Mumbai would be happening at the same time.
With nearly 40,000 people employed in our steel industry, it was deeply shameful of the Government to look complacent in the wake of such a devastating blow to one of our most important industries – especially after their failure to save Redcar steel works last year.
There have been countless opportunities for the Government to step in and save our steel industry including supporting, rather than blocking, reforms in the EU that would have alleviated the problem of cheap Chinese steel swamping the market and could have helped save this vital industry.
Instead of putting their heads in the sand, government ministers must publish a full industrial strategy that includes procurement measures to support British steel wherever possible with publically funded infrastructure projects.
To top it all off, we then had the release of the Panama Papers – which showed the Prime Minister’s father’s company was linked to the revelations which showed what we all knew was the case, tax avoidance is rife in British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies, and after four days of misleading statements, the Prime Minister finally admitted to benefitting financially from his father’s company’s tax avoidance.
The Government has continually failed to deliver on collecting the missed income that would come from closing tax havens and loopholes, which could help our vital public services which we all rely upon. With an estimated £34billion tax gap in HMRC, more action must be taken to address this gap, however there are concerns that measures proposed in the Finance Bill will not go far enough.
It is a damning indictment of this Government when they are far more interested in their own Party’s internal division, instead of addressing some of the most pressing issues of the day. That is why Labour will continue to hold the Government to account and remind them of their duty as the Government to improve the lives of ordinary working people, rather than saving their own skins and egos.