You kind of expect a Tory politician to be arrogant. That – along with a colluding media machine – is probably why they often get away with it. But there are times even they can surprise you with the sheer scale of their hubris.
The Tories are fighting two by-elections this week. In Stoke, they don’t seem to be making much effort and seem to be happy to stand back and leave their UKIP surrogates a clear field to try – and, it looks like, fail – to beat Labour.
But in the Cumbrian seat of Copeland, they claim to be the main threat to a Labour hold – and the key battleground is the NHS, an issue on which even the most anti-Labour media concede that Labour holds the high ground.
The reason it’s the key battleground is that there have been reports for ages that Copeland’s local hospital, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, faces severe downgrading including the loss of maternity services and its accident and emergency department – and of a major portion of its beds.
So surely any serious party with even a modicum of respect for the people it hopes will vote for them would be doing its level best to allay those fears – or, even at the most cynical extreme, at least pretend to be taking the concerns of the local people seriously until after the election.
But the Tories apparently hold the people of Copeland in such complete contempt that they can’t be bothered to go to the effort of making a show of caring.
Not even when all it would involve is opening a door.
The national media has ignored it, but a Cumbrian MP and local hospital campaigner were ‘not allowed’ to hand in a petition with 40,000 signatures calling for the hospital’s services to be saved – after having been told that they could:
Workington MP Sue Hayman had an appointment to hand in the petition today at 4pm. But when they arrived at Downing Street, they were refused entry and told to come back ‘after Thursday’.
After the votes are counted, in other words.
Clearly Theresa May – who can be seen below refusing four times to give any assurances about services at the hospital – wanted to avoid an uncomfortable photocall with a petition showing how deeply people care about their hospital and their NHS.
But it takes a special level of arrogant contempt to think that letting them turn up and refusing even to open the door to them would play any better.
That arrogance says that Theresa May considers the people of Copeland too stupid or too apathetic to punish her and her party at the ballot box.
This blog believes that Cumbrian people are far too sensible, perceptive and passionate about their NHS to fall for such nonsense – or to fail to see that only the Labour Party that created the NHS can be trusted with it.
Please make sure the Tories are sent a message accordingly on Thursday. Loud and clear.
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