Like the prodigal son, the self-styled ‘Saint’ Sarah Teather of Brent Central declared she was returning to spend more time in her constituency after being banished to the backbenches during this week’s reshuffle kerfuffle.
Ever since her sensational election victories in Brent East and Brent Central, Sarah Teather has always modelled herself as the perfect MP. Always on your side, always taking-up issues that matter to you and always just a phone call away.
Since being elevated to the dizzy ministerial heights of Minister of State for Children and Families, Sarah Teather has all but neglected the people of Brent and shamefully trodden all over her Lib Dem principles.
In her maiden speech Sarah Teather, who was then the ‘baby of the house’ lambasted the Higher Education Bill in 2004 which introduced top-up fees declaring:
“This Bill must be defeated. The Government is trying to make access to higher education dependent on the ability to pay, when it should be on the ability to learn.”
Shockingly, six years later Sarah Teather forgot all about her constituents during the winter of 2010 and voted to increase tuition fees to £9,000. From this September young people in her constituency going to university will be straddled with debts of up to £60,000 thanks to their local MP.
Then there was the Airport Passenger Duty Tax (APD). It was widely criticised for taxing travellers more to fly to the Caribbean than to the west coast of America despite being 700 miles closer.Brent has the highest number of people of Caribbean descent in the UK prompting Sarah Teather to lead a high profile campaign against the tax. She labelled it unfair and unacceptable and relentlessly toured the streets with Lib Dem Baroness Floella Benjamin collecting signatures petitioning against the charges. But six months after she entered government, the tax was increased by 25%. It was clear that Teather was more interested in currying favour with the Caribbean community than actually tackling the APD issue.
We all know Sarah Teather is a fast mover as we saw when she was door-stepped during the tuition fees fiasco by SKY TV cameras. But it seems that when it comes to policy positions, Sarah Teather shifts even quicker then that!
She was the squeaky clean MP who never claimed any expenses. But her voting record in government is abysmal and is systematically destroying the fabric of the community in Brent. The welfare reforms will hit 33,000 households in Brent alone. It will lead to increases in homelessness, poverty, and debt in an area which is already one of the most deprived in the country. There are currently 11,000 children living in poverty in the borough, one of the highest in London yet Sarah Teather votes for housing benefit caps, stopping the EMA and is part of a government that is failing to create jobs and tackle unemployment.
She can come back to Brent to ply her usual Lib Dem tactic of pavement politics. But it’s her government that broke the pavement in the first place with their cuts to local government. Her own department slashed Brent’s funding for children and families by £2m including cuts to Children Centres, SEN provision and grants to tackle substance misuse, alcohol and teenage pregnancies.
Brent is a place of traditional Labour values built on a strong sense of social justice, equality for all and opportunity for all. Something I and the Labour Council are fighting hard to uphold unlike fair-weather Teather who has forgotten her liberal roots. She has not only swallowed, but espouses the gospel of one of the most ideologically driven governments.
Sarah Teather is the fallen saint of Brent and this time people will not forgive or forget her betrayal of Brent.