Labour will urge the government to take action on bottlenecks and delays – from ten-week waits to receive a passport to record numbers on NHS waiting lists – in an opposition day debate today. Pat McFadden has accused the Conservatives of being a government “without a grip” that “doesn’t function, it only campaigns”. “The Tories promised to level up Britain, but instead they’ve given us ‘backlog Britain’,” the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury said. “They need to stop making new promises they know they can’t deliver, and concentrate on delivering those they’ve already made.”
Barristers in criminal cases have gone on strike, rejecting a 15% rise in their fees for undertaking legal aid work. Decades of cuts to legal aid rates, set by the government, have led to an exodus from the profession. The Criminal Bar Association says incomes have fallen by 30% over the last 20 years, and criminal barristers are earning as little as £12,200 in their first year. Its members are demanding a 25% increase and plan to take action over the next four weeks. Following hot on the heels of the RMT strike last week, and in advance of industrial action across other areas, it feels like the ‘summer of discontent’ is heating up.
Ministers are pressing ahead with plans to break strikes by using agency workers. Writing exclusively for LabourList, as legislation was published, Justin Madders argued that not only is the move an “attack on rights at work”, it also represents a “reckless threat to public safety”. The shadow employment rights and protections minister wrote: “As a pro-worker and pro-business party that will defend public safety and defend the rights of ordinary people to take industrial action, Labour will be opposing this legislation on all counts.”
With mounting pressure on the government over the cost-of-living crisis and the continuing reverberations of the ‘partygate’ scandal, rumours of defecting Tories have abounded. One Conservative MPs is reportedly in “advanced discussions” while another is “in close talks with a Labour MP”. According to The Guardian, neither the 2019 intake Tory MPs has met with Keir Starmer or had any formal contact with the leader’s office.
Elsewhere, voting in the election to decide who sits on Momentum’s national coordinating group begins today. Ballots open at 1pm this afternoon and close on July 6th at 5pm. People can join the group and vote in the election until July 3rd.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.