Sunday, 22 June 2014

Tory MPs and Ministers may be arrogant and out of touch but at least they have their passports!

This week I watched with interest the debate over the passport chaos we are currently witnessing. There were so many interruptions during the speeches of Tory Home Secretary, Theresa May and her Labour opposite, Yvette Cooper that after they had both finished, other MPs were limited to a speech of 6 minutes and even then not all who wanted to speak would be able to.

The current backlog of passports is of interest to me as in 2 weeks time I am leading 30 school pupils on a trek in Northern India and our Mountain Guide is currently still waiting for his passport as he had to send it to the passport office as he had run out of pages. He has now been told he has to drive to Durham for an appointment where they will try and deal with it. Not the service you would expect.

The chaos seems to have been caused by a number of issues but taking over a service previously provided by consulates overseas certainly did not help and whatever the coalition would like us to think, job cuts and the downgrading of certain passport offices seems to be the main contributing factor.

Remember this is a service that makes a profit! Last year it was believed that each passport application made the Government £13.

Now the whole episode has been a PR disaster for Theresa May, whilst she was spending her time arguing with Michael Gove and losing the services of her trusted assistant the problem with passports was becoming known to most MPs as residents contacted them for help.

At first she said there was no problem and no backlog, the next day the Prime Minister indicated there was a backlog of 30,000 applications. This quickly reminded me of the chaos caused by the recent floods where the PM, Pickles and the Environment Minister could not seem to agree on how much money was needed and how much would be promised.

This week Mrs May did say sorry but was still loathe to admit there was a problem but she did seem to indicate there was possibly a backlog of 40,000 passports (on Saturday we were officially told there is now a backlog of 53,000 passports).

But after Theresa May and Yvette Cooper had finished we then had the spectacle that yet again how much contempt for voters that this Tory Government has.

First of all the Home Secretary, Mrs May only listened to the first two MPs speak – one from either side before she scuttled out of the chamber. How will she know what MPs think or maybe the solutions they suggest if leaves as quickly as she can?

But possibly she left because she knew already what the Tory MPs were going to say!

The third speaker was former Labour Minister, Gerald Kaufman who then rightly criticised Mrs May for not even staying to listen to the debate – so angry was Mr Kaufman that he declared Theresa May to be the worst Home Secretary that he has seen in during his 44 years in house, he then went onto describe her as one of the most arrogant politicians he had ever met.

A Tory did spring up to her defence before then repeating the Tory Party line when it comes to explain the passport chaos – and what is that reason? There is a backlog of passports as now the economy is doing so well more people are going on holiday overseas!

An answer that I would compare with one attempted by many 11 year old school children – my dog has eaten my homework – an excuse not believed by anyone and I am not sure anyone is going to believe the Tory Party reasoning for the passport chaos.

But the Tories are now so out of touch and arrogant they must think we will believe anything because just two days later we had a Tory MP explain that we have more potholes as now more people have jobs we have more people driving!

What other bad news story can the Tories blame on so called good news about an improved economy?

So we have an issue that we already know is affecting over 50,000 people, an issue that was enough to lead to an emergency debate and all the Tories could do was get a number of puppet MPs to trot out the hardly believable party line. No wonder many voters have little faith in some of our elected representatives.

But if we did not believe that excuse we had some more good advice from a Tory Minister, Helen Grant who indicated that the passport chaos may be a good reason to decide to have a holiday in the UK. Trouble is she decided to tweet this advice to us from Brazil, where she is currently watching England play in the World Cup (on a free trip)

Tory MPs and Ministers may be arrogant and out of touch but at least they have their passports!

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