Sign telling Amber Rudd to resign in Hastings. Photo: Chrissy Brand Sign telling Amber Rudd to resign in Hastings. Photo: Chrissy Brand

The former Home Secretary’s desperate attempt to defend Tory policies in Hastings only shows how clueless she is, reports Chrissy Brand

During the weekend of July 21 and 22, disgraced former Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP made a desperate attempt to prop up her ailing Tory party. Along with a mere handful of fellow Tories in her constituency of Hastings and Rye, she made a poorly executed propaganda video, standing on the recently, highly controversially, privatised pier.

The video was both full of mistruths about Tory investment and so-called improvements in Hastings. It was also an attack on Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP. McDonnell was visiting the town to kick off his tour of towns that have been held back by the Tories. Rudd then went on to waste time in the final days of Parliament complaining that McDonnell had not observed a protocol of telling her that he was visiting a constituency where she is the MP.

This was a desperate attempt to be seen doing something in Hastings and Rye. Rudd’s majority was cut from 5,000 to 346 at the 2017 General Election. Having lost her position of power as Home Secretary, over the racist policies highlighted in the Windrush affair, she is clearly terrified, just clinging on to her seat – for now. Unless she is moved to another constituency (there are rumours of this happening, to a safe seat elsewhere in the South East), she will never regain a cabinet position. The chances of her retaining her seat in Hastings and Rye at the next general election are slim. 

A group of concerned local individuals, some from a range of parties and organisations, some with no affiliations to any group, made a response video. In it, we highlighted just some of the many ways that Amber Rudd’s Tory Party policies are decimating lives in our town.

Government austerity measures and ineptitude have led to major cuts in the area that are responsible for:

  • At least five homeless people died on the streets of Hastings last winter, deaths caused by eight years of Conservative Governments’ shameless austerity policies.
  • There is 6% unemployment in Hastings, compared with 3.4% in the rest of the South East.
  • 17.5% of people who work are in receipt of in-work benefits, compared with the South East average of 8.3%.
  • The local foodbank has seen an 82% increase in usage during the Conservative government’s universal credit roll-out.
  • Commuters are hampered by delays and cancellations on our train lines, with punctuality as low as 67% on some services to the capital this year.

John McDonnell’s visit to Hastings was to take part in a workshop to produce a manifesto for Hastings and Rye, a document that will form part of the Labour Party national manifesto to make a specific commitment on how the next Labour government will help to regenerate the constituency.

Hastings Borough Council Leader Peter Chowney observed that Hastings is still around the 20th most deprived local authority area in the country. The poorest neighbourhood in Hastings is the thirteenth most deprived in England out of 33,000 such neighbourhoods, in terms of income, employment and health deprivation (neighbourhoods in this context meaning Super Output Areas). Only parts of Liverpool and Blackpool suffer worse deprivation.  

Elsewhere in the constituency, parts of Rye and the village of Camber are in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods. The lack of affordable housing is a problem but it’s even worse in other parts of the constituency where house prices are even higher.

Rural poverty is a serious problem – if you live in a small village with no car, no bus services, no shop, no healthcare and no money – how do you survive?

Like the MP for Hastings and Rye, this Tory government is rudderless and clueless when it comes to governing. People in towns that are being held back and facing the brunt of cruel Tory policies know who’s to blame and are fighting back against austerity. In trying to take a cheap shot at John McDonnell, Amber Rudd made a cringe-worthy attempt to whitewash the real impact of Tory policies in Hastings – and it has backfired.