As people in Bradford and across the country grapple with a cost-of-living crisis that has seen energy bills skyrocket, food prices spiral out of control, and mortgages continue to soar, we urgently need every level of government to act decisively by pulling every lever, using every mechanism, and pulling out all the stops to help us overcome the problems we face.

Yet rather than leading us through this crisis and protecting families’ finances by devoting their time and their parliamentary majority to introduce a real windfall tax on the enormous profits of oil and gas giants, closing tax loopholes that make it possible for the richest people and the biggest companies to avoid paying their fair share, and putting an end to the constant flow of scandal and corruption in their ranks, they are at each other’s throats.

At a time when we need a functioning government the most, the Tory party has instead decided to devolve into bitter feuding and infighting, not in debates over policy, but over who and who hasn’t been nominated to sit in the House of Lords or receive another honour, over the evidence they should present to the Covid-19 Inquiry, and over whether it’s a good idea to repeat the budget that near-wrecked the economy last autumn. It’s therefore clear they’re not only no longer capable of governing in the interests of Bradford or the rest of the country, but that they’re not even interested in trying to.

Over the last 13 years they already have little to show for their time in office, having delivered one of the most brutal assaults on the welfare safety net that plunged millions into poverty, presided over more than a decade of pitiful economic growth and stagnant wages for all but the very top, and directed the underinvestment of every public service that people rely on. Yet their vicious internal squabbles are just as damaging, as the challenges of solving the cost-of-living crisis and the other issues faced in Bradford and across the country will not be quick and they will not be easy.

It will need strong leadership and a unified government, but by failing to deal with the open defiance of his three immediate predecessors, the resignation of a number of MPs in opposition to his leadership, and the surrender to the extreme, hard-right, financially irresponsible and socially repugnant views of a minority of Tory MPs, Rishi Sunak and his Government have demonstrated that they are neither strong nor united.

As a result, we are trapped with a “zombie government”, which can do nothing except stumble on for the next 18 months until the general election. A government that cannot enact essential laws, cannot aid families with rising living costs, and cannot make the difficult choices that any responsible government must make.

To avoid defeats and appease a minority of Tory MPs and Lords, the government has already pulled votes on animal welfare and sexual harassment in the workplace laws, rejected measures to clean up the sewage they allowed to be dumped into our rivers and coastlines, backtracked on pledges to build 40 new hospitals, and watched as people’s mortgages have risen. However, as the Tory conflict, infighting, and chaos continues, and as MPs jostle to replace the Prime Minister and his Cabinet rather than fighting for working people, things will only get worse.

Instead of making laws, implementing policies, distributing resources, protecting the public and fixing our schools and National Health Service, every week for the next 84 weeks until the date when a general election is required will see another need for the government to step in and support vulnerable people ignored, another call for Ministers to act to protect jobs avoided, and another demand for the Prime Minister to stand up in the interests of the country as a whole against the views of his backbench MPs rejected.

We simply cannot go on like this for another week, let alone another 84, and it is clear that despite numerous changes in Tory Prime Ministers, Chancellors, and Ministers since taking office 13 years ago, the only thing that will put this sorry state of a government out of its misery and deliver one that can fight for working people in Bradford is a general election, not another rotation at the top.

Everyone can see it, including the Prime Minister. So he must finally accept that he has no other options and that his government is quite frankly ungovernable, and that every day they remain in Downing Street and Whitehall where they are in power but not in charge, unable to create laws and implement policy, is another day when they are harming ordinary people by denying them the support and functioning government that they need.

When he does, he will finally realise that he must call a general election, not in 18 months, but now.

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