Heidi Allen, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, attacked the plans of her own party to slash tax credits in her maiden speech to the Commons on Tuesday.
Her first speech to parliament saw her challenging the government directly, joining many on the left and much of Fleet Street in questioning plans to cut tax credits, a kind of working benefit that subsidises someone’s income.
Not all of what she Allen made sense, with her incorrectly claiming that “debt has been falling consistently” when she presumably meant the deficit had been falling consistently (the deficit being, in rough terms, government income less government spending).
British national debt is still pretty high, though not out of keeping with the rest of the EU when calculated as a percentage of gross domestic product.
Where Allen was more convincing was when she made like Guardian columnist Owen Jones and began waxing about people who keep the country ticking over:
“A constituency does not function – a country and its economy do not function – if the people who run the engine cannot afford to operate it.
“To pull ourselves out of debt we should not be forcing working families into it.”
Some have speculated that Osborne and Cameron are getting the nastiest of the cuts out of the way so that by the time the next general election happens in 2020 the public will have forgotten what mischief occurred in this parliament’s early years.
But even so, it is hard not to disagree with Allen’s view that the Tories seem to be “sending a message to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society that we do not care”, and that the pace of reforms are “too hard and too fast.”
The MP previously attracted attention for saying that chancellor George Osborne is “too smooth” to succeed prime minister David Cameron as the next Conservative leader when he steps down later in this parliament.
It should be noted that none of her criticism above stopped her voting for tax credits.
She joins the Scottish Nationalist MP Mhairi Black in using a maiden speech to make a political statement, a departure from the previously dull format of maiden speeches, as explained by the BBC’s Norman Smith below:
Image Credit – Heidi Allen, via Twitter