Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may remember Lucy Allan, the Tory MP for Telford, who invented a death threat against her, blamed activists in her own constituency for her problems (Ms Allan lives in Wandsworth, which is definitely not in the Telford constituency), and became embroiled in a bitter and very public row with one of her own staff, her bullying attitude even making the front page of the Evening Standard.
Ms Allan has now become involved in yet another row, and one that she is unlikely to win: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited Telford last Thursday as part of the party’s push to increase its profile in marginal constituencies. Ms Allan’s majority is just 720; much more than a sneeze in the polling barometer and she’ll be on her way.
So when Jezza Tweeted “Great to be back in Telford today, which the @conservatives hold by just 720 votes. We are campaigning to win here at the next election” and followed with “Today I visited Newdale primary school in Telford, which is facing further cutbacks. Labour will end the @Conservatives cuts to our schools”, Ms Allen was incandescent.
“This tells us all we need to know about @jeremycorbyn This school achieved outstanding Ofsted status - but Jezza wants to Tory bash. Shame” she snarked, this lame attempt to get her detractors to “look over there” convincing no-one. “Achieved outstanding Ofsted status” and “facing further cutbacks” are not mutually exclusive.
So,just to make sure, Ms Allan told Jezza “Dear @jeremycorbyn don't think you know much about @NewdaleP no cuts and no they are not political they are brilliant. Please don't exploit”. It’s not really political, except it’s explicitly political when schools and their budgets are under mounting pressure. Which she then admitted.
“Telford was 2nd highest beneficiary of school funding formula gained 2.2%. All our schools got more cash except 2”. And the two were? We don’t get to find that out, just as the voters of Telford don’t get to see their MP being totally honest with them: inflation in the UK reached 2.9% in June. That made four months in a row above that 2.2% figure.
Moreover, the SchoolCuts website, backed by teaching and other unions, has estimated that Newdale Primary School and Nursery in Telford will, by 2021, lose over £91,400 of its annual budget, have its spend per pupil reduced by £224, and as a consequence will have to shed three teachers. So Corbyn’s “facing further cutbacks” claim is perfectly valid.
The Labour leader is quite within his rights rocking up in Telford, or any other constituency, as part of the party’s drive to oust more Tory incumbents at the next General Election. Given her track record of dishonesty, flakiness under pressure, and staff bullying, Lucy Allan should think herself lucky her party still considers her fit to be an MP.
Fortunately, the electorate is less easy to con. Lucy Allen - not waving but drowning.