What the Home Secretary James Cleverly actually thinks about Stockton on Tees.
On Wednesday, November 23, 2023, in the House of Commons, the Labour MP for Stockton North asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a legitimate question about poverty in the town. MP Alex Cunnigham asked the question as to why 34% of children in his constituency were living in poverty.
While the Prime Minister mumbled his usual platitudes and rehearsed answer, a microphone picked up this comment by the Home Secretary James Cleverly, who was sitting nearby on the government Front Bench; “Because it’s a shit-hole”.
Since the story broke, the Conservative Party and the Tory government have been running a damage limitation exercise on the situation. James Cleverly has of course denied that he described Stockton as a “shit-hole”, but admits using impolite language in the House of Commons, claiming that he was ‘mis-heard’ and was actually describing Labour MP Alex Cunningham as a “shit” and that his comment has been misinterpreted. Not according to non-Tory commentators who have heard the actual audio recording.
James Cleverly is, of course, a mixed-race individual; his father was from a White British middle-class professional background, but his mother is an immigrant from Sierra Leone, so he lives with a strong West African heritage. James Cleverly grew up in the South-East of England with a middle-class background and education. So how could James Cleverly possibly identify with the White British working-class majority population in Stockton on Tees?
Of course, it is a fact that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is a multi-millionnaire of Indian Hindu heritage and has limited actual knowledge of the North-East of England, much less any empathy with those indigenous citizens of Teesside living in poverty, no matter what the Conservative policy on ‘levelling up’ might promise.
So much for the Tory pledges about “levelling up” in the North of England when a government cabinet minister like James Clevelry has those kinds of opinions of a White working-class constituency in the North-East. Not that the Labour Party is actually any better in its attitude because the Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer is also a millionaire, living in London with limited understanding of the North-East.
The only differences between the two major political parties in regard to the North-East, is that the Conservative Party sees Teesside as a ‘Red Wall’ area it would like to exploit, but the Labour Party regards it as a ‘traditional Labour seat’ and takes its working-class vote for granted.
Top Image: Lauren Hurley / No 10 Downing Street, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons
Lower Image: British Movement Northern
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