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Mark Andrews on Saturday: There's no such thing as a free lunch, Rishi

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read the latest musings from Mark Andrews.

Travellers broke into school playing fields at New Invention, Willenhall, after being given a police escort

We hear a lot about modern slavery these days, but what does it actually mean?

Well, a fly-on-the-wall documentary following police in Derby last week gave a telling insight. The inspector leading a 'multi-agency initiative' appeared to suggest the term applied to anybody paid below the minimum wage. Now that may be wrong and illegal, but it's not slavery as most people understand it.

The officer said anyone charging less than £7 to wash a car was viewed with suspicion. Which I guess means bob-a-job week has gone by the board.

He added that it was difficult making charges stick as many workers were quite content earning £45 a day, and didn't want to put their jobs at risk. So why is this a police matter?

Now I'm sure modern slavery exists, and should be dealt with seriously. But the police surely have more pressing things to do than checking pay rates at car washes.

Which brings us to the officers from Staffordshire Police who, on receiving complaints about unruly behaviour and criminal damage by travellers in Great Wyrley, did they (a) investigate the allegations, and arrest those involved, or (b) escort them to a school playing field in Willenhall where they caused more trouble?

I guess that's what they call 'neighbourhood policing' – pass the trouble onto your neighbours up the road.

Like many people, I joined in with the weekly 'Clap for Carers' at the height of the pandemic. But I'm afraid I gave Sunday night's applause to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS a miss.

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It's one thing showing our appreciation for all the NHS workers who put their lives on the line to help others, as well as all the medical staff and care workers outside the NHS. But standing on your doorstep to applaud the birthday of a government institution? That feels just a little authoritarian, a bit 'Soviet Union' for my tastes. What next – cheering the completion of a five-year plan?

Arboricultural genius Rishi Sunak, whose cultivation of The Magic Money Tree has proved more fruitful than anyone could have imagined, has just grown another £1.57 billion to support the arts. Some of this will be handed out to theatres and concert halls, so that they can afford to stay shut.

Great news for Wolverhampton Civic. Just a shame they didn't start it five years ago.

Time for lamé suit, Rishi

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And yes, you did hear that right. The Chancellor really is doling out £10 vouchers to anybody who fancies a cheap meal down the pub. What next? Free champagne flutes at every petrol station? Green Shield stamps?

And there is still the small matter of us supposedly being in the middle of an obesity epidemic.

Of course, none of this is really free, we will all have to pay for it one way or another. Still, Rishi might as well have gone the whole hog. And delivered his 'Summer Statement' in a gold lamé suit.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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