Star comment: Candidates need to rise above soundbites

The race to be PM hasn’t shown off the Tory Party at its best.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are in the West Midlands today for the latest round of hustings. Liz Truss is visiting Jaguar Land Rover and is promising to prioritise the West Midlands with her “pro-business and pro-enterprise” policies.

She says she’ll put the West Midlands at the heart of the Conservative’s economic revival with her plan to level up. She believes her vision for lower taxes and deregulation will help to boost the local economy. She may not have realised that our region is ailing and many business are fearful of what the future holds.

Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, is promising a safe pair of hands as his team lay bare the reality of Liz Truss’s magic money tree offering.

It is the latest stage of a pretty undignified race to Number 10 that Liz Truss looks like winning. We welcome her promises to be a friend of the West Midlands and in Andy Street she has a forceful advocate for a region that is packed full of expertise - not just in the Black Country but in the wider region including Shropshire and Staffordshire.

The hustings are part of our democracy and we expect both candidates to be forthright in their views, but the debate hasn’t exactly shown off the Tory Party at its best and has descended in recent weeks into name-calling and soundbites. Today businessman Carl Richardson, writing for our newspaper, calls on whoever takes charge to look for consensus, plan for the long term and to embrace new thinking. He is adopting a commonsense approach. The fear is that the new PM will again adopt short-termism, looking at the best policies to stay in power.

Back to School has always been a nightmare for parents as they scramble to get all those bits and pieces together. And now there is the added cost as the price of goods goes up and up.

It must be up to all schools to help parents at this time. While it is fine to have branded uniform, it must at least be at a price that is reasonable and all schools should by now have a hand-me-down scheme. Those that do not should be forced to.

Parents will already be feeling anxious about the months ahead and a significant number will be worried about such issues as feeding their children and keeping them warm.

There must be compassion, common sense and empathy towards those who are struggling, in addition to practical ways of alleviating the burden. We must also recognise the stigma youngsters feel when they imagine they do not fit in through no fault of their own.

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