THERE’S only one word I can think of to describe the Tory government at the moment, and that word is “cruel”. Cruelty is not a unique element of the Johnson government. The coalition and Cameron years brought austerity, which cruelly punished the poor for being poor, while helping the rich hoard more and more wealth (a common theme amongst all three recent Tory prime ministers).

Theresa May was the home secretary who introduced the “hostile environment” for immigrants coming to the UK and when she got the promotion to prime minister, she let the cruelty of benefit sanctions, the hostile environment and austerity continue as a matter of priority. But the Johnson government has taken things to a whole new level.

I spoke about the cost of living crisis in my last column. It’s clear that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer simply don’t care that ordinary families are about to face the largest reduction of living standards since records began.

Austerity was always a political and ideological choice for these governments. It was easy to punish the poor for the crimes of the super-rich that caused the great recession. It was, and remains, a cruelty that the Tories like to inflict.

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I have written before about how horrid the hostile environment policy is. Our country is improved in every way by immigration. We all benefit when hard-working people choose to live in our country and become a part of our society. Our economy is improved and our culture is enriched. But punishing people who are fleeing from war-torn countries is a cruelty that the Tories like to inflict.

They have shown us time and time again what they are. They are the nasty party.

But even knowing that, I simply couldn’t believe the latest cruel policy proposal. People desperately trying to find sanctuary and safety in this country are soon to be put on a plane and shipped to Africa. Refugees who cross the Channel will be put on a plane and sent to Rwanda, a country that the UK Government itself criticised for not investigating human rights violations.

It is barbaric, truly – a policy announcement that was only made because the Prime Minister wants to divert attention from the fact he was fined this week for breaching Covid laws that he put in place. The partygate scandal, and the fining of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be the end of their careers. They are criminals, not fit to lead.

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But the Tory Parliamentary Party doesn’t care. It wants to be seen as tough on the poor, tough on immigrants and tough on crime (unless it’s them committing the crime, then they’ll be extra tough on the immigrants to distract you).

Its MPs want to go back to their constituencies and say: “We did it. All those immigrants coming to steal your jobs, while getting unemployment benefits and getting free healthcare, we’re putting them on a plane right back out the door.” I’m sure that’s what plenty of voters want to hear from their MPs, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is simply cruel. There have been so many migrant crises in the years I’ve been an MP. First the Syrian refugee crisis, then Afghanistan and now Ukraine. The people fleeing these countries need our help, but we have a cruel government that isn’t interested.

I watched Cameron and May make a mess of the Syrian refugee crisis, and I’ve just watched Johnson and Patel make a mess of the Afghanistan and Ukrainian crises. Every time it comes to helping people, this government shirks its responsibility. It’s doing next to nothing to help the people at home with the cost-of-living crisis, and it’s doing everything it can to make things worse for people seeking asylum.

They go from self-made crisis to self-made crisis while making countless lives worse. The Tories aren’t just nasty, they are cruel. As a country, we need to hold a mirror up to ourselves, and we need to do it soon.