If political forecasters are to be believed, Jonathan Gullis will cease to be the MP for the West Midlands constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North at the next general election.
Stoke-on-Trent North is the correct name for the electoral district to which Mr Gullis frequently appends the areas of Kidsgrove and Talke, proudly presenting a tally of how often he says it in parliament as some sort of pointless performance indicator. Gullis was elected with a 6,286 majority at the 2019 general election when Labour’s red wall turned blue, taking the seat from Ruth Smeeth. He will be remembered fondly by a handful of the diehard Tory faithful, and arguably by a smattering of BNP voters who had nowhere to go when the decent people of Stoke-on-Trent firmly consigned them to the political dustbin of history at past elections.
Let us remember Jonathan’s political career as a parliamentarian, his contribution to levelling up, and champion of the great city of Stoke-on-Trent; the legacy he will leave behind.
Your parliamentarian – if you agree with him
Jonathan’s use of social media provides untold material for political commentators notably his Twitter parody and nemesis @JEGullisnotMP who incidentally has more social media followers than the real deal. This account filled the void when Jonathan left the platform irritated by attempts to hold him accountable for what he was saying by those that didn’t agree with him.
Nowadays, through his carefully moderated safe space on Facebook, Jonathan courts the opinion of his 8k followers, some of whom allegedly live in Stoke-on-Trent. Those who try it on, as they did on Twitter, have their questions removed and are quickly blocked from accessing the site. Facebook has provided Jonathan the opportunity to shape the debates that the Conservative Party want to have, especially about immigration and small boats. His parliamentary speeches on the issues of the day are delivered like a true statesman; they are a sight and sound to behold:
“The people of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke are delighted that we have shipped off over 10,000 foreign national offenders since 2019, because they do not deserve to have their feet on these great British shores. However, my constituents are flabbergasted that the woke, wet and wobbly lot opposite are on the side of their leftie woke warrior lawyers in making sure that these rapists and paedophiles remain in our United Kingdom, rather than actually standing up for the British people and their safety.”
Levelling up – with our money
But what about all that investment returning to the city of Stoke-on-Trent thanks to Jonathan?
In the 2021 budget the government announced that Stoke-on-Trent had been awarded £56mn after successfully bidding for the ‘levelling up’ fund. Usefully for the three MPs that serve the area, this provided an excellent opportunity to flog the £56mn figure to celebrate their hard work in getting money from central government for their areas.
In reality, this was a scam, a claw-back of the huge amount of funding cut from the city by the Conservative government. During the period 2010-2019, government cuts to the city’s budget totalled a staggering £194mn. An additional £14.4mn of cuts and council tax hikes were announced for the period 2021-2022. Levelling up, much like austerity, has been criticised as just another Tory confidence trick, arguably a myth, half-truth, or a lie perpetrated on the people.
According to Professor Wilks-Heeg, from the University of Liverpool, overall there was a £16bn reduction in grant funding to council in England between 2010-2020, and “the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund is simply not sufficient to reverse the impact of more than a decade of local government cuts”.
There we have it. The money they have returned to us, our money paid for by our taxes, is a mere morsel of what was cut from our budgets. Thank you Jonathan, for getting us a share of £56mn back; please sir, can we have some more?
Promoting Stoke-on-Trent to a lower league
But at least Jonathan Gullis raises the profile of the city, doesn’t he?
“For too long, sadly, Stoke-on-Trent was talked about in a negative light by my predecessors, so I will talk about how great Stoke-on-Trent actually is and what it has been doing under not only a Conservative Government but a Conservative-led city council.”
So how has Jonathan raised the profile of Stoke? In a clip seen by 1.2 million people he talked about ‘how great Stoke-on-Trent actually is’, angrily telling the world about scumbags fly-tipping their filth, scrotes (sic) dealing and shooting up their drugs, and savages’ behaviour causing mayhem.
The irony of denigrating his constituents whilst not recognising why these areas have become blighted by such problems appears completely lost on the representative of a government that has been in power since 2008.
Remember those £194mn central government-driven budget cuts? Stoke saw street cleaners lose their jobs, alcohol and drug services decimated, and youth provision almost disappear. In fact, it has been reported that spend on youth work in Stoke-on-Trent fell from £7.5mn to just £1.3mn between 2010/11 and 2018/19, a reduction of 80%. Damn those savages with nowhere to go.
Jonathan has pointed proudly to his governments work to increase police numbers.
“I am proud that since being elected in December 2019, we have delivered 231 new police officers across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.”
In 2010 Staffordshire employed 2,161 police officers, by 2019 this had fallen to 1,567, a reduction of 27%. Just this week the force celebrated reaching an ‘uplift target’ of 1,948 officers, a figure still 10% lower than 2010 (Home Office 2010; Home Office, 2019).
Well done Jonathan. Nowhere near the funding lost, nowhere near the police numbers, and no ideas. It’s all the fault of the people in small boats, fly-tippers, drug users, and kids with nowhere to go.
Epitaph – no tears for a clown
After a dark period in a political sense for Stoke-on-Trent North, the reality is dawning that the area is highly likely to return a Labour MP at the next general election in the form of David Williams.
Williams is everything Gullis isn’t. For one he’s local and wouldn’t make you cringe if he greeted you in the street with a hearty “Ey up duck” whilst chomping on a cheesy oatcake. Secondly, he has committed to healing the divisions created since 2019 and rebuilding the reputation of Stoke-on-Trent on the national and political stage. Williams will have a different, perhaps lower profile than we have been used to but he will work for all constituents whether they voted for him or not. If he blames immigrants, calls anyone in his community a scumbag, scrote, or savage, I’ll eat my dog collar.
Will anyone who longs for an articulate, balanced, and democratic representative in parliament, miss Gullis? When the count is over, when Gary Lineker finishes his eulogy and the curtains finally close around the coffin of his political career in Stoke-on-Trent, there will be few tears. Many will rejoice, perhaps quietly humming ‘things can only get better’ as the reverend lays to rest a short and poisonous political career. We should all pause and reflect on that ever-so-brief moment in our history where we got it wrong and elected Jonathan Edward Gullis.
Jonathan Gullis’ career as MP for Stoke-on-Trent (2019-2024) will hopefully be survived by many thousands of relieved constituents.