Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

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Tory local government leader lets slip contempt for the north

Michael Dugher wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday about the offensive remarks made by his most senior representative in local government, who said that people in the north of England should resort to getting work picking fruit if, as widely predicted, unemployment rises significantly higher in poorer areas over the next four years.     

David Shakespeare, the leader of the Local Government Association’s Conservative group, made the comments during a LGA debate.  He said: “The north may replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards... that may be a good thing.”

In his letter to David Cameron, Michael said: “Do you appreciate how out of touch, insensitive and insulting these comments are?  Isn’t it time you made it clear that he should consider his position and offer his resignation?  I am sure I can arrange some fruit picking in Yorkshire for him, once the weather improves.”

The story has been picked up today by The Daily MirrorMetroThe IndependentlThe Evening StandardThe Daily StarThe Telegraph, The Express, The StarThe Yorkshire PostThe Yorkshire Evening Post and The Daily Mail. It was also picked up by broadcasters across the country, included being reported on the Toby Foster Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Sheffield.

Michael also asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, in the chamber yesterday if Mr Shakespeare should remain in his position following his offensive remarks.  To watch the exchange, click here and scroll to 17:08.39.  

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