Conservative MPs have suggested the government won’t work with opposition parties - what is ‘pork-barrel politics’?

One MP said there isn’t a ‘cat in hell’s chance’ that Boris Johnson would meet with a Labour mayor

Conservative MPs have suggested the government won’t work with opposition parties - what is ‘pork-barrel politics’? (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Conservative MPs are alleged to have made comments suggesting that the government will refuse to work with elected representatives from other parties should they be elected.

A West-Midlands MP said that there isn’t a “cat in hell’s chance” that Boris Johnson will meet with Labour’s mayoral candidate for the region, Liam Byrne, were he to be elected.

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While another Conservative MP has said that government ministers are “reluctant to go the extra mile” for councils which are controlled by opposition parties.

‘Not a cat in hell’s chance’

The incumbent mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street, who is standing for re-election in the seat, distributed a series of campaign pledges which he would complete in his first 100 days in office if re-elected.

The pledges included as a top priority a promise to “meet the Prime Minister to win more Government funding to deliver our top priorities for the West Midlands”.

Alongside this list of pledges were comments from other Conservatives, including a statement by Birmingham Northfield MP, Gary Sambrook.

He said: "There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of a Labour Mayor getting a meeting with the Prime Minister in their first 100 days in office.

"All Labour’s candidate will do is moan to the press and cause disruption - because he doesn’t have a proper plan for our region."

Speaking to NationalWorld last month, Street said he has “done extremely well” in terms of government support, having won a number of bids for funding and other projects.

Some have speculated that as a regional leader in an area which is considered a target for the Conservatives, the government may be more likely to provide Street with support in hopes it will boost his electoral chances.

‘Go the extra mile’

In Southend, a Conservative election leaflet which was distributed ahead of the council elections suggested that the government will not do as much for the area if it returns an opposition-led council.

A quote attributed to the Conservative MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess MP, which was included in a campaign leaflet said that, “Government ministers are reluctant to go the extra mile for an opposition controlled local council”.

Amess has denied making the comments and said he did not approve the use of it in the leaflet.

What is ‘pork-barrel politics’?

Pork-barrel politics refers to the act of government handing out funding, initiatives or infrastructure projects to particular areas for the purpose of receiving electoral benefits.

Accusations of ‘pork-barrel politics’ have dogged this election campaign, with some voters saying they will vote Conservative because they think this will make it more likely that their area will receive funding and support from central government.

Speaking to NationalWorld, the Labour candidate Paul Williams described the Conservative’s campaign tactics as ‘a protection racket’ in relation to allegations of pork-barrel politics.

It has been claimed that the government selected the areas which will benefit from the levelling up fund partly based on where they would see the most electoral benefit, rather than which areas were most in need.And some have suggested this was also a consideration in selecting the winning bids for the freeport initiative.