FROM the terror attacks on the London bridges and at the Finsbury Park mosque to the bombing in Manchester and the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower, the response of the emergency services has been outstanding. Whether it’s the police, ambulance and hospital staff or firefighters, these public-sector workers have put their desire to help those in need ahead of everything else. They worked extra hours, sacrificed time off with their families to do what they could to help. Their dedication to their jobs and to protecting and serving the public could not be questioned.

There was one particular report which struck me. It was the one from an unnamed firefighter highlighting what he and his crew did during the Grenfell Tower fire, the decisions they had to make to try to save as many people as possible, including having to assist one of their colleagues who had removed his breathing apparatus to give oxygen to one of the residents in the building. It highlighted not just the dangers of the job but also the personal commitment these firefighters give to protect the lives of others. The photographs showing exhausted crews outside the building trying to get a brief rest before volunteering to go back inside to try to rescue more people was an iconic image of the dedication of this group of emergency workers.

Similarly, there were the stories from police officers, both on and off duty, who responded to the terrorist attacks on the London bridges, and after the bombing in Manchester, emergency workers ran towards danger to protect the public.

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For a time, everyone was praising our emergency workers – even the Tories, including the Prime Minister with her hastily arranged photo-shoot with a few firefighters. And yet when the chance came to show real appreciation for these people’s efforts – by lifting the one-per-cent public-sector pay cap – what happened? The Tories not only called in their new pals in the Democratic Unionist Party to join them in voting against this, they were also quite clearly heard cheering in the Commons chamber after they succeeded in keeping the cap.

That’s right – the Tories were openly applauding their decision to continue to limit the wages of the very workers they were praising just a few short weeks ago.

It’s one thing praising them for their efforts, but where is the action to show our appreciation for all they do and give on a daily basis and whenever they are called upon to do so?

Some Tory MPs have taken to social media to try to explain their decision to vote to keep the pay cap, but each hollow excuse simply highlights their contempt for public services and the people who work in them. When the Tories can find £1 billion to buy support from the DUP so that they can remain in power, then they could also find the money to lift the public sector pay cap if they wanted to.

In the same week that the cap was being backed by the Tories, we also saw the royal family get an increase in what they receive from the public purse and a £3 billion aircraft carrier sail down the Forth – a carrier that cost the UK Government so much money that it can’t afford to pay for any planes to operate from it!

As I’ve said before, austerity is a political choice, not an economic one. Under successive Tory Governments, public debt has risen while public services are being starved of essential funding.

The Scottish Government, despite the restrictions it faces under devolution, is committed to removing the public-sector pay cap, so why can’t the UK Government, which controls all the levers of the economy, do likewise? It’s not about finding the money to do it, it’s about having the political will to prioritise public services – and those who work in them – ahead of tax cuts for businesses and millionaires.

This week in Parliament also saw Labour’s early promise in perhaps being a decent opposition party to the Tories descend into farce. Jeremy Corbyn’s status as an alternative prime minister slumped sharply when, yet again, he lost control of his parliamentary group. Irrespective of the issue of a hard or soft Brexit, when a leader is openly challenged and loses control not just of his backbenchers but also shadow ministers, you know the writing is on the wall. Corbyn may be backed by Labour supporters outside of Parliament but within Westminster the same old divisions have come to light. I have personally always really looked forward to working with Jeremy Corbyn, given how much we should in theory agree on. When he first became leader I was prepared to give him a chance and give him time to find his feet and get the Blairites of his party into line.

That excitement at the prospect of working with Labour to defeat the incredibly weak, bruised and embarrassed Tory Government only increased after the last-minute “Corbyn Surge” we saw in so many parts of the UK.

However, this week there are no excuses. Labour’s return to abstaining from votes rather than providing real opposition to the Tories show that the credibility gap when it comes to Corbyn ever replacing a Tory prime minister is as wide as it ever was.

Now he has sacked the frontbenchers who defied his whip and voted for the amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for Britain to stay in the European single market and customs union. That’s fine, that is an internal matter for Labour and the leadership. But I have to ask, where was that backbone when it came to voting against Trident replacement?

People support Corbyn and see hope in him because he has so often defied the whip and stood up for his (often unpopular) beliefs with integrity throughout his entire career. That is why he was elected leader. But since his election, he seems to have abandoned the integrity I know he has in order to appease the Blairites and soft conservatives in his party that people have grown so sick and tired of.

At the General Election, young people in England and other parts of the UK came out in their droves to vote for a better future away from the dark hard Brexit road the Tories are dragging us down. This was Corbyn’s chance to show them their voices have been heard, but no, we saw the same old abstaining Labour Party.

It is time for Corbyn to put aside party politics and work with people who want to see the implementation of the beliefs that got him and others elected. Not to do so would be a wasted opportunity for the left, and for Corbyn himself, and incredibly disappointing for all those who have supported him throughout (and I include members of the SNP).

Yet again the real opposition to the Tories is coming from the SNP group in Westminster. I genuinely hope Corbyn will change that.