Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has been slammed after he appeared to blame Tony Blair and his higher education policies for the current shortage of lorry drivers.
TheRoad Haulage Association (RHA) estimates there is currently a shortage of some 60,000 lorry drivers in the UK.
Recruitment has been difficult in part due to European workers leaving the UK after Brexit and the ‘pingdemic’ caused by Covid-19.
Last week the boss of the UK’s biggest dairy supplier said supermarkets could face a “summer of disruption” to milk deliveries if the government does not act to address a shortage of lorry drivers.
Arla, which supplies milk to about 2,400 stores each day in the UK, has said it was unable to deliver to 600 stores last Saturday due to dwindling driver numbers.
Ash Amirahmadi, managing director of Arla Foods UK, said the company has struggled to deliver to 10 per cent of stores on a more regular basis in recent weeks.
He told BBC Radio’s Today programme: “I think when you are not able to supply 10 per cent of the stores which are expecting to get milk every day, I think that’s quite worrying for a customer walking into a store and not being able to have milk so we are taking it very seriously.
“We are trying to avoid a summer of disruption.
“We are experiencing the problem getting worse and that’s why our assessment is that we are in a driver shortage crisis and therefore we are asking for the industry and Government to work together to recognise we are in a crisis and address the issue.”
Writing in the Express in a column entitled “Blair’s university drive is real reason behind HGV drivers shortage” Andrew Bridgen claimed that by encouraging people to go to university Labour’s former PM undervalued vocational jobs.
He wrote: “For many years I have been raising the issue of the shortage of lorry drivers.
“The Government has its part to play here. For many years, well over half of graduates have found employment in non-graduate jobs, an issue exacerbated by New Labour’s fixation that half of young people should go to university.
“Blair’s target, together with loose migration policies, naturally placed less value on vocations and began the schism between the Labour Party and what were once their traditional supporters.
“To deliver on its levelling up agenda, the Government has to highlight the value of skilled manual vocations and start an honest conversation on the worth of many degree courses.”
My column in tomorrow’s Sunday Express.— Andrew Bridgen (@ABridgen) July 31, 2021
Blair’s university drive is real reason behind HGV drivers shortage – Andrew Bridgen https://t.co/jBQIMW7v2N
But he failed to mention research into the shortage that seemingly didn’t mention Tony Blair anywhere.
Needless to say, the reaction on social media has been pretty derisory.
Here’s the best of the comment:
Lol – must have been in the “Other” column pic.twitter.com/Tth2c48W4X— @BritRejoin #FBPE #Brejoin (@BritRejoin) July 31, 2021
Tory MP here arguing that the reason there’s shortages in supermarkets now is because people like me and my peers had the opportunity to go to university and get better jobs.— Sharon O’Dea (@sharonodea) August 1, 2021
Let’s not let people get ideas above their station in future, eh? https://t.co/0Ux8B6kx89
And what’s the reason for the current shortages of doctors, nurses, vets, civil engineers, biochemists, actuaries and graphic designers?— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) August 1, 2021
Benjamin Disraeli’s lorry driver incentives in the 1870s? https://t.co/MFdDZMcMiB
Hang on, I know this one. Wasn’t it the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand? https://t.co/mXlrCae8TX— Andy Grayson (@AndyGrays0n) July 31, 2021
‘The reason we don’t have drivers, is because Labour educated too many people’— Dave (@atouchofsense) July 31, 2021
That’s quite an election slogan
So what I’ve gathered from Andrew Bridgen so far is that we should have more lorry drivers who speak Latin.— Undercover Elephant? ?✊? (@MrsNoone47) August 1, 2021
Have I got this correct as I only went to state school?
Andrew Bridgen thinks too many people go to university but not enough study Latin at school.— Seán Jones (@seanjonesqc) August 1, 2021
Let’s just say Andrew Bridgen doesn’t put the articulate in articulated lorry— John Cotter (@John_Cotter) July 31, 2021
If you really want to fix the lorry driver shortage, Andrew Bridgen-style, just get rid of all the lorries. Simples.— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) August 1, 2021
Tony Blair left office 14 years ago. Your government have been in power for over 11 years. Do you ever take responsibility for what you’ve actually done?— Sharon O’Dea (@sharonodea) August 1, 2021
So why was there no shortage during the whole of 2020 before the Transition Period ended?— SydesJokes #FBPE #FBPPR ? ?????????? (@SydesJokes) July 31, 2021