The Vocal Local: Scott Benton’s Tory sleaze is not welcome here

We get vocal following the suspension of Blackpool South’s MP

In 2019, Yorkshire-born Scott Benton found himself elected to parliament as Blackpool South’s newest MP. The shock displacement of Labour’s long-standing representative Gordon Marsden certainly made the event a memorable one, but who could have anticipated what was to come?

In the years that followed, the not-so-honourable member has painted a clear picture of his values, his politics and the vision he has for our town. And now, in a fall from grace worthy of Benton’s very own muse, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, enough is surely enough.

The lobbying sting suspension
The Blackpool South MP has been no stranger to the spotlight during his short political career, making several headlines in recent months. However, the latest splash is the most damning. As revealed by an undercover investigation by The Times, Benton reportedly offered to lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry and leak a confidential policy document – in exchange for a fee, of course.

Caught on camera, the MP describes having “easy access” to ministers should those with an interest need their backing, as well as revealing the routes around accepting “hospitality” from the gambling industry. With a smug look on his face, he jokes that racing tickets he had accepted often came to a convenient £295, sitting comfortably under the threshold allowed by parliament, despite the value of these tickets exceeding thousands.

The controversial revelation is all the more significant when placed in the context of the current climate, namely the government’s intentions to review gambling laws and implement stricter regulations. It’s only natural that gambling firms may seek to garner support on the inside, and in this instance, Benton has proven himself to be the perfect candidate.

Blackpool Deserves Better
While this kind of behaviour should be seen as abhorrent coming from any member of government, it’s all the more hard to swallow considering the town this politician claims to represent. As Benton himself has pointed out on several occasions, Blackpool is one of the most deprived towns in the UK. And, as research has shown, there is a clear link between gambling harms and socio-economic inequalities. News report after report has shown Blackpool to have a severe betting problem, so why does our most senior representative think it’s acceptable to fuel the fire?

While we’re here, it only seems right to highlight some of the other instances Benton has proven that he fails to keep our town’s best interests at heart. Despite Blackpool’s deprivation Benton voted against free meals in the school holidays for children. Although the town is known for its LGBTQ+ scene he’s expressed support for anti-trans group LGB Alliance. He voted against introducing a register of domestic abusers and stalkers, and has called for scrapping the human rights act and bringing back the death penalty. The list goes on.

Benton is anti-abortion, he just doesn’t want us to know it

Instead of spending his time worrying about the UK’s political landscape, Benton’s Twitter activity suggests he’s often more interested in ongoings in the USA. Following the harrowing overturning of Roe V Wade in 2022, a landmark decision that threatened women’s right to abortion, Benton openly celebrated the move on social media. In a post quickly deleted, the Blackpool South MP shared a ‘Life Wins’ message posted by the Republican Party – implying his support for the archaic reversal.

Despite this public celebration being met with anger from women across his constituency, where teenage pregnancy is significantly higher than the England average, Benton reaffirmed his stance on our right to choose by liking a tweet from Pete Ricketts, Nebraska’s notorious pro-life governor who shared photos of crowds at the state’s “Walk For Life”. Combine this with his vote against clinic buffer zones in October last year, his support for an early day motion asking for a review in abortion gestation periods in May last year, and his former links to and ongoing support for the anti-abortion organisation Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), and you’ve got yourself a solid idea of his feelings on the matter – even if he won’t openly admit them.

Scott Benton doesn’t just want to take our seat at the political table, sitting comfortably on a salary exceeding £80,000 (and whatever freebies he’s getting from the gambling industry). He also wants to take away our right to choose and our bodily autonomy in the process.

Benton thinks asylum seekers are to blame for our failing NHS
In the latest instalment of Britain’s ongoing Conservative chaos, immigrants and asylum seekers have once again become the party’s scapegoat. In a speech made by Benton to parliament in March this year, the MP claimed that the UK is “nearly full”, suggesting that “hundreds of millions of people” are trying to enter the country.

Aside from the obvious mathematical blunder, this anti-immigrant stance doesn’t align with the values held by many Blackpool residents. In fact, many can see the truth behind this misdirected anger – it is not immigrants or asylum seekers who are to blame for our failing public services, or indeed Blackpool’s individual problems, but the government Benton works for.

Twelve years of Conservative cuts have led us to the current crisis, not the people willing to risk their own lives (and often their childrens’ too) to reach the UK by boat – none of which, by the way, arrive on Blackpool’s shores. Privatisation, staff shortages and a lack of hospital beds are not the work of immigrants and migrants make up a vital part of the workforce. The people of Blackpool can surely see through these constructed distractions.

Even local tories can’t support him
It makes sense that Conservatives at every level are now withdrawing their support for Benton, criticising the lobbying offer and calling for investigation. But this isn’t the first time other party individuals have shown concern for the MP’s behaviour.

Earlier this year, members of his own local party launched a vote of no confidence in response to his social media use and political commentary, as well as his supposed involvement within the Blackpool South Conservative Association (BSCA) and its candidate selection process. Following Benton’s claims that some members were wrongly attributed to the letter, a copy was shared to social media, seemingly showing the signatures of each ward’s councillors – except for his mate Bradley Mitchell.

It seems strange that, even at a time when the Conservatives need as much unity as they can get their hands on, his own local party can’t support him.

Your tory sleaze isn’t welcome here
In the midst of a cost of living crisis that’s making holding onto the bare necessities harder than ever before, Blackpool needs an MP that stands up for what’s important. Our town deserves improved access to housing, affordable energy costs, efficient transport and wages that reflect our worth. We need funding for education, security of our pensions and a real solution to the care crisis.

What we don’t need? A representative who is set on stirring up hatred, stripping back our rights and lobbying for profit-driven industries that harm the worst off.

Benton, it was unpleasant while it lasted. But your Tory sleaze is no longer welcome here.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
  • Show Comments (2)

  • Dave

    Interesting article. I would have given it more credit had not been solely from a left-wing bias. I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of critique levied at Mr Benton but I am not certain one bad apple justifies, what is an easy interpretation, of an attack on the tories as a whole in which you ‘cleverly’ attempted to do by using the phrase ‘Tory sleaze’ like somehow it’s only applicable to just the the Conservative Party.

    Is Mr Benton naive? Yes. Is he someone who would appear to lack a sound moral compass? Yes, But name me a politician from either-side that is ‘whiter than white’.

    Does he have Blackpool’s best interests at heart? It depends on how you define such. After all, it’s subjective statement. Has he succeeded, and Blackpool as a whole under a Tory Government, to get a fair share of the cake? I would say so. For all his personal faults, he has certainly been a vocal advocate for Blackpool.

    As someone who grew up in Blackpool under a Labour government – and I might add, voted for them in ,2001 2005 and 2010 – the implied narrative of this article that somehow pre-2010 Blackpool was some sort of utopia- and will be again – under a Labour gov is not only hugely inaccurate but as naive as Mr Benton’s judgement on all things gambling-related.

    Pre 2010, the only significant capital investment from the government into Blackpool was the works to improve the sea defences and promenade from South Pier to North and the construction of new Council offices at Bickerstaffe Square. No town centre regeneration. No public investment to lead/influence private investment. Nothing.

    You lazily suggest that Blackpool has suffered from 12 years of Tory cuts. Fact-check. Cuts were officially halted in by former PM Theresa May in 2017. To continue using this argument almost seven years later is utterly lazy. Let’s have a look at some of the ‘cuts’ to Blackpool since 2010:

    – £40 million for the multiversity site
    – £40 million for the Central Site redevelopment
    – £9 million to clear the multiversity site
    – £100 million for DWP hub in the town centre. Crucial for the town’s economy as will increase footfall by having over 3000 staff based in the town centre.
    – £7.5 million for the Airport Enterprise Zone
    – £3.6 million from Building Back Better Fund for Abingdon Indoor Food Market
    – £17.8 million for Winter Garden’s Conference Centre from the Growth Deal
    – £23 million for Talbot Toad Tram Extension
    – £4.5 Million for upgrade of Illuminations
    – £8 million for Post Office hotel to aid town centre regeneration
    – Railway electrification
    – £4.5 million redevelopment of Stanley. Buildings into a business start-up hub.
    – £7.4 million Quality Corridors to improve shop frontages
    – £6.5 million towards Revoe Sports Village
    – £10 million for Mereside housing development
    – Blackpool Education Opportunity Area
    – £20 million from the Supported Housing Improvement Programme

    All the above adds up to just over £300 million which far exceeds any investment into Blackpool between 1997 and 2010.

    The majority of the article is spent attacking Mr Benton’s personal views on abortion, and ‘asylum seekers’. This is what spoils an otherwise good article. You make the mistaken assumption of conflating your own beliefs and values as those to be representative of the whole town.

    According to the 2021 Census, over half the town’s population, still identify as being Christian. You could therefore infer that a significant proportion align with the Catholic faith,thus are pro-life, and majority of the town’s residents may support his position on the issue to which you reference. Equally, they may not. But it’s your inference that because the town has a large LBGTQ population that Mr Benton should solely support them. Should he not not support the Christian majority? Should he pick one over the other?

    Regardless, Mr Benton is gay. His gripe against the LGB alliance, rightly or wrongly, is a matter for him. It doesn’t make him anti-LGBTQ and trying to insinuate that he is, is completely disingenuous.

    Likewise with asylum seekers and immigrants – terminology of which you try and use Interchangeably (avoiding the use of the phrase illegal immigration) and your view that Mr Benton’s views do not represent the town is, again, a massive misunderstanding on your part.

    Blackpool, like most seaside downs that were, and still are, predominately white working-class were taken for granted and overlooked by Labour in preference for the more ‘diverse’ cities. Immigration is why I suspect Blackpool overwhelmingly voted for Brexit. And it’s why, in 2019, they voted for two Conservative MPs and primarily, Boris Johnson.

    First, let’s be clear the majority of those that currently reside at the Metropole, 400 plus, are neither immigrants nor are they Asylum seekers. They are illegal economic immigrants who arrived from a safe country, France, and have been temporality placed in a local authority ward that is one of the most deprived in the country.

    Socially, what do you think the vast majority of Mr Benton’s constituents, white working-class, feel about those that at the Metropole potentially being housed in the town? Being able to access school places, doctors appointments and dental care? Ahead of those who have worked and contributed to the state. The Council, which is Labour controlled, strenuously objected against them being in placed in Blackpool. Why? Because of the increased pressure on local public services and the suitability of placing 400 plus people in a deprived ward that has existing social mobility problems.

    Mr Benton is probably right to question this decision. Is it ultimately the government ‘s fault on failing to get to grips with controlling its borders? Yes. But this is a problem that stems back further than 2010 and has failed to be adequately addressed by either Lab or Con. Not obviously helped by continuous interventions in the middle-east which has accumulated to the instability in the region.

    Between 1997 and 2010, the UK added 3 million foreign-born nationals to its population and further 2.5 million between 2010 and 2023. That’s almost 6 million people. In view of this, of course there is then going to be a strain on public services. I assume from how you have approached this article, you are someone who advocates unlimited immigration, but wonders why public services can’t cope (must be the Tory government) and then proceeds to criticise anyone, like Mr Benton, who believes that we need to reform the ‘system’, by, for example, scrapping the HRA to make it easier to deport illegal immigrants.

    The truth is there are parallels to be drawn between immigration and public services. It is not wrong or in-factual. I’m sure Mr Benton’s constituents, as he does, will welcome immigration to fill the shortage of certain professions, doctors and nurses etc, and those that are highly-skilled that can make a positive contribution to the UK. Not a free-for-all of, for example, of those single men illegally arriving from a developed and safe European country (Albania). Fun fact; four out of ten boats that cross that channel are made up Albanian men who conveniently forgot to bring along the women and children but managed to bring their iPhones.

    The problem with the left – and you are a prime example – is that you become so immersed in your own virtuous cause – you mistakenly believe from within the echo-chamber of your social circles that everyone must and does share your view; they don’t. You dismiss what Mr Benton highlights because they don’t represent what you perceive everyone should be thinking of. Dare I say it, but people do have also have genuine concerns about immigration and about the minority of extreme LGBTQ activists who, like’ you believe they speak for the majority of that community. That’s not say the issues you have highlighted are any less important but neither should be what Mr Benton has highlighted. It’s not wise, however, to almost dismiss the concerns his set of concerns a trivial and unimportant compared to yours. Again, history tells us that the electorate in deprived towns like Blackpool don’t appreciate being belittled, ignored or told what they should be concerned about by the condescending champagne socialists. It’s the mistake the left keeps making (Gordon Brown bigot comment) which has kept the Conservatives in power for soon to be 15 years and is why Brexit happened.

    You are quite right and it is indeed fair to attack Mr Benton for his sleaze which understandably calls into question his moral character.

    But, as always with the left, you couldn’t help yourself correlate Mr Benton’s individual actions and beliefs by attempting to tediously link them to represent the policies of the Tories and to platform yourself as the self-appointed voice of Blackpool. This ignorance is, again, why the forgotten white working-class in deprived towns up and down the country, especially in the North, voted for Boris and by extension, Mr Benton, in the first place.

    You never learn. By all means criticise Mr Benton for his dubious behaviour but don’t make the assumption that your views are shared by the majority of the 140,000 residents in this town. You could have very easily titled the article ‘MP’s sleaze’ but you couldn’t resist the temptation to not so indiscreetly push your own political narrative.

    His constituents will ultimately be the ones to judge whether his efforts to secure over £300 million of government investment as being has being in the town’s best interests will outweigh his evident personal inadequacies.

    If, however, you are hinting at endorsing the alternative, Comrade ChrisWebb, you might want to ask yourself the question whether, like Benton, a career opportunist with strong family ties to the Trade Unions and will no doubt be financially supported by such, will be acting in the town’s best interests or that of his own? Where do you draw the line? Is it acceptable or considered as sleaze to act in the self-interests of the fat cat paymasters of the trade unions but not the equivalent in the private sector? Another one for Mr Benton’s constituents to consider.

    Next time you do an article maybe consider taking a nuanced and impartial approach instead of a condescending Tory bashing. Just a thought.

    • Tim

      lol, lmao

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like

Red Snapper - North Pier and Seaside

Jill Gets A Kick Out Of Seaside Towns

Renowned local photographer Jill Reidy has recently launched a kickstarter campaign for her latest ...

What does Lancashire’s devolution deal mean for Arts & Culture?

The consultation process for the proposed Lancashire Combined County Authority involving three upper tier ...

Fancy Clowning Around?

Ever wanted to be the next Charlie Cairoli or Mooky?  Now is your chance ...