This article is a reply to a nasty letter about me in the local free newspaper, but the points I make are relevant to all Labour supporters throughout the country.
The real ‘real world’
An unpleasant letter in this week’s Newton News told me, very rudely, that I should ‘get into the real world’. The same night that letter was published, ITV ran a heartbreaking programme on poverty in Britain; half the people highlighted were in a job.
On Monday, the government will introduce what Polly Toynbee in the Guardian has described as ‘an earthquake of social destruction’ – including conversion of disability living allowance, abolition of the social fund, reduction of housing benefit where the recipient has a spare bedroom, contraction of legal aid. In many parts of the country this includes also a part-withdrawal of council tax welfare benefit (though Durham County Council has at least managed this year to protect its residents from that). Letters leaked this week show that Job Centres have been competing with each other to see which could knock the most claimants off benefits.
Hardship is the real world facing increasing numbers of people today.
And do not imagine that this is the end. The disabled and the unemployed have been easy hate-targets, and many people have approved the ‘avalanche of benefit cuts’ (Toynbee again) which has swept up the vulnerable with the cheats.
But did you notice that the letter let slip the Tories’ next targets – minimum wage and working tax credits? Having hammered those on benefits, the Tories are coming after the working poor. The other day Home Secretary Theresa May announced the government’s intention to pull out of the European Convention of Human Rights – presumably in the hope that we will be so pleased to lose the ‘Europe’ part that we won’t mind losing our ‘human rights’ as well.
Don’t be fooled
Like this week’s correspondent, the Tories – and their LibDem and ‘Independent’ supporters – tell us that this is all Labour’s fault. Labour over-spending, they assert, caused an international financial crisis which means that the nation now has no choice but to impoverish its poor and lower-paid. Parallel to this runs a ‘wealth-creator’ narrative which says that we must not stop the rich getting ever-richer, receiving tax-cuts, moving their money out into tax-havens to avoid tax, awarding themselves obscene bonuses.
Don’t be fooled by any of this claptrap – it is merely a smoke-screen to allow the Tories to introduce their ideologically-motivated agenda of cuts and privatisation.
Unnoticed by many, this government (like the ones before it) has erected a ‘Stock Clearance’ sign over Britain, and is selling off our public assets, at knock-down price, to companies which then charge us for the services we used to provide to ourselves. Recent victims include the Search and Rescue Services and the profitable parts of the NHS; the Fire Brigade is next on the list. The aim is to reduce our government from a vibrant democracy to a procurement office.
Our only protection is a Labour vote
Is there anything people like you and I can do as the government pulls the rug from under us?
We can campaign and complain. We can elect in May a Labour County Council which will at least drag its feet and move as slowly as possible into this brave new Tory world of cuts and marketisation.
And in 2015 we can elect a Labour government which hopefully, by then, will be committed to balancing the budget in a way which does not consign huge numbers of deserving people to hopeless lives of poverty and social exclusion
(Legally-required attribution: published and promoted by John D Clare on behalf of John D Clare.)