Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.
A cruel and callous government
Today I woke up to a very different Britain than yesterday. Sure, I was under the same sky, but something fundamental had started to change.
The worst cuts to public services since the Second World War have been announced in Manchester, and they are more severe than anyone could have anticipated. This is bad for Manchester, and it’s likely that this scenario will play again and again across the UK.
Manchester City Council was ordered to make cuts of £110million. So now hundreds of libraries, nurseries, swimming pools, leisure centres and youth clubs are for the chop. All departments from children’s services to street management (including highway repairs) are being pulled back. This is on top of the 2000 council staff who have been laid off.
According to The Mirror, the only survivor of this economic massacre was one public toilet. How apt.
But it doesn’t stop there. Reports today show how the soaring cost of childcare is forcing many low-income parents out of work.
A survey from Family Information Services by Daycare Trust revealed that whilst pay increased by 2.1% in 2010, the cost of healthcare increased by 4.8%. Throw reduced working tax credits in the mix and you create a situation where some families simply can’t afford to have children. And given that the government is insistent on shutting local nurseries we imagine we’ll see a lot more of this.
At least Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith is concerned about our debt. Although it’s not debt caused by trying to start a family, or leaving university owing an average £30,000. No, Duncan Smith is concerned that costly weddings inspired by Hello! Magazine are responsible for our financial woes.
“A wedding need not cost more than that of a marriage licence,” he says. A marriage licence costs around £35. Tell me Iain where do these Tesco Stripy weddings exist?
This lecturing on how to spend our money is rich. The thing that gets me is politicians like Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron and their posh Eton-ite buddies can easily decide to take away our ‘non-essentials’ without understanding or caring about the impact of their decisions.
Because they have never gone without. Because they are so wealthy, most of us can only imagine what it’s like to have their money and lifestyle and comfort.
And by the same token they can’t possibly relate to a normal, often debt-ridden way of life – it’s academic to them. They are utterly and completely out of touch with the very people they are trying to govern.
I can hear them rejoice in Westminster: “Shut the libraries, they can buy cheap books on Amazon! Childcare is expensive? Well they shouldn’t have children then! Burn their forests and destroy their countryside, most children don’t know what a cow looks like so they won’t miss it!...”
Is this the Big Society that David Cameron promised us? A society where people can’t afford to start a family, let alone get on the property ladder? Where intelligent, aspirational young people from the wrong background are forced to choose between the back-breaking cost of university or staying put and trying to get a job (if they can)? Where public libraries are a thing of the past? Where crime rockets as over 10,000 policemen are made redundant?
And while these historical cuts slash their way across the country, executives in the City (half of whom gave financial support to the Conservative party during the election]) are encouraged to reward themselves with astronomical salaries and bulging bonuses. They must be having a jolly old laugh at our expense.
This isn’t a political tirade for the sake of it - it’s a cry against massive social injustice.
We were promised that our public services would be protected. We were promised that redundancies would be minimised. We were told that banks would be reigned in. None of this is happening.
We don’t know the impact of these cuts, but I imagine that millions of people with no jobs, no money, no public services and no help is an explosion waiting to happen.
So the cuts have begun in earnest. And we watch as the Britain we know and love turns into a cruel, angry mess.