Looking at the press, radio and television over the past week or so a visiting alien might be forgiven for thinking that political debate in the UK only concerned whether Baroness Thatcher was either the Wicked Witch of the West or the modern day Britannia.
The alien would be wrong. During the days between the announcement of Lady Thatcher’s death and her funeral this incompetent LibDem and Tory Coalition government has carried on damaging the lives of countless people across the length and breadth of Britain. Here are some examples:
1. Unemployment on the rise: It was announced on 18th April that unemployment rose by 70,000, including 20,000 young people, in the three months to the end of February. Youth unemployment in Britain is a shameful 21.1%. With the lowest growth in wages since 2001 and inflation outstripping pay increases British household finances are in desperate straits.
2. Austerity isn’t working: The International Monetary Fund has warned the Chancellor that the Coalition government’s economic strategy of austerity was too severe for Britain’s ailing economy. Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said that the IMF is ‘right to insist that a change of policy is considered right now.’
3. Unpaid labour: 100 companies, including three Premiership football clubs, have been referred to the employment minister in the latest scandal concerning the use of unpaid interns to do fulltime jobs. Some of these jobs are fulltime and involve unsocial hours. The practice is not only unethical it is discriminatory as the ‘best’ intern jobs are in the South East. It would actually cost Adel and Wharefdale youths money to take up such positions. Internships are not included in the unemployment numbers as the interns are not available for work.
4. Government U-turns: The Coalition government has been forced into another U-turn, this time over reform of the planning laws. The Coalition wanted to do away with planning consent for extensions of 8 Metres in length but the Commons has made it think again.
5. Banks and public ownership: The government owns 82% of the Royal Bank of Scotland but wants to sell it off quickly despite the risk it might lose up to £20bn of its value. A YouGov opinion poll carried out on 11-12 April reveals that 76% of voters are against the option of early disposal – a decisive overall majority. 32% of voters would like RBS to remain in public hands.
6. Misuse by government ministers of government statistics: The Coalition government is expert when it comes to misusing statistics to its own end. Its household benefit cap is now in force and according to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, it is working. He claims, “Already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the cap move into jobs. This clearly demonstrates that the cap is having the desired impact.” Not true! Not only has Duncan Smith misrepresented what his own department’s statistics meant but he also chose to directly contradict his own statisticians. The department’s statistical analysis reports. “The figures for those claimants (the 8000 people mentioned above) moving into work cover all of those who were identified as potentially being affected by the benefit cap who entered work. It is not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact.” A full account of this and other misleading uses of government statistics by government ministers here.
So Lady Thatcher is dead but Thatcherism is alive and kicking – kicking the most vulnerable people in Britain.
ONLY ONE NATION LABOUR CAN LAY IT TO REST.
[This post was first published on Adel and Wharfedale Labour Party website]