The Tories are failing Britain and need to go writes Diane Abbott MP

03 Dec 2018
The Tories are failing Britain and need to go writes Diane Abbott MP

Theresa May has rightly seen harsh opposition from across the political spectrum for her proposed Brexit deal, which as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said “is a bad deal for the country… the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds.”  And that is why Labour will oppose this deal in parliament.

Whilst much attention is understandably focussed on this vital issue for our future, it is not just in this area that the government has shown again and again that it is incapable of governing in the interests of the majority of people, as two recent developments have shockingly shown.

The first was a report from UN poverty envoy Philip Alston, based on a two week fact finding mission, which is a damning indictment of Tory austerity from start to finish.  It says the government has inflicted “great misery” on people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” cuts driven by a political desire to undertake social re-engineering rather than economic necessity.

He calls levels of child poverty “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster.”

About 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty and 1.5 million are destitute, highlighting predictions child poverty may rise by 7 percentage points between 2015 and 2022, possibly up to 40%.

Furthermore, it claims austerity Britain was in breach of four UN human rights agreements relating to disabled people, women, children, and economic and social rights.

Echoing the concerns of equality campaigners, he says “If you got a group of misogynists in a room and said how we can make this system work for men and not for women they would not have come up with too many ideas that are not already in place.”

Alongside this, cuts of 50% to councils are “damaging the fabric” of sciety, yet the government was in a state of denial, with a “striking disconnect” between what ministers and ordinary people said.

Then, hot on the heels of these revelations, we found out we will see the busiest Christmas ever for foodbanks as the Universal Credit roll-out comes to an end, a roll out which has forced thousands into poverty.

Volunteers are expecting to distribute 1.5million meals, possibly including a shocking 590,598 children.

Figures showed a 49% surge in demand at Trussell Trust foodbanks last December compared with the rest of the year, distributing 159,388 emergency parcels, each containing enough for three meals a day for three days, in the run up to and over the festive period – 1.4 million meals and a 10% surge from the year before.

It’s time this Government opened its eyes to the misery it is causing and immediately stop the roll out of Universal Credit.

And of course these examples are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to illustrating how Tory austerity is breaking Britain.

We have a level of homelessness of which is nothing short of a national scandal, a deepening cost-of living crisis, a flowering of insecure zero-hour contracts and much more besides.

In the constituency I represent of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, every day I hear from constituents struggling to make ends meet, who are victims of the housing crisis or can’t find social care for themselves or relatives.

And with relation to my brief as Shadow Home Secretary, each week we hear more warnings about police cuts are making our communities and young people less safe, with it becoming clearer by the day that by slashing the policing budget again and again the Tory Government has pushed police forces into crisis.

The level of these cuts – which the Tories are committed to sticking to – have been so severe that we recently saw the unprecedented situation of three of Britain’s most senior Chief Constables (West Midlands, Merseyside and Greater Manchester) giving warnings that further cuts will leave the largest police forces in England and Wales with officer numbers last seen in the 1970s.

Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) crime figures showed violent crime up by 19%, with knife crime up 12%, the highest since comparable records began in 2011, yet already overstretched officers are being asked to do even more with even less.

As Jeremy Corbyn recently asked Theresa May why “with violent crime rising (up 19%), police numbers slashed and conviction rates down…did the government fail to find a single penny for neighbourhood policing in the Budget?”

But in this and so many other policy areas the Tories are determined to press on with their ideologically-driven agenda, whatever the human cost.

In light of their botched Brexit deal calls are growing both for the Tories to step aside and for a General Election, and real change couldn’t be more needed.

The reality is that - as the aforementioned revelations show - we simply can’t afford the Tories and their failed austerity anymore. It is time for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Government investing in our future.

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