11 April 2017
What is your most valuable possession? If you are a homeowner you would probably say it was your house. Otherwise, it might be your car, your TV or even your smart phone. I would argue it is something else. It is one of the things you have a right to as a resident of the UK. It is a free high-quality education for your children. It is the National Health Service. Or it is the police and fire services, without whom those private possessions mentioned above would be almost worthless.
Austerity, the policy of the UK government, is a reduction in the quality of these rights in favour of private wealth. This week, the start of a new tax year, George Osbourne’s last austerity budget comes into full effect. Balancing out the reduction in tax credits and tax cuts, only the relatively wealthy are net gainers; the poorest members of society are worse off.
It’s not just the very poor who suffer. Ordinary families who, unlike cabinet ministers, cannot afford private education are seeing significant cuts to state schools, with Islington and London in general being particularly hard hit. Take a look at this website and see the cuts being faced by your children’s, your grandchildren’s or your own former school: www.schoolcuts.org.uk. You will be shocked by the scale of these cuts.
One group of Islington parents have had enough. This week parents and pupils from Thornhill and Gillespie Primary Schools demonstrated against the cuts at their schools. They understand that these cuts will in the long run reduce the opportunities and quality of life of their children and that part of the communal wealth of us all is being eroded.
We need to shift the balance between private and public. We as a society need to focus more on the communal possessions we enjoy: opportunities for our children, good health and safety on our streets. Please take time to look at the school cuts website and consider what you can do to defend your local schools, even if it is only in future to register your vote against the self-interested advocates of austerity.
- Paul Elliot