The prime aim of a Tory right wing Government is to serve business, which in turn raises tax money and creates jobs, which hen can be ploughed into the economy. The Tory business owner feels impeded by holiday pay, sickness pay, maternity leave and the many other rights fought for and won by the working proletariat.
It frightens me, therefore, that should the Tories win again, they plan to decimate the welfare state by a further 12 BILLION. (The Guardian, 05/05/15) This includes abolishing statutory maternity pay and and barring under-25s from claiming housing benefit. Ian Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions secretary of the last government, already oversaw the terrible effects on low-income families when he introduced Universal Credit and the the so-called “Bedroom tax”. Jobseekers were “sanctioned” if they didn’t meet the very strict criteria the government has set down for finding work, leading to a rise of food bank use from 61,468 in the year ending 2011, to 913,138 visits in the year ending 2014 (www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-figures-top-900000). The Trussell Trust, which runs many of these food banks, expects the 2015 figure to top over a million.
Many users of the welfare state are working in some capacity or other. According to the Daily Mirror (ampp3d.mirror.co.uk/Joseph Rowntree Trust 18/13/14) 4.3 million families were in work and on benefits. That’s out of 5.3 million working age benefit claimants overall (DWP, 2014). So 1 million claimants cannot or will not work, but the majority, or at least one person in the family, holds down a part time or full time job. Not the layabout, TV watching, smoking, drinking feckless wonders that some journalists and politicians will have you believe.
Meanwhile, lets have a look at the top of society whilst David Cameron has been in power. For a country with the 5th world’s largest GDP, the gap between the top earners and low income earners has widened. In other countries, like Japan, the gap has remained much the same for twenty years. In the UK, it has widened by 10 points. There are 4700 people in the UK with fortunes of £31 million plus. (The Mirror 15/10/14).
The Government has been building the UK economy mainly on foreign investment, from China, Russia, India and South America. Business from those countries have bought up large swathes of housing in the UK, leading to rent rises and property left to rot as investors cash in on the fast rise in its value. The “SE17” twitter feed found out that a party of developers of the former Heygate estate in Elephant and Castle went to China to sell their new flats (www.twitter.com/se17). This site housed local authority tenants for forty years, all of whom were forced out to unfamiliar parts of London (and in some cases, the UK). Such social cleansing is, in my opinion, heinous.
But whilst I will never vote Tory in the future (I did vote for Boris Johnson in over Ken Livingston for London Mayor, a decision I think every working class Londoner who did the same now regrets) the choice of the other parties is limiting. I cannot see the natural choice of Ed Miliband for Labour as a statesman. He seems like a ridiculous fool. Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems let down so many students when he let the Tories raise university tuition fees, and Nigel Farage with his UKIP party, look like a bunch of fruitcakes (no PSHE in schools, exit the EU, go after AIDS patients to prove their entitlement to the NHS). The Greens looked okay to me, but they have a forgettable leader (I forget her name) and are anti-unions, of which I am a member. So despite memories of my mother reminding me what the suffragettes went through to get women the vote, and despite I am fully aware of the struggles of citizens worldwide to get a free and fair democracy in their countries, I spoiled the paper. I really couldn’t decide between them.
As voters are not provided with a “none of the above” box, I wrote next to each candidate exactly what I thought of their party, and the party leader. Some would say, I wasted my vote. Some would say, I protested about the ambiguity of politics these days. I just say, there needs to be a change so that there is a real choice. At the moment, choice is sadly lacking.