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JOHN NEWSHAM 27/05/2015
Today, a woman dressed in millions of pounds of jewels pledged to support a cabinet of millionaires and their billionaire mates in telling the unemployed and disabled they have too much money. This does not seem like a good week for democracy.
Yet there were thousands more voices on the streets, and there are millions more across the country, opposed to what this government is doing.
These are people from across the political spectrum, from all parties and none, who want to see the government work for the country they claim to serve.
Outside the walls of parliament, democracy is very much alive. Here are just a few examples of what the people of Britain are standing up and demanding:
There was one big reason to celebrate this week. Missing from the list of Queen’s speech policies was one of Cameron’s most publicised pledges- scrapping the Human Rights Act.
This is an Act which has been used with great success in Britain to protect children from abuse and pensioners from closures of nursing homes. Not, as Cameron’s friends at The Sun would have us believe, terrorists and criminals.
The government will no doubt tear into Human Rights again pretty soon. Yet the absence of a mention this week reminds us all of an important lesson. When enough of us kick up a fuss over individual policies, the government will scrabble around to try and appease us.
The opposition to ending the Human Rights act was made up of members of all political parties and none, and has already shaken the government enough that they seem hesitant to defend it before it has even been implemented.
We now need to send a clear message that we will continue to uphold the values we all agree on: protecting children, caring for the elderly and reaching out to those in need.
Yet another example of democracy beyond the ballot box- the people of Britain demanded a referendum on the EU and we have been given one. We now need to make sure it is not hijacked by those with their own motives.
The EU debate is being made into a case of left v right. It is not. Some of the most prominent figures on the left have been calling for Britain to leave the EU for decades- Tony Benn, Bob Crowe and Dennis Skinner to name a few.
Meanwhile, Thatcher, the darling of UKIP and the Tories alike, championed the European Common Market throughout the eighties where the Labour conference had voted against it. So too did the same papers which are now trying to re-write history in a bid for readers.
There are compelling arguments for and against staying in Europe. The point is that these need to be shared openly and honestly by those from across the political spectrum. That way, we can all make an informed decision.
This government has hijacked the idea of aspiration. There is nothing aspirational about what they have promised.
An aspirational government would not be selling off council housing for private landlords to massively increase rents. What were built as ‘homes for heroes’ after two world wars have become homes for profit- their tenants priced out of being able to live in them.
An aspirational government would not be scrapping EMA support for working class kids in college courses, or saddling University graduates with debts they will never be able to pay.
An aspirational government would be bringing in a living wage, or at least a heavily increased minimum wage. That way, the average minimum wage earner could support themselves and their families in working towards something better.
That way, taxpayers would not have to do the job of bosses in supporting underpaid employees.
We should be demanding that the government supports aspiration in what they do, not just what they say.
No More Cuts
In Cameron’s first two years in power, the richest 1,000 people in the country became so rich they could have paid off the entire deficit and still had £30 billion to spare. It seems pretty clear the government’s constant cuts to the country’s services are based on something other than lack of money.
This time around they are planning another £12 billion in cuts, but they haven’t said where they will be coming from. We can only assume they will continue from where they left off- stretching and privatising the NHS, cutting support for working class families, demonising the disabled and unemployed.
One more stat: if even a third of uncollected taxes on the richest were paid, there would be no need for a single pound of the £12 billion in new cuts.
We can’t afford to be split into different groups on this. We all need to raise our voices together to demand that the government clamps down on the tax avoidance of billionaires, rather than cutting services for the rest of us.
Let’s not forget: we own these services, we own our government. We bought them when we paid our taxes.
Join us & thousands more in London on Saturday 20th June 2015 to oppose the Tory cuts & austerity measures, for more information visit http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/end_austerity_now_national_demonstration_saturday_20th_june