WHILE the political pundits in the Westminster village are twisted into knots over Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called ‘Revenge Reshuffle” and BBC duplicity over the resignation of one minor minister, it is time to reset our focus to something much more important.
Put simply, the ongoing scourge of ordinary people by the most arrogant, privileged and right wing government of my lifetime.
For decades our country – and most of Western Europe – has been sleep-walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance with totems such as The X Factor, tanning studios, Top Gear, designer clothes labels and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice have been jettisoned for a ‘winner takes all’ mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor in general.
All of this is underpinned by our malicious right wing press who smear and pillory anyone who dares question the status quo or suggest alternatives.
The press barons and their big business buddies are terrified of those alternatives, because they threaten a smug status quo which means that the five richest families in the UK now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population.
The combined wealth of the 1,000 richest men and women in Britain has more than doubled in the last 10 years. The wealthiest 1,000 individuals and families now have a combined fortune of £547.126 billion, up from £249.615 billion in 2005, despite the world economy being gripped by a punishing recession over much of the last decade.
Meanwhile, thousands of families survive on the breadline, make weekly use of food banks or starve due to draconian benefits sanctions.
When Cameron’s far right Conservative Party was elected in May this year I genuinely feared for our collective futures.
Here we had the election of a UK government compiled of self-seeking rich elitists who care more about their mansions and banking friends than about people.
And their shopping list for change is truly terrifying as this is unshackled Conservative government promises to:
- Rip up the Human Rights Act, which underpins our legal system and protects all our basic freedoms and those of persecuted minorities.
- Spend £100 billion on replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons, which at the push of a button could wipe out millions of lives and pollute our planet for tens of thousands of years.
- Make £12.8 billion of cuts to welfare, leaving the poorest, the oldest and the weakest in our society facing the bleakest of futures.
- Begin a phased end to council housing, thus pushing up rents in the private sector and making families homeless. Once again – as under Thatcher – we will see a surge in rough sleeping and begging.
- Will enact tougher sanctions on migrants, involve the UK in further illegal wars in the Middle East and trigger an increase in racism, terrorism and Islamophobia.
- Extend zero hours contracts, thus massaging the unemployment figures and leaving thousands of the poorest people without any job security.
- Legislate for more private schools which will imbed the class system even deeper in our society, rather focus on improving our state schooling system.
- Escalate and accelerate the privatisation of the NHS, so medical care will depend on wealth rather than need.
- Redraw constituency boundaries so these same corrupt capitalist elitists stay in power for another 20 more years.
Following Cameron’s election victory I said the Left “must begin now to unify around a leader or leadership we can all trust, organise and start the fightback, or we wave farewell to any hope for a fairer and better future.”
Well the fightback has begun. And I must admit I never thought it possible.
But none of us expected Jeremy Corbyn!
Over last summer this gentle political firebrand packed out meetings and hustings the length and breadth of this country with his simple messages of an end to austerity, an end to nuclear weapons and an end to needless wars over oil in the Middle East and beyond.
His messages caught the hearts and minds of millions:
- The UK’s financial deficit should be paid off – but not through spending cuts and not to an arbitrary deadline. Instead, a Corbyn government would fund its reduction via higher taxes for the rich and a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion. “Quantitative easing for people” could be used to invest in housing, energy, transport and digital projects.
- Britain’s railways should be renationalised. Energy companies should also be under public ownership. He is “totally opposed” to fracking. However, he says deep-mine coal pits in the north of England could be reopened.
- Far more allotments would be good for the UK and councils and builders “should be doing their best to ensure that every new development includes some allotment space”.
- Talking to militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah is necessary to win peace in the Middle East. And arms embargo should be imposed on Israel to give Palestinian refugees a “right of return”.
- Replacing Trident would be a costly mistake. Jeremy Corbyn believes the project’s £100 billion price tag could be better spent “on our national well-being“.
- A National Education Service modelled on the NHS should be established. Under Mr Corbyn, state-funded academies and free schools would be forced to return to local authority control while university tuition fees would be scrapped and replaced with grants. He would look at ending the charitable status of public schools, although he accepts this would be complicated and might not happen immediately.
- The air strikes against ISIS in Syria are a crass mistake. Mr Corbyn wants to see “illegal wars” replaced with a “foreign policy that prioritises justice and assistance”. This would ameliorate refugee crises. In turn, the arms trade should be restricted.
- Rent controls should be re-introduced, linking private rents to local earnings, and more council houses should be built. Mr Corbyn also believes that council tenants’ right to buy their homes should be extended to private sector renters.
- Remaining in the European Union but with changes. Mr Corbyn wants to stay to fight for a “better Europe”. He also opposes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal.
- Ireland should be united and returned to Irish rule. Mr Corbyn has long supported British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
- Protect trade unions in the face of Conservative plans to overturn almost 100 years of workers’ rights with new legislation.
- A national maximum wage should be introduced to cap the salaries of high earners. He would also introduce a windfall tax on former state assets such as the Royal Bank of Scotland.
- Every child should have the chance to learn a musical instrument or act on stage. Mr Corbyn’s arts policy also includes directing a greater proportion of funding to local projects, widening access and despite this weeks’ shenanigans, protecting the BBC.
- Private Finance Initiative deals with the NHS should be ended by using government funds to buy them out.
All in all, a brave new world indeed and those Corbyn messages are forever true.
And at last we have a political leader who can offer a true progressive alternative and a way forward for us all. So let’s now all unite and spend 2016 fighting together for that better tomorrow.
Fairness, compassion and equality can finally overturn the scourge of capitalist greed.