Britain, I’m frightened.
Something dreadful is happening to you and you don’t know.
But you’ll read my blog (indeed, if you ever get to see it at all, jumping up and down and nipping at the ankles of a vast and deafening corporate-press as it is) and conclude I’m just “one of them”
A career protestor or perhaps a selfish lobbyist only interested in maintaining the status quo.
You’ll snort with derision, or maybe give a superior tut and shake your head a little, then go back to school runs and gas bills.
So I’m going to put this as clearly and as simply as I can.
David Cameron wants to compete with India and China.
He believes that the only way we can compete in this global “economic war” is to be more like India and China.
So far, these two vast countries have not been overly concerned with the rights and comforts of their citizens.
No safety net at all for their workers, overwhelming starvation and poverty, sweatshops and near-slave labour keep wages low. Citizens have no rights and no access to justice
All of this means the worker simply has to work as many hours for as little pay as a company sees fit, in any conditions no matter how dangerous or degrading.
But it also means they can churn out cheap CD players for a tenner that we couldn’t make for £30. It means Primark can sell dresses for £4 or Asda can sell cheap fish.
We all know about it. But we like the cheap dresses and trainers, so we turn a blind eye to the near slavery that makes them possible.
David Cameron (I know, this is the bit that sounds hysterical, but bear with me) wants to make the British workforce more like the Chinese or Indian workforce and the only way to do that is to take away your rights.
He believes you must work longer for less money.
He thinks your boss would make more profit if he didn’t have to pay you holiday pay or sick pay or maternity pay or make sure the factory you work in is safe, or if he didn’t have to pay you a minimum wage or if he could force you to work 14 hour days.
Ideally, Cameron would like you to work for free as then, we might be able to produce cheap fridges too.
The first thing Cameron announced after he didn’t-quite-win the election was that the only way you could get rid of him was if the opposition and members of his own party voted for it. Effectively, he could do anything he wanted, and parliament could not throw him out for 5 years.
He announced that he would fix the boundaries in elections and reduce the number of MPs, both of which would make it easier for him to win the next election.
Since then, he has :
- · Restricted access to legal aid and so, the ability of the poorest to access justice.
- · Restricted your right to go to an employment tribunal
- · Restricted your right to ask a judge to look at government policies or the actions of your boss
- · Reduced the support we give CABs to help you
- · Removed the need for your boss – or his government – to show that they are fair to black people or disabled people, women or any other group.
- · Offered to buy all of your employment rights – pension, pay, safety – everything, in exchange for a few shares.
- · Forced hundreds of thousands of people to work for no pay – some for an unlimited period.
- · Reduced your pension and raised the age you can retire at.
- · Allowed some bosses to make you work as many hours as they like.
- · Slashed support for disabled people because they are a drain on the economy
- · Made it easier for your boss to sack you without a good reason.
- · Suggested that we get rid of the Human Rights Act
- · Limited the ability of single parents to access the Child Support Agency and force partners to pay for their children
- · Scrapped the “Social Fund” that was the very last safety net between poverty and starvation
- · Overseen a 100% rise in people queuing for emergency food at food banks.
- · Closed half of the refuges for women fleeing domestic violence.
- · Denied profoundly disabled children the right to an independent income
- · Ensured that so many people lose their homes, even Boris Johnson referred to it as “social cleansing”
- · Changed the law so that people relying on social housing can no longer enjoy the security of a home for life and can be evicted if they have more bedrooms than they need.
- · Undermined the House of Lords so that effectively, it cannot amend any laws Cameron might wish to pass.
- * Reduced or removed the need for government to consult anyone on changes they make.
- · Restricted your right to appeal any wrong decisions
- · Allowed some councils to force disabled people back into institutions on cost grounds
- · Ignored and broken international law
- · Alienated European leaders – our main export market - and isolated himself through extremism.
- · Created new tax loopholes that will save big businesses tens of billions
- · “Re-defined” poverty so that figures will not show a massive rise.
- · Used propaganda and proven lies to vilify the poor, disabled and those seeking work.
- · Removed the safety net if you become too unwell to do your job.
- · Allowed banks to write off all the losses that got us in this mess against tax. Unlike America, who insisted they pay it back.
- · Closed committees designed to keep check on his policies
- · Reduced the number of civil servants (who’s job it is to design safe laws and policies) to lowest ever levels.
- · Politicised the police force
- · Proposed secret courts
- · Attempted to restrict what you say and do on the internet
- · Continually ignored expert advice
- · Announced it will no longer be compulsory to register to vote (the poorest are the least likely to vote and most likely to vote “ABT” – Anything But Tory)
- · Arrested peaceful protesters and influenced sentencing (supposedly independent)
- · Associated intimately with many now facing trial for criminal activity in the media – Coulson, Brookes, James Murdoch etc
Remember, these are not cuts. These are changes to the law or announcements made by this UK coalition government in just over 2 years. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the futures of a generation.
They remove or weaken most of the rights and security we’ve won over the last 100 years.
They undermine your right to a secure home, right to a minimum wage, right to justice, right to vote, right to protest, right to a safe workplace and in a growing number of cases, right to life.
They define how long you can be forced to work for, how much pension you get, your right not to be discriminated against and your right to live free from fear or persecution.
How clever then of David Cameron to re-package these rights as “red tape” and “all this extra tickbox stuff” as “bureaucratic rubbish” .
Thank goodness policy makers will be “free to use their judgement.” Thank goodness we have “smart people in Westminster who consider equality issues while they’re making policy” and never discriminate on any grounds.
How clever of a press run by oligarchs and billionaires to parody fundamental protection as “’elf and safety gone mad” or the unreasonable demands of whingeing wimps.
Our fathers and grandfathers knew what these rights were. They knew what they meant and gave their lives defending them.
I’m becoming truly frightened that my generation has forgotten