The new Boris government has had its overall majority for a couple of months now. Let’s see what it’s been up to, shall we?
“Eat your greens! There are kids in Africa who’d be really grateful for what you’ve got there.”
So my mother used to rebuke me. It was a mealtime ritual that has stuck in my memory ever since. I was a picky eater as a child, to say the least. Oh to return to those heady years of my 32” waist and slim fit shirts. Those were the days!
We weren’t exactly wealthy when I was a kid. A student grant doesn’t go far when feeding three children and a single mother who’d gone back to college when my Dad abandoned us. We had lots of homemade rice puddings with strawberry jam. We had crumpets grilled on a toasting fork over the electric fire. We ate cereal a lot (not the fancy stuff) and jam sandwiches. My grandmother’s tatie pots were a joy to behold on winter evenings. So were her meat and tatie pies. It was basic fayre but it was tasty enough. And it was food.
Today, 50 years later I can still hear my mother’s voice echoing in my head. But this time the starving kids she talks about aren’t in far off parts of the developing world. This time she (or rather my mental representation of her) is talking about the children down the road, the school-leaver sanctioned because he didn’t get the DWP letter or the family of four with a single zero-hours contract to live on.
Today, in the world’s fifth largest economy there’s more hunger, poverty and destitution than ever before in my lifetime. And that’s just disgraceful!
This is what we get after 9 years of tory rule.
What will we see after another 5?
I genuinely do not believe that the majority of tory voters really meant for this hardship to continue – even to increase but as is becoming all too obvious, that’s what’s happening. That doesn’t mean that those usual labour voters who ‘lent’ Boris Johnson’s far right government their vote are stupid. But it does mean that they were lied to by an efficient main stream media and a slick marketing campaign aimed at whitewashing the conservative record and deifying Boris in particular. My people, my working-class brothers and sisters aren’t stupid but maybe they’re too trusting.
There’s no point in becoming too despondent about that right now. Instead we need to get active. Community groups are cropping up all over UK to combat the worst abuses of Boris’ government, to help feed the hungry and house the destitute. You can find out what’s going on by checking this link or by subscribing to this blog. Over the next five years I’ll be interviewing and showcasing a host of community action organisations, offering them encouragement and ensuring they keep getting their voices heard.
Why not join one – or start one yourself?
This is a screenshot of the tory manifesto. It’s an unusual combination of part fact and part fiction intended to make working class voters think that leopards really could change their spots. Here the conservatives promise to raise the minimum wage to £10.50 an hour by 2024. That was nothing compared to the fully costed Labour plan to increase it to a tenner immediately but hey ho – you pays your money and you takes your choice. And pay we will – through the nose.
Now, despite claiming that their manifesto was fully accounted for (it seems that it wasn’t), the tories have rolled back their commitment to our lowest paid workers. Now it’s more an aspiration “if economic circumstances allow”.
Well what did you expect? They are tories, after all. They don’t give a stuff about the working class.
During the election campaign Boris Johnson and the rest of his team promised that there were no plans to meddle with the rights of Working people. My own local candidate, now tory MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson went
on record at the local hustings explaining that there were no plans to reduce workers rights in the event of a tory majority. I’m afraid I wasn’t convinced.
The October withdrawal bill, the one that Boris withdrew because parliament wanted time to scrutinise it (and refused to let it pass without such scrutiny) included such protections. That’s the one the EU had agreed to in principle, assuming that it gained the consent of the house – a consent that could only come if parliament was allowed time to consider it in sufficient detail.
After the election Johnson has an 80 seat majority with many of his MPs new to the chamber, unsure of their position and presumably not sufficiently brave to stand up to Boris’ whips even if they wanted to. This means he can do what he likes, with or without parliamentary scrutiny and so…
The December version of the withdrawal bill lacks the appropriate clauses about maintaining working peoples’ rights. Michael Gove, long time opponent of anything that stands in the way of large multinationals exploiting their workers has reassured us that everything will be OK because rights will be considered separately at some unspecified later date. The excuse is that they don’t want to complicate the road to Brexit so they’ll sort the rights part out later. Oh really?
Needless to say Mr. Jenkinson, newly elected MP for Workington voted in favour of the revised withdrawal bill and its implications for workers and Europeans despite the lack of time for proper scrutiny.
Now remember that the previous deal which included workers’ rights has already been agreed by the EU. Boris could pass whatever bill he likes in this new parliament so what could possibly be so difficult about workers’ rights that they need to be removed to let the bill carry through the house? That just doesn’t make sense.
In fact the opposite is true. It is precisely because of the changes to the October version of the bill, particularly relating to working peoples’ rights and the rights of EU citizens that the EU may not ratify this new version after all. Far from making the road to Brexit easier, abandoning workers’ and EU citizens’ rights is actually making it more complicated – and we all know where that can lead.
So what’s the real reason for the removal of working peoples’ rights?
Well? What do you think?
It’s just a matter of days since the tories learned of their landslide general election victory and already their manifesto promises are looking shaky. According to the Independent…
“The government plans to reintroduce the withdrawal agreement bill, which implements Mr Johnson’s deal, this week. No 10 said it would be based on the deal that the prime minister secured with the EU, and would not necessarily include the guarantees made since then.
“The original draft of the legislation included provisions to ensure that workers’ rights were not weakened after Brexit. Under questioning from MPs in October, Mr Johnson also promised to include a similar measure on environmental protections.
“However, No 10 refused to say that the guarantees would be in the revised draft being brought back this week.”
Workington MP Mark Jenkinson, conservative and hard right wing Brexiteer promised in the run up to the general election that there were no plans to reduce working peoples’ rights…
He also promised that the conservatives, if elected would seek to further protect the environment.
So we need to ask ourselves… was Jenky lying or is Workington’s new MP just a fool who couldn’t see what was so obvious to so many of us all along? Surely, the tory candidate should have known what his party planned to do, shouldn’t he?
It’s almost as though he doesn’t care about working people at all, especially since he even admitted that he didn’t even understand the question.