Labour's landslide election victory in '97 ushered in a new era, a new marriage, one of the state and the private sector. Contracts were tendered and bids were made, this was the future. The Social evils of crime and substance misuse, poverty and deprivation were to be addressed. We would be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, more than three thousand new criminal offence laws would see to that. And children would be lifted from poverty and the opportunity to attend university would be there for all, for a fee of course.
This was called progress, all the free marketeers said so.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight even better. Back in 1983, 1990 or 2003, who could have possibly envisioned a society of working poor, collecting their groceries from the food bank and not the supermarket, of parents skipping meals in order to feed their children, of young people leaving university with debts amounting to more than fifty thousand pounds. A society where food or heating is the recurring daily dilemma. And who could have known that by 2013 plans to build a new super prison would be underway, a prison so huge that it would be unlike any other we have ever known, and run by the private sector of course. And who could have known that mass unemployment would one day return; that a bedroom tax and poll tax mark 2 would re-emerge. Who could have known all that?
As the rhetoric turns to the unemployed and the single mother, the drug addict and the drunk, the feral youngsters and the under performing NHS, the contracts are out for tender, and the future is assured...
"There's no need for us to talk about drink or laziness," returned Owen, impatiently, "because they have nothing to do with the matter. The question is, what is the cause of the lifelong poverty of the majority of those who are not drunkards and who DO work? Why, if all the drunkards and won't-works and unskilled or inefficient workers could be by some miracle transformed into sober, industrious and skilled workers tomorrow, it would, under the present conditions, be so much the worse for us, because there isn't enough work for all NOW and those people by increasing the competition for what work there is, would inevitably cause a reduction of wages and a greater scarcity of employment. The theories that drunkenness, laziness or inefficiency are the causes of poverty are so many devices invented and fostered by those who are selfishly interested in maintaining the present states of affairs, for the purpose of preventing us from discovering the real causes of our present condition." (The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Tressell, 1914)
Kathleen that sounds great. I've read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists many years ago but have ordered a copy from my library which should be in next week. Going to write a review when I've read it (I've a list as long as my arm of things to do) I bet the visit you have planned will make great reading in an article. :)
Yes, Tressell! I am going down to Hastings when the weather warms u, to visit a mate, and just found out that the museum there has a little section devoted to Tressell who lived there. I was really pleased to discover that - isn't the internet great! :)
Thank you, Kathleen. I love both E.P.Thompson and Tressell!
Loved your article. And so glad to see you are promoting E P Thompson! Thanks for that.
Thank you afaceristonline, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Indeed. Unfortunately however, I have no idea how this can be rectified. :(
Hollie, I know what a sad sad state of affairs.
It does Katie, and so many futures stolen. When I worked in the prison I often pondered the different alternative lives there may have been for some of the inmates, had they been presented with more or different opportunities. But it appears that a profit can also be made from social deprivation and addiction. It's big business!
Much has happened to raise eyebrows, a good thing, more of us need to wake up to class conflict deciding how we each can make waves, a difference or support the efforts to meet the needs of our youth in terms of educating the best and the brightest regardless of their inability to pay for a quality education or not. IMHO this is a big part of the tragedy of it all. So much talent and ability goes by the way side due to class conflict. :)K
The conservatives have treated young people disgracefully, imho. For older people, the nasty party is ingrained in our collective consciousness- I suspect that will now be the case for people of your generation. The Tories couldn't obtain the required majority at the last election, despite the re-branding, I think they're pretty much doomed at the next election, but the damage has been done.