A Coalition Christmas Carol….
Christmas, we are told, is a time for focusing on the common humanity that ties us all together. However, the tale of Scrooge is supposed to remind us that it is also a time of judgment and atonement. In that spirit, I feel we should look at a couple of stories from the past few days and judge from them what we should make of the actions of our government this year.
Firstly, we have Sue Marsh’s heart-rending piece on LabourList. I will let Sue tell her own story:
I have severe crohn’s disease. Probably one of the most severe cases in the country.
I have had 7 major life saving operations to remove over 30 obstructions (blockages) from my bowel.
I take chemo-shots every two weeks that suppress my immune system, ensuring that I regularly have to fight infections. Exhaustion, pain and nausea plague every single day of my life.
I have osteoprosis and malnutrition.
I have had major seizures and a stroke.
Nonetheless, I have just heard from my own Disability Living Allowance application, that it has been rejected. Completely. I will receive no support at all from DLA.
It is obvious from Sue’s piece that she, like millions of others, is fighting a daily battle to survive. Maybe she is far from vulnerable because she equally obviously has a strong, redoubtable spirit – however, it is not unfair to say that she desperately needs support from a government whose moral duty is to protect the weak and the needy and offer them all the support they need.
However, we all know that Sue and the people like her are not the main priority of this government though. It’s determined to scorch the earth of the British economy and tear at its social fabric until it is in tatters to support, not people like Sue, but the people who oil the machine, the people who pour millions into Conservative Party coffers and the same people who have been handed billions of pounds of taxpayers money for essentially no return.
The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are willing accomplices in these outrages, in one of the most right-wing governments this country has ever seen. This isn’t the 1980’s; it is so much worse than all that. All they care about is comforting themselves by constructing an elaborate fantasy world in which they actually matter and are not the completely impotent dupes of their Conservative masters.
Secondly, we have the equally scandalous rise in the numbers of without a home. A news event that seems to have passed with little comment or concern from government ministers of either shade. For all its many sins, the last Labour administration can at least claim to have presided over an eventual decline in the numbers of those without this most basic of human necessities and, I would argue, human rights. It looks like that decline will now sharply reverse and we can expect to see a big spike in the numbers of those left to rot on the streets.
Labour is, of course, not a perfect political party by any stretch of the imagination. In government, its boldness and radicalism, things that should be the hallmark and defining feature of any Labour government often desert it and are replaced with servile adaptation and acceptance of the many inequities of a flawed, undemocratic and unjust social system. In opposition, currently, its leadership often display the conspicuous lack of a clue about anything. Certainly, there is no bold and clearly defined vision for Britain and no hope and little support offered to the likes of Sue or those on the streets.
It’s shortcomings make one of the first orders of business persecuting the struggle within the Party to make it a Party fit for purpose, fit to be the tribune of the people, not the dried-out husk its years in government turned it into. Labour needs to be at the forefront of the battle for Britain’s soul but before it can be so the struggle must be won over custody of its soul. Nonetheless, it remains the Party best placed to change all that because of the very nature of its being, its history, the purpose of its creation and the many parts that make it what it is.
It is to be hoped that David Cameron, Nick Clegg, et el wake-up on Christmas morning in a cold sweat having stared into the abyss of their own pitiless cruelty – their actions this year do not make them worthy of a warm and comfortable Christmas. Ultimately, it is the spectre of the people they should fear the most because although it may take time and things may move slowly, they must be aware that the wheel turns eventually and when it does they will be judged and made to atone for all the suffering and hardship they have inflicted on the country they claim to rule merely as representatives of the people but in fact bridle and make suffer for to protect their own selfish vested interests.