“In the weeks & months ahead, lets unite, not let our enemies divide us & win real change… with a Labour Government & Jeremy Corbyn in number 10.”Diane Abbott
The Queen’s Speech was a farcical pre-election party political broadcast writes Diane Abbott MP, exclusively for Labour Outlook:
To sum it up simply, this week Queen’s Speech from the Tories and Boris Johnson was farcical. It was little more than an uncosted wish list which the government has no intention and no means to deliver. In this sense, it was nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast.
Even within this context, it failed to address many of the key issues facing millions of people across the country. As Jeremy Corbyn said in his reply to Boris Johnson, “there was nothing in this Queen’s Speech to address our stagnant economy. Nothing to address low pay and insecure work. Nothing to reverse rising levels of child poverty or pensioner poverty.”
Additionally, it was hypocritical for the Tories to set out these ‘plans’ when they themselves were the ones who imposed cuts and let crime soar in the first place.
Everything has been cut, from schools, to the NHS, to the police, to mental health services. All these cuts have had terrible consequences.
Far from heralding an end to the Tories’ ideologically-driven austerity and a new vision for a better Britain, it showed the Tories are still tied to the reactionary policies of the last decade, and are instead increasingly resorting to the Trump playbook of divisive policies and language. This was shown by the dog-whistle rhetoric around foreign offenders in the Queen’s Speech, and is something we should expect more of as we approach a General Election.
The Queen’s Speech then not only barely even began to unpick the devastating cuts that we have seen to our public services, but also does nothing for people struggling to make ends meet, does nothing to make our world a safer place, or tackle the climate emergency.
Within this context of nearly a decade of austerity, the current Home Secretary was right to say this that the Tories in Government have been a soft touch for criminals – in the sense that they have pursued policies of extreme cuts that have predictably led to more crime.
Police have lost over 20,000 officers and nearly 7,000 Police Community Support Officers at the same time as violent crime soars.
Prisons are severely overcrowded and there are 2,500 fewer prison officers in our prisons today than in 2010.
And of course the Tories have also subjected the police– and millions of other public sector workers – to cuts in their pay, pensions and terms and conditions.
The reality therefore is that whilst the government talks tough on law and order, under them since 2010 all we have had is cuts and chaos.
And it is not just in the area of policing that austerity has made us less safe.
As I wrote about in a recent ‘Morning Star’ column, years of massive cuts to fire safety officers and years of fire safety deregulation have also been part a “slash-and-burn” culture to our emergency services under the Tories.
Central government has consistently cut funding for English fire and rescue services, which will fall by £155 million in 2019-20, representing a 15 per cent cut from 2016-17 to 2019-20.
This is even worse than it sounds, as it follows a 30 per cent funding cut between 2010 and 2015.
As a consequence, firefighter numbers have fallen by a fifth since 2010, while the number of specialist fire safety officers has been cut by a quarter.
We have also seen the closure of fire stations and cuts to equipment.
In this situation it is hardly surprising that the Fire Brigades Union has expressed its concern about the future of our fire and rescue services.
In recent weeks it seems that the Tories are now trying to pretend the consequences have nothing to do with them – but we will not let them off the hook.
In contrast to the Tories, Labour in government will end austerity, and properly invest in our communities and future.
As Jeremy Corbyn put it this week, the first Queen’s Speech of a Labour government “will put forward the most radical and people-focused programme in modern times, a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country. It will let the people decide on Brexit, build an economy that works for all, rebuild public services that support everyone, tackle the climate emergency and reset our global role to one based on peace and human rights.”
In the weeks and months ahead, lets unite, not let our enemies divide us and win real change. Then with a Labour Government, and Jeremy Corbyn in number 10, we can rebuild and transform Britain, for the many not the few.
- You can follow Diane at www.facebook.com/DianeAbbott and www.twitter.com/HackneyAbbott