Tory PM Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to pretend that ten years of Tory rule are nothing to do with him, argues Alex Snowdon
Boris Johnson remarked, in Friday’s BBC leaders’ debate, that he has been in office for 130 days. He is a Tory. The Tories have been in office for over 3000 days.
We have endured the Tories since May 2010. It has been a decade of austerity. Johnson wants desperately to be seen as a new broom. He is no such thing. He represents more of the same.
Thursday’s election is a choice between Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn and articulating a clean break with the last decade, and more Tory misery under Johnson. Here are 10 things every voter should keep in mind when voting on Thursday.
1There are over 2000 food banks in Britain. As reported this week, the number of food banks now outstrips the number of McDonalds branches. Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust (which oversees 1200 food banks), says: “All political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics”.
2Nearly 800 libraries have closed. Figures released this week by Cipfa show that 773 libraries have closed since 2010. This is around a fifth of the total. The fall in paid library staff is even steeper: from 24,000 to 15,300.
3Schools have suffered devastating real-terms cuts. The Schools Cuts website has worked out that the Tories are overseeing a fall in funding of £269 per pupil between 2015-16 and 2020-21. Meanwhile the government has missed its teacher recruitment targets for the seventh year running.
4Child poverty has grown. 4.1 million children are in poverty, according to the most widely-used indicator of child poverty. This is half a million more than in 2010.
5While child poverty has grown, the rich have got even more obscenely rich. Last week it was revealed by the Equality Trust that the UK’s six richest people have as much wealth as the poorest 13 million. They have £39.4 billion. The Tories regard this vast wealth as untouchable.
6Homelessness has increased. There were 126,000 children in temporary accommodation in the first quarter of 2019, according to official government figures. It was around 50,000 in 2010. Shelter points out that every eight minutes a child becomes homeless in Britain.
7Rough sleeping has got worse. The most recent estimate was 4677 rough sleepers, much higher than the 2010 figure of 1768. This is the most visible and extreme manifestation of the homelessness crisis.
8Austerity is responsible for more than 130,000 deaths. A June 2019 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research estimated that 131,000 deaths since 2012 would have been prevented if cuts and reforms to public health had not happened.
9The war in Libya in 2011 saw an estimated 30,000 people killed. It isn’t just the impact of austerity that provides an indictment of Tory rule: cuts at home have been accompanied by militarism and aggression abroad. The US-UK-France bombing campaign, between March and October 2011, massively escalated the killing in Libya, with estimates in October 2011 of around 30,000 dead.
10The Tory government has continued arming Saudi Arabia throughout its war in Yemen. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Yemen. British arms exports rose to a record high of £14 billion in 2018. Nearly 80% of that is trade with the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia thought to be the single biggest buyer.
This is the Tory legacy. Boris Johnson should be made to own it. This election is not a Brexit election, but above all a referendum on a decade of austerity.
Thursday’s election is a choice between Labour and the Tories. It’s time to get the Tories out and put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. Vote Labour.
Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.
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