For seven years the Tory government has been waging economic terrorism against its own citizens - we must fight to kick them out, argues Steph Pike
On a freezing February night a man dies quietly, dies homeless, dies alone. He dies a cruel and unnecessary death. He dies on the streets, in the shadow of Big Ben shrouded in scaffolding and plastic for a £29 million refurbishment; within a stones throw of the Houses of Parliament about to undergo a £3.5 billion pound restoration. That there was one death is bad enough but the real picture is much, much worse. Four rough sleepers have died in London since the start of this year, 141 died last year and homeless charities predict that dozens more will die in the coming months. The life expectancy of people sleeping rough is just 46 years.
Seven years of austerity have their toll; the number of people sleeping rough has increased every year since 2010, vital services and welfare benefits have been cut and housing, especially in London, has become increasingly unaffordable. The consequences of the Tory policy of austerity, a policy of political choice not economic necessity, is that people are dying. Tory policies are literally killing people.
The scandal of people dying on the streets in one of the richest countries of the world is just the tip of the iceberg. A landmark study published in November 2017 linked 120,000 deaths to Tory austerity measures citing underfunding of the NHS and cuts to social services as major contributory factors. The report identified that mortality rates had declined between 2001 and 2010 but started growing again after Tory austerity policies were introduced. One of the report’s co-authors, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, commented that "it is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits - it is bad economics, but good class politics." He added, "this study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”
Austerity is a political weapon; a weapon of violence used by a powerful and wealthy elite against the ordinary people of this country. It impoverishes, it demonises and it kills. For seven long years the Tory government has been waging a campaign of economic terrorism against its own citizens; it’s aim - to keep power and wealth in the hands of a privileged minority.
It is not enough to feel outraged and angry – the time has come to act. We must keep organising and protesting and building a mass movement to end austerity and kick the Tories out of power. We must keep fighting to build a society where human life is valued more highly than the pursuit of power and wealth.