The Tory legacy: a lost decade and over 130,000 deaths through austerity

Since 2001 around 100 people have been killed by terrorists in the UK. Since the Tories came to power in 2010 their austerity regime has resulted in at least 130,000 preventable deaths according to reports. An Institute for Public Policy Research report published earlier this year shows that austerity has had a devastating impact on areas hitherto understood such as work into curable diseases. Such areas have seen a reduction in funding leading to a rise in the number of people dying from conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer and liver problems. Their research measured impacts only from 2012 meaning the number could be higher. This is on top of the 17,000 people reported to have died while waiting to hear whether they qualify for welfare payments. Those in our community that have applied for government help in their daily lives have been deliberately targeted by a ruthless and heartless Tory Party that cares for nothing but unregulated markets.

A lost decade could be coming to an end with the general election vote on December 12. It could also (and this seems more likely) get extended by five years. It is a terrifying prospect. Under the Tories our communities get attacked and our lives are deliberately individualised. The agenda to make us feel isolated is conducted in the name of making us depend on ourselves. We shouldn’t be at all surprised that our prime minister, when visiting flood hit areas, can’t use a mop properly. He’s never had to do anything that benefits other people before. We should not be surprised that he looks totally ill-at-ease around people in those communities who are working together in the anarchist defined but utterly natural spirit of mutual aid. Our innate tendency is towards a socialism; his determination is to quell that tendency. We also shouldn’t be surprised when a woman working to provide help and shelter to people in the Doncaster area replies with the word “arsehole” when she’s asked what she thinks of Johnson.

No wonder he’s avoided scrutiny for so long in this election campaign. It only really feels like it’s getting started now after Labour’s commitment to provide everyone with free broadband. That is a game changer in this election. It might not show in the polls but it means that it’s ever harder to say that the two main parties are just the same. They are clearly not this time round. They are providing two very different visions of what government can do and how that can shape society. The Labour manifesto will be agreed tomorrow (November 16) and I’m looking forward to picking it apart. It will undoubtedly contain material benefits for us all but couched in the terms of having a labour movement hierarchy imposed upon the control and decision making of such policies.

In contrast the rumours are that the Tories will not publish their full manifesto until two weeks before the election. Again this is about avoiding scrutiny. Postal voters will start to receive their ballot papers from tomorrow. This means that many people could vote before even knowing what the Tory policies are. This is a strategy used by Johnson from the start of the summer, prior to him becoming prime minister. He avoided TV debates in the early stages of the Tory leadership battle. He took this approach into government by avoiding Prime Minister’s Questions and visits to the Liaison Committee. He pulled his own Bill on EU withdrawal when MPs demanded more time to debate it and add amendments. Ironically for all this avoiding scrutiny he continually goes on the offensive regarding the ‘dither and delay’ of others.

Avoiding scrutiny is clearly anti-democratic. He displays dictatorial tendencies. Johnson is a man used to getting his own way. It’s much easier as London Mayor than it is as the prime minister of a minority government. The thought of a five year term for the Tories under Johnson is a thought that conjures up more destruction and an ever controlling impact on us in terms of our natural tendency for receiving and providing collective help. It will be a five year term breaking down avenues towards solidarity. For our communities this is a form of terrorism. We know that they are intending to increase public spending but they will not be doing so to the point of reaching the 2010 levels. In other words what the Tories are offering, or rather threatening, for the next five years is that deaths caused by austerity will not happen at the same rate. Their policies will kill us more slowly.

Over the next few weeks they will focus on Labour policies and the very easy task of rubbishing Jeremy Corbyn. They will avoid the tricky subject of their own record over this lost decade and what another five years might do to our spaces. Nobody should be in any doubt that they pose an existential threat to many people. Boris Johnson for five years? It doesn’t bear thinking about. We have suffered a lost decade that should not be extended.

Jon Bigger


Photo credit: Guy Smallman