When Boris Johnson talks about his plans for the country after the pandemic, I feel like I’m listening to an arsonist explaining about how he plans to put out the fires he’s started.
Shocking new figures show that the number of children living in poverty has risen by 172,000 to 4.3 million – and this was before the coronavirus hit.
Three-quarters of children in poverty live in working families. This is a record that should shame any government but the truth is that Boris Johnson’s own Social Mobility Commission has warned that his policies are pushing more and more children into poverty.
Last week, the Government announced plans for new family hubs as part of a Start For Life agenda to improve children’s life chances.
Labour did something remarkably similar with Sure Start when we were in Government.
But since then, Conservative cuts have closed around 1,000 Sure Start children’s centres and many of those that remain open are shadows of their former selves.
You obviously can’t trust a word Boris Johnson says. But it’s a joke when he boasts about recruiting more police because they won’t even replace more than 20,000 they’ve cut since 2010.
We’ve lost a hell of a lot of experienced officers as a result and a decade of rising violent crime has left people feeling unsafe in their communities.
The Government is also now planning a massive U-turn with a reorganisation of the NHS to undo the damage their last reorganisation inflicted back in 2012.
Before the pandemic took grip, there were more than four million people on waiting lists, nearly 100,000 clinical vacancies, cancer targets being missed and nurses leaving the profession in droves.
The Tories can’t even stick to their promises on NHS pay – having promised staff a 2.1% pay rise, they are now offering them a real-terms pay cut. Then there’s the claim the PM wants to fix the huge regional divides in our country.
This is from the same party that for 11 years now has clobbered northern towns and cities with some of the deepest cuts. Places like Barnsley, Liverpool, Doncaster and Wakefield have had spending falls of 30% to 40%.
We can expect to see the Prime Minister and his Cabinet pounding the streets of Hartlepool in the by-election to choose the town’s next MP with similar bold claims.
But Labour’s candidate Dr Paul Williams, who is working hard to vaccinate the local community, points out that over the decade from 2010, the local council lost 45% of its funding from Tory regimes in Westminster.
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The elections in May offer a chance to send a message about the kind of country we want to see after the coronavirus pandemic.
You can choose Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, which will build a stronger, more secure recovery for Britain to being it out of the pandemic.
Or you can choose a Conservative Party that will take us back to the same insecure, unequal society that left us with the worst virus death toll in Europe and the worst financial crisis of any major economy.