Every time I think of Neil Kinnock’s famous eve of election speech before Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory in the 1983 General Election it sends a shiver down my spine. Warning of the callous Thatcherism that Britain would suffer if she won, Kinnock’s voice hoarse from campaigning uttered his most famous lines:
“I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to be young, I warn you not to fall ill, and I warn you not to grow old.”
I was reminded of those words this week when I received a letter from the head of my son’s primary school warning of difficult times when Theresa May’s plans to cut a further £8.9bn from state schools having already cut £2.8bn kick in.
The cuts my son’s school face are typical of 93% of primary and secondary schools and they have to consider all kinds of unpalatable options from cutting PE to possibly cutting school hours and classes over 30 pupils.
The Tory party, so confident of winning by a landslide have thrown themselves into this election with a manifesto of policies that will hit the young and old with an arrogance even David Cameron would never have dreamt of – for fear of being called the ‘Nasty Party’.
So apologies Neil Kinnock, though maybe you would approve, here are some Dos and Don’ts if the Conservative Party form a government on Friday.
Don‘t be born – NHS centralisation plans will close even more maternity units and mean more mums-to-be travel even further to give birth. This year I interviewed one mother who had given birth in a lay-by when her local maternity unit had closed and the next nearest was just too far, and another traumatised young lady who lost her baby en route to the next town after maternity services in her own town were downgraded.
Don’t be born abroad – Shamefully the Tory party seem intent on using the 3 million EU-born people of Britain, some of whom have had grandchildren here, as bargaining chips for Brexit. Theresa May tore families apart after hiking up the income threshold for having your partner join you in the UK to £18,600. This figure is set to rise – punishing more couples for not being wealthy. Callously turning her back on the 3,000 refugee children we’d promised sanctuary in the UK, Theresa May intends to make life as inhumanely difficult as possible for refugees in this country over the next few years.
Don’t be a child – In March we reported that under Tory rule child poverty had spiralled to 4 million children. About 900,000 children from struggling families are set to lose their right to free school lunches under a particularly despicable cut unveiled in the Conservative manifesto.
They not only face being schooled on an empty stomach, but with drastic school budget cuts planned they face larger class sizes, losing teaching assistants and poorer subject choices than ever before.
Don’t be a student – Especially a foreign student, for whom the Conservative Party manifesto plans to make life more difficult than ever, worrying beleaguered Higher Education institutions that depend on them. Imagine losing the chance this election for a free education like many other European nations and paying an eye-watering £9,250 a year to study.
Don’t work – Theresa May has repeatedly dodged questions about not hiking taxes up, especially VAT. With historically low levels of disposable income, one in seven people in insecure employment, a hike in VAT or any taxes under the Tories will hit most of us pretty hard, especially with the devastating economic prospects of a Hard Brexit looming.
Don’t get sick – The NHS is on the brink, with plans to close services in 44 parts of the UK. Already vital treatments are being cut. The Anthony Nolan Trust put me in touch with a mum this year who had been refused a second attempt to fight her Leukaemia with another bone marrow transplant as now the NHS is rationed to one attempt per person, despite the objection of many experts. Cruel and unnecessary.
Don’t ever need welfare – This month we reported on a disabled ex nurse forced to sleep in her car after her Personal Independence Payments were stopped and the government slashed Employment Support Allowance. The disabled and most vulnerable have been punished the most by Tory cuts.
Don’t get old –
If you are not culled by the cold weather when millions of pensioners lose their Winter Fuel Allowance, then you can look forward to losing the home you can barely afford to heat if God forbid you ever get infirm and need care. Under Theresa May’s Dementia Tax if you thought you were leaving your home to your kids as it’s nigh on impossible for them to get on the property ladder now, unless you’re very well off, you’re not. You are probably leaving it to one of the finance firms that can’t wait to lend you the money you need for care in return for getting their hands on your home when you die.
Do donate to the Tory Party – The super rich financiers, insurance company and property magnates who donate to the Tory Party have an opportunity to make a packet off getting their hands on our houses. Other hedge fund donors own private medical firms taking over our NHS. Lord Ashcroft the billionaire Tory donor has made his sizeable investment back several times over with his companies supplying nursing staff to the debt-ridden NHS and temporary teachers to hard-pressed schools.
There must be some surely be other Dos to add to that, so please comment with any more Dos or Don’ts below and Do watch Neil Kinnock being much more succinct than me: