top of page
Search

Conservative Governance Has Put Britain In Extreme Danger



My ancestors didn’t come over here on the Mayflower. In fact, I don’t have a trace of any blood in me from the British Isles. My antecedents are from Ukraine, Germany, Romania and Russia. And yet… I always had a soft spot for Britain. It goes beyond just culture— the great music, literature, art… Nevermind the culinary shortcomings (and even that’s improved in the past couple of decades). And I know British history a lot better than Ukrainian, German, Romanian or Russian history. The shared language also makes it easier to have less superficial with British people than with other foreigners. I’ve spent more time there— starting in the ‘60s— than in any other country besides than Holland.


So… I care about what happens there. And what’s happening now is not good, not at all. The economics of the country have been spinning out of control ever since that idiotic Brexit was pushed through by the far right. What I’m worried about is the creeping creation the conditions for a fascist takeover, like the ones in Italy and Hungary. NBC did an in-depth report on what’s happening to people there now: A dire and potentially deadly humanitarian emergency is endangering millions across Britain. “It is playing,” wrote Alexander Smith, “out as the seats of politics and power are reeling from months of chaos, farce and opulent pageantry. The ruling Conservative Party has busied itself with internecine political warfare, cycling through the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson and the historically brief Liz Truss before settling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, an ex-Goldman Sachs banker worth $800 million.”



People are, literally, starving. “Britain is the world’s sixth-largest economy,” he wrote, “a top-tier industrialized power that still sees itself as a cradle of the postwar welfare state. But its stagnant economy has likely just entered what the Bank of England says could be the longest recession and sharpest drop in living standards on record, and it’s the only G-7 nation whose GDP is still lower than before the pandemic. Britain once compared itself to giants like France and Germany; today many of its metrics more closely resemble Eastern Europe’s weaker economies. The financial calamity enveloping the U.K. is so widespread that there are few escaping its pull. One in 6 British households are on social security checks, and almost a third of British children live in poverty, government figures show. One in 4 are facing financial difficulty or are already mired in it, and almost 1 in 10 have missed paying bills.


This nationwide crisis is driven by spiraling food and energy prices, plummeting wages and crumbling public services. Coupled with months of industrial strikes that have often crippled institutions from the railroads to the courthouses, Britain in 2022 is a place where, for millions of people, everything feels like it’s broken— and is about to get worse this winter.
In the 12 months to March this year, 2.1 million emergency food packages were distributed by a growing network of more than 2,000 food banks— an increase of some 1 million from 2014-15, according to the coordinating charity, the Trussell Trust.
…[T]he Conservatives’ 12 years in power— a decade of austerity policies followed by Brexit— have weakened the U.K. and made it particularly ill-prepared to deal with shocks. During her brief 49 days in office, Truss attempted to reverse this malaise with a menu of hard-line free-marketeer tax cuts that spooked markets and spelled her downfall. Now, Sunak has announced a dramatic about-face from his predecessor: a suite of tax rises and budget cuts to try to staunch the bleeding.
“I don’t doubt for one minute that people are going to die from malnourishment and hypothermia this winter,” said Helen Greatorex, the no-nonsense CEO of Citizens Advice North Lancashire, a charity that advises people in crisis and often refers them to the food bank in Morecambe. “That’s just how bad things have become.”
Few places illustrate this crisis as starkly as parts of Morecambe, a former bustling seaside town nestled on England’s northwest coast, which today contains some of the country’s most deprived streets in terms of jobs, wages and education.
Here and across the country, millions of working families with cars and mortgages are struggling to stay afloat; teachers worry more about feeding students than educating them; and proud but desperate people are taking extreme action simply to stay alive— let alone with dignity.
…Citizens Advice, a nationwide charity that helps people with debt, housing and other problems, often has no option but to refer people to the Morecambe Bay Foodbank. It’s one of more than 2,000 across the country that accepts, sorts and distributes donated food to local people in need. Young is also a food bank trustee, and she gives a tour of the operation that’s run out of a former flour warehouse.
Its white paneled vaults are filled with crates of pasta, tinned soup, baby formula and other staples, 20 tons at any one time. They also take donations for dog and cat food; staff explain some people will go hungry while feeding their pets before themselves.
But these food-bank workers say they are already seeing a drop in donations from the public as food prices soar, with pasta and cooking oil costing 60% more than they did a year ago.
Moreover, average bills for electricity and home-heating natural gas have doubled and could rise further in April, meaning many simply cannot afford to fire up their natural-gas powered stoves.
“At the moment we are asking people to donate microwave meals,” said Briony Scott, the food bank’s manager, a jovial Northern Irish woman in a high-visibility jacket. “If you can’t cook the food, I might as well give you a rock for your head.”
In the U.S., soup kitchens are often seen as a heart-warming example of community spirit. That feeling is not widely shared here.
“We don’t think anyone should have to use food banks,” said Young, “and we won’t be happy until we are out of business.”
There is a more recent addition upstairs: Racks of school uniforms for families who can’t afford them.
“It breaks your heart to think that someone so young could think that it’s normal to live off emergency food parcels,” she added, thumbing a small winter coat labeled “3-4 years.”
In nearby Lancaster, Bowerham School looks like a fairly typical British primary. Among its 500-odd kids aged 2 to 11, the number of disadvantaged children eligible for government-funded free school meals is 25%, just a touch above the national average.
And yet, assistant head teacher Laura Denison said she now spends as much time making sure children are fed as on their education.
The problem, according to Denison and campaigners on this issue, is that some 800,000 children — or 1 in 3 — are living in poverty but currently miss out on these meals because their family earns slightly more than the 7,400-pound eligibility threshold, according to the Child Poverty Action Group charity.
“I feel like we’re at the beginning of what’s to come,” Denison said of the worsening financial outlook this winter.
“What’s coming is … scary,” she said, seemingly hesitant to voice a looming reality.
The problems are equally evident at Stanleys Community Centre, in Morecambe, which gives local children something to do after school — but more importantly uses donations to provide families with food for a small fee. Kids here talk about noticing meal portions at home being more meager or infrequent, or that their parents are chopping wood in the garden to burn for heat.
“You can see parents getting upset about it and they’re stressing about it: Are they going to turn the lights on and have food this Christmas or are they going to buy their children presents?” said Ellie Pullen, 16.
Another teenager at Stanleys, Ewan Wildman, 17, spoke about how the cost-of-living crisis as affected him, as if were no big deal.
“I don’t eat nearly so much as I used to,” he said, almost nonchalantly. “And we don’t have as much food in the house.”
As well as the material hardships they are coping with, the teens here also discuss the intertwined mental health issues: anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

The most recent polling averages in Britain show that just 27% of voters intend to cast their ballots for Conservative candidates— and that’s way up from October, when Truss was still prime minister-- and when the Conservatives were polling in the low 20s. For many Britons, heating fuel is out of reach this winter. This is a bad time to have to depend on a heavy coat to keep warm in your home.



161 views

1件のコメント


dcrapguy
dcrapguy
2022年12月10日

just wait until climate change makes the gulf stream go away or change direction.


"What I’m worried about is the creeping creation the conditions for a fascist takeover, like the ones in Italy and Hungary."

HELLOOOOO!!! america???


just remember that they elected this shit, repeatedly. they lost their minds and elected thatcher BEFORE we lost our minds and elected reagan.


and just as americans refuse to elect anyone at all useful (since 1968), it is highly doubtful that England will ever elect anyone or any party that will be useful either. something in there about stupid white people. maybe someone will write a book...


also, will Scottland vote for independence? Wales? Ireland? perhaps they should. but... white people... waddayagonnado??

いいね!
bottom of page