Archive

Policing

I’ve been pondering.

Dangerous, I know, but the Daily Politics Show and the lunchtime news has got me thinking. Again.

And, today’s muse has led to me wonder what will be my, and our nation’s, enduring memory of our current Conservative Government.

What will we remember in the years to come.

What will be their legacy.

Good, bad or indifferent, what have Mrs May and her compatriots done that will stay with me past the end of her tenure in Number 10? What have they done which will leave lasting impression?

And I have just realised what I think it is.

Crisis after crisis. A never-ending stream of crises. My life, the lives of my friends and family, the lives of so many people in this country, appear to be doing little more than lurching from one crisis to the next. And the Government and its policies are largely the cause of this.

I know that we are in the midst of seismic political change in this country, with last year’s Referendum and the imminent triggering of Article 50, and that will crtauinly be unforgetable, but I don’t think that’s what I am likely to remember the most. I think the thing I will remember is the never ending series of crises we appear to be having. Day after day, week after week, month after month.

We currently have a major crisis in the NHS, due to a lack of funding, and our hospitals are struggling to deliver the medical treatment we all need.

We currently have a crisis in Social Care, due to lack of funding, and our Local Authorities are struggling to ensure that our disabled and older people receive the care in their own homes they need to live the independent and stress free life we all deserve.

We currently have a crisis in our education system, due to a lack of funding, thanks to a teacher supply shortage, unmanageable workloads and serious underfunding placing an insurmountable pressure on teaching staff in schools and colleges

We are now told we have a crisis within our Police Service, diue to a lack of funding, where forces nationwide are having difficulty recruiting and retaining detectives, which is harming response times and there has been an erosion in neighbourhood policing.

And what is it that all these crises have in common?

Funding, or rather, a lack of it.

Our health service is underfunded. Our Social Care Services are underfunded. Our Police Force is underfunded. Our Education System is underfunded. Underfunding seems to be the cause of crisis after crisis and this serious lack of money across the board will mean, in reality, that things can only get worse. Our services cannot continue to be run on a negative bank balance. Things need to change and they need to change fast. I’m not an economist, a financial whizz-kid or a politician but, even I can see that more money needs to be found, from somewhere, and it needs to be found soon if we are to avert a cataclysmic crash. And, finding that money, may be the greatest legacy this Government could leave both us and the generations to come.

There must be a way we can be led back from the brink of disaster and, as far as I am concerned, it’s up to Mrs May and her cohorts to do it if this plethora of problems is not going to overwhelm us and ruin our lives, and the state of our nation, for generations to come.

Finding the solution to all these crises would be the greatest legacy this Government could leave. We can only hope they find that solution soon, before it’s too late. .  

Why is David Cameron trying to rush this country, hell for leather, into battle? He calls it a war against terror but it isn’t, it’s the indiscriminate bombardment of innocent Syrian civilians dressed up as a pointless fight against Daesh.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.

As far as I am concerned, all airstrikes will achieve is the death of many civilians unconnected with terrorism and the destruction of the towns and villages where these people try to live.

Only a few weeks ago we were all horrified by the pictures and the media coverage of the body of the little Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi found drowned on the beach. Well, I hope we are all prepared to see more. I believe that all the aerial bombardment can achieve are more bodies of little children lying dead, blown apart by our missiles or lost in the Mediterranean as they, and their parents, try to flee and reach sanctuary in Europe.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

What else will we achieve? Will it stop our teenagers and young people being radicalised? Will it prevent attacks on this, and on other, countries? As far as I am concerned, I don’t think it will. The adults who are trying to radicalise our young people are telling them that one of the reasons they need to fight is because we, in the West, hate people who follow the Muslim faith. All that bombing Syria will do is confirm that belief. All it will do is create martyrs. All it will do is give young people a reason, in their minds at any rate, to fight.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

What about the idea that we need to fight to prevent terrorist attacks? Well, as far as I can see, bombing Syria is unlikely to make any difference to the terrorist agenda apart from exacerbating things. The terrorists who killed and maimed innocent people in Paris weren’t new immigrants. They weren’t brought into the country especially. They weren’t Syrian. They were French and Belgian. They were already there. And, I believe, that if we are going to be attacked in a similar way in this country the men and women who will do it are already here. They are already living amongst us and probably have been living here for a long time. Missile strikes and aerial bombardment in North Africa won’t stop them, if anything, it will make them more determined.   

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

Then there is the cost. The financial cost. How much are these missiles? Where is the money coming from? We’re being reminded almost daily by our Conservative Government that we are all living in a time of austerity. We are all experiencing cut after cut after cut. Cuts to our welfare benefits. Cuts to police numbers. Cuts to allowances for student nurses. Cuts to public services. Cuts everywhere. We are constantly being told that we need to save, that there is no more in the pot. So where Is this where the money for the missiles, missiles that many of us don’t want, coming from? Not the bankers and the politicians and the captains of industry, no, it’s coming from us.  

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.

Apparently we are all in this together. If that is supposed to mean that we are all prepared to go to war together, that we are all prepared to kill and maim innocent civilians together, that we are all prepared to be party to death and destruction together then, I for one, don’t agree. I don’t want any part of it.

Not me, not in my name.

Exactly what are David Cameron, George Osborne and the Conservatives up to? What are they trying to do to this country? I’m not entirely sure but, whatever it is, I really don’t like it very much.

There are three things in particular that I have spotted in the past week that are giving me cause for concern. Three things that should be giving us all cause for concern. Three things concerning National Security, Education and the NHS.

National Security first. I don’t pretend to be an expert or anything, just a middle-aged woman with too much time on her hands to think and ponder the state of the world but, and it’s a big but, I really don’t understand the sanity of cutting police numbers when, as a nation, we appear to be at a heightened risk of attack from Daesh terrorists. Surely we need to keep police numbers, at the very least, at their current levels? Surely funding for the police should remain at its current level until things internationally calm down? Surely we need more police on the streets picking up local intelligence about what is going on, not less. Cutting police numbers at this time just doesn’t feel right. It does not make sense to me.

The second thing that is concerning me is David Cameron’s plans for Teaching Assistants. He wants to stop their entitlement to holiday pay during school holidays. Nine weeks worth of annual salary amounting to between one and half and three thousand pounds. Each. That strikes me as very unfair. Teaching Assistants are a vital part of the education system in the country. Teachers nationwide rely on the help these assistants give and the work they do in the classroom every single day. Surely, if we want the best education possible for our children we need to support our teachers as best we can. Surely this means paying our teaching assistants properly and ensuring that they get the same holiday entitlement as other workers and that their terms and conditions are fair. Cutting holiday entitlement for teaching assistants just does not feel right. It does not make sense to me.             

Then there is the NHS. Where do I start? There is so much that does not seem right about what the Government is doing there. We have junior doctors voting to go on strike for the first time ever because of adverse changes to their contracts and terms and conditions. Hospitals and trusts are being limited in how much they can spend on agency staff whilst the Government is actively discouraging young people from training as nurses by cutting bursaries to nursing students. Surely, if we want to save money on the use of agency staff in the long term, we need to encourage young people to enter the profession. Surely the best way of doing this is to give them access to decent bursaries whilst they are students if they need them. Surely we need to ensure that our junior doctors are not expected to work ridiculous numbers of hours without a break and that they receive a decent salary for this work whilst they are training. These student doctors and nurses are the future of healthcare in this country. Surely we should be helping them become the best in the world, not driving them away with penny-pinching policies. Cutting the pay, conditions and student funding for medical professionals just does not feel right. It doesn’t make sense to me.  

I would like to see some common sense being used by the Government. I know that we, as a country, don’t have money we can just throw around willy nilly. I know savings have to be made somewhere and that we are living in a time of austerity but there must be another way. Why not look at the individual tax dodgers? Why not look at the big businesses and corporations that are not paying their way? Why not chase the bankers and the financiers with their fat-cat bonuses instead of trying to squeeze even more savings from overstretched and underfunded national services. I would like to see the  police force having sufficient money to be able to be able to perform their function properly and keep our towns and cities safe. I would like to see our educators and their assistants celebrated for what they do, not penalised by cuts to their terms and conditions. I would like to see our medical professionals being able to do the work they are trained to do, looking after our sick and ill countrymen and women unhindered by exhaustion, lack of pay and lack of financing when they are students.

Now that would feel right. That would make sense to me.