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LIZ TRUSS’S extraordinary statement that austerity hasn’t affected the most vulnerable women in society shows just how out of touch the modern Tory Party has become.
If it were just Truss, she could maybe be dismissed as one heartless individual with no connection to the rest of society. But it’s not.
They’re all at it. As Jeremy Corbyn stated in one of his first PMQs as Labour leader, the Tories are nothing less than poverty-deniers.
We have Theresa May declaring (not for the first time) that austerity is over, while other members of her party are still arguing that it’s good for us.
For example, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, with a majority of less than 600, telling a classroom full of children on a recent visit to a secondary school in her constituency that austerity had been good for everyone and that there had been no cuts to education funding.
This, like so many other Tory lies, bears no relationship to the reality. While spending may have gone up in cash terms, it has not kept pace with inflation nor the significant rise in pupil numbers, leading to a massive real-terms cut.
And if the Tories don’t believe us, they should ask the 2,000 head teachers who took part in an unprecedented march to demand the funds to keep their schools going, or the children who are missing out on a fifth of their education because their schools have had to move to a four-day week to balance the books.
This, like the huge rise in child poverty, should be a national scandal. The number of children living in poverty has risen for the third year in a row, now standing at almost a third of all children.
But in Tory Britain, this is regarded as a success — balancing the books on the backs of the poor. And May tells us austerity is over.
So the question we want to ask is what is the Tories’ problem with reality? Why do they refuse to recognise the facts of the world around them? Why do they refuse to acknowledge the crisis they have created? It is almost as if they live in a different world from the rest of us.
Which of course they do. While the people of this country have suffered the effects of the austerity they have forced upon us, the richest 1 per cent globally, in whose interests the Tories operate, are on track to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030. It’s no wonder they think austerity is over. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.
But they won’t be able to sell the lie to the rest of us any longer. With a real challenge to the neoliberal politics of austerity from Corbyn’s government-in-waiting, the people of this country are starting to ask questions.
If austerity is over, when will Damian Hinds be announcing that proposed cuts to school budgets have been shelved and the funding lost over the past eight years will be restored?
When will they be announcing the long-awaited and much-needed sustainable funding plans for our NHS? And when will workers across our economy be receiving a real pay rise?
Until then, people will see Tory lies for what what they are — Tory lies. And we will continue to fight for a government that meets the aspirations of the many, not the few.
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