With the government totally bogged down in a Brexit quagmire of epic proportions, you could be forgiven for thinking that the needs of the country have been put on hold. Well, they haven’t as far as the Labour opposition is concerned
While May’s mayhem of her own making is grabbing all the headlines, the small matters of austerity, public sector pay, child poverty, the crisis in the NHS and old people having to decide whether to eat or heat, has me and my Labour colleagues fully engaged.
This week I took part in a debate on public sector pay. While I’m conscious that all public sector workers have suffered under austerity, I made a particular plea for our hard-working NHS staff. They deserve a pay rise and they deserve it now.
There are thousands of NHS workers who are doing tremendous work every day, but it’s the plight of our nurses that is in the minds of many of the people that I talk to.
It’s hard to believe that in 2017 in one of the richest countries in the world we have thousands of nurses struggling to make ends meet with many of them having to rely on foodbanks.
Nurses using foodbanks. Just hold that thought and tell me you aren’t outraged and disgusted.
But it’s not just that Britain’s nurses are struggling financially; they are also struggling mentally and physically because of increased workload and mounting pressure. This dreadful situation isn’t going to improve as long as this cynical and uncaring Tory government is in power.
Figures this week show a catastrophic 18 per cent drop in nurses going onto degree courses. Ask yourself what the Government thought might happen when they decided to remove nursing bursaries.
Nursing is very much a vocation, but is it any wonder young people are becoming unwilling to follow their heartfelt path when they are faced with debts before they even enter a profession where they are underpaid and overworked?
The way we are treating our nurses shames this Government and its supporters.
ANOTHER by-product of the Government’s failed austerity measures is the effect it is having on the most vulnerable members of our society.
A report this week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that 750,000 pensioners and children have fallen into ‘relative poverty’ in the last five years.
Nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are now living in poverty during that short period, but the more worrying statistic from the report is that this is the first sustained rise in two decades.
I met workers from the JRF recently in connection with their excellent Hartlepool Action Lab initiative and on the basis of these shocking new figures they’ve certainly got their work cut out.
LET ME end the column where I began – Brexit. And allow me to pose a question for you. Is there anyone who thinks the negotiations are in safe hands based on the Tory efforts so far?