I’m here today to join the National debate that is taking place on the Welfare Reforms implemented by the Conservative Lead Coalition. These are the so called Bedroom Tax, and new plans for the Universal Credit.
In April 2013, the conservative estimate is that half a million people will receive cuts to their Housing Benefit, an emergency allowance given to people who cannot afford their rents. The cuts are aimed at reducing the £23 Billion, overall costs, of Britain’s Welfare State benefits. The Bedroom Tax is intended to save around half a Billion from the annual total of Welfare paid to Britain’s poor. The next phase of this ideal will be the Universal Credit which will replace all of the other existing forms of benefits available to us; including working tax credits, child tax credits, income support, DLA(?), and of course the strangely named Job Seekers Allowance.
I am going to protest against both of these on behalf of the British people. It is a visible unity which hopes to emphasize a National feeling against the Coalitions’ economic policy in general. To me it stinks of a knife in the back of our national dream for a Universal Society which has made this a pleasant country to live in since World War Two .
(Walking off towards St.Pauls Cathedral, and thoughts on the Blitz)
So if you are unemployed, a mother alone, just left college, disabled, or between jobs you will be affected. Universal credit will umbrella all your existing benefits and be assessed centrally by the Job centre, under the new stringent rules of this Coalition. This will directly affect our kids. I hope the National Curriculum doesn’t restrict them to missing the implications for The universal British society that was created across party boundaries in the wake of World War Two, the destruction it brought and the resolutions it forged to cross our natural national divisions.
The Nazis didn’t divide Britain, it was Neo Conservatism. This National Symbol of St.Pauls was saved by volunteers from all walks of life in London, voluntarily, as commemorated on this the very respectable Firefighters Memorial. Asked by Churchill to save a universal icon of national unity and spirit., the people leapt to defend it. They fought so we could live respectably across the cities of Britain, we owe them this honour. Churchill and his contemporaries recognised the importance of intricate inter dependence; unity.
(I travel to Trafalgar Square and there are utopian images of the reconstruction)
The bomb sights were cleared, and in the meantime a new utopia of new developments came to be the places we loved. Now they are in decline. Homes, with room for us all, gardens too. Parks and town centres local to everyone, community, pubs, sports centres. All in trusted hands. However, the economy of the country was changed, in line with globalism they said. Gone were the factories that made our goods, the pits we dug our coal, the works where we made our cars. Utopia went in decline along with everyone’s proper jobs. The retail and service industry became the new masters, along with the banks. Communities have changed along the lines of a changing population.
(I pay my due to the coalition today at Downing Street by handing them the shirt off my back)
Our communities in London today are very strange indeed. Many people come and go, everyone contributes a little, and enjoy the echoes of old universality too. So Britain exists in parallel ways now; minimal serving positions in retail chains, bank workers, head office staff, etc. The warehouseman or waiter from Dagenham or Danzig sleeps exhausted in the shared house next to the under bank manager, which is owned by his mate from I don’t know, South Korea?
(Images of Britain’s poor donating their shirts to the Prime Minister, Downing Street)
A peaceful protest is a powerful symbol of disagreement. What happens when people feel disenfranchised, unheard and unheeded? Images show the aftermath of the perplexing riots in London during the summer of 2011. Shops and businesses burned as young people took to the streets dissatisfied with their lot. They were in truth reacting to the lack of jobs, prospects, uncertainty at their rights to buy ~ or let inadequate accommodation, they reacted against a dull future. The riots were perplexing because of their spontaneity, the inability for the authorities to control them, and their lack of clarity. True rebels without a cause, because there is in truth no representation for them, and us, in Parliament.
(Wat Tyler Road on Blackheath, Lewisham, slogan of save Lewisham hospitalcampaign)
It was a similar worry for King Richard’s government in 1381 when he raised a Poll Tax on the people, making them poorer. The people gathered here on the ‘Heath from all across South England. A mass protest and threat before they moved on to the gates of the city of London, to hold King Richard’s economy to account. Richard duped and killed Wat, only to then be assassinated himself, by his courtiers and former advisers, later during his reign. The people had in their own ways expressed the constitutional right of rebellion as enshrined in the Magma Carter of 1215. This of course was written just after bad King John had had a go at the peoples pockets and our illustrious Robin Hood was the Honourable Leader of the Opposition.
(A short bus trip to Greenwich allows time to consider the imagery from the social unrest in the 1980′s)
Economic policy can motivate a usually dormant people to rebel. It’s natural, survival. So if we look at the reaction to the Poll Tax of 1987 we can see a people sick of economic change. Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government snatched our milk, our houses, our way of life. Industry was reformed so that the pits closed, the steelworks became history, textile and car manufacturing started declining, engineering was slowly in decline, now largely gone. New markets swallowed our old industries with cheaper costs, from cheaper labour.
(Looking across to the Docklands Redevelopment and Canary Wharf from the shadow of the mast of the Cutty Sark)
It was clever, it turned our society on its head and we all moved house. It became a monetary and consummate necessity to vote for the party advocating commercial trade; bonds, investments, equity, annuity. The house, car, supermarket culture was born, and we struggled to adhere to it, isolated.
(Matteo represents the new workforce of the UK, image flash of his weekly budget, the largest figure is a total of £26)
Earning an average wage of not very much in London, Matteo pays for a room, for travel, for food, for clothing. He needs a phone, the internet, and prefers not to look at the real breakdown of his expense sheet. If he did he wouldn’t be able to account for the occasional night out chill~axing, its too dear. We are, in the same boat, of course.
(Move focus from the Cutty Sark to the financial centre at Canary Wharf)
This years annual budget expenditure hit me with two significant figures, after the vast unnamed amounts donated to banks these last five years. £84 Billion for Trident weapons and £153 Billion for the EU. Where does a measly saving of half a Billion fit into this? We are fed incentives to small business from a cut in National Insurance income for our NHS. More money is given to banking sectors to try to stimulate lending on mortgages and businesses, after last years incentive failed to do this. Hospitals, education, welfare, local and central government with everyday services, are being cut back to service the national debt, or put bluntly: to give it to the bank.
So, Take, Voilà, Tienes, Prego, Bitte, Barclays, Lloyds, RBS, and HSBC; but please don’t do a Lehmann. Not in a triple dip recession when we don’t have the borrowed cash we gave to the Bank, to service our debts ~ not if you can’t stimulate growth . Is free-market economics truly a reality? Perhaps, if you do go under again we will regret not stimulating growth and development from government sources; like after the Great Depression in 1929. Eventually, and despite war, many nations economies again grew, by bonding and emphasizing society; in Britain it was led mostly by effective and responsive government policies to the ideal of the universal society.
For: I must not try to live responsibly, a film by Matteo Curridori, April 2013