June 19, 2012
This week we’ve seen the coalition Government decide that the best way to tackle the problem of child poverty is to run away from it.
With figures showing that Prime Minister David Cameron’s economic policies are set to lead to an increase in child poverty, his response is not to find ways to reduce it, but to change the way it’s measured.
But David Cameron cannot escape the bottom line – his Government has created a perfect storm leaving thousands of families at sea.
The Government’s response is to tell hard-pressed families to simply get a new job, but there are five people chasing every vacancy.
With Labour, there was still much more to do, but I am proud that we took over 1 million children out of poverty and enshrined in law a commitment to eradicate child poverty.
We must not allow all that progress to be undone by this Government's unfair and failing economic policies.
With long-term unemployment rising and deep cuts to tax credits and childcare support making thousands of parents better off quitting work, there is a real risk that child poverty will now rise.
What we need is a plan to get the economy growing again, tax credits to make work pay and services like Sure Start to give every child, and not just some, the best start in life.
David Cameron said the NHS would be his priority but the reality is that under him the NHS is going backwards.
This was the message this week of the latest British Social Attitudes survey, which shows the largest ever drop in public satisfaction with the NHS in
a single year.
It speaks volumes that the first fall in public satisfaction with the NHS for over a decade came in the first full year of Tory control.
I think it takes a special kind of incompetence to inherit a successful NHS with patient satisfaction at an all-time high and in just two years in Government turn it into an organisation demoralised, destabilised and fearful of the future.
Patients can already see the damage being done to services and staff morale by David Cameron's disastrous decision to reorganise the NHS at a time of financial stress – breaking his promise of no top-down reorganisations. I fear the NHS may be heading back to the bad old days of the '80s and '90s with A&E in chaos and patients waiting for hours on trolleys in corridors.
The NHS was working and people will not forgive David Cameron for allowing it to be turned upside down in a wasteful £3-billion reorganisation at the worst possible time.
I hope that the ongoing Leveson Inquiry will lead to higher standards in politics as well as the press.
But David Cameron is continuing to cling on to his Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who has broken the Ministerial Code by misleading Parliament about his behaviour over News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB.
Labour voted on Wednesday to insist that Hunt’s clear breaches of the Code be referred to the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests. But David Cameron is refusing, afraid of what might be revealed both about himself and his judgement – and the Liberal Democrats, in typical style, sat on the fence and abstained.
This Code might seem technical stuff but it is really important. The Ministerial Code sets the standards which politicians must live up to. When David Cameron came into government, he said he was going to uphold the highest standards of conduct in public office, but by protecting his disgraced Culture Secretary and by bringing Andy Coulson into the heart of Downing Street, he has done the opposite.
People are right to demand the highest standards from the politicians and the press. That’s why Ed Miliband called for the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry in the first place.
We need real change in our society, with responsibility from top to bottom.