People Power (in Leicester) Versus the Government


Since 2010, Tory attacks upon the future of public services have gathered pace. Such needless attacks only serve to aggravate the country’s economic woes, while simultaneously punishing the poorest people in society for a financial crisis that was caused by the greed of the super-rich.

UKIP, the Lib-Dems, and most ‘New Labour’ MPs also embrace such austere ideas, but thankfully Jeremy Corbyn, with the support of hundreds of thousands of new Labour Party members, rejects austerity. Cutting funding for public services is a political attack on everyone (except the super-rich), and as such should always be challenged.

Listening to Tuesday’s news on BBC Radio Leicester, the disastrous consequences of Tory austerity were highlighted. Firstly, the Prison Officers Association union drew attention to increasing levels of violence and suicides in jails across England and Wales: “Official figures show that assaults upon inmates have risen by 32% over the past year, and attacks on staff are up by 43%.”

Although not mentioned in the report, the Prison Officers Association explicitly link the increase in violence to the dangerous understaffing of the prison system. Their members, they write, are being “placed at the mercy of crushing Tory cuts.

This shocking news was followed by a report about the threatened closure of up to 240 community pharmacies across the East Midlands because of Government funding cuts; and another item about Leicestershire police’s “plans to equip 150 more of their officers with tasors”.

Shortly after the news broadcast, Laura (from Hinckley) called the radio show to say she was pleased that her sister, who was a local policewomen, would have access to a tasor to protect herself. Laura recognised the important connection between the risks facing her sister and “the staff shortages and cutbacks that we are seeing with this Government.”

A thoughtful tweet from someone called Ash was then read out on the radio: “So our council tax rise is to be used to buy arms to be used on innocent people then is it?” Indeed, the Government’s solution to problems they cause through cuts, seems merely to promote actions that end up punishing ordinary people — not to mention prison officers, the police, and NHS workers.

Public services are now at breaking point and what they require is a humane level of funding.

Thankfully, however, our local communities (if not our councillors) are fighting back.

Over a thousand people recently marched in defence of Glenfield Heart Unit, while, as has been reported in the Mercury, there are plans afoot for hundreds more to protest to stop the threatened closure of Belgrave Library (on November 12) and to demonstrate against the funding cuts to Leicester’s vitally-needed adventure playgrounds (on November 24).


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