Making sure that we (the people) elect Government’s that serves to act to defend the needs of the most vulnerable is a critical function of elections. But when vast swaths of the population rightly feel that there is no palpable difference between the major political parties, then you have the unfortunate situation where many people don’t even bother to vote at all. This problem is aggravated by the fact that in recent decades none of the mainstream parties have fought to represent the needs of the majority, and instead have chosen to pander to the insatiable needs of big business. This troublesome situation is slowly beginning to change for the better in Britain, now that a principled socialist politician has been elected as the leader of the Labour Party… but much more still needs to be done.
Governments, of course, have a statutory duty to look after the young and old alike; although this duty hasn’t stopped the Government from destroying vital public services that cater to the needs of such groups. For example, since 2010, successive Governments have reduced the funding they provide to local authorities by more than 40%. Here in Leicester, where I live, this has resulted in the closure or sale of all of our cities old people’s homes, and the threatened closure of our city’s nine adventure playgrounds — which happen to cater to the needs of Leicester’s most impoverished communities. More broadly, on a national level, the Government (with the help of rightwing Labour MPs) are presently finalising their latest attacks upon the elderly (“Arch Labour Blairite heading committee proposing savage cuts to pensioners”).
Funding cuts to the education system has proven to be a key front for Government attacks on our children. But whilst they actively undermining the very fabric of Britain’s education system through their serial underfunding of our schools, the Government keep up the pretence that they are concerned about safeguarding our children: the Government definition of safeguarding being “broader than ‘child protection’ and relates to the action taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.” Yet if such a commitment to our children were genuine, then surely the Government should desist from promoting the failed idea of austerity, which instead of solving any economic or political problems is only serving to push more and more families into poverty.
According to the Government, safeguarding is defined as:
- “protecting children from maltreatment
- “preventing impairment of children’s health and development
- “ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and
- “taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.”
Unfortunately the Government seems determined to continue failing on all of these safeguarding issues. Nevertheless, this enduring failure to look after our children does not prevent Tory Ministers from lecturers those in the caring professions. A good example here is provided by Tory Security Minister, Ben Wallace, who presents himself as the czar of safeguarding, which he does through his unrelenting commitment to the Government’s so-called anti-terrorism strategy, otherwise known as PREVENT.
In the latest edition of Prospect magazine, Wallace authored an article titled “In defence of the Prevent Strategy,” in which he states: “The [PREVENT] programme is just one of the strands that feeds into safeguarding vulnerable people” from exploitation. Without presenting any credible evidence Wallace falsely asserts that all the vocal critics of PREVENT — which happen to include all the major education unions — are doing so “Without any credible evidence being presented…” Apparently such critics are misrepresenting PREVENT: “They have chosen to listen to the few and not the many,” lectures Wallace. This is cheap coming from a Tory Minister whose membership of the main party waging class warfare amongst the majority, necessitates that he himself listens to and represents the few and not the many!
In this instance it seems that Wallace felt particularly compelled to write on the issue of PREVENT and safeguarding because the previous issue of Prospect magazine had run with the article “Why we should scrap the PREVENT Strategy.” And although this earlier article was not broadly critical of the problematic and counterproductive ambitions of the Government’s alleged anti-terror strategies, the author of the article in question was still able to conclude that the PREVENT…
“…brand has become toxic beyond repair. In fact, there are signs that it might actually be working against its professed aims. The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to freedom of assembly recently said ‘by dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, PREVENT could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it.’”