After Wednesday’s Budget, delivered by George Osborne, it has become paramount to rethink how politics is conducted throughout these islands. The Budget was drenched with regressive conservative ideologies. The Tories seek to shrink the state and promote individualism; a core agenda which gave Thatcher backbone throughout her premiership. Ultra-conservative mantras were heard loud and clear from the despatch box on Wednesday. Social justice is seemingly a thing of the past.
The Conservative Party’s urgency to balance the books is vital to its ideological approach. Yet, while Conservatives claim they are the champions of economic justice, for a fifth year running they have made a catastrophic error of judgement. Many in Cameron’s government argue that the welfare bill is unsustainable, and that it was those claiming “Job Seekers Allowance” or “Tax Credits” that caused the great crash in 2008. In fact, benefit claimants did not cause our country or the international community to go into financial meltdown. The banks did that. With no serious reform on the table from the Conservatives to tackle the real causes of the problem, a childhood game comes to mind - “Snakes and Ladders”. However, the version the Conservatives play only serves those at the top; those at the bottom have no chance of ever winning. So, as we enter into the first round of a Conservative-only government, what real offers have they given to the British people?
Firstly, if you are under 25, the Conservatives believe you are of little worth to society. This is highlighted by the introduction of the “new” Minimum Wage, which is to apply to only those over the age of 25. Previously, everyone over the age of 21 was entitled to the same rate of pay. Osborne’s new policy is utterly derisory. A person’s pay should be based upon talent, not age. This was a key issue for the feminist movement throughout the 1970s, when women fought for equal pay within the workplace. If you work hard you deserve fair pay, regardless of age or sex.
Secondly, the Conservatives have abolished the social responsibility of education. Indeed, the Chancellor announced that university maintenance grants are to be scrapped and replaced with further loans – contributing to the ever-growing debt burden that students are facing with every passing year of this Tory administration. Prospective university students, especially those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, are being faced with a choice of approximately £50,000 worth of debt, with no guarantee of a well-paid job at the end of their studies, or life in a perpetual poverty cycle.
Educating and paying for our fellow citizens to attend university is a small price to pay when the benefits are astronomical. Having a highly skilled workforce brings so many different attributes to our vibrant economy. Despite this, the Chancellor has decided to add unnecessary pressures on young people – risking our development as a nation. According to many in the Conservative Party, work is the route out of poverty. However, one is invariably more likely to acquire a job if educated. Osborne’s logic is fundamentally and catastrophically flawed.
As those in the political class debate why young people are so disillusioned by politics, perhaps they should look introspectively at their own policies.
Britain should be a nation for all, not just for the over-25s.