Excl: Labour front-bencher Dan Carden “May spouts about a strong economy – strong for who?”

North Liverpool MP Dan Carden writes exclusively for the SKWAWKBOX on the horrendous impact of Tory cuts on his home city and many parts of the country – and asks, if Theresa May’s constant claims of a strong economy are true, just where is the benefit for ordinary people

Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden

A shameful record

The Tories’ long, shameful record in Liverpool continues with this week’s figures revealing that Liverpool is the city hardest-hit by austerity – with an £816 cut in day-to-day spending per head since 2010.

I was born in the 80s, when Tory ministers lobbied for the “managed decline” of our city, destroyed industry and job opportunities. I grew up in a family affected by unemployment and my early life and my outlook on issues of social justice were shaped by the poverty inflicted by 18 years of Tory attacks on our communities.

Liverpool has never fully recovered from the damage done by Thatcherism. Insecure and low employment rates have blighted the city for generations – a situation which has improved during times of Labour investment but has been pushed to breaking point under successive Tory governments.

Dragged back to the Victorian era

Fortunately, Scousers have long memories. Today there are no Tory MPs in Liverpool and not a single Tory councillor sits on the local authority. At the last General Election, Liverpool delivered its best ever election results for Jeremy Corbyn’s revitalised Labour.

But under Theresa May’s government, we’re being dragged back to bygone dark days. British workers have endured the longest pay squeeze since Victorian times, with wages lower today than ten years ago. As a result, 40% of children in my constituency are growing up in poverty. The full roll-out of Universal Credit, the Government’s botched welfare reform, is piling even more pressure onto an already desperate economic situation.

We know that government cuts are not only deeply unfair, but politically motivated. Labour councils are hit five times harder on average than Tory ones – and, as these latest figures show, Liverpool has been hit hardest of all.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Liverpool now has the second highest level of destitution of any city in the UK – that means a lack of basic essentials, including food, shelter and toiletries.

Liverpool man Stephen Smith, reduced to a weight of six stones and near death by the DWP (image: Liverpool Echo)

In this climate, the local authority has been forced to act as a sticking plaster over the worst side effects of Tory cuts. But with 64% of its budget slashed and 3000 fewer staff since 2010, council services are stretched the the limits.

My constituency casework is loaded with people struggling with the consequences of austerity – a political project to make them pay for a crisis they did not create. When people walk through the door of my constituency office, some of the stories I am told are absolutely harrowing, of people trapped in a cycle of poverty they can’t escape.

Excuses and denial

When I bring these stories to Parliament, seeking a commitment to change direction, the best I get from Ministers is excuses and, more often than not, flat-out denial.

Indeed, following his 12-day visit to the UK, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights described how Ministers are in a “state of denial” about the “social calamity” their policies are inflicting on the poorest and most vulnerable. This should’ve been a wake-up call. Instead, this government ploughs on with its toxic and discredited agenda.

A strong economy? For whom?

Week after week, we have to listen to Theresa May spouting employment figures as evidence of a “strong economy”. But the rosy picture she paints simply doesn’t match the reality faced by people across our country. Today most Britons in poverty are from working households, but the context of low pay, precarious work, and zero-hour contracts rarely gets a mention from Tory Ministers.

The British economy isn’t functioning. From the perspective of the communities of north Liverpool it is broken and completely rigged against them. So when Conservatives boast of a strong economy, my constituents rightly ask: strong for who?

Only wholesale change can help

The UK is the most regionally unbalanced economy in Europe, and deeply entrenched inequalities are getting worse still. All of this is down to political choices. The Conservatives chose to cut frontline services – our schools, our hospitals, children’s services, social care – at the same time as handing tax giveaways to the very richest and biggest corporations.

Remember when the Tories used to try to kid us that “we’re all in this together”? It was never true and it never will be under a Tory government. The austerity regime introduced by George Osborne and pursued eagerly by his successors was a calculating political choice to shift wealth away from the poorest in our society and towards the richest.

Piecemeal change is not enough. We need to fundamentally rebalance our rigged economic system. That will only happen with a socialist Labour government in office. For the communities I represent in north Liverpool, that day can’t come soon enough.

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  1. It fills me with anger when a humane decent man like Carden who is genuinely on the side of ordinary people is in the opposiution, and a pro-corporate, treasonous* muppet like Grayling actually has power in this country.

    * Supporter of Saudi Arabia. Undermined British justice with his “reforms” and cuts – thus undermining fair trials. Sides with foreign state owned rail companies over British railway workers. Handed over the British probation service to foreign multinationals.

  2. Well said Dan – and not a peep about brexit.

    Why? Because the EU only matters to the careerists in Westminster and the latte-slurping middle classes so out of touch with the PROPER working class day-to-day grind. but consider themselves as such because they haven’t yet achieved their brand new, straight-off-the-forecourt ‘chelsea tractor’ to park in their driveways & garages, or a house in a gated community – further removed from life for the rest of us who are being shit on by yet another layer of (unelected) bureaucracy to fight against.

    These same gobshites would consider me racist and xenophobic, but I wager that I live amongst more people from ethnic minorities than they’ve ever seen in their lifetime(s) – and I’d win that bet. They might even have to pay their UK au-pair a proper wage in future, but that’s another

    The same EU that ‘saved’ this city is the same EU that has done nothing to prevent the disenfranchisement of me or millions like me due to being poor/sick/unemployed/all three.

    And it has encouraged austerity on those least responsible for the global crash, rather than opposed it in any meaningful fashion; while being responsible for imposing austerity on worse-off countries than our own. How very equitable of the (German & French dominated) EU

    Where was the outrage, reprimand, or the plan to do anything about those UN reports into treatment of the disabled, the housing crisis (bedroom tax) or poverty from the EU? That’s right – There’ weren’t any.

    By not mentioning the matter, it appears Dan gets it EU membership doesn’t even warrant a mention as it is neither use nor ornament for the vvast majority of the lower classes.

    It doesn’t take much to fathom that the usual 2nd vote whoppers on here are so far detached from the stark reality for millions that they don’t get it, and won’t – ever.

    I don’t give a f**k about the referendum results on Merseyside or any metropolitan area that voted remain – I didn’t, and neither did 17-odd million more like me. People like me have been shat on too long. With one layer of ‘Government’ out the way there’s a better chance the likes of me will be heard , LISTENED TO AND ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING DONE FOR in future.

    Small wonder the likes of umunna, leslie et al are shitting themselves…

  3. There may not be any Tories in Liverpool but there are plenty of Blairites and Israeli Lobbyist MPs trying to do their best to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.

    Who needs Tories when we have Blairites and his parachutists.

    1. Do you not think it a bit rich… One of the biggest 2nd referendum protagonists on here complaining of another pro 2nd ref supporter undermining Corbyn, despite there being little appetite within the party for a 2nd ref – indeed, the consensus within the party that it’ll be a vote-loser in a GE?

      1. You seem to have a dire confusion between the concepts of inequality and a functioning – even prosperous – economy.

        Windy and simple-minded generalised assertions about class characteristics won’t put bread on anyone’s table. And a the depressed economy of a Brexit crash based on dreams of a New Jerusalem won’t either.

  4. The economy of this country is not, to use a Benthamite phrase, geared towards providing the greatest good for the greater number. When May talks about a strong economy, she means keeping the assets of the country firmly in the hands of the asset holding liberal elites.

    The image of the emaciated Liverpudlian gentleman speaks a thousand words about the true state of the nation and its dysfunctional economy.

    The people of this country and in particular those in positions of power, should hang their heads in shame. We can and should do much better. Brexit, and I truly regret mentioning it, is a Tory manufactured smokescreen of a crisis that prevents the truth of our basket case economy to shine like the frozen dog turd that it is in the light of day.

    This country will only improve economically, socially and in every other way, under a Labour government.

  5. Dan Carden’s recent address to members @ Birkdale Labour Club reminded an old clown like me that the next generation of socialists are alive & kicking!

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