Socialist Worker

Child poverty still a scourge

Issue No. 1736

Tony Blair used his speech to Labour's spring conference last weekend to warn against cynicism. New Labour is scared that its 'core supporters' won't vote. Blair has no one to blame but himself for betraying people's hopes. Gordon Brown launched New Labour's election campaign with a speech condemning child poverty as a 'scar on the soul of Britain'. But a new report released this week shows that:

Almost 250,000 children in Britain's poorest households have got worse off since Labour came to office in 1997.

Two million children still live below the poverty line.

Child poverty is almost 50 percent higher than in 1979.

The research, done at Cambridge University, compared the effects of all the tax and benefits changes introduced between 1997 and last year, and includes the effects of Labour's minimum wage.

A second report published this week also concludes that Britain has one of the worst records of child poverty of any country in the industrialised world. Martin Barnes of the Child Poverty Action Group says, 'Almost nothing was done for child poverty in the first two years of the Labour government. 'A determined commitment to solving this problem could eradicate child poverty in ten years, not the 20 years Gordon Brown has promised.'

Socialist Worker agrees with Tony Blair on one thing, however-don't stay at home on election day. Campaign and vote for the Socialist Alliance, and show your opposition to New Labour's betrayal of working class people's hopes.

Waiting lists soar for scots

NHS waiting lists in Scotland are worse than under the Tories. Twice as many people in Scotland are now waiting more than a year for routine treatment. The government wanted to hold back the statistics, but they were leaked to Scotland on Sunday. The figures show that:

  • 198,865 people in Scotland waited 18 weeks or more for their first outpatient appointment last year. That is an increase of 81,326 on 1997.
  • On average outpatients waited 47 days for their first appointment last year. This is a week longer than when Labour took office.

A Scottish-wide survey of GPs has also found that doctors feel the NHS is worse under New Labour. They also said that hospital standards have fallen.

Sparks fly

Anger at vote con

'A fake choice.' That was the response of local campaigners to the referendum in Bristol last week that asked people to vote on whether they wanted higher council tax or cuts in services. A similar referendum was also held in Croydon, and one is planned in Hackney in east London on rent rises.

These sham referendums are a way for councils, often Labour, to cover up their refusal to fight for more resources. Let's have a referendum on taxing the rich.

Striking on menu

Cooks, cleaners and care workers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, went on strike on Monday. They are furious that the Labour council wants to cut the number of staff in old people's homes by 25 percent. A delegation of striking Dudley hospital workers-who are fighting a New Labour PFI scheme-joined a lunchtime rally in solidarity.

College bailiffs

Some 369 students at Luton University are up in arms because they are to be excluded from college as they cannot pay their accommodation charges. Only last week Gordon Brown promised university education for the majority of young people. That is an empty promise if working class youngsters cannot afford to go to college.

Headset horrors

A TUC hotline for call centre workers set up a week ago has not stopped ringing. The hotline had 397 calls in its first six days from workers complaining about bullying managers and impossible sales targets.

Discuss Imagine

Tommy Sheridan, Scottish Socialist Party MSP, and Louise Christian, Southall and Paddington rail crashes solicitor and Socialist Alliance candidate, will be at an event hosted by Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, this Friday, 23 February. They will be discussing Tommy Sheridan's new book, Imagine, about how we can build a better society.

The event takes place at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2, at 6.30pm. Tickets are £1. Phone 020 7637 1848 for more information.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Sat 24 Feb 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1736
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.