Are you busy on Saturday?
I’m a mum, with more children than I can easily count, unless they all stand really still. I have a ‘full time’ paid job outside the home (in children’s services) which all too readily expands to take over hours that properly belong to my very much full time mothering role. Somewhere in the mix I squeeze out time to volunteer for a public health charity. So yes, I could claim I’m busy every Saturday.
This Saturday, I’ll be busy in a different way. I’ll be joining thousands of people heading for London to participate in the ‘March for the Alternative’. This march is for: Jobs. Growth. Justice.
Want to know why I’ll be marching? Here’s the headline:
Government spending cuts will damage public services and put more than a million out of work. They will hit the vulnerable, damage communities and undermine much of what holds us together as a society.
I am marching because I am against cuts to public service. I am in favour of the rich and corporations paying their full share of tax, banks paying a robin hood tax on transactions and public spending being used to stimulate economic growth.
There will be lots of marchers. There will be lots of reasons. I would sum most of them up like this:
Protecting the interests of the vulnerable.
The way a society treats the weakest & most vulnerable within it is a measure of its strength and the extent of its civilisation. Many of those marching recognise that we have choices that others, who may not be in a position to march, do not. For example, those with disabilities, both visible and invisible. Services to children with special educational needs are threatened by these cuts. 11,000 adults with “substantial” care needs lost all their support in Birmingham alone as a result of cuts in funding to local government, which led to cuts in local services. But our changing demography means adult services are needed more, not less than before.We who are marching may acknowledge that we have what we need to secure our health, our education, housing, work and plenty to eat, but we know that we must use these privileges wisely and we march for the many who do not.
Among our most vulnerable citizens are our children. Cuts have disproportionately impacted on children, young people and families. Those who become young adults in the next few years face a bleak time. This government seems to hate children and families, but our young people are our future. We should cherish them. Like other marchers, I want to save Sure Start, youth services, children’s social care, community schools, higher education & the principle of inclusion for children with special educational needs. As one marcher says: As a school governor my responsibility is to the children of today and tomorrow; how could I not [march]?
- Commitment to public service.
Marchers genuinely love public services like the NHS, state education, adults’ and children’s social care and other vital functions. We are committed to welfare provision that secures a fair standard of living for all and protects human dignity in the face of disadvantage. We recognise that if we don’t stand up for public services today, they will be gone forever tomorrow. There’s a passionate commitment to public service here: I want to save our public services – the UK is NOT for sale! We believe in improving public services and equality, not degrading services to create business opportunities that will increase the privilege of a share-holding few.
- Recognition that this is about ideology, not necessity.
The cuts are economically unsound, ideologically driven and totally unfair. They are already impacting negatively on consumer confidence and economic growth. Thanks to their economic illiteracy they are likely to lead to recession, even depression. There is good reason to believe that these austerity measures will make our economy crash, causing the deficit to rise. The cuts are therefore ideological rather than economic. They point to a wish to dismantle the role of the state in people’s lives. We didn’t vote for these cuts, or at this speed, let alone for the government to take apart the public sector. Public confidence in the cuts regime is getting worse all the time. Fewer and fewer people think the cuts are ‘fair’. Insofar as there is a financial crisis to fix, those who are marching believe that the fix should be paid for by those that caused the crisis. We think the government should make the bankers pay. Even the governor of the Bank of England agrees that those who caused the crisis are not paying for it. If we increased taxation of businesses, banks and billionaires, we wouldn’t need these many of these cuts – perhaps not any of them.
- A concern with fairness.
George Osborne has found spare cash to enable cuts in corporation tax. But when VAT has risen hitting the poorest hardest, this cannot be right. We have found money to bail out Irish banks (as well as our own) and now even money to engage in a war, yet we can’t find money to fund DLA, EMA or adequate levels of housing benefit to some of our most disadvantaged citizens. How can this be fair? Many of us share this view: I’m sick of the rich avoiding tax while the government threatens cuts to services needed by the vulnerable. The government and the bankers seem to be conveniently “all in this together” to advantage themselves and each other financially. The rest of us must work together as they do; our objective being to ensure that the state meets the needs of those who don’t have the resources to dominate the political landscape through lobbying and political funding.
- To create a society we can be proud of.
Marchers know that issues of fairness, equality, the protection of the vulnerable and the preservation of a public service ethos will help to create and sustain a better future for all. We want to be able to look our children in the eye when they one day ask us how the choices we made now led to the world they will inherit. Like others committing time and energy to this protest, I would feel ashamed if i didn’t. We believe in protecting and advocating for our most vulnerable; we believe in speaking up & standing up for the kind of society we want us all to live in. We believe in employment rights, in justice, in equality.
- Because we can. Because we must.
This is a democracy. We have a democratic duty to raise our voices. This overprivileged government with its cabinet of millionaires is shielded from the impact of the cuts. We must make them feel the consequences of their careless decisions. Alone I am only one. It is easy to feel powerless. But when we march together we are many and we are strong. The time is now. There’s no point getting angry after the time to make a difference has been and gone. Bad things happen when good people sit by and do nothing. We won’t sit by while public service and civil society is destroyed.
I have pulled together this list of reasons from the twitter hastag #iammarchingbecause Where I have quoted a tweet directly, I have highlighted it in the text, but I haven’t been able to credit the originators. If you’re on twitter, I would encourage you to have a rummage in this hashtag, and if you plan to march, add reasons of your own.
I will sign off with two of my favourite finds:
I want to bring down this government and strike fear into the heart of the next one.
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men. << and women.
I plan to be very busy on Saturday. How about you?