Friday, 28 April 2017

Poverty in Enfield. Shocking not surprising

Of all the London constituencies, Edmonton is the 6th worst for child poverty. 39.2% of children in Edmonton, that's 13,500 children, were living in poverty in 2015 according to researchers at the University of Loughborough. Edmonton is also the 19th worst nationally.

That this should be true in the world's sixth richest country is a scandal and a shame. We should be shocked. But we should not be surprised.

For seven years Tory chancellors backed by Tory MPs like David Burrowes and, previously, Nick de Bois, have preached the false gospel of austerity. This gospel demands sacrifices - but not from them. It is the young, the poor and the disabled who are to make the sacrifices as benefits and services have been cut and eligibility rules tightened. The consequence - the quite inevitable consequence - is increased poverty.

Well, you may say, that's Edmonton. We all know that Edmonton is poor. Other places are different, aren't they?

Well sort of.

In Enfield Southgate 25.5% of children are in poverty - that's 5,300. For Enfield North the figures are 33.6% and 9,900. So 29,000 Enfield children live in poverty.

Let's put the blame in the right places:
  • On Tory chancellors who wrote the rules that create poverty.
  • On Tory and LibDem MPs who backed them.
  • On the city bankers who kept taking risks until the system crashed.
  • On New Labour who weakened bank regulation thus allowing the bankers to take excessive risks.
With 29,000 poor children in Enfield alone there's ample blame to go round!

Progressives in Enfield! Is anyone at home?

It's election time again and I've just received an e-mail from a Southgate resident. She wrote:
I ... cannot bear the thought of David Burrows being reelected again in this constituency. David has been a long-term supporter of leaving the EU and voted against the gay marriage bill. He should not represent us.

As much as I respect the policies of the Green Party, and ideally would like to vote for you, we know that only labour can beat the tories in this constituency.  But to do so they need your help! In the last election the Lib Dems and Green party combined received 3,208 votes, when the conservative majority was only 4,753.

We need to form bold and brave progressive alliances to try to undermine the conservatives in this election!
This is an important argument that we discussed at length in our last party meeting. None of us want to see Burrowes back in Parliament. But its not so simple.

The Green Party has taken the lead in raising the issue of Progressive, that is, anti-Tory and UKIP, alliances. Caroline Lucas was even co-author of a book on this subject. The term Progressive Alliance is not well-defined but its essence is that all the participants gain something. It is a deal not a gift. For instance the local LibDems and Greens might each stand aside in favour of the other in nearby seats. That's what's just happened in Brighton.

In Enfield we have considered this carefully. During the last six months we have made several approaches to Labour and the LibDems but neither was willing even to talk to us about this until much too late in the day. Both their national leaderships have rejected alliances. It takes two to tango!

So we have decided that unless we can reach a sensible understanding with another party we will contest this election.

We could, of course, forget alliances and simply stand aside in favour of Labour. Our last meeting did consider this but there are several reasons to reject it:
  • Many Green voters do not want to vote Labour. We would leave them with no-one to vote for and they would not necessarily do what we advised them.
  • We would perpetuate the two party system that produced New Labour, the banking crisis, austerity and BREXIT. I'm sure that Corbyn wants to change this but I do not think his parliamentary party shares this wish.
  • It leaves no-one to speak against the ecological crisis that may yet destroy all we value.
  • We give up any chance of influencing Labour. I note that Joan Ryan still supports airport expansion and voted for the Iraq war.
The determination of the other progressive parties to ignore facts is impressive. Each appears to prefer noble defeat to the thought of alliance, even compromise. The old two-party system is dead.  We need a politics - not to mention an electoral system - that recognises this.