To some, the 23rd April represents a day when the people of England celebrate the idea of being English. To others, the idea of nationalism and boundaries is not one that they cherish, and so, compared with St. Patrick’s Day and St. David’s Day or St. Andrew’s, for example the day often goes un-commemorated. To me, socialism transcends boundaries, but today, I do wonder why it seems that the English have become an easy target, and why poverty is increasing in some areas particularly.
This April 23rd, we are left to ponder why people who have lived in England are now contemplating moving to Wales, to Scotland or to Denmark, for example?
The truth is that the people of England have suffered at the hands of one George (Osborne), David (Cameron) and Andrew (Lansley).
While the residents in Wales still have free health prescriptions, the English still do not. The tuition charges faced by young English students has risen more than elsewhere in the UK.
English schools are being forced to become Academies, and the NHS in England has become a target for privatisation.
The Coalition government seeks to divide England into two Englands, the South East, and the rest. It is proposed that health and education professionals no longer can be paid equally for equal work. With latest discriminatory policies, those public employees in poorer areas will be paid less than those in affluent areas, for doing the same job. Every resident in the UK deserves and should be entitled to equal prospects.
Equal pay for public sector works across the UK ensures quality services. It ensures quality education and healthcare in poorer areas, but this is now at risk due to these policies.
These figures show differences in 2010, now an ever widening gap between North and South.
Jobs in the north of England are being lost at four times the rate in the rest of the country, deepening the economic divide and prompting new calls for devolution of powers to an elected assembly for the north. About 98,000 jobs were lost in the north-east, north-west, Yorkshire and Humberside in 2011, according to an analysis by the centre-left thinktank IPPR North. This was an 18% increase on the previous year, dwarfing the 4.5% rise in the rest of England. In the most extreme case, in the north-east, 12% of the working-age population are unemployed compared with 6.5% in the south-west, 6.4% in the south-east and 9.9% in London. The Guardian
Christina McAnea, of the largest health union Unison, claimed regional pay would be ‘a massively expensive, bureaucratic nightmare’ and cause skills shortages in areas where salaries were lower.
‘The government want to introduce a market ethos into the NHS but most private companies abandoned regional pay scales years ago as divisive and unworkable,’ she said.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, claimed the plans would reinforce the north-south divide.
‘National pay is part of what underpins a truly national health service. Labour will defend it, as it is fair to staff, helps control costs and brings stability to the system,’ he said. Metro News
We are well aware that the government has an agenda to privatise our public services. The introduction of regional pay scales opens the way for competitive bargaining for private investors such as Virgin to buy up hospitals at the price they see fit.
The end of national pay scales and national pay bargaining is also an attack on trade unions, who seek to protect our services as well as pay and conditions for members. This continues the work of Margaret Thatcher who launched an attack on trade unionism in the 1970s.
This is in tandem with an attack on our electoral system by the Coalition Government initiated by fixed term parliaments and followed by boundary changes and by individual electoral registration which, like the Poll Tax, will lead to young adults falling off the register. The BBC speaks for the government. Who, if not the Unions will speak for the working people ? It certainly won’t be George Osborne. The Labour Party must oppose these policies.
The North South Divide – 2010 Figures : Guardian