by DR FAIZA SHAHEEN
Director of CLASS
HOW did we end up with Boris Johnson as prime minister? It feels like we are trapped in a nightmare from which we can’t seem to wake up.
He is the man who compared Muslim women in veils to letterboxes, and who suggested a 68 per cent rise in Malaysian women attending university was so that they could “find husbands”.
He compared Labour MP Keith Vaz to a “greasy onion bhaji” and made a string of offensive comments about many cultures around the world.
It is profoundly depressing that another Old Etonian, former Bullingdon Boy, is in Number 10.
That he is the 19th prime minister to come from one tiny school is a reminder of class inequality that permeates society and politics.
That’s why we say the term social mobility is no longer fit for purpose because it barely exists. What we need is social justice, where the goal is to raise wages and living standards for all, as well as demanding representation so parliament and our political leaders finally reflect the diversity of this country.
But, instead, right now we have a new prime minister who wants to simultaneously cut taxes for the rich and drive Britain off the cliff, despite warnings yesterday from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) that we may already be in recession due to Brexit, before it’s even happened. We should be tackling massive inequality and the crisis in our public services, but instead Johnson is wasting time talking about a no-deal Brexit that parliament will never accept, and the public never voted for.
Johnson promises to bring yet more of a failed strategy, with warm words about ending austerity…but with more austerity. More dividing the ‘deserving and undeserving poor’ instead of talking about good-quality public services for everyone. And more bluster on Brexit followed by more deadlock in the Commons. Believe me, the nightmare is set to continue unless we get a general election.
The case for taking it to the people is clear – we cannot go on like this. Councils going bankrupt, social care in crisis, homelessness and use of food banks rocketing, and industry collapsing. Annual surveys from CLASS [Centre for Labour and Social Studies] show the extent to which people are taking two jobs just to make ends meet, while zero hours contracts and the gig economy mainly benefit a small number of people at the top.
We need to resist the normalisation of this. Of poverty, inequality, and racism. This is where a
fightback begins, and we are vocal about our desire to not take it any more. A better alternative exists, one that will work for workers, business and our planet.
A country where we invest in our children, build the houses we need, expand social care provision and shift the balance of power to stop workers getting ripped off need only be a general election away.