Commencing a letter to Labour Party Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 22nd December 1965, AF Philip, Chairman of the newly formed Child Poverty Action Group wrote:“There is evidence that at least half a million children in this country are in homes where there is hardship due to poverty.”He ended his plea on behalf of Britain’s deprived minors thus: “We earnestly beg you to see that steps are taken at the earliest possible moment to help these families.”
So confident that child poverty would be quickly eradicated by the amazing magical wand that Wilson often wielded, Labour suggested the CPAG would be obsolete within a year, the problem it was set up to help sort a thing of the past. Forty-two years later the CPAG is still in existence and child poverty is still with us, despite 10 years of Labour reforms.
In the past week the United Nations has reported that children growing up in the United Kingdom suffer higher deprivation, poorer relationships with their parents and are exposed to more risks from alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex than those in any other wealthy country in the world. The report compiled by Unicef says that the UK is bottom of the league of 21 economically advanced countries, trailing the United States which comes second to last.Over 16% of children now live below the official poverty line. Way to go, Blair. Forty two years after a Labour government promised to eradicate poverty it is as high as ever.
Replying to a letter from the CPAG on 20th January 2006, Tony Blair confidently wrote:” I can promise you that we share your ambition to make child poverty history in our country. It is why we have publicly said we want to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it completely by 2020.”What is nauseating about this is that Blair is telling the CPAG, who in 1965 complained that there were officially half a million children in poverty, that by 2010 he will halve child poverty – ie. slash the number of impoverished children from 3.4 million to 1.7 million.
So 45 years after Labour said they would end child poverty the best they can offer is to set a figure which is thrice the 1965 figure as a bloody victory!! Rather than distributing wealth and claiming to have as its priority the lifting children out of poverty and improving their education and prospects, Labour in facts redistributes poverty like no other government in the industrialised world.
Of course, come election time, Blair and co will continue to depend on working class historical amnesia to carry them through to a fourth victory, confident their lies and betrayals and rampant hypocrisy will be concealed by surfeit of promises for the future and pathetic excuses for past failings.Incidentally, if you do suffer from political amnesia, try clicking on this remedy: LABOUR SLEAZE