With the general election around the corner, Labour has been making waves with one policy announcement after another. However, the policies of any other party aside, reflecting on the Conservative government’s impact is essential. Particularly its impact on the most vulnerable groups in society.
In a decade of Conservative-led governments, funding cuts to essential public services and restructuring of the benefits system have hit the poorest among us the hardest. However, an even more damning indictment of this government is the effect of its callous, ill-informed policies on children.
The statistics on child poverty in the UK, after years of the Tories being in power, are sobering. But beyond statistics, what does child poverty actually look like?
It’s when teachers have to buy coats for students who are too poor to afford these themselves. It’s when parents have to visit baby food banks because they can’t afford formula or other basic essentials for their babies. It’s when newborn babies have to be separated from their parents because of the bureaucracy of the Universal Credit system. When an estimated 210,000 children are homeless. And malnutrition cases being treated by the NHS have almost tripled.
What’s more, stark wealth inequality is affecting children’s education. Schools in the poorest areas continue to be neglected, while their students fare much worse with GCSE results. So when we talk about the damaging effects of Tory policy, it’s important to remember this isn’t mere rhetoric for political point-scoring. This is the reality of children in Britain in 2019, after a decade of Tory rule.
Hostile environment and racism
Furthermore, the impact of this government’s policies on children extends beyond austerity. The hostile environment means that the Department for Education is secretly sharing immigration data on pupils with the Home Office. This government is cynically using children as pawns to enforce its draconian immigration agenda.
It’s not unrelated to this cynicism that the children of immigrants are also children of colour. And this government’s disdain for children of colour has become plain to see.
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Muslim children, who often find themselves at the intersection of being both a racial and religious minority, mean so little to this government that home secretary Priti Patel has actively blocked their rescue from a warzone. Patel is punishing these children for the presumed wrongdoing of their parents.
It’s a human rights violation by this Tory government that is as stark as it is unsurprising.
Vote for the children
For a lot of people, there is so much at stake in this election. Whoever people choose to vote for, it’s important to remember the ruling party’s track record against the most vulnerable in our society. Especially the children who won’t get to vote on 12 December.
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