Theresa May will be the next Prime Minister. Her rival, Andrea Leadsom, has pulled out of the race, and David Cameron has announced that she will take over on Wednesday. Our new Prime Minister has a record of championing injustice that simply beggars belief.
Speaking in Birmingham to promote her leadership, May made several statements. The first one was:
Right now, if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others.
May is right. There is a wealth of evidence that those from poorer families die earlier. However, the austerity policies implemented by the Conservative government have made these statistics worse. Figures released earlier this year show there has been the biggest rise in the deaths of the elderly for the last 50 years.
Advisor to Public Health England, Professor Danny Dorling, blamed the increase on austerity policies that May’s government implemented:
I suspect the largest factor here is cuts to social services – to meals on wheels, to visits to the elderly.
Racism in the criminal justice system:
May then addressed inequality in the criminal justice system:
If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white.
Black and minority ethnic communities are treated with huge amounts of discrimination at every level of the criminal justice system – from being stopped and searched on the streets through to being more likely to receive immediate custodial sentences.
According to the Institute of Race Relations:
In 2014, black or Black British people made up 10 per cent of the total prison population, whilst making up just 3 per cent of the UK’s total population.
However, May seems to have conveniently forgotten that she has been running the Home Office for the last six years, and therefore needs to take responsibility for the fact these figures haven’t improved. It is unclear what she will do as prime minister to remedy what she couldn’t achieve as head of the department.
She then turned her attention to the inequalities in education:
If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately.
White working class people are less likely to go to university according to a study released last year. But this is hardly surprising. Since the Tories came to power as part of the coalition, they have done everything they can to make education unattainable for the poorest in society.
In 2010, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was abolished. EMA provided support to 16-19 year-olds from poorer backgrounds to help them continue in education. In addition, tuition fees trebled, and are set to continue rising with plans to allow universities to set fees over £9000 from 2017. Meanwhile, figures released last year show that a third of graduates have been forced into “non-professional” jobs.
Against a background of an average graduate outside of London expecting to amass a debt of between £35-40,000, and with no guarantee of work afterwards, it is unsurprising few people from poorer backgrounds are seeing university as a viable option.
Unless May plans to reverse all the government decisions on education that she herself voted for, it is highly unlikely that these figures will improve.
Next, May pointed to the fact that there were still pay differences between men and women:
If you’re a woman, you still earn less than a man.
However, she also failed to point out how the Conservative government has treated vulnerable women. Cuts to legal aid have meant that, according to figures from the charity Rights of Women, 39% of domestic violence victims are now unable to access help to fight their cases.
Vulnerable women have been further affected. Cuts in funding to refuges have meant many have had to either close, or run at a reduced capacity. These are hardly the actions of a government committed to equal rights for women.
May also critiqued the service those with mental health problems receive:
If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s too often not enough help to hand.
Funding for mental health services has been hit hard by Tory cuts. And while Cameron has promised to fund mental health, there were cuts of 8% to services in 2015 alone.
Furthermore, with proposed treatment options being mental health support in job centres, it is clear that the agenda is more about forcing people into unsuitable employment rather than helping them access meaningful support.
Finally, May spoke about housing:
If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home.
There is a housing crisis. One which has been made worse by policy after policy of the Conservatives. From cuts to housing benefit, the bedroom tax, and now the recently passed Housing and Planning Act which will see more high-value council houses sold off, the problem is only going to get worse.
Housing benefit has been abolished for young people under the age of 21, and even for those in work, the range of what the Tories think of as “affordable housing” is out of reach for most people of all ages. There is nothing positive that the Tories have done which has made the housing situation better for those in the most need.
Theresa May is not a champion of justice and equality. She is a right wing authoritarian whose time in the Home Office has seen her introduce wide-ranging surveillance powers, and an extremism bill that will effectively mean a huge clamp down on civil liberties.
She has expressed her desire not only to repeal the Human Rights Act, but to separate from the European Court of Human Rights.
Her government has implemented cut after cut, to ensure the poorest in society suffer whilst the rich get richer.
Her campaign tagline that she “wants a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few” is an insult to all those who have suffered under the Conservative government. And, as she takes the reigns as Prime Minister, there will be a lot of work to do for anyone who wants to see real change in this country.
Join a local group and get involved in the fight against austerity.
Featured image via Flickr
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