Evening Standard: back to the Victorian era

Submitted by AWL on 17 March, 2010 - 11:44 Author: Jill Mountford

The Evening Standard's 'campaign against poverty' is a campaign for a return to the Victoria era.

In its series of articles under the heading 'The Dispossessed', the paper notes that 40 percent of London children live in poverty and 20 percent in "severe poverty", while inequality continues to widen. The conclusion it draws is that public services will never cope and that more private philanthropy is needed. Simon Jenkins:

"But another answer lies in an unfashionable quarter, in reverting to the voluntary and charitable sector from which London's welfare state emerged. We thought we could do without soup kitchens, the Salvation Army, church day centres, charity lying-in hospitals, citizens advice and private colleges. Now I am not so sure.

"All cities need to top up their public services with a second welfare state, local, informal, messy, under-regulated but at least motivated. London has never needed one more than now."

Drafting in politicians from the three main parties, celebrities, and Prince William, the Standard promises a "crusade" against poverty. It's a vile mixture of cynicism and stupidity. A return to Victorian-style philanthropy will make things worse, not better.

There is no mystery about how to end poverty. Stop privatisation, and tax the rich to fund quality jobs, homes, services and benefits for all. Axe the bureaucrats, consultants and private finance schemes leaching the life out of the public sector. Nationalise the banks and use their wealth for social provision. Scrap the anti-union laws so that workers can get organised and fight to raise their standard of living. Support every working-class struggle, from cleaners at the London banks to the BA workers.

Somehow we doubt the Standard will be taking up these ideas.


Submitted by AWL on Tue, 30/03/2010 - 13:50

The front page story on the 29 March Standard is about Godwin and Emem Iferi - a London couple whose baby died in an NHS hospital and was buried in a mass grave. Because of inadequate protection, the grave was disturbed by a fox and the child's body taken and dismembered.

This is, indeed, a very distressing story, and indicative of the way many working-class families are treated by the NHS. But the Standard's demands show how confused - at best - its "campaign against poverty" really is.

The paper has published a "charter" with various proposals, including the following: "Parents who cannot afford a private plot should be offered a choice of cremation, burial in a single grave, or burial in a communal grave, all at the expense of the council or NHS."

Quite right. But more generally the Standard advocates cuts to public services - and reliance on private philanthropy instead. In other words, its agitation is either stupid or utterly cynical and hypocritical.

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 02/04/2010 - 16:17

If I remember rightly, the same Standard campaign demands that parents be allowed to place a commemorative headstone on the child's grave, but should have to pay for that themselves.

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