Election result dashed any hopes of austerity ending
SO the curtain comes down on a tumultuous 2019 with one of the most brutal and damaging UK General Elections in generations. A cabal of hard-right Brexiteers cemented their place in power at Westminster. In just over a month, despite almost three-quarters of Scotland voting for pro-Remain parties in the general election, a Government we didn’t vote for will drag our nation out of the European Union.
Make no mistake, the impact will be localised and severe. The social and economic policies and agendas of Boris and his cronies will make the work of Glasgow’s City Government much more difficult. People already struggling with poverty and the flawed Universal Credit system will endure further hardship. We will have to step up our efforts to ensure that, where and when we can, our citizens have a safety net.
Amid the chaos of the push towards Brexit, the City Government has continued to progress shifting the culture and priorities at the City Chambers, delivering the change and social justice our citizens expect.
Around 10,000 Glasgow families benefited from our expansion of free early learning and childcare to 900-hours. This provides children with the skills and confidence to carry into school, creates jobs, gives parents and carers much needed flexibility and boosts family finances. We had another successful run of our pioneering children’s Holiday Food Programme, the summer holiday period alone seeing over 18,500 children and young people take part, and over 282,000 meals and snacks provided.
In our first budget, we invested in hubs providing advice and support to those affected by Universal Credit. This investment paid off in 2019. We helped people, both in and out of work, to access over £15million in financial gains. Also, the financial boost thousands of working women in Glasgow received through the settlement of the Council’s long-running Equal
Pay dispute was fantastic for them, their families and our city. But, on Friday morning, any hope that the election would signal the beginning of the end to austerity was dashed. Here at the council and at Scottish Government level we will have to continue alleviating the worst of the ideologically driven choices made by the Tory Government.
More and more of our resources will be channelled into shoring up an under-attack welfare system.
Glasgow also hoped the election could deliver a much needed shift to allow us to address pressing challenges and issues on which this city has long campaigned.
We have looked for a more humane approach to asylum seekers, with an end to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ laws and threats of eviction and destitution.
We hoped we would be able to put in place safe drug consumption facilities to help us address the addictions responsible for hundreds of premature deaths in this city.
We have spent considerable time, energy and resource addressing these matters because of the stubborn refusal of the UK Government to engage with us.
We could use these resources and efforts more productively and effectively if we could work together to address the challenges facing the city.
It is now more clear than ever that the only way we will see any change in approach to these issues, which so profoundly affect our city, is if Scotland has the ability to deliver the change we need without being held back by a Tory UK Government.
Earlier this week, a UK Government source was quoted in The Herald claiming the Tories are “going to have to do big things in Scotland” and that their “One Nation ambition is for the whole of the UK but particularly Scotland”.
Instead, we are heading for a Tory hard Brexit led by the serially dishonest Boris Johnson.
This is driven by xenophobia, hidden financial agendas and delusions about the UK’s place in the world. It will be deeply damaging to Glasgow and Scotland’s social and economic well-being.
The people of this city cannot be forced to endure another bout of austerity, cuts to social support, power grabs and erosion of our welfare state and NHS.
Last week, Glasgow voters comprehensively rejected the Tories and their damaging policies. The big thing the UK Government can do for us is accept the mandate Scotland delivered for a second referendum and allow us to choose our own future.
The result of the General Election means we are heading for a Tory hard Brexit