I feel profoundly sad at the end of what has been a pivotal day for the country.
It’s not just the cuts, savage tho they are, with even the police and armed forces not spared. It’s not just the whopping 30% lopped off arts funding which the Arts Council will have to manage – a thankless disheartening task – made harder when cutting their own administration costs, and no doubt staff numbers, again and massively.
It’s not even the nasty mean subtext that all benefit claimants are at best scroungers and at worst, fraudulent.
No, it’s the whole ideological sickness of it. The decision taken by Cameron and Osbourne, millionaires both, to weight the means of deficit reduction by the ratio of 80% public sector cuts, and a mere 20% thru taxation, and then have the mendacity to suggest that their budget is “fair” and “the rich are paying the most”. The condescension of it, the manipulation, is not politics – it’s doctrine ruthlessly deployed by privileged public schoolboys, because they can and because they are ignorant and without even a broken moral compass.
They have stubbornly and consistently suggested that there are no other options, when quite clearly there are . And is it only me wondering where is the Opposition? And why is the media giving these smarmy smug arrogant creatures such an easy ride? They make glib noises about how they are aware they are playing with peoples jobs and livelihoods, but frankly, I have rarely heard such insincerity. They’re not even good at faking it.
But what saddens me the most is that they have no concept of public service; of valuing the millions of people who work for what are mostly low to moderate wages doing difficult, often stressful and unpleasant jobs because they believe in what they are doing. They believe that their impact is worth something to society, and because they want to make society a better place. It is not just about the wages, and their issues will not simply be about having to get another job. It is that by and large, they are doing what they want to do. Their role is what they have chosen to do with their lives. Not go into the City, or become lawyers, estate agents, business sharks, because all they want to do is make shedloads of money. They have chosen the public sector, with its very moderate wages and sometimes barmy bureaucracy, (and not nearly as much job security as people think), because they are decent people who believe in the essential goodness and value of other individuals, and have a willingness to sweat blood in order to make a difference.
The 500,000 public sector workers who may lose their jobs in the next few years work with offenders, with youths and young people at risk, with drug users, with people with mental health difficulties, with social housing, with greening up urban spaces, with programming accessible activity for families, with providing arts and cultural opportinities for everyone. At a more strategic level, on a daily basis they are working to improve the locality of where they live, not just for themselves but for all residents, via strategic planning for the future, to enable more affordable housing, to alleviate problems on difficult estates, to sort out traffic problems, to raise the quality of architecture and the public realm, to make sure our towns and cities run as they should for the benefit of us all. Yes, even city planners are making an essential and committed contribution to improving our lives.
There has been a growing mood of public sector bashing in this country which has become both inaccurate and distasteful. Yes, not all public sector workers behave with decency and ideals on a daily basis, and yes, I have come across some horrors in my time. But actually without it we grind to a halt. The public sector provides essential services for the majority of people who are not millionaires, and who, unlike Cameron and Osbourne, can’t afford to pay for bespoke services whenever life gets tough.
It’s about time the concept of public service was respected a bit more please. We’re going to miss it when its gone.