Would the last person left in David Cameron’s Britain please turn out the lights?

Get the hell out of here while there’s still time.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, and all the other ways of saying goodbye sung by that creepy chorus of Austrian children in The Sound of Music  – I’m leaving this sun-forsaken country for happier climes and saltier shores. Here’s the good news: there’s still time for you to join me, and the flock of other expatriates making their way to countries with illiberal rights records and economic growth. So hitch up your caravan to a hornéd beast, tie your worldly possessions bulgingly to its flanks, and clad your teenage children with ill-fitting rags: it’s time to vacate this blessed plot.  

Now I realise I’m arguing against some deeply engrained prejudices in asking you to leave the UK. You’re probably thinking: filthy, lazy emigrants, leaving here, quitting their jobs, speaking our language, sending their money back into our country, easing the pressure on the NHS, educating their kids in someone else’s schools, what a disgusting way to live.  

So I’ve assembled several convincing arguments to show you that life’s better when it’s conducted elsewhere. Let the British Diaspora commence: let’s begin a stampede that will lead to David Cameron getting his head stuck inside a light bulb on the front page of the Sun. (In hindsight, it was only ever a matter of time until someone realised that Neil Kinnock’s head was exactly light bulb-shaped. The moral: don’t go into politics if you have a light bulb-shaped head. Democracy, eh?)

Here goes:

The Economy

We are living in a post-industrial, post-Fordist, Post Office closure economy, overseen by a smug 12-year old with an eminently punchable face, a 2:1 in History, and no other qualifications or real world experience; a 12-year old who considers his gap year the most exciting time of his life, and who regards quarterly growth of less than half of one per cent as a vindication of his existing prejudices. But many other Conservative Chancellors lacked training in economics, pleads Osborne’s biographer, Janan Ganesh. Yes. They were also crap. Norman Lamont’s career, for example, makes most sense if you assume that he was in fact a troll, offering opinions so patently contrary-to-fact that they must have been intended exclusively to enrage. “There are going to be no devaluations, no leaving the ERM.” What could this have been but a dark joke, or a work of conceptual art? We should be grateful that none of his Budgets contained Rick Astley videos.

And another thing. This last year, the price of a can of tuna has increased from around 60p to at least £1.20. That’s Quantitative Easing for you. Cheers, Monetary Policy Committee.

The Weather

On the Eighth Day, God turned down the saturation levels all across the UK, so that it would forever experience a sort of grey, Purgatorial permagloom. And He saw that it was oppressive. And He did nothing about it.  

Michael Gove’s face

Which is a synecdoche for our parliamentary system entire. In which small children hurl playground insults at one another, while an even smaller child tells them off for being too noisy. What happened to the elegant, innovative putdowns of Benjamin Disraeli, who once boasted of his opponents that he had “squabashed” them? Politicians used to take their jobs seriously: on becoming PM, Gladstone wrote "I ascend a steepening path, with a burden ever increasing in weight." David Cameron, by contrast, when considering the Premiership, boasted: "I think I’d be good at it." Walking around Whitehall, you can practically hear the sound of Chris Grayling licking his thin lips as he considers another way to make things slightly worse than they were before.   

And then there’s Michael Gove’s face itself. It’s the face of a man who can argue anything, knows little, and cares less. A face that needs glasses to make it look less grasping and unkind. A face untouched by natural light, or benevolence.

Stewart Lee

Thanks to whom it’s no longer acceptable to make jokes about the weather, people having sex, or the suffering of others. Instead, jokes must now be about other jokes, the exact mechanisms of which are to be painstakingly laid bare by analysis of the comic tropes and rhetorical structures they employ. Now, whenever I find myself making a joke anywhere within the borders of the United Kingdom, I think to myself: were the workings of this joke made explicit to its listener, would she consider it a clever, ironic and postmodern comment on our collective joke-making practices, or would she simply see it as a predictable and ritualistic attempt to cause her diaphragm to spasm for the purpose of developing our social relationship? Is its very comedy really just a tawdry attempt authentically to relate to another person, which, in being necessarily doomed to fail, is in fact a source of profound tragedy? Is she laughing with or at my attempt to laugh at my attempt to cause her to laugh with, but not at, me? Cheers, Stewart Lee.  

These are more than enough reasons for you to quit this scepter’d isle, quite frankly, and to provide any more would be to succumb to self-indulgence.

So fly, you fools. I’ll cover you.

Photograph: Getty Images
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Want to beat child poverty? End the freeze on working-age benefits

Freezing working-age benefits at a time of rising prices is both economically and morally unsound. 

We serve in politics to change lives. Yet for too long, many people and parts of Britain have felt ignored. Our response to Brexit must respond to their concerns and match their aspirations. By doing so, we can unite the country and build a fairer Britain.

Our future success as a country depends on making the most of all our talents. So we should begin with a simple goal – that child poverty must not be a feature of our country’s future.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that relative child poverty will see the biggest increase in a generation in this Parliament. That is why it is so troubling that poverty has almost disappeared from the political agenda under David Cameron, and now Theresa May.

The last Labour Government’s record reminds us what can be achieved. Labour delivered the biggest improvement of any EU nation in lifting one million children out of poverty, transforming so many lives. Child poverty should scar our conscience as much as it does our children’s futures. So we have a duty to this generation to make progress once again.

In my Barnsley constituency, we have led a campaign bringing together Labour party members, community groups, and the local Labour Council to take action. My constituency party recently published its second child poverty report, which included contributions from across our community on addressing this challenge.

Ideas ranged from new requirements on developments for affordable housing, to expanding childcare, and the great example set by retired teachers lending their expertise to tutor local students. When more than 200 children in my constituency fall behind in language skills before they even start school, that local effort must be supported at the national level.

In order to build a consensus around renewed action, I will be introducing a private member’s bill in Parliament. It will set a new child poverty target, with requirements to regularly measure progress and report against the impact of policy choices.

I hope to work on a cross-party basis to share expertise and build pressure for action. In response, I hope that the Government will make this a priority in order to meet the Prime Minister’s commitment to make Britain a country that works for everyone.

The Autumn Statement in two months’ time is an opportunity to signal a new approach. Planned changes to tax and benefits over the next four years will take more than one pound in every ten pounds from the pockets of the poorest families. That is divisive and short-sighted, particularly with prices at the tills expected to rise.

Therefore the Chancellor should make a clear commitment to those who have been left behind by ending the freeze on working-age benefits. That would not only be morally right, but also sound economics.

It is estimated that one pound in every five pounds of public spending is associated with poverty. As well as redirecting public spending, poverty worsens the key economic challenges we face. It lowers productivity and limits spending power, which undermine the strong economy we need for the future.

Yet the human cost of child poverty is the greatest of all. When a Sure Start children’s centre is lost, it closes a door on opportunity. That is penny wise but pound foolish and it must end now.

The smarter approach is to recognise that a child’s earliest years are critical to their future life chances. The weight of expert opinion in favour of early intervention is overwhelming. So that must be our priority, because it is a smart investment for the future and it will change lives today.

This is the cause of our times. To end child poverty so that no-one is locked out of the opportunity for a better future. To stand in the way of a Government that seeks to pass by on the other side. Then to be in position to replace the Tories at the next election.

By doing so, we can answer that demand for change from people across our country. And we can provide security, opportunity, and hope to those who need it most.

That is how we can begin to build a fairer Britain.
 
 

Dan Jarvis is the Labour MP for Barnsley Central and a former Major in the Parachute Regiment.