David Cameron's reshuffle does not "reflect modern Britain". Photo: Getty
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This reshuffle shows David Cameron doesn't have a clue about modern Britain

The PM had the chance with his reshuffle to signal that he intends to make a fresh start in tackling a divided and uneasy country. But he fluffed it. 

David Cameron said that the cabinet reshuffle was designed to “reflect modern Britain”.

So, we now know what the Prime Minister thinks modern Britain looks like.

He says it looks like him; and his Cabinet.

 Still white and male at the top. At least ten multi-millionaires. Nineteen from Oxbridge. Over half independently educated. Largely former consultants, accountants, lawyers and assorted bankers.

25 of them represent constituencies south of Yorkshire.

Clearly, Cameron hasn’t got a clue about modern Britain.

If Cameron thinks that his Cabinet is Britain, he is profoundly mistaken. They are only a narrow slice of the country.

That matters because his actions, his policies and his budgets are all wholly skewed towards people like them. The overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens fall outside of the categories of people who he has selected to govern the country.

Let’s face it, we live in a country which has rarely been as divided as it is now. A small elite run things, usually in its own interests, rather than the interests of the vast majority.

They make the rules which everyone, but themselves, follow.

The test which politicians must therefore pass is whether we will confront these divisions or reinforce them?

Labour is working on a programme of radical policies to confront these divisions. Cameron and the Coalition have spent four years making things worse.

They put up tuition fees for students, they gave tax breaks to millionaires but they failed to act on the race to the bottom on wages at work, and they did little to offer more security to the millions who fear the uncertainty which faces too many in our country.

The fortunes of the richest thousand people increased in the last year alone by a total of £69bn.

The five richest families have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 12m people.

Meanwhile the number of people who rely on food banks has doubled.

And for those in the middle of the income band, the value of their incomes has diminished every year since the Coalition was elected. On average, people have lost £1600 spending power for every year in which the government has been in power.

Today new official figures emerged which revealed that the squeeze on incomes has now become fiercer than ever.

The poor have been hit hard but so too has Britain’s middle class.

And apart from those families at the top, there has never been greater anxiety about what future our young people face. The hardest hit, say the Institute of Fiscal Studies, are people in their 20’s who have experienced pay cuts and high rates of unemployment.

Among the 22 to 30 year old group, incomes have fallen by 13 per cent and there is real worry about what kind of jobs will be available to young people in the low wage, low skill, insecure economy which Osborne is building.

Cameron had the chance with the reshuffle to signal that he intends to make a fresh start in tackling a divided and uneasy country.

But he fluffed it. And we know why.

Aneurin Bevan once said that the Tories hold the view that the state is an apparatus for the protection of the swag of the richest. Little has changed in the years since he made this comment.

The country didn’t need a reshuffle.

We need a new government.

And so it falls to Labour to break open the closed elite which runs our country and to form a government which will govern in the interest of the millions and not just the millionaires.


Jon Trickett is Labour MP for Hemsworth, shadow minister without portfolio and deputy chair of the Labour party 

Jon Trickett is the shadow lord president of the council, shadow cabinet office minister and MP for Hemsworth.

Photo: Getty
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Rising crime and fewer police show the most damaging impacts of austerity

We need to protect those who protect us.

Today’s revelation that police-recorded crime has risen by 10 per cent across England and Wales shows one of the most damaging impacts of austerity. Behind the cold figures are countless stories of personal misery; 723 homicides, 466,018 crimes with violence resulting in injury, and 205,869 domestic burglaries to take just a few examples.

It is crucial that politicians of all parties seek to address this rising level of violence and offer solutions to halt the increase in violent crime. I challenge any Tory to defend the idea that their constituents are best served by a continued squeeze on police budgets, when the number of officers is already at the lowest level for more than 30 years.

This week saw the launch Chris Bryant's Protect The Protectors Private Member’s Bill, which aims to secure greater protections for emergency service workers. It carries on where my attempts in the last parliament left off, and could not come at a more important time. Cuts to the number of police officers on our streets have not only left our communities less safe, but officers themselves are now more vulnerable as well.

As an MP I work closely with the local neighbourhood policing teams in my constituency of Halifax. There is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, to tackle antisocial behaviour, and to build trust and engagement across communities. I am always amazed that neighbourhood police officers seem to know the name of every kid in their patch. However cuts to West Yorkshire Police, which have totalled more than £160m since 2010, have meant that the number of neighbourhood officers in my district has been cut by half in the last year, as the budget squeeze continues and more resources are drawn into counter-terrorism and other specialisms .

Overall, West Yorkshire Police have seen a loss of around 1,200 officers. West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart is clear about the result: "To say it’s had no effect on frontline policing is just a nonsense.” Yet for years the Conservatives have argued just this, with the Prime Minister recently telling MPs that crime was at a record low, and ministers frequently arguing that the changing nature of crime means that the number of officers is a poor measure of police effectiveness. These figures today completely debunk that myth.

Constituents are also increasingly coming to me with concerns that crimes are not investigated once they are reported. Where the police simply do not have the resources to follow-up and attend or investigate crimes, communities lose faith and the criminals grow in confidence.

A frequently overlooked part of this discussion is that the demands on police have increased hugely, often in some unexpected ways. A clear example of this is that cuts in our mental health services have resulted in police officers having to deal with mental health issues in the custody suite. While on shift with the police last year, I saw how an average night included a series of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Due to a lack of specialist beds, vulnerable patients were held in a police cell, or even in the back of a police car, for their own safety. We should all be concerned that the police are becoming a catch-all for the state’s failures.

While the politically charged campaign to restore police numbers is ongoing, Protect The Protectors is seeking to build cross-party support for measures that would offer greater protections to officers immediately. In February, the Police Federation of England and Wales released the results of its latest welfare survey data which suggest that there were more than two million unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon.

This is partly due to an increase in single crewing, which sees officers sent out on their own into often hostile circumstances. Morale in the police has suffered hugely in recent years and almost every front-line officer will be able to recall a time when they were recently assaulted.

If we want to tackle this undeniable rise in violent crime, then a large part of the solution is protecting those who protect us; strengthening the law to keep them from harm where possible, restoring morale by removing the pay cap, and most importantly, increasing their numbers.

Holly Lynch is the MP for Halifax. The Protect the Protectors bill will get its second reading on the Friday 20th October. 

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