Some thoughts on all the protesting malarkey , positive ones as well !
I have been a bit quiet with the blogging,doing temp work is very unpredictable. I tend to be rung up first thing and asked to go asap to a job. I have done some very long two day shifts recently and all in all found it hard to get my head into the right place to do a post.Lots have been going on and I wish I had been able to go on some of the demos, but paying the mortgage and bills comes first I'm afraid. Here though are some thoughts on the last week or so.
A little while back I did what was perhaps a bit of a jaded post re the students demos . My concern was that the protests around education should be part of a wider movement around the cuts to the public sector and should involve those who have or are at risk of losing their jobs as well as those who rely on the services they provide . With regard to the last group this needs to be done sensitively , not always a trait of the left . At the moment there is much anxiety and also expectations being dashed for them.
Over the last decade , people have been encouraged to be more independent and have more control over the support they receive. Older people have been helped to live in their own homes or extra care housing where they have a flat and not just a room . People with learning disabilities have moved out of long stay hospitals and many now live in their own flats , some of which are shared ownership or housing association, rather than large homes. Same with others , such as those with long term mental health issues .
The old ways of people being expected to be happy with day centres , separate from the rest of the community , have been being eroded . People with learning disabilities, for example, have been moving from only having the option of day centres to being more part of their community . Many have chosen to do training , voluntary work or paid work. In this climate that is becoming less likely. The cuts mean that these improvements , that people can live like the rest of us , could be coming to an end. I know of a number of areas that are looking backwards to residential care as a 'cheaper' option . The chances of people getting into the employment market is less likely now, the day centre beckons. Expectations raised are now dashed . Anxiety increases with all the uncertainty. Having choice, control and independence for people who need support will be seen as a 'luxury' when the cuts are made . It will be a return to the old ways and the cheapest .
OK, gone round the houses a bit here . My point though is cuts to public services are not just about jobs, they are about the day to day quality of life for people . That will diminish and we will start to go backwards . There are a number of strong advocacy groups nationally, as well as local ones. They need to be part of campaigns and that will mean the left listening to their concerns and experiences and not trying to lead .
As an old cynic I must now admit I am becoming more positive with recent developments . The energy and determination of the student and schoolchildren movement is encouraging and it seems quite infectious. As is so often the case in the NUS, and unions in general, the members have been more radical than the leadership. The actions and pressure of the students have forced the NUS President to back them and admit the NUS had been spineless and too cautious. TUC take note.
I haven't been on the blogs much, I hope to do a bit of a round up of reporting on the demos in the next day or two, but I did notice Phil has written about the storming of Lewisham Town hall against the Council making cuts . Very heartening to see the direct action being taken to the Town Halls and against the cuts in services. I have also seen that students joined the RMT picket lines this week, that's what is needed , united against all cuts . It also seems that the Coalition of Resistance conference was both well attended and not dull in the extreme , pretty good going when faced with many speakers and a long day. Liam , who lets just say can be a tad cynical as well, even went as far as to call it 'exhilarating.' High praise indeed .
Now I'm not naive enough to think this is 68 again, that the revolution is on its way or that the left will be united , but hey its not a bad start is it ?
Pic: Eddie and Cat's Dawg . Totally unrelated to the post, but couldn't resist!