Dear Mr Osborne,
I watched some of your Autumn Statement during my lunch hour today and was filled with an uncomfortable mixture of amusement and disgust. Not towards you personally, I was actually surprised to find that you can be quite funny when you want to be, though I suppose you had someone else write the jokes. But I am angry at the way you very cleverly delivered a speech that appeared to be presenting a generous provision to a ‘prosperous’ nation. I can’t credit you with ignorance, so my only conclusion is that you’re involved in a serious deception.Well, Sir, your smoke and mirrors can’t fool me. Quietly announcing 25% cuts to this and following it up with a lively patter on the £6 billion you will be spending on that; I know your game. In fact, while we’re on the subject, could you please explain something to me. Don’t the “£22bn efficiency savings in England and Department of Health to cut 25% from its Whitehall budget” sort of offset that £8 billion you’ve promised the NHS? I mean, isn’t that actually a £14bn cut in NHS spending? #justasking
To be honest, mate, I could go on all day about the many problems I have with the idea you put forward that your government is one that ‘delivers social justice’. I mean, we both know that’s nonsense. I can’t decide which example highlights this better: right now I’m torn between the rather under-played scrapping of grants for student nurses (replaced with loans, naturally) and or a more global issue. For instance, how the denigration of women and routine beheadings don’t bother you so much when it’s the UK arms-buying, cheap oil-selling state of Saudi Arabia doing it.But I digress…
I’m writing this letter because I’d like to make you an offer: you can have my 30 hours of free childcare back, as long as I can tell you how to spend it. Because, Mr Osborne, I know the real cost of your finding money for middle-class ‘hard-working families’ and it’s not a price I’m prepared to pay.
In fact, most of your spending review actually benefits me. I am a middle-class, employed, married, straight, white home-owner; we should be best friends right? Except that we’re really, really not. Because I am not better off in a world that’s going to shit. Your ideological economic agenda will not make me wealthier if it comes at the expense of society’s most vulnerable, such as the poor souls (have there really been hundreds?) who have committed suicide in face of hopeless poverty or abject humiliation due your government’s cuts.
No, that’s not the world I want for my son and no amount of free childcare bribery will convince me otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, childcare is atrociously expensive, and many families need serious help. But my family can manage. I mean, as long as we can scrape together the pennies for our weekly delivery of organic veg and a couple of cheeky bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, I think your should have concerns higher on your list. By all means, give free childcare to those who need it, and don’t cap it at 30 hours either. In fact, could I arrange for my extra 15 hours to be transferred to a struggling single parent? Why not? My mum got free child care in the 80s so that she could work full time whilst raising me on her own (and she did pretty well, I got into Cambridge dontchaknow). That’s right, even Thatcher was more generous than you lot in her early days. Even Thatcher. (I am aware that is, to you, in no way an insult, but let’s be clear, it’s meant as one).
Okay, so how about this. 30 hours a week… let’s say that’s 4 days. 4 days a week would cost me around £204, so £816 per month, so £9,792 per year. That is a lot of money. Let’s say the government gets a discount – you know, for bulk buying – so it’s £8,000 or something. Then let’s half it, as there’s already 15 hours free. £4,000, can I give it back please?
I’d like to give my £4,000, which you can apparently afford, so someone else. Can I give it to one of the people you’ve deemed ‘fit to work’, and in doing so in such an exacting, compassionless manner have actually made their symptoms worse? Or one of those who has lost their dignity and independence due to you revoking their Independent Living Allowance, perhaps? Or could I donate to a victim of domestic violence, a third of whom now have to court unrepresented because they can’t supply you with the required ‘evidence’?
Seriously, I don’t need your vote-buying money. Of course I’d like it, of course it would make life a bit easier, give us more in choices and even a nice holiday, but if it means you’re taking important, civilised social security and rights from others who really need them then I’d rather not be party to it. Really. I won’t allow you to masquerade as a man of the people while you rob from the poor and turn a blind eye to the ‘victimless crimes’ of those who fiddle our markets and carefully avoid paying their taxes.Of course it’s appropriate for people to consider how the government’s choice affect them, but it’s not right for us to only think about that. So I’m going to ignore the part of me that wants to punch the air when I think about not having to pay my son’s nursery fees, and do the right thing, if you’ll let me.
And if you won’t, will you tell me why you have decided to prioritise the childcare costs of families earning up to £100,000 over the funding of nurse’s education or the proper payment of doctors or the right of every person to dignity and legal representation?
I await your response,
Yours very, very sincerely,
Dear Reader, I don’t come out to play much any more, but this has made me need to scream in public. I’m sending this letter to George Osbourne any way I can, and if you’d like to tweet him with it (@george_osborne), or email it to him too, that would be fab, or at least mildly amusing. #KeepYourMoneyGeorge