What an excellent start to the new year! First there`s the Leader`s accurate analysis of the Brexit vote, with the opportunity it gave thousands in the north of England and the Midlands "to protest against decades of neglect" (The new divides,6th January,2017). Not many of us believe in the existence of a "northern powerhouse", especially when the government gives priority to spending billions on cutting the Birmingham to London rail journey by twenty minutes!
Then George Eaton wrote, again with validity, about the UK having to lose its single-market membership if it "wishes to control immigration" (Politics,6th January,2017). But then the disappointment! Praise for May for "making progress in some areas", such as with the housing problem, banning letting agent fees. Is this really praiseworthy, when nothing whatsoever has been done to stop rents rising, or to carry out her pledges to help the "just about managing"? Similarly, the Chancellor is lauded for his plan to "soften welfare cuts", when most agree the Tories` austerity ploicies have been misplaced and unnecessary. What about the salient point that in April there will be £13bn benefit cuts, decreasing the incomes of low-paid families, and hurting especially the most vulnerable, the disabled and single mothers? Hammond hasn`t dropped the noxious plan to shrink the state back to 35% of GDP. Some hopes for making "divided Britain united once more"!
Surely, though, Tristram Hunt had his tongue firmly in his cheek when writing about liberals who "condescendingly seek to educate rather than empathise" (Closed v open, 6th January, 2017)? He must know that many of us will never forget how his complete lack of "empathy" led him to cross the picket lines of university workers requesting a living wage, in February, 2014, so that he could "educate" students with his lecture at London`s Queen Mary University!