We all know that dreadful feeling when we haven’t done our homework. We’ve had days and days, but we’ve left it to the last minute and now we’re about to be found out.
Well, that is very much the feeling that the Tory Government has right now. The task that we, the British people, set them was to look after our precious public services. We needed them to ensure that our police, hospitals, schools, councils and armed forces were properly funded, that our roads and railways were running smoothly, and that our most vulnerable members were kept safe.
I don’t need to tell you how they’ve done – the evidence is all around you in Tameside. Almost a decade of needless and cruel austerity has left our public services at breaking point and many of our friends and neighbours struggling just to get by.
With an election coming the Tories are now scrambling to make it look like they cared about public services all along. Like a school pupil furiously trying to rush through their homework during morning break and then handing in a dog-eared triple-spaced essay covered in crisp grease stains, the Conservatives are trying to convince us that their slapdash and hurried attempt is good enough. It’s not.
As we’re on the subject of schools – let’s look at the Tories’ record on education. Over the past 9 years, they have managed to plunge our schools into crisis, taking billions of pounds from schools’ budgets and causing chaos in classrooms across England. In Tameside alone schools lost out on £18.7 million between 2015 and 2019 – a loss of £226 per pupil.
What this means for our children and young people is school buildings falling into disrepair, thousands of teaching assistants cut, growing class sizes, some subjects being scrapped, teachers forced to do the cleaning and even closing early on Fridays.
It’s not just in the classroom that the Tories have damaged our schools – they’ve decimated SureStart which got kids school ready and scrapped Aim Higher which helped kids from families with no history of going to college and university to think about that as option.
The Tories realise that their approach to school funding has been unpopular (to say the very least!) and so they’ve decided to throw some money at the problem. However, there is no quick fix to undo the damage that they’ve done over the last decade and – even if there was – the amounts pledged don’t even get close to ending the school funding crisis that they’ve created.
Luckily, I think that voters won’t be tricked by the Tories’ smoke and mirrors spending announcements – we’ve lived through almost a decade of austerity and we know the score.