Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Barnet Council Cuts - What sort of a world do we want to build?

Who will suffer from the Barnet Council cuts - The old, the disabled, students, families on low incomes, residents of sheltered housing, to name but a few. The elderly have spent a lifetime paying into the tax system. Where is the justice for them? Youngsters and students are told by politicians, who had University grants and no tuition fees that "it's too expensive". Children (such as myself as a kid) who are intellectually late developers will be cut loose by a system where they don't fit in. Elite and selective schools cream of the A* students, whilst the less able, who need help more are neglected. Is there any justice in this? Just about any averagely bright child can get into any of Barnets selective schools, no problem at all. They just need wealthy parents who know how to play the system. That might mean spending a fortune on private tuition. It might mean paying over the top for a property in a school catchment area. Where is the justice for the poor children, who's mummys and daddies don't have that option.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this. We need to pull together as a community. We need to ensure that when cuts are made they are made fairly. We need to make sure that those least able to shout and complain are looked after. One day we'll all be old and vulnerable. Whatever world we build today is the one we inherit tomorrow. If we sell out our kids and destroy our care system, we won't have to wait till we die to go to hell, it will come to us in our old age. Our kids won't care and we will be at the mercy of a harsh uncaring system. No one thinks they'll be a disabled geriatric, entirely forgotten in a badly run home, semi starved to death, abused by staff, left to fester in your own urine. That will be the final destination for many of us, unless we ensure that social justice is ALWAYS the councils first priority.

On Sunday I was reminded of the need to campaign tirelessly for justice, in a rather unexpected place.
This blog doesn't do preaching, but I was reminded of the need to stand up for justice on Sunday when I attended mass. The reading was from Lukes Gospel (chapter 18) and told the story of the unjust judge and the widow seeking justice. Every day she pestered him, until he gave in, just to shut her up. The priest Fr Kevin, then reminded us of the women in Argentina who opposed the Fascist dictatorship which was killing their menfolk. He explained how with silent, dignified protest, they eventually brought down an evil dictatorship. The point was that violence didn't win the battle, dignified and persisitent protest did. He drew the parallel between the Argentinian Mothers and the Widow seeking justice. They both won because they never gave up.

Sometimes I get ground down by all the bad things which happen in Barnet. Sometimes I think "Is it worth it, what can we achieve". Sometimes we need something, in my case a pep talk at Mass, to keep us going. I'm probably the worlds worst Catholic, but there are times when such moments give me the strength I need to keep going. We have a massive challenge facing us as key services are cut and vulnerable people are thrown to the wolves. We are faced with a council which clearly cares about nothing about the people to whom they owe a duty of care. Unless we campaign tirelessly for Justice in Barnet, we cannot expect justice for ourselves when a time comes when we might need it.

Barnet is full of caring communities. Tens of thousands attend religious service, tens of thousands belong to trades unions. All of this is worth nothing if the people who pay their dues are too lazy to get off their backsides to fight for justice.

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