30,000 excess deaths a year: what this election is really about
It has been argued during this election campaign that Labour and Corbyn have the right ideas about the economy, that of course we all want to fund the NHS, social care and the police, and that we’d prefer not to saddle our young people with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt: but this that at the end of the day we simply can’t afford all these nice things.
There are specific economic arguments employed, usually about a “magic money tree”, a handy red flag that if someone brings this into an argument they probably have little to no idea how the economy, money creation, tax and spending actually works (see this article and watch this TED talk from Mariana Mazzucato who explains the role of the state in innovation and growing the economy for a start in busting that particular fairy story).
I want to raise a different, moral argument which is summed up by asking: how can we afford NOT to invest in public services?
How can we afford NOT to rescue the NHS, the cornerstone of our society and economy? How can we afford NOT to drag this beloved and critical institution back from the brink of dangerous mismanagement? How can we afford NOT to ensure that our children – the literal future of our country – are well nourished both physically, mentally and emotionally by ensuring free school meals, properly funded schools and stable homes for their families?
The NHS, our education system, our police and security forces, our social care workers and our sure start centres: these are all things that make Britain great. They are the everyday we rely on and they are vital to our economy and our wellbeing.
Seven years of Conservative rule and the ideological pursuit of needless austerity have left us with an NHS facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and needing the support of the Red Cross to function. A report earlier this year by the Royal Society of Medicine found that there were 30,000 ‘excess’ deaths in 2015 which were caused by cuts to health and social care budgets.
Let that sink in please for a moment. In 2015, 30,000 people – 30,000 of our fellow human beings, 30,000 grandmas, grandads, parents, and children – died because our government did not properly fund our essential services. These were preventable deaths in just one year of Tory cuts.
If the state is failing to prevent harm from coming to its people then you are living in a failed state. Surely the first duty of government is to protect it’s people not subject them to degradation, humiliation and death.
Much has been made this election of the idea of competency. The focus of this is usually on the economy and security – which by the way the Conservative economic agenda has not saved us money but in fact added an extra £555 billion of debt and left our security services less able to protect us. But we need to go into this election with a wider idea of competency and decide who to vote for based on their ability to ensure dignity, stability and prosperity for our society.
When you go to the polls on Thursday, please think about who is going to protect what we can’t afford to lose.