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There is an issue in UK society which only tends to come into the spotlight when there is little else in the news. It is usually mentioned more around the festivities but with many political heads turning back towards Brexit after their much-deserved festive break, there is a need to address this issue now more than ever. Poverty and homelessness in the UK is an ugly scar on this government, but it seems like one which the Conservatives will forever show little empathy to.
In true seasonal spirit, several Conservative MPs used food banks as smug looking photo opportunities in the lead up for Christmas. It was hard to work out why exactly they were doing this, going around and congratulating the hard-working volunteers on the vital work they do. What they may not notice, through either blind ignorance or smug arrogance, is that if they and their colleagues were doing their jobs properly there would be no need for food banks in the first place. Or maybe they like scraping the barrel and turning millions of people against them by taking selfies in front of piles of food donated by the public every Christmas. If any of these politicians expected to improve public relations amongst constituents, then they should not in any dimension be elected representatives of the people.
Christmas 2018 saw more people than ever relying on these food banks over the holiday period. 130,000 children spent Christmas homeless or in temporary accommodation and with little sign of this improving going into 2019, Brexit or the apparent migrant crisis will be way down on the list of priorities for many people. For many of these people, they will feel little sympathy towards the trials and tribulations of their government. Absolutely no one can blame them. An article in one of Britain’s leading newspapers on Boxing Day addressed a viewpoint that Theresa May should be pleased that at the way Brexit is going so poorly as it has distracted people from the family shattering cess-pit which is austerity. If our government needs something as bad as horrendous Brexit negotiations to keep their people from discovering how little they care about the public, then it goes to show the poor state of the UK at present.
In October 2018, Theresa May announced an end to austerity. This being the initiative to relieve government budget deficits by a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. The numbers of people previously mentioned who relied on food banks for food this Christmas suggests that austerity might have officially ended according to the government, but its effects are still all too plain to see. The Conservatives gave the word that austerity came to an end at a time when they may have been expecting the Brexit negotiations to go smoother than they did. If the vote on the Prime Ministers Brexit deal had taken place before parliament broke up for Christmas, then they might have had some real work to do and would have spared us all their awkward visits to food banks.
2019 looks set to be about as chaotic for UK politics as 2018. With the date of Brexit looming into focus at the end of March, the next three months will be shaped by the Parliament vote on January 14th. However, it’s important to not focus totally on Brexit this year. It will be important to keep an eye out to see if austerity, which apparently ended in October of last year, finally starts to stop affecting those people who have been hit hardest by it over the last eight years. would Labour do a better job with Brexit or bringing a definitive end to the effects of austerity? There’s only one way to find out. One thing we can hope for is that a Labour government would not infect our timelines with food bank selfies next Christmas.