A Tory victory would sound death knell for our Welfare State

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The deficit - what is its significance?

To begin with, this so-called Coalition government is in reality a very right-wing Conservative government, kept in power for five long years with the connivance of their very junior, very accommodating, if almost invisible Lib/Dem partners.

During these five years we have seen the return of something perilously close to Victorian Britain, when we were a nation consisting of the extremely rich and the extremely poor.

We are not yet altogether in that parlous condition because we live in what remains of the Welfare State created by the post-war Labour government, a state whose creation was opposed every step of the way by the Conservative Party of the time, let us not forget.

Make no mistake, that party is still viscerally and ideologically opposed to the notion of a Welfare State which seeks to protect the poorest and most vulnerable of our fellow citizens. In their eyes we should not depend on the State to bail us out, as they see it, if we fall on hard times.

This sort of harsh philosophy perfectly suits the men who rule us at present, men who were born rich and who remain rich, whatever is happening to the less fortunate amongst us. The rise and rise of the shameful necessity for food banks in what is still one of the wealthiest nations of the world is a matter of no concern whatever to them.

Ed Miliband’s leader’s speech was criticised for failing to mention the “deficit” word, that endlessly repeated, all powerful word which has been made the excuse for the gradual and ongoing dismemberment of the very Welfare State we should be striving to protect and maintain.

In the aftermath of the 1945 war we really were a bankrupt nation and obliged to borrow a vast sum of money from America which had, unlike us, somehow managed to become exceedingly rich during the war years.

We did so to enable us to set up the Welfare State and the National Health Service, as promised. We did not pay off that debt until 2006, but in the process we were not reduced to status of a third world country, even though technically we were heavily in debt.

Most of us, myself included, do not understand the workings of the world of high finance, a fact much exploited by the Conservative government in order to frighten us to death.

Apparently the electorate have been persuaded to believe that the Conservatives are more competent to deal with our national finances, a fiction which may well propel them into power again next May, after which they will no doubt continue to look after their own, regardless of what is happening to the rest of us.

Forget the role played by the banks in the last financial crisis, just blame the previous Labour government for this infamous “deficit” problem, although at the time it was recognised to be a European-wide financial crisis of the kind which seems to be unavoidably cyclical.

Ironically, the much maligned Gordon Brown, who was the Chancellor at the time, was greatly admired by his European counterparts for the way he dealt with that undoubtedly serious crisis of confidence.

He may not smile much, but he\ is a man of real intellectual substance, as was proved by the influence he exerted in recent weeks in a powerful speech which helped to keep intact the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

I hope Ed Miliband will have the opportunity to put in place some of the admirable plans he outlined for our future well being, and which he must hope will persuade the electorate to elect a Labour government next May. Heaven help us if his failure to mention the deficit and immigration (two subjects already done to death) condemns us all to the prospect of a Conservative government this time, unencumbered by the Lib/Dems.

That really would sound the death knell for the Welfare State and the National Health Service as we know them.

I very much fear I do not exaggerate.

Barbara Green

Smithwell Lane

Heptonstall