It's 5.45, I'm on a bus and have been for the past two hours. But I'm not going fishing or climbing or any of the other daft things I normally get up at stupid o'clock to go and do. I'm on my way to London to demonstrate against government cuts to jobs and public services. This march has been called the 'March for the alternative' and we need an alternative to the coalitions policy of axing council workers, NHS staff, teachers, care home workers, and others.
Spending cuts are often talked about in terms of millions or billions of pounds, I prefer to think smaller. Every job cut represents a person; a husband who has to go home and tell his wife that he is now redundant, a mother who has to tell her kids that they can't afford some weekend or after school activity. Good People do not choose to work in the public sector because of the 'gold plated' pension or huge wages offered. I, like many others get into the public sector to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
The tory coalition are cutting the public sector in order to pave the way for private companies to fill the gaping hole in provision that will be left after Cameron, Clegg and Osborne are finished. The Good People of the public sector may be able to apply for job, with worse pay, rights and conditions, working for SERCO or any other private provider. Executives are no doubt, waiting in the wings, schmoozing with coalition leaders.
There are alternatives, Invest in The Good People and the services they provide - They did nothing to cause the global economic crisis. Tax revenues must be raised from bankers pay and from corporate tax avoidance. This plan is however goes against current and past tory policy of not taxing the rich (enough) and turning a blind eye to corporate tax avoidance, especially if it is practiced by donors to the party.
My other alternative will take longer than the 5 year term that politicians work on; Invest in science education in order to create a generation of creative scientific thinkers, then provide them with the opportunity to use their skills for the benefit of society and economy as a whole. Let them fly; Develop truly renewable resources and efficient technologies. Adopt a 'we can cure this' attitude to drug development. Students in this country may not be renowned for doing complex algebra from the age of 5, but give them a problem to solve and watch light bulbs flick on in brains. My students will solve the problems of the future, provided they can afford to pay for the level of education needed to gain the skills required. I will finish with a line that I might hear repeated in London today: NO IFS, NO BUTS, NO EDUCATION CUTS!