Ah, the ancient rights of the freeborn Englishman

Yet in austerity Britain, children have been chucked to the bottom of the pile. They have been robbed of their rightful benefits. And the support they could once draw upon – everything from Sure Start centres to youth clubs to mental-health workers – has been hacked back.

Yes, Sure Start. Announced in 1998 and it’s still not certain that it has any notable effects either way. But, you know, the current generation of children will be absolutely crippled by the lack of something that we’re not sure does very much and which no previous generation of children had anyway.

Hmm.

The worst that anyone can really say is that the current government is reversing the last government’s spending on these things. That may or may not be a good or a bad idea. But it’s not Armaggeddon.

27 thoughts on “Ah, the ancient rights of the freeborn Englishman”

  1. The Educational Maintenance Allowance is an even more egregious example. It wasn’t introduced until 2004, yet according to the usual suspects at the Guardian its abolition in 2010 is been regarded as seismic an event as votes for women.

    That any article on the subject was full of comments along the lines of “I spent my EMA on iTunes downloads” didn’t ever seem to upset the house view that this was destroying education opportunities for an entire generation.

  2. Sure Start is the responsibility of local authorities. Whilst I appreciate that budgets have been squeezed in recent years, there’s only three reasons why such a “valuable” service has been cut:

    1. Incompetence when setting priorities
    2. Deliberate cut by a Labour-controlled council to make the Tories look bad, the “the parade of the bleeding stumps”
    3. Or most likely, like the libraries, it was a service that was extraordinarily expensive and used fuck all

    They have been robbed of their rightful benefits.

    Smell the entitlement there.

  3. They have been robbed of their rightful benefits.

    Of course robbing people of their hard earned cash to pay for said benefits is perfectly acceptable, and it isn’t just the rich that get mugged at gunpoint in this scenario either.

    Tell us why Labour lost the support of the working men and women again, please?

  4. “Tell us why Labour lost the support of the working men and women again, please?”

    And the hysterical “The tories will harm the disabled, unemployed etc” plays so well with floating (taxpaying) voters too….

  5. “Ah, the ancient rights of the freeborn Englishman”

    Isn’t that to inherit a massive debt with extortionate interest payments for loaned money spent before you were born to support someone else’s standard of living?

  6. Such a tasteful cartoon of George Osborn (?) eating babies. Although anatomically inaccurate. Noone could eat that many at one sitting.

  7. How many kids want a youth club today? When I went in the 80s there were two things to do: play pool or play video games. Good fun at the time, but every kid’s got some sort of video game console.

    And if you want to do something a bit more exciting, there’s scouts and guides., who have always looked after the poorer kids.

  8. Aah, that cartoon.

    One that gets the left’s swonnicles revolving but has no impact on ordinary people – a) it’s ridiculously unconvincing hyperbole, b) they don’t believe you, c) they think you’re nuts for even taking that kind of thing seriously.

  9. (Staying anonymous for this comment.)

    My other half works for one of the charities that competes with Sure Start. Sure Start are constantly moving in, trying to take over their work, backed by tons of government money, and this other charity (which gets government money thrown at it but makes a point of keeping it below 50% of income in order to remain independent) has to waste resources fighting back against that encroachment.

    So the state has taken over Sure Start and Sure Start is using the state’s resources to try and compete rival charities out of business.

    And the kiddies will cry if we stop spending quite so much on this?

  10. It isn’t Armaggeddon for the kids, but it is for those employed by Sure Start. There’s the issue.

  11. I must say I’m looking forward to the Conservative Party summer garden fete less than I used to. Time was when the spit roasted working class baby was nice lean meat. Now it’s mostly fat. And the forelock tug of war between the slaves is nowadays a pathetic spectacle.

  12. Rob

    Absolutely spot on – I lost count on my friend’s FB feeds of the number of Piblic Sector employees who asked in the wake of the election – ‘Why did people vote for continued austerity?’ – there is a complete failure to realise that most people voted to reduce taxes (or at least for the prospect of that) precisely because they receive Sweet FA in return for the huge sums they hand over – it is all about protecting the jobs of workers in the NPPS, and always has been – once you real us that you understand the vitriol and hyperbole of the likes of Chakrabortty…

  13. “there’s scouts and guides, who have always looked after the poorer kids.” A Guardian-reading acquaintance of mine said that his father wouldn’t let him join the scouts because they were fascist. He seemed perturbed that I guffawed.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset

    Shinsei1967
    May 26, 2015 at 8:02 am

    The Educational Maintenance Allowance is an even more egregious example. It wasn’t introduced until 2004, yet according to the usual suspects at the Guardian its abolition in 2010 is been regarded as seismic an event as votes for women.

    That any article on the subject was full of comments along the lines of “I spent my EMA on iTunes downloads” didn’t ever seem to upset the house view that this was destroying education opportunities for an entire generation.

    That was the whole point of EMA, even if it wasn’t stated. It was meant to give the academically bright poor an incentive to stay on at school.

    I have a very good friend who used to teach Economics at an inner city 6th form college. He was furious when it was cancelled because he’d seen the benefits and no bleeding heart liberal he, having spent time in the Navy and worked around the world as a consultant, running his own business eventually, before going in to teaching.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    S2,

    Dunno, not seen any research only anecdotes. Probably had been going long enough and too much noise to tease out the data.

  16. “It was meant to give the academically bright poor an incentive to stay on at school.” If they really were bright, shouldn’t the incentive have been bleeding’ obvious to them anyway? Or was it actually meant to be an incentive to their parent not to impede them?

  17. Or you could just raise the school leaving age to 18. That also makes kids stay at school longer.

    I’ve seen kids take EMA money but then go do useless A-levels in art or drama. I’d be in favour of reinstating it but on condition of studying at least one STEM A-level.

  18. Stigler –

    I help out at an open access youth club led by a local church in a Southern market town. Anecdotal I know but it is popular with local young people, mainly from poorer estates. It certainly seems to meet a need. And the police like it as they say it reduces Friday night crime.

    I suspect that even the lowish costs of scouting type organisations would be enough to put off our clientele.

  19. For those who can’t afford the scouts, there is always the army cadets. They are (relatively) awash with cash, plus you get to play with guns.

  20. Bloke in North Dorset

    I was just pointing out that being able to download from iTunes was the whole point of EMA which is why it didn’t make Guardian readers bat an eyelid.

    I wasn’t trying to defend it and have no idea if the policy was well thought out and paid for itself. It was a Labour policy so probably wasn’t well thought out.

    Finally, I’ve no idea why a bright teenager from a poor background wouldn’t make the rational decision of staying on at school and forego the dole or burger flipping for the possible higher benefits later, but apparently some don’t.

  21. Andrew M,

    > I’ve seen kids take EMA money but then go do useless A-levels in art or drama.

    Useless in what way? We are surrounded by art all day every day, created by paid artists, and there are loads of professional actors, directors, make-up artists, writers, etc in the country. Do those careers not count?

  22. @ S2
    Some Art ‘A’ levels are useful but not all of them: one of my schoolfriends took ‘A’ levels in Maths, Physics and Art; last time I met him he was an Actuarial trainee but he was equipped with an understanding an appreciation of Art (without being equipped with the skills to make a living from it), On the other hand, children who take ‘A’ levels just to avoid being on the dole and learn zilchj while doing so …

  23. @ S2
    I fully agree with last comment, but we seem to be at cross-purposes. It appeared to me that you were defending *all* Art ‘A’ levels against Andrew M’s comment that seems to condemn *all* Art ‘A’ levels. I have my doubts about the EMA which seemed to duplicate Child Tax Credits for sixth-formers, but there is always an argument for subsidising the education of bright kids from poor families (on average, society gets back several times what it puts in); however Andrew M is correct in pointing out that under Blair much of this was wasted in steering working-class children into dead-end ‘A’ levels and degrees: he is wrong in equating Art ‘A’ level with a waste of time and STEM ‘A’ levels with useful.
    For avoidance of doubt my friend’s father paid for his education (the famous “liberal education” that included alternatives to learning Greek) and was prepared to pay extra for him to take Art ‘A’ level on top of Double Maths and Physics, at which he did well enough to get into the university of his choice despite taking 4 ‘A’ levels instead of the regulation three (I was seriously annoyed that I was not allowed to take 4), so it was at no cost to anyone except himself (in terms of a *lot* of effort) and his father (in terms of extra fees

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