The independent London newspaper

We need a general election about austerity, not Brexit

24 October, 2019

THE march of a million people on Saturday shows that, three years after the referendum, Brexit remains top of the political agenda.

A general election, if called to settle the impasse, may well be won by Boris Johnson, albeit with a small majority.

Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist policy and John McDonnell’s potentially transformative economics would be lost in the seemingly endless furore over Europe. Arguably, a second referendum would be a better means to solve this crisis.

We do not need a general election about Brexit. We need a general election about austerity.

For almost a decade there have been savage cuts to the public sector that has had a disastrous impact on the work of councils and the NHS.

In Camden, elderly people’s day centres have closed. A&E and cancer treatment waiting times have gone through the roof. The sick have been forced back to work under the DWP’s welfare reforms.

The Windrush generation have been treated with sickening disdain by the Home Office’s hostile environment policy.

Schools go cap in hand to parents to keep basic facilities running.

Knife deaths on Camden streets are now a gruesome norm. Another cold winter is approaching for the homeless.

The council’s housing waiting list has been culled beyond recognition.

Failure to tackle the environmental crisis is stirring a new generation of protest.

Billions have been spent on HS2 regardless.

Any general election should be about where the country’s priorities should lie.

Voters should be asking themselves: Do we want five more years of this?

Assange and press freedom

IT seems as if the extradition agreement between America and the UK runs one way only.

If the US seeks extradition of a person thought to have broken its laws it is pretty impossible to stop it. But if we wish to bring a miscreant from the US to these shores it is rarely possible to do so.

Contrast the difficulties the UK is having in interviewing Anne Sacoolas over the death of Harry Dunn with the speedy way in which journalist Julian Assange is being held in jail.

Whatever the agreement on extradition, Mr Assange is being treated arbitrarily and scandalously by our government. He is a journalist and is, essentially, being prosecuted for disseminating information which newspapers like the Guardian published – yet for that “offence” he is being kept in a top security prison, Belmarsh, in south London, and denied bail for an initial hearing scheduled for next February.

This is a gross denial of press freedom. The main­stream media should be up in arms over it. Liberal opinion should be bombarding the government about it. Yet there is silence. Why?

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