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Cameron’s cut spell doom for the poor

world Updated: Nov 02, 2010 03:11 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

The days of dystopia that reportedly lurk on this island are being described in apocalyptic terms. As TV channels unleashed endless replays of Halloween horror movies, should we have been cowering under blankets, fearful of the knock on the door?

Yes, says the mayor of London, especially if you are poor.

Boris Johnson is threatening nothing short of an uprising because the cuts announced by Prime Minister Cameron could price the poor out of London. “I'll emphatically resist any attempt to recreate a London where the rich and poor cannot live together. We will not see and we will not accept any kind of Kosovo-style social cleansing of London,” our Tory mayor thundered.

Sounding the bugle call on the other end of the political landscape, the veteran Labour journalist Polly Toynbee accused the government of seeking the “Final Solution.” Forced to apologise, she still warned of attempts at “social cleansing.”

Inequalities grew with Labour — a smaller rise than under the Tories, but a rise nevertheless. They are set to grow further now. A careful HT reader pointed out that Britain’s finance minister did not go to Cameron’s Eton College, among the world’s most expensive schools. I was wrong — George Osborne read at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The difference in annual fees? Eton: £30,000, St Paul’s £12,000. Average annual pay: £25,500.

Knowing what a mad mix of feisty characters Londoners are, I’m always optimistic about this city.

What worries me is whether the social sector cuts will affect the elderly and poor in the

long term. Britons are living longer than ever before, partly, no doubt, as a result of unprecedented post-War social benefits. An acquaintance celebrates his mother’s 95th birthday next week — and it was only earlier this year that she stopped backpacking and toddling off on her own to Europe.

Could we see a reversal? “The cuts aren’t a conspiracy to kill off the poor you know,” the resident Twentysomething smirked. Ah Londoners, I thought — don’t you ever worry?