OPINION: Hope For London
I have hope for our great City. Stabbings, gun crime, terrorism, burglaries, acid attacks, muggings, rape, all up, apparently. Potential Jihadis working on the tube. The news gets worse every day. It makes for depressing reading. Less police, constant cuts, no resources, failures all around. And more than likely we have grooming gangs the same as the rest of the country. It feels like there has been bad news about London every day for weeks!
Yet shining lights always come through. The emergency services, have-a-go-heroes, those who put themselves before others. They are still out there. Angels in human form. Ordinary people who will sacrifice to help others. And those among us who still believe in our great City, the capital.
I’m a Londoner, born and bred, as they say. I know the history of our city, not just from books but from stories handed down through my family. The experiences of my family were the same as for most ‘ordinary’ families of their time in London and of course around the UK. The poverty, the depression, the suffering during both World Wars, the loss of life and the devastation of their homes and streets through bombing. Children playing on the bomb sites during the day and sleeping in train tunnels by night. Such was the life for many years of the poor and downtrodden during the 2nd world war – the majority of people in London – but who remained patriotic while their men were away fighting and ever hopeful of a better future, especially for their children.
And after the war, a better future did come. The men who survived came back, people set to work at rebuilding, the welfare state was introduced, council houses were built, things felt better, people felt rewarded for all the hardship and devastation of 2 world wars and the depression of the 1930’s. Things were looking up and the children of those who sacrificed so much had a better future ahead. And we had Peace. No more world wars.
We seemed to enter a golden age, especially once we entered the late 70’s, and into the 80s and 90s when people were really feeling the benefits of education, jobs, better pay and so on. London and the UK were blossoming! It really was a great time to be around. Did we take it all for granted too soon? Maybe we did..
So,, how did we get here? When I walked around our streets delivering leaflets and campaigning for Brexit and various elections, it occurred to me and shocked me as to how downtrodden London was becoming. It seemed dirtier and dustier than I had ever seen it. It felt overcrowded.. so many doorbells on each 2 or 3 storey house – didn’t we moved away from that sort of overcrowding after the war? And also so many clearly abandoned houses, lying empty and to waste while people sleep on the streets… You wouldn’t think we were the 6th wealthiest economy in the world!
Things are definitely going backward. But the reasons are different this time. We’re not facing a depression or a world war. People are not living in deep financial poverty. More people are employed than we have seen in a long time. But yet our quality of life has deteriorated badly. ‘London is OPEN’ says the Mayor… but why? Haven’t we got enough to deal with already?
One of the main reasons for our decline in quality of life is we have taken our new freedom and equality for granted too quickly and those who are not happy at having to pay decent wages and accept our democratic choices have set about making sure they have a cheaper, more desperate and more compliant workforce to usurp us. And at the same time have steadfastly refused to do anything about the increased demands on our infrastructure. Our schools, transport network, hospitals, GP surgeries, housing, local amenities, you name it, are full to bursting and unable to cope. And I have never seen so much rubbish lying on the streets! But our establishment is wilfully blind. So much money is wasted on ridiculous causes, nitpicking, investigations, ‘issues’, celebrations of all kinds of meaningless things, virtue signalling, being seen to tick the right boxes, that there is nothing left for the mundane and everyday issues of PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES and controlling what happens on the streets of our city. How about a local vote on what the council should spend our cash on? I guess that wouldn’t go down too well!
But still, when I have been out campaigning, especially for Brexit, I saw that the heart of the ordinary Londoner still beats strong. We are still patriotic. We love our country and our city. We want what is best. We want to fight for it. Seeing us on the street gives them heart and the courage to do something, to place their vote where they want and hope that things can change. To believe and to try. To know they are not alone in noticing the changes and that they are not alone in wanting our City back. So many people say to me ‘London is lost’ ‘It’s gone too far’ and I say ‘Not while I’m still alive!’
We’re lucky – we don’t need to take up arms to fight for our home like previous generations – we have the ballot box and our voices – but we need to take action and we need to do it now. Otherwise, what was it all for?
I have faith in this wonderful city and its people that have been through so much and survived.
We may not be at war but I’ll fight till my dying day for this city – and our country – that I love. Why? Because I’m a Londoner and because it’s worth it!
I hope you will too.