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31 March 2021

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No start for life

Demonstration against cuts to Sure Start centres in Kent, 19.9.13

Demonstration against cuts to Sure Start centres in Kent, 19.9.13   (Click to enlarge)

Nasso Christou, Haringey, North London

Tory MP Andrea Leadsom announced her 'Start for Life' proposal last week. Her plan to establish a 'new service' for children up to age two is being trumpeted as an innovative service to address the inequalities suffered by the poorest children in society.

Sadly, the Tories have not had a 'road to Damascus' moment. The harm done to children, especially young children, is so evident, even the Tories are having to acknowledge it. The horrific damage suffered by a whole generation due to austerity and cuts for over ten years has been brutally exposed by the pandemic. In that time the number of children in poverty has risen to around 4 million, and 2.3 million children are living in homes with domestic abuse, severe parental mental health issues and alcohol and drug abuse.

The 'Family Hubs' Leadsom is proposing to deal with these enormous challenges is not a new service at all. At best it is a poor imitation of the Labour government's Sure Start Children's Centre (SSCC) programme. At worst it's a further reduction of what is left of these services after ten years of Tory cuts.

The development of SSCCs in the 'noughties', as part of Labour's strategy to eliminate child poverty by 2020, was one of the New Labour government's most progressive policies. It offered a universal service to support families with children from conception to five years, not just the 0-2 year olds that Leadsom is offering. Working with other services is also not a new idea, nor is registering births in a children's centre.

SSCC services were provided through multi-agency partnerships between education, health and social care services working together. But these well-funded centres offered so much more than just maternity clinics, child health clinics and parenting classes. They prevented the social isolation that many new parents and young children experience by providing opportunities and places for social as well as educational activities and thoroughly professional support.

No funding has been allocated for Leadsom's proposal but it's been given a high media profile. The fact that they are offering anything like this at all shows that the Tories are getting nervous. No doubt the local elections looming in May are concentrating their minds somewhat.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 31 March 2021:


Mobilise Liverpool workers to defy Tory commissioners and austerity

London - We need socialists into City Hall

Warning: Labour Party cutters - careful who you phone!


Domestic Abuse Bill: So much still to fight for

We will not be the lost generation

Shrewsbury pickets exonerated after almost 50 years

'Chingford skinhead' spills the beans over government surveillance of union activists

Freeports spell deregulation, low pay and a new race to the bottom

No start for life

Right to protest

Unite and fight - For the right to protest

Defending the right to protest

Socialist analysis

Preparing for the revolts to come


Cumberland hospital workers fight for stolen pay

NHS pay: 15% now!

Workplace news

Trade union fighters rally to support victimised workers

BT Openreach engineers step up the pressure with five-day strike action

Asda equal pay ruling victory - now fight for equal pay for all

SPS Technologies workers strike against potential pay loss of 3,000 a year

Deskilling protests by sparks electricians continue

Beal academy strikers demand equal sick pay

Goodlord strike starts to bite

Nationalise Liberty Steel to save jobs

British Gas workers strike ahead of 'fire and rehire' deadline

Reports & campaigns

Online rally - 150 years since the Paris Commune

Selling the Socialist

Donate now to fuel our election campaigns

Readers' opinion

Football abuse scandal: Reclaim the game for justice and democracy

Socialist Liverpool City Council inspired me

Women, violence and defiance

The Socialist Inbox


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triangleFight for the funding our schools and colleges need

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trianglePolice attempt to intimidate Newcastle protesters

triangleCovid, capitalism and mental health


triangleWomen's health matters

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triangleNational demonstration: 'After Covid - Demand a New Normal'

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Article dated 31 March 2021

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RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June. Photo G Freeman

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