Friday, 22 October 2010

Random political ramblings

This week the Coalition Government unveiled it's Strategic Spending Review, aka 'the cuts', it will be making to services, the public sector, welfare, jobs, the NHS, BBC and other organisations. Including the arts and higher education, which are the ones I'm most concerned about, from a personal standpoint. I'm an MA student, I attend a university where about 90% of the courses are arts and humanities based. If the funding to these are drastically affected, chances are Roehampton will have to close, or dramatically change itself. Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul O'Prey has popped up on the news recently, protesting about this, he's an articulate man, and he got his points across well. People cannot afford to pay £7,000 in fees either, it will price people out of university all together. I was lucky, I started the year before the last increase in fees, to £3,000. But I still have absurd student loan debts waiting for me to be able to pay them back. Where does the Government expect anyone to find the money? My parents helped me out, again, I was very lucky, and they are helping me out with my MA fees. But a lot of families cannot afford to do this, especially if they have other university bound children. If my sister wanted or was able to go to uni, then I would have to find alternative funding for my MA, something which is incredibly hard to do. Education is important, and should be protected, so as many people as want to and are capable of doing so, can access it. I feel let down by the Lib Dems, who promised, when they formed the coalition with the Conservatives, that they would look out for students, and oppose fee rises.

I want to work in the arts. If museums, galleries, theatres, libraries etc are left unable to make ends meet due to the budget cuts being proposed, chances are that's not going to happen. I lost my last job due to pre-emptive cuts when I worked for the local council. I know exactly what it's like to be cast adrift with no idea what you're going to do. I have applied for dozens of jobs this year alone, my new one is also in the public sector. Will it still exist once the cuts start to take affect? Who knows.
Culture is the UK's biggest export. We aren't the industrial nation we once were, but the artists, actors, writers, musicians, performers etc, that bring people to the UK, that take their work around the world, keep us afloat. Walk around any museum or gallery in London (majority of which are free, please let that stay), and you will see people from all over the world, viewing world class exhibitions, and wonders both ancient and modern. I love walking through the V&A or the National Gallery and just drinking in the history and beauty housed there. The arts needs more investment, not less.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, has a personal fortune of about £4million, according to one report I read in the papers, how does a man who has more money than he'll need, know what is enough for other people to survive on. He may not care about the people at the bottom, because he's never seen it, but others do. I do.
So now we will see, will the country suffer too badly? I honestly don't know, the report was published yesterday, I haven't read it in detail yet, I don't really know that I want to. And yet, I must. To be a citizen and to be engaged in the debates about these things, one must engage with them. So off I go, to be enraged.

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