A nice fictional scenario set a few years in the future - submitted by Malcolm Tipper.
A reality we actually can all hope for and achieve - not just idealistic, it can become reality.
My mother was in Labour. I was waiting to be born and it might be in the local National Health Service hospital or at home in our council house aided by a mid-wife who had already visited us several times. I saw a lot of dad in those first months as he had a generous amount of paternity leave.
I can remember the local authority leisure centre and splashing about in the small pool and going back through the beautiful municipal gardens. As I grew older I spent time playing in the long back garden big enough to grow a few vegetables.
Before going to school I went a couple of times a week to the Children’s centre nursery which was free to everyone and my parents could get advice about parenting, healthy eating, exercise and loads of other activities.
My school was a short walk from the house and it wasn’t “Free” or an academy but a well-equipped local authority managed school whose class size, admission policy, teachers’ conditions of service were identical across the country.
In fact services in all sorts of areas were back in public hands, where they belonged, run by experts, run locally, run efficiently and not for profit. The share price of firms like Serco, G4S, Sodexo, Circle, A4e and Interserve had fallen.
Mum went back to her old job and was able to work more flexible hours to fit in with our new situation. She also resumed her role as shop steward sitting on the joint management union committee with equal representation of unions and management.
This committee had agreed to abolish zero-hours contracts and had negotiated generous pay and conditions of service well above the living wage which trade unions nationally had established as the minimum wage.
Another major change had seen the pay of Chief Executives in relation to a regular worker fall from its peak of 373 times to less than 100 times as in Germany.
My elder sister had just been awarded the national grant to attend University which meant she wouldn’t rack up thousands of pounds’ worth of debt like the student loans some of my friends parents were still paying off.
I proceeded to the local comprehensive with class sizes not much larger than public schools, there were fewer of them now as they had lost their charitable status. The 430,000 pupils that had been taught by unqualified teachers was now a thing of the past.
Dad had got another job a bit further afield but not wanting to uproot us all he was able to make the journey daily by train, via the newly nationalised integrated transport system.
Buses had improved no end as well making life in rural areas much easier. I was able to get to town and back on the, bus even quite late at night, and I know my parents appreciated not having to get out the electric car to come and pick me up.
I went to the local youth club twice a week and the library on Saturday where the collection of graphic novels was bang up to date, well done the county council.
Grandma died, she had been ill for a while and had had all the worry of work capability tests, personal independence payments and delay in getting Universal credit fortunately we now have a welfare system that doesn’t penalise the poor and the sick and acts as a safety net when times are difficult, and hopefully charities like Kids Company would never be needed.
Grandad was devastated and started to go downhill but was able to see somebody from the mental health team in days. He decided he wanted to remain independent and although the bedroom tax had been abolished he thought perhaps somewhere smaller would suit him. Social Services visited him and came up with a package which he could afford and didn’t take his life savings. The way Health and Social Services worked together so smoothly meant no delays and real care and compassion from highly motivated staff.
I was coming to the end of school almost 16 and not sure what to do though it must involve technology. The Local Authority now provided an integrated all through education service from pre-school to post school including the local Further Education College who had an open day coming up. I talked to staff about a Digital Apprenticeship which sounded right up my street and involved a mixture of on the job training and days at college. I probably could have taken A levels as my GCSE results were good, in fact most of my year had done really well I think the mixture of course work and the absence of constant testing helped, I enjoyed school and the teachers enjoyed teaching.
Now that the voting age had come down to 16 and I had registered myself to vote I was looking forward to my first election, only to discover that the Police and Crime Commissioners had been abolished with vast savings immediately reinvested in increasing the numbers of Police and Police Community Support Officers.
When it came to getting a job the electricity, water and gas companies, now run as not for profit cooperatives, were advertising local vacancies and because employment was high I might stand a good chance, added to that more people were retiring early and creating more vacancies. Complaints against the Utility companies had fallen significantly now that charges were standardised.
I remember Grandma telling me she was all set to retire at 60 then it became 63 and then even older, and such a confusion around pension pots. Pensions now are much more reflective of previous wages and though not yet as high as the 80% in Italy we have lowered the retirement age to 60, though in France it is 59.
More and more organisations were locally based, lots run as social enterprises. Multi-nationals like Netflix, Google, Amazon, Starbucks and McDonalds are paying the appropriate rate of corporation tax based on the profits they make in Britain.
Banks were paying transaction taxes and would no longer be able to cause the economic crisis that led to the massive public expenditure cuts and consequent misery for so many people. The greater central control of the Banking sector should avoid scandals around PPI, Libor, exchange Rate fixing and banker’s bonuses in some cases paid whilst the bank was still making losses.
With the increased popularity of Credit Unions, pay day lenders and their eye watering interest rates are struggling to survive but the only Banks to totally disappear are the Food Banks.
Expensive projects such as Trident and Hinkley Point Nuclear Power station had been abandoned, the moneys raised and saved were being used for major housebuilding projects, rail infrastructure developments and green energy schemes.
This overall combination of changes making Britain a much fairer society contributed to the narrowing of the wealth divide between individuals in society and a consequent improvement in wellbeing.
All in all the Labour Government and Labour controlled Councils had transformed Britain but I mustn’t get complacent, the Labour party are having a meeting later this month and I know that I’ll be made to feel really welcome and where everybody has a chance to have their say whether its shall we have a float in the Carnival or have we seen the end of neo liberal orthodoxy. Probably end up in the pub afterwards.