While one-in-four children in Britain live in poverty and essential public services suffer from dire underfunding, politicians in Westminster have somehow found the money to spend at least £369 million to refurbish Buckingham Palace. Last month’s overwhelming vote in favour of a handout for the Monarchy has revealed plainly where this government’s priorities lie.
It is a disgrace that while one-in-four children in Britain live in poverty and essential public services suffer from dire underfunding, politicians in Westminster have somehow found the money to spend at least £369 million to refurbish Buckingham Palace. Over seven hundred ornately decorated rooms (exempt from any bedroom tax of course) are apparently more of a priority for this parliament than the millions of people who are forced to live in unfit housing.
A recent report by Shelter showed that 3.6 million children and 11.2 million adults in England now live in damp or overcrowded houses. In Scotland, one in ten households has problems with damp. However, these dire conditions of ordinary people are a world away from the cosy lives of most MPs.
That Tory MPs would vote to take money from the poor to give to the rich will of course come as no surprise to anyone. What is perhaps most concerning about last month’s vote for the Palace refurbishment, however, is the fact that the Parliamentary Labour Party overwhelmingly supported it. Only two Labour MPs voted against, while Jeremy Corbyn abstained and John McDonnell actually voted in favour of the multi-million pound refurbishment. These antics by the Labour Party at Westminster will only alienate workers and young people who are looking for an anti-austerity lead from the party.
At the same time, however, all of the SNP parliamentary group voted against the proposal. SNP MP Alison Thewliss said: “Many will find it difficult to grasp how, at a time of austerity and economic uncertainty, the Tory government has found millions to refurbish Buckingham Palace.” These words will certainly chime with the millions of people in Scotland and the rest of Britain, who, as with those across Europe and the world, have seen their living standards fall dramatically as a result of the 2008 capitalist crisis and the brutal austerity policies that have followed.
This overwhelming vote in favour of refurbishing Buckingham Palace has revealed plainly where the government’s priorities lie. Labour should be demanding the abolition of the Monarchy (and the House of Lords for that matter), not voting for huge public spending – state handouts for the wealthy – to be given to one of the richest people in Britain. We fight to overthrow a system where ordinary people’s living conditions are neglected in order to keep one family in the lap of luxury.