Yesterday The Sun made a big issue of the countries hotspots of welfare dependency, a grim league table with Margate rolling in at Number 7, obviously I'm not placed to comment with any authority as my Labour buddies will be only to happy to remind you.
With no wish to be kind to either Labour or Tories I'll give you my highly inaccurate thoughts and background, firstly the "welfare state" as a concept first explained to me, when I was a kid, was set up as a safety net for those who through no fault lost their jobs or were incapable and in need of help along with a health service, social services and education for all.
That was the ideal sold in the 60's and 70's, since then both the Tories and Labour have succeeded in twisting purpose, for their own ideological reasons, Mrs Thatcher's regime succeeded, when it set out to destroy manufacturing, along with mining industry and with no regard to society, happy to discard whole communities. Part of the price for destroying industry, was feeding just enough money, to those set aside to keep them inline, so the welfare system was re-engineered so that money was diverted to sick benefits rather than unemployment benefits, the safety net idea started to disappeared whereby benefits had been a temporary measure for those in need between jobs for example. The damage done by Thatcher was of such scale that many communities have never recovered.
Labour came back to power in 1997, they had a mandate, they had good will, they seemed to have, a commonsense approach, they would reform, well bollix! One of the first measures was to take the brakes off the banks and with in the first two weeks Labour took away perhaps the most important of universal benefits that of a right to a free education, David Blunkett couldn't sign up to quick enough to the abolition of free university education, which is why kids with talent could well face milestones around their necks of a hundred grand, well done Labour!. In fact Labours recent time in office was characterised by MP's filling their boots at your expense, reforms were the last thing on their minds and that of their leaders, remember they're still doing alright and for some with speaking engagements and book deals, happy days!.
Apologies for the last couple of paragraphs not really relevant, but a general background, right how did Margate get in such a state, well no doubt a change in social habits and peoples expectations, tourism certainly is big factor in Margate's decline but so possibly is the lack of manufacturing a significant amount being transferred to china, as even the miserly minimum wage is too much for some business.
Still the biggest blows to Margate economy have been the creation of the Westwood retail parks and the uncontested destruction of Dreamland Amusement park of which Labour and Conservative council administrations are to blame.
Now the present, in a few months the Turner Contemporary is due to open, whether this is a success, depends much on what is shown there and in all honesty what we've seen so far at the M&S building has been dire, so fingers crossed they don't choose a load of old **** , still this time next year, we will know if comparisons with Bilbao, and St. Ives stand up. Dreamland Museum Theme park ( a world first) might just open in two years time. Whether this will result in jobs and money sloshing around town is debatable.
So what of Margate's dependency culture, what realistic chances, are there of people moving from dependency, just where are jobs to come from short term, last year looking to work closer to home, I found that unlike ten years ago, you cannot just ring up an agency and find yourself working the next day. Labour having expanded the workforce, rather than tackle welfare dependency, which has created local circumstances, where the working population has increased dragging down wages and excluding local people at the same time.
I am sure that the legacy of both Labour and the Conservatives will haunt Margate and Thanet for many a year, and while the conservatives are right to tackle those who've bludged off taxpayers for years, I wonder what can be achieved and at what cost to those, who are now trapped in the dependency culture, still the worst aspect of this is the immoral bleatings of the Labour party who have a "nothing to do with us" attitude. Still no surprise for a party lead by a man who can't commit to marry his partner or having his name on his sons birth certificate.
Its my belief that local politicians are both weak and negligent in representing this area, this area contributes millions to Kent County Council and yet only the minimum spend is made back here in Margate and Thanet its about time money spent in the West of the county Maidstone, West Malling etc got spread over to these parts, it is our money.