This year saw the move of the BBC into its new base at MediaCityUK and many radio and TV shows are being broadcast from Salford. The Royal Variety Performance at The Lowry Theatre was a success. Now Christmas shows are being performed, including “Scrooge” based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.
Audiences are re-visiting the story of the greedy and tight-fisted Scrooge – a businessman with no concern for his employees or their families, even a family with a disabled child. Charles Dickens had great concern for ordinary families struggling to survive in the mid 19th Century and for children living in poverty. If he were writing today, would Dickens have cast Chancellor George Osborne as a modern-day “Scrooge”?
Osborne has hit women and children hard with budgets which have increased VAT, frozen child benefit and cut working tax credits. The Government has just passed legislation in the Welfare Reform Bill to halve the tax credits paid to a family with a disabled child.
Dickens knew that losing a job was a great fear for his readers. Many local people have faced redundancy this year as Government budget cuts led to job losses in our council, police and in the NHS. The Government have closed Salford’s Court, ending 160 years of local justice and costing more jobs. Unemployment is now at a 17 year high.
Dickens fought for educational reform and against using child labour. The Conservative-led Government has taken away the Education Maintenance Allowance which supported young people to stay in education. Youth unemployment has now hit one million.
Dickens changed the heart of his Scrooge character by showing him a frightening vision of what the future would look like with no changes of heart. In 2012, Labour will fight for a change of heart and for the Government to adopt our five point plan for jobs and growth.