I woke up today to hear Toby Young talking about the necessity of cuts to public services. He was replying to a talk on the Today Programme
given by Zadie Smith, the talented, prize-winning novelist. She is campaigning for her local library in Kensal Rise, London to stay open. More than 450 libraries and mobile services across the country are at risk of closure, as councils react to government spending cuts. Toby has blogged about his reply for the Telegraph
. His basic point is that the spending cuts are not too bad -- only 3% acccording to his estimates -- and that people should volunteer to work in libraries. Of course, this isn't the real story; the cuts have hit the poorest boroughs the worst. My own council, Tower Hamlets, is facing 9% cuts in expenditure, with £72m needed to be cut in three years; some of the poorest people in the UK live here and yet it's facing far worse cuts than the Tory shires. Toby said that only middle-class people use the libraries. This isn't true in TH: the Ideas Stores
cater for people from all backgrounds, offering not only books to borrow, but internet facilities, advice centres, a cafe, DVDs, clubs and all sorts. I was in the Whitechapel one the other day: it is full of people from very different backgrounds, most of them are not remotely "middle class".
What TY didn't say, of course, is that all these cuts are OK, but I'm not sure if he'd be too happy if a few million was shaved off the capital expenditure for his "exclusive" West London Free School, which seems to have been used primarily as a "publicity" vehicle for Toby so far.
This government really does seem to be taking public money from the poor and giving to the rich.