The Lancashire Evening Post has released figures that reveal the striking inequalities facing Preston people.
According to the LEP:
"The most revealing statistics show people living in Ribbleton, which is home to the second most deprived neighbourhood in all of Lancashire, live on average 11 years less than people four miles away in Greyfriars ward, which is the home to the city’s most affluent neighbourhood.
Other key findings show that people living in Ribbleton are: Six times more likely to be a victim of crime, eight times more likely to be out of work, five times more likely to have a fire in their home, more than twice as likely to have no academic qualifications, twice as likely to have a limiting long-term illness, more likely to come from a broken home and, more likely to suffer from heart disease and diabetes caused by smoking and unhealthy eating habits."
The answers offered by the politicians and professionals interviewed in the article show typical lack of understanding of what lies at the root of deprivation. They talk about "improving educational opportunities", "helping people to help themselves" and "increasing peoples' aspirations", as if people from Preston's working class areas never dreamed of a better life, or worked hard when they had the chance. Many people from these areas worked long hours for minimum wage in dirty and unsafe conditions every week, and that's exactly why their life expectancy now is so short.
There's not one mention from either the politicians or the professionals that big cuts are on their way, in benefits, in services, in jobs, in Educational Maintenance Allowance, which along with the rise in VAT will hit the poorest people the hardest. So at the same time as the politicians are busy 'raising peoples aspirations', they will be putting their hands into our pockets to take away the very resources that we might have used to improve our lot.
If the politicians were serious about addressing this poverty, they would be doing everything in their power to fight them, rather than voting against Michael Lavalette's motion to resist every cut.
The fundamental reason why these inequalities are actually inevitable in our society, is that we live in an economic system where PROFIT matters far more than PEOPLE. In our capitalist society the needs of bankers and billionaires must always take precedence over the needs of the old, the sick and the poor, or of kids that need an education, or of the future of our environment. That's how New Labour ran things, that's how Cameron and Clegg are running things.
There is an alternative: A socialist society, where the resources of society are managed democratically for the benefit of all, rather than the tiny minority. Where working class people hold the reigns of power, rather than the bankers corporations and billionaires. Such a society would act decisively to redress inequalities, and to ensure that every community had the resources it needs to lead a decent life and to make sure that 'opportunities' and 'aspirations' were more than just neoliberal buzz-words to be flung about meaninglessly by politicians with no real answers.