CONSERVATIVE WAR ON POVERTY - FACT OR FICTION?
By very definition, claims that the Conservative Government since 2015, and before them the coalition Government, are 'at war with poverty' are completely fictitious.
Think about it for a moment - what does being at war with poverty mean? OK time's up.
You're right, I haven't given you time to work it out, because it's plain English and easy to understand.....
Still not got it? Alright, let me explain. To be at war with poverty means to do all you can to eradicate it - to rid our society of poverty, so that no one ever be so poor they have to choose between eating and heating, so that no one be homeless, so that no child is hungry, no one needs to be in arrears with rent etc etc.
I'm pretty sure you get it now. This regime and the Coalition before have done nothing to fight poverty, instead they have waged war on the poor. What they have actually done is create more poverty by attacking the low paid, the unemployed and the disabled.
The only thing they have done to reduce poverty is try to hide it - or as some of us have accused, cause the death of those that are poor and vulnerable. More on the latter part of that later later......you can agree or disagree, it's up to you but I have no fear about sticking my head above the parapet and saying it how I and so many others see it......
So now that's cleared up and you are breathing a sigh of relief that I haven't become a denier, switched sides or become confused, I hope you'll agree that what we have actually seen since 2010 is a war on the poor and as a result an increase in poverty!
Earlier this week I was watching the Daily Politics programme on BBC2, an interview with filmmaker Ken Loach and Conservative minister Sam Gyimah discussing the merits of Ken's film 'I, Daniel Blake'.
Ken made a great assessment of his film and how commonplace Daniel Blake's experience is in today's Britain. When asked Sam Gyimah said in effect that Ken was a film maker, the film was a story and therefore an exaggeration. 'After all isn't that what film makers do' he claimed.
Now either the Conservatives are just totally out of touch or deniers of the truth because, let's face it, if you pretend it isn't there then it ain't a problem in Tory land and you don't have to answer to the charges!!
Well our mate Sam can pretend all he likes, but as I see it, being totally out of touch with reality is a crime, given that he and his ilk are the party running this country and creating this mess. As the law says ignorance is not an excuse! Or maybe that just applies to us and not them.
In the 1980s Mrs Thatcher banned her ministers and civil servants from using the poverty word. Cameron, Osborne and Iain Duncan-Smith have been trying too to wipe the poor out of the political script by redefining them away and nothing has changed about that since Theresa May took the helm.
The Lords dealt a hammer blow to the government’s plans for tax credits and the planned next round of budget cuts by voting against the credits when the government introduced the laughable New National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour. The revolt was by a mix of opposition peers, crossbenchers, bishops and government loyalists, who forced the government into a rethink on a flagship policy, and it threw the Chancellor’s deficit reducing plans badly off course.
The Lords also thwarted the attempt by Cameron and co to completely redefine child poverty and reduce child poverty statistics. Now, as I said earlier this is one of the few attempts at 'eradicating' poverty, at least the Conservative idea of waging war on it. What they actually wanted to do was hide it.
In 2004 the very nice Iain Duncan-Smith set up the CSJ, the Centre for Social Justice to look at the causes of child poverty. They found that in a few cases, given the extent of the problem, some of the causes could be down to bad parenting, alcoholism and addiction to drugs.
So they wanted to stop defining child poverty by household income and put it down to addiction and bad parenting. That would have the effect of bringing down the statistics. For the conservatives - job done, child poverty reduced!
In actual fact according to Child Poverty Action Group..... 'Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998/9-2011/12 when 800,000 children were lifted out of poverty. Since 2010, child poverty figures have flat-lined. The number of children in absolute poverty has increased by 0.5 million since 2010'.
As a direct result of tax and benefit decisions made since 2010, the Institute for Fiscal Studies project that the number of children in relative poverty will have risen from 2.3 to 3.6 million by 2020 (poverty figures before housing costs). Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one member works.
Homelessness among English households has risen 54 per cent since 2010, according to government figures. A report, released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, reveals there were 57,750 acceptances in financial year 2015-16 – a rise from 54,430 (6 per cent) from 2014-15. New Housing Benefit Caps about to be introduced are only going to make matters worse.
Tens of thousands of tenants in sheltered housing, including frail older residents, domestic violence victims and people with mental illness may become homeless as a result of benefit cuts, landlords have said. Government plans to cap housing benefit for social rented properties from April will put an estimated 82,000 specialist homes under threat of closure, leaving an estimated 50,000 vulnerable tenants who are unable to work without support.
The rise of food banks and people needing food parcels, some of them working in low paid jobs and including some of our NHS nurses, shames our country and yet is going unchallenged.
So why is the country and its people sitting back doing little about these things? Well the clever politicians, their spin merchants along with the right wing media and TV have demonised the poor, the unemployed, the low paid.
They have used the CSJ idea that people are not managing their money properly or spending too much on booze, cigarettes and drugs because a small minority of people do so. The fact that the vast majority of people do not splash out on anything but essentials, budget as carefully as they can is of no consequence when the story of waste and frivolity is pushed in our faces.
So most people think the poor, and unemployed deserve no pity. Channel 4 are big on benefit porn, much of which I have watched - and even knowing they pick the worst to star in these programmes I still occasionally find myself drifting towards the thinking these programmes want to encourage. I can't tell you how many times I have had to rush to the bathroom and throw myself under a cold shower and slap my face until I wake up again and smell the proverbial roses!!
I have recently been forced at the age of 57 to give up living alone and move in with my mum, because people have less disposable income and cannot afford to pay for my musical talent at their weddings and other special events.
To be fair I might have had to do that anyway because mum, who spent her whole life bringing up eight children of her own, did some fostering, and then when my sister was killed in a road accident brought up a surviving child from that accident who suffered a brain injury, now only receives a basic pension and is struggling on it.
Mum always had what we call goodies in the cupboards, biscuits, chocolate bars etc but now she is barely buying essentials so she can heat her home. I haven't lived at home since I enlisted in the army at 16.
We have had plenty of media reports on our disabled and the sickest of our people, but not without an undercurrent suggesting these people are not as sick or disabled as they make out. People who cannot work and rely on benefits to survive and live a decent life.
The Welfare System for them has been in the past reasonably fair, not perfect but has given our disabled a standard of life that without it would not be possible, a standard of life we have seen slowly taken away so that many now endure an existence that is about basic survival.
Care has been reduced or taken away, cash reduced, benefits like mobility aids are no longer so readily available, if at all. Many have been deemed fit for work having undergone humiliating accusatory assessments by people medically unqualified to make those assessments - and because they have been found 'fit' for work are reduced to the basic rate Job Seekers Allowance and made poorer as a result.
Sadly many have, unable to face the future, taken their own lives.
So next time you hear someone say the Government is waging war on poverty.....put them right and tell them the Government is not. What they are really doing is waging war on the poorest and increasing poverty.
I will leave you with some statistics about the casualties of this Government's 'war' - reducing poverty by eradicating those in poverty for real,
Mortality Statistics: Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459106/mortality-statistics-esa-ib-sda.pdf