Tahir Mirza: Hunger Strike For The Homeless
Britain, after almost a decade of Tory misrule and disdain for the poor: what does it look like? What is the reality of a nation so seemingly utterly divided and on the cusp of a Brexit deal that could push us over the brink?
It looks like a place where those at the very top have access to the very best, but who then deliver nothing but broken promises to those who elect them to office. It's where a self-serving government promotes desires of aspiration, but does its best to ensure that those at the bottom can only aspire to living day to day.
There is always the terrible and anxious threat of homelessness for families unable to pay extortionate bills and ridiculously high rents - who then are reduced to relying on tinned charity for survival. Britain's food bank empire has exploded. It's now big enough to provide enough food for families where both parents are working full time.
The extent of poverty in Britain has reached working people, some of whom work 60 hours a week and more. You have to ask how is that even possible. In-work poverty; this sort of atrocity could only have come from the Tories. Under the present climate of public opinion now spreading across Europe, the parties that represent the interests of capitalism will pretend to offer the working class a way out of the morass with seemly reasonable and reformist solutions.
Tahir Mirza, a Labour party member taking up the cause of homelessness, recently spoke about his intentions to carry out a 24 hour hunger strike in response to the shocking homeless statistics. As Mr Mirza points out, last year 400 people died because they were unable to get a roof over their heads. An astounding exposé of Tory policies.
People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure and adequate housing. The term 'homelessness' may also include people whose primary night-time residence is in a homeless shelter, a domestic violence shelter, or a long-term residence in a guest house or hotel.
We so often hear about people living in a vehicle such as a car, or using cardboard boxes, not forgetting of course, sheltering in a tent city - a basic shanty town condition where a roof over their head is no more than a tarpaulin.The crisis of homelessness has worsened since 2010, with many people evicted from their homes by the callous nature of Tory reformation of the welfare state. The 'bedroom tax' for example, meant many people could no longer afford to live in their home for the subsidy costs applied, and who then found themselves living in an accommodation nightmare.
This really should not be a feature of one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Yes, many advanced nations have their social problems, but what's also indicative of a caring government is how they approach these issues. The Tories simply do not care about those at the very bottom.
Instead, people such as Tahir Mirza have to do their best to highlight them and the dire problems they face on a daily basis.
The video above is doing the rounds on social media. It features Tahir calling out Theresa May and the Tories for their vile treatment of those who don’t belong to their social class. He also asks for all of us to take direct action to highlight the inhumanity of this government’s programme of persecution.
Tahir said, ''People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are humans without homes.'' It is hard to believe that in 2018, we would be facing a UN report denouncing the actions of a government which is in control of the world's 6th richest economy, and yet that’s where we are. We are sitting back while the Tories decimate the welfare state.
For the benefit of those reading this, and who would like to get involved to help Tahir, he will be taking up his 24hr hunger strike at 2pm on the 11th of December until 2pm on the 12th December, outside the Houses of Parliament. He asks that those interested in coming along to help support this cause do not bring cardboard, tents and sleeping bags, but do please bring along chairs, banners and placards.
The UN rapporteur on human rights and poverty, Philip Alston, arrived in the United Kingdom to very little fanfare, his visit hidden behind the three-ring circus of Brexit. Most middle-class Britons would not recognise the significance of Alston’s visit. The United Nations is concerned that the current Tory government is abusing the very people it is supposed to be protecting. This is abuse of power on a monumental scale, with an estimated 325,000 people homeless - and those are the ones on the radar.
The Tory Party is (surprise, surprise) continuing to represent the interests of capitalism by offering a seemingly reasonable solution to the dilemmas faced. On the surface, their promise of more funding to desperate and dilapidated services looks good on paper, but Tories rarely alter their philosophy. Their support is always for the wealthy, and has been since they were founded. It's how they function; it's all they understand. And the horrendous May isn't going to change that.
Privatisation has emerged as central to the economics of austerity. Re-emboldened vampire capitalism is today seeking re-capitalisation through the extraction of every last drop of value from the public domain.Yet the actual performance record of the privatised industries ranges from underwhelming to calamitous. But still, thanks to a succession of appalling political decisions, it's the only game in town.
The rules can change though. We've all seen how things are rigged in favour of those at the top, and an election is our chance for radical reform, for the sort of enlightened thinking that means a government for everyone.
Theresa May's failed robot act is reaching the end of the line. We know this is the opportunity we need - it's vote Labour or bust.
How can a first-world country be allowed to get away with this? The simple answer is that the Tories' friends in the media have done the government's work for them by demonising the poor, the unemployed and the disabled. When an independent authority investigates a country which holds itself up as a benevolent and progressive example of munificence and decency, you know something has gone seriously awry.
When the call goes out for Children in Need, we all open our wallets; when we are asked as a state to look at our actions in relation to the poorest and most vulnerable in this country, the government only opens its wallet (which we fill) to bribe the DUP or pay for some hair-brained short-term nonsense.
Owing to the bankrupting of the NHS people are beginning to experience problems getting access to treatment. Others who need help for social services, through no fault of their own, are lucky if they get someone in to wash them decently – and feed them – but that doesn’t necessarily mean hot, nutritious food. This is all thanks to the Conservatives' clammy hands on the public purse.
It is a disgrace that one man, Tahir Mirza, is going to hold hunger strikes in order to highlight the appalling state of our finances. And this in the run-up to Brexit, which by all accounts is going to strip our human rights and employment protections. We will be a first-world power in name only.
So, we say to hunger striker Tahir Mirza, you have our blessing. We will stand with you as you rub this government's nose in the stinking mess they are creating. People should not have to starve themselves in order to draw attention to injustice, but this is the government of injustice. Theresa May and her cadre of upper-class establishment cronies seriously need to start listening.
Amber Rudd, for example, is now back in the Cabinet and wasted no time at all in rubbishing Philip Alston's 24-page initial report. She has learned nothing since being sacked for lying. Perhaps she ought to go out into the real world and see how many people are suffering genuine hardship; she might even be surprised by how bad things are out there; people who are homeless, comforting their starving children as the winter closes in.
This is Tory Britain in 2018. It's not merely broken, it's been smashed into a thousand pieces by horrendous cuts and polices deliberately designed to make the poor poorer. Alston's findings are a snapshot of how bad things are. Just because you don't accept the UN’s report doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It's painfully true, and an accurate assessment of how much damage the Conservatives have done to this country.