Recently I attended a meeting of the Equalities Committee of my union, the EIS. We were discussing the impact of poverty on our children; their education, their health, their emotional and social wellbeing. We watched a short documentary produced by schoolchildren on the effects of poverty as they experienced it. Despite the fact it was the third or fourth time I’d seen it, I and the other fifteen or sixteen adults present, were moved to tears by the presentation. For me, the calm matter-of-fact way one young teenage boy described his life was heartbreaking. He talked of going to bed straight from school because the house was too cold to sit in. His medical conditions brought about by the cold, damp house he lived in and his inadequate diet. £5 was sometimes all there was in a week to feed him and his Mum when other bills needed paid. The struggle to be properly kitted out for school in his uniform. When he ended with the words, “I’d just like to wake up feeling like a normal person, ” I was, as they say, undone by the emotional poverty he experienced.
I was also enraged that our children suffer, through no fault of their own, from the politics of this country. From a government who clearly haven’t read the UN Charter on the rights of children, noting in particular Article 27.
Article 27 (Adequate standard of living): Children have the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and mental needs. Governments should help families and guardians who cannot afford to provide this, particularly with regard to food, clothing and housing.
Politicians still perpetuate the myth that the economy is in dire straits therefore nothing can be done to alleviate the hardships we all face. Really, all of us?! The focus, they say, has to be on giving bonuses to the bankers and businessmen who create the wealth we need to climb out of this economic trough. Made me think though, who does actually create the wealth? These captains of industry? The good folks on the mega million salaries and bonus schemes? What is it we’re all doing when we turn up for work 5/6/7 days a week in their shops, factories, offices and businesses? How lucky we are because, despite the fact we’re NOT creating wealth or contributing anything to the economy, our employers very generously pay us the minimum wage! Some of us actually have the damn cheek to ask for this to be replaced by a living wage! Gosh, shades of Oliver Twist and the undeserving poor isn’t it, always demanding more?
Then there’s a whole swathe of the workforce who work in an area where nothing at all is being produced that can be bought or sold; the bounders and chancers that they are! Yes, I mean all of us who are doctors, nurses, teachers, school or hospital support staff, social workers, care assistants, the legions working in the public sector and service industries. We make nothing that contributes to the salaries and bonuses of our saviours, the wealth creators, yet we expect wages and pay rises and heaven forbid, a reasonable standard of living for our efforts. We put nothing into the economy, we don’t create any wealth, yet we expect no, demand, that we get decent housing, health care, education, good, wholesome food that we can afford and appropriate clothing for our children.
The philosophy of this Tory Government (I don’t consider their coalition partners in crime as a separate entity) if they have one at all, must be the nauseating, patronising one Cameron spoke of in 2011 when he declared we were all in it together. If this is the case then clearly we (who despite working), are not actually pulling our weight and contributing to the wealth creation and economy of our country, deserve to be punished by those who are. The fact is that poverty is based on inequality, therefore, we deserve to be poor because there is in an inequality in what we contribute isn’t there? The great and the good do all the work, create all the wealth and are pulling the country out of the dire straits we got it into. So, they deserve more than us, don’t they. Makes sense.
Just try telling that to a wee boy who wants to be “normal.”