Christmas and poverty in Cameron’s Britain

This video from Britain says about itself:

Breadline Britain – An Investigation into Food Banks and Poverty

9 April 2014

Dominic Darnell investigatives how food banks, and those using them, are coping after the Welfare Reform Act of 2012 was implemented.

Filmed as part of a final year project for the University of Lincoln Investigative Journalism BA, 2014.

By Bernadette Horton in Wales:

Killing hope

Saturday 13th December 2014

As Christmas approaches, there’s little cheer since the coalition has taken so much from working-class people already, says Bernadette Horton

Forget the 12 days of Christmas, although there are many Lords-a-leaping. It’s the fourth year of icy Tory-imposed austerity and Cameron looked around and realised there really isn’t much else he can take from the poor except one thing — hope.

Since 2010, Christmas has been a time of wondering what Cameron and his gang of robber barons will take from the poor and working poor this year.

We have seen freezing of benefits and working tax credits, sanctions routinely handed out for the wildest of reasons by jobcentre staff, and the disabled and chronically sick denied access to disability benefits, while Iain Duncan-Smith decides he now has a medical degree and feels those with Parkinson’s disease and lifetime health conditions are capable of work.

It really has echoed the 12 days of Christmas. “In the first year of austerity Cameron took away…” Then add the swingeing cuts inflicted on the poorest in society.

This year however, after Osborne’s autumn statement and with a general election looming next May, the Tories and their tinpot leader took the final thing they could from us … hope.

Hope that austerity would end soon, hope that zero-hours would be a thing of the past, hope that wages would increase enough to pay the bills and allow ordinary people some kind of life.

With typical Tory rhetoric we have been told to expect five more years of the same medicine, but only for working people and the poor. Millionaires will be exempt from austerity and rake in more tax cuts.

A vote for the Tories or indeed their extreme right-wing mates Ukip will see more enforced austerity, cuts to the NHS, and employers’ continued promotion of low wages and zero-hours contracts.

Hope when you’re poor or working poor is what keeps you going.

For many of us who lived through Thatcher’s Britain, hope was all we had to cling to at times.

A hope that she would be deposed, and that the Labour Party would rise from the ashes and look after the working class.

I was reminded of this when Gordon Brown announced his departure as an MP recently. While never a fan of Blair, I knew Brown was a man of deep integrity. I felt sure he would change things.

Whatever anyone thinks of Labour during the Blair/Brown years, with Iraq being Blair’s epitaph, Gordon Brown looked after the working poor with tax credits and built Sure Start Centres. He brought hope.

Where is that working-class hope today? It never fails to amaze me just how much of the welfare state and support systems have been dismantled with brutal savagery by the Con-Dems in four years.

Back in early 2010 most of us wouldn’t have known what a zero-hours contract was. If you worked for an agency it was because YOU wanted flexible employment that didn’t tie you down. Part-time work meant roughly 16 hours a week, and if you were ill you rang for a doctor’s appointment and waited two to three days maximum.

Poorer children going on to sixth form benefited from the education maintenance allowance payment, tuition fees of £9,000 p/a were unheard of, and the term “working poor” had not been invented.

These are but a few things that are now the norm after four and a half years of Con-Dem rule.

Such was Nick Clegg’s embarrassment at being part of this unholy alliance, he could not bring himself to sit with the front bench during Osborne’s recent autumn statement.

The electorate knows Clegg is guilty as charged and Clegg knows the Lib Dems face wipeout in May, due to his complicity in allowing the worst of Toryism to be voted through the Commons.

With the promise of more than 60 per cent of austerity cuts to come and knowing they will be shouldered yet again by the poor, hope is thin on the ground for the working class.

But we shouldn’t be our own enemies. Nothing makes me sadder than to hear people saying they will vote Ukip due to immigration.

While immigration is a topic that concerns many working-class people, we should ask ourselves why we are blaming the immigrant running the local corner shop and not the damned bankers who have pinned us to the wall of austerity and have got off scot-free due to their Tory minders.

Ukip is a one-policy-blame-the-immigrant party and Farage a leader who believes breast feeding mothers should sit in corners and not be entitled to maternity pay.

A third-class party treating people as second-class citizens. There is no hope there at all for us. Ukip preaches the politics of racism, sexism and divide and rule. They want to bring back the grammar school. So working-class kids will be turfed into the Ukip secondary modern like the old days.

Everything in the Kipper vision is a return to 1950s Rule Britannia, where the likes of Farage lord it over the working class and we doff our caps and know our place.

The Labour Party is offering hope, but in a bit of a red tape way. Mixed messages gag some great policy ideas. When Ed Miliband throws off the spin doctors, we hear the message of hope, and recently that message has become stronger, but it needs to be clearer.

Lucy Powell, the new campaign co-ordinator, recognised this immediately. Ed has been engaging with people on social media and answering our burning questions.

To me hope lies within the Labour Party. People moan that the party is too centre-left, but listen to the messages being shouted out by the trade union group of MPs and there will be more of them post May 2015 — MPs with working-class backgrounds and values.

The roar of social injustice by Ian Lavery, the drive of Grahame Morris to get Palestine recognised as a separate state. This is where our hope lies.

The more MPs we elect that look like and represent us, the more we can change the face of the party, and put more working-class policies on the table.

So while Cameron takes all hope from working-class people, our key aim is that the ballot box will take his hope of another five years of power away. So use your vote in May 2015. There is nothing more hopeless than a non-voter.

Visit Bernadette Horton’s website.

UK faces a return to 1930s levels of poverty: here.

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