For me it is very simple.
We have a welfare state that is supposed to be a safety net to catch those in need. It isn’t an anti work thing.
My Mother was a divorcee (oh the shame) twice over with three kids and on the social. Absent dad, free school meals and pretty much skimping from week to week. All the hallmarks of the broken home that used to be bandied about as a badge of low expectation. Sadly that broken home would be considered not too bad when compared to the chaos of some families today.
When we (I say we, but really when I was older – being the youngest) were older she went back to work in a factory working night-shift to provide. All good so far. There were jobs in the area. She managed. We got by and she sacrificed her wants to meet our needs. And we never really knew we were poor (people had less then and the world was in black and white, cue hovis music)
Fast forward to today and the situation for many is now a life of benefits with no prospect of that changing any time soon. It isn’t fecklessness or laziness but systematic economic policy failure over the last 40 years. Jobs have moved and changed leaving some areas as vacuums offering very low skill and low paid jobs (if any at all). Many can’t just get on their bike or pull their socks up or strive not shirk. The environment they have to navigate isn’t like that.
There are many issues around employment and poverty but the one thing that gets right to me is the need for foodbanks. I’ll say it again, foodbanks.
Alms for the poor is the medieval equivalent. Bring out the poor to the soup kitchens. Foodbanks show me that the inequality and dysfunction of our society is out of control.
In an economy with a safety net designed to support the vulnerable of our society we find it doesn’t and thousands of people are choosing between heating and eating. Or choosing between feeding themselves or feeding the kids. Intolerable just isn’t strong enough.
All the defecit-blaming, skiver bashing and its-for-your-own-good Austerity does not deflect from the central fact – thousands of people in our country cannot afford food.
CANNOT AFFORD FOOD.
It has now become cause celebre and a club to beat Dave-call-me-dave and his coterie of disconnected millionaires with, of course it might have more weight if the wielder of the club wasn’t a millionaire too.
People who use foodbanks are desperate and the attack on their self-esteem is relentless. Their need is not imaginary or exaggerated. Just imagine, for a moment, that it has all gone wrong and like old mother Hubbard your cupboard is bare. What then? you have a job but have no money and have to soldier on knowing it’s not enough. How would you feel about approaching a foodbank or being referred to one?
So just keep that in mind the next time welfare recipients are cast as living the life of Riley. Some might even be happy with it but most are closing their curtains at night desperate and distraught. It’s both the squeezed middle and the working poor and you cannot tell just by looking.
So here we are, 21st Century, 7th largest economy in the world with a distorted distribution of wealth in our society and we have over 200 000 people being fed through foodbanks. It’s hurting not working. Of course those of us better off won’t need to use foodbanks or be impacted by the changes IDS makes to benefits and we would be forgiven for not realising the tidal wave of misery that will sweep over many of our countrymen (and women).
For me this isn’t political, it is societal. Proof of a society that has ceased to work. My generation was mobilised to feed the world in the 80’s, how sad that this winter we need foodbank networks to feed our own. We have come such a long way, haven’t we.
In the society I want no one goes to bed hungry for want of food, cold for want of energy and scared for a lack of security. Foodbanks ought to be unnecessary but they are not, its time we were all working to make the need for them extinct.
So while punch and Judy go toe-to-toe over the poor, foodbanks will be taking up the slack.
Realpolitik in action.
It’s funny how a word (or more accurately a hashtag) sums up the state of a government.
#omnishambles is the summed up consciousness of the performance of this coalition government. The casualties started with David Laws, continued through Liam Fox, Adam Werrity and Andy Coulson to the mess of Jeremy Hunt, Adam smith and Theresa May.
Within 24 months this government has lurched like a drunken sailor through a variety of events, policies and U turns. Failing repeatedly to offer any vision and cohesion of direction.
Welfare reform, cuts, economic failure, riots, student fees, selling off forests the list goes on and on and on.
Omnishambles is a fair description of this ship of fools.
#Giddernomics a second hashtag that has a resonance across the twitterverse. George Osborne has presided over a rather desperate economic performance. All of which he’d like to blame someone else for. His choices have caused this double dip in GDP. A risk that was predicted by Gordon Brown and mocked by the combined right-wing press.
The roots of the problem cannot be laid at his feet but his economic vision isn’t one that is bearing any fruit or is ever likely to. An export led recovery may be a suitable direction but not one that is likely in the current climate. The cuts agenda and deficit reduction follows the neoliberal ideology an ideology that is beginning to look threadbare and unsuccessful. Perhaps in another time #giddernomiccs would have been more successful but all chancellors have to deal with the environment they inherit and the reality as it is, not that which would be needed for their plans to work.
The tax cut from 50 to 45% is a political blunder that is very difficult to sell to an electorate that feels that we are not ‘all in this together’. It may indeed be more tax efficient but it is politically damaging. Even when he gets something right it all goes wrong.
This government is rudderless and David Cameron is #nottheone. His own party backbenchers have been sceptical since the beginning and Nadine Dorries hit the nail on the head calling them ‘out of touch’ and ‘poshboys’. He certainly doesn’t have his troubles to seek and I thought the Coulson mess was bad.
And so I come to the last part of the title.
Labour is climbing in the polls but people are just not sure of Ed nor of our economic competence. The 2 years of ‘All labour’s fault’ will be hard to shake off and has managed to stymie Ed’s progress against Dave and the Gang. He lands some blows but no sign of a knockout punch. Will he grow into the job? He is growing but will it be enough? Polls for the South of england indicate a large gap and not in his favour. The fixed parliament duration has turned out to be a blessing in disguise giving us time to reorganise and Dave and the gang time to implode.
So against a backdrop of economic failure and a leaderless shambles Labour are struggling to forge ahead effectively (incredible but true). It is beginning to look like the early 90’s where we couldn’t kill off the fag-end of the Thatcher government and the mess of Major.
I, like many, am just not convinced. Another hung parliament next time? God I hope not.
I have been called insane, mad, deluded and many other unprintable names recently because I think David Cameron is on his way. They may, indeed, be right that my political antennae need retuned or I need to stop eating the mushrooms growing in the woods.
I think Dave will go. Not because #Hackgate happened to blow up on his watch, not because he hired Andy Coulson (against some advice and on advice of others) but because when it all kicked off he denied ever having asked Andy (his friend to whom he gave a second chance) if he knew about the hacking.
The ‘I didn’t ask’ defence isn’t credible given the vast array of sources saying they told PM & his staff that Andy Coulson was implicated. This wasn’t a minor question to be avoided, and it strikes at the core of the Prime minister’s judgement and integrity.
If he didn’t ask he was incompetent and if he did ask and subsequently denied it; he is complicit.
The PM will have to continue to deny that he knew, if he changes tack now he implicates himself.
When the questioning of Coulson, Brooks and many others starts to bite them a deal will let it all out. If he knew, it will come out in the wash. All it will take is someone saving their skin or a memo with the Prime ministers fingerprints all over it.
The close links with News International may look bad but that won’t be enough. His poor judgement over Coulson wont be enough, all those around him resigning and getting sacked wont be enough. After all Labour can be accused of very similair things.
It will be the lie that sinks David Cameron.
It smacks of Bill Clinton’s ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman.’ unless you count……
So I think he’s going.
Who then for the conservatives? They will not want another election (neither do Labour if we have any sense) so the coalition will survive because the LD support is too low to see them jump from the coalition. They will, of course, get to flex their muscles over press reform and rightly so (they have been calling for it for years).
My best to lead the Tories Post David Cameron will be either William Hague (for whom last time was too soon) or David Davies (near miss in the run off with David Cameron).
The rest are just not likely. Gidders will be damned by association (and economy), May (not senior enough), IDS (nuff said), Landsley (mess of NHS no chance), Gove (about to lose role over 60k retainer from News international), Hammond (bombardier about to blow his hands off). Liam Fox (outside bet as he is usually not too bad but has just slashed the army so perhaps not). Ken Clarke (not very likely after sentencing mess). Redwood?
Hague or Davies it is then.
Perhaps Ed might manage to beat either of these.
Sticking his fingers in his ears and singing ‘lalala’ is the image I have of David Cameron in the kitchen at a ‘Chipping Norton set’ dinner party and going out of the room as soon as anyone mentions ‘Andy, phone and Hacking’ in the same sentence.
OK I know I am being ridiculous but the PM started it.
There is no way that the questions were never asked of Andy & Rebekah about the bad apple Mulcaire in the informal environment they associate in.
And it beggars belief to suggest that his ‘friend’ Andy never, ever mentioned it to David Cameron. And that Dave never asked over a beer or what have you.
‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’ looking a poor idea now.
David Cameron is an intelligent, articulate man and if he didn’t ask (for plausible deniability in the future) it was because the facts were self-evident. He didn’t ask because they all knew, they knew the hacking was widespread and it was just part of the business.
It is this failure to discuss and his closeness to these two News International bigwigs that will cause dave the most difficulty and damage over this.
When it creeps out (after weeks of revelations and scandals) that David Cameron did ask and was told by Andy Coulson (who will cop a deal) about the systematic law breaking, it is then that his position becomes untenable.
Punting the BskyB deal to the competition commission buys Dave some time to spread the mud among all the parties but it will come out in the end that he knew. After that, everything else pales into insignificance.
His defending of Coulson and slow reactions in this crisis show him as ineffectual and his press conference body language screamed ‘liar liar pants on fire.’
I didn’t have this conversation with Andy Coulson is beginning to sound like ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman.’
Now for the one he doesn’t want.
It goes a little like this. A meeting set up by some grey suited elder statesmen within the Conservative party to discuss the current situation with the PM. Of course a few of these old boys are none too impressed with the Boy Cameron, and still do not understand how on earth he couldn’t win a majority.
After all it was against an unpopular government on its knees, a massive recession, buckets of Ashcroft money and a poor Labour campaign bereft of money.
They, like the country, and just not sure about Dave. And then of course he snuggled up to the enemy Clegg.
‘Prime minister, for the good of the party, you should think about stepping down.’ Words made of lead that David Cameron will live in dread of hearing.
After all he is either complicit (in which case he has to go) or incompetent (in which case he has to go).
He will hear them unless something worse comes along and diverts the heat off of his complicity over #hackgate.
After all, a new bum in the PM’s seat wont trigger a general election merely a change at the helm. Preferably one who isn’t entirely mired in News International muck.
While the Libdems are in single figures they will stick with the coalition to the death, however if they start to regain ground due to the liability of Dave and his little chums, a change will be in the offing.
Will the PM have to go? I think he will but it will take a few more smoking guns with his fingerprints on them before it is certain.