13_february_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 999

Friday 13 February 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

“I’m not trying to live. I’m trying to survive.” So said Malcolm Burge, a vulnerable pensioner aged 66, before immolating himself and his vehicle in Cheddar Gorge, just down the road from me. And what drove him to such an extreme action? He was told he was over £800 in debt because of a cut in his housing benefit – which he had not been told about. A crappy £800!

I know the standard government line is that you cannot look into individual cases, but you don’t have to, the deaths are mounting on a daily basis and, in fact, it turns out the DWP has carried out 60 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths since February 2012. Only 60 – that’s a paltry number compared to the reality.

I read their stories, a pensioner, an ex-soldier, a woman living alone despairing over the bedroom tax. There are so many now. Each one of them could be me. Money doesn’t grow on trees but we’re all dependent on the damned stuff and it never comes easy, save for some, the fortunate ingrates who think wealth is their god given right and the rest of us are mere scroungers.

I read their complaints as often as I read of people dying. ‘Why should I pay for them?’ they cry, ‘Why should my hard earned money go to support these scroungers?’ Why should it, eh, Mr Cameron? The sick, the vulnerable, the elderly, the luckless jobless, the hungry children? Why should society take care of them? As if they are a mere drain on the world with nothing to offer if that cannot work; valueless and useless. Is that it? Pointless lives that should be allowed to just die off, a mere waste product of a society predicated on work no matter how meaningless or pointless that work might be?

I was chatting to my niece today, wondering where I would be right now if I were not making my voice heard and just living subject to the relentless attacks from your government? I am no one and everyone, would I too have quietly given up had I no clue how to fight for my life and every life? Am I my sister or brothers keeper? I can do so little for them, I have no wealth or power to save their lives. Every life is such a brief spark in time, some shine brightly and some make hardly a flicker before it’s all over. Do they matter? I guess the difference between you and me is that I am some kind of radical, because they matter to me very, very much. You, on the other hand, seem to have no respect for life at all and that, to my mind, makes you the least worthy of it.