29_may_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,100

Friday 29 May 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Life is a funny old thing, from birth to grave it’s a kind of comedy of errors. A child’s first step comes from trial and error, as does language, using eating utensils, body control, in fact everything a child learns to gain the skills of life. We don’t learn by doing things right, we learn to do things right by getting them wrong. Unless there is something seriously, congenitally, developmentally, wrong, that’s the way it works. Or unless you are a determined fool.

Having grown up in poverty I am intimately aware of how it blights life, how much harder it is to get on, to gain even small steps to self and social betterment. As a Community and Youth Worker, a local government resource for enabling young people and communities, I am also intimately aware that social improvement is gained through investment of time and resources. Families and communities grow through support, children flourish when loving care and nurture are lavished upon them. I have taken some beatings in my time, brutally bullied by teachers at school, ridiculed and put down simply for being poor and never once was I ever encouraged or enabled by such actions to improve my lot. Fear of retribution is a curse and a blight on life and life expectations.

A proverb came to mind today as I read what Iain Duncan Smith had to say in the Telegraph, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.”

Smith wrote, “Welfare reform is improving social mobility for families across the country.” Only in the mind of a fool can social mobility come from increasing social deprivation, imposed hardship and punitive sanctions which deprive people even of the  most basic means of survival. Not only is Smith wrong, he lives in a fantasy world, revelling in his own delusion.

I was also abused as a child and am intimately aware of the life long consequences of abuse. Smiths welfare reforms are violently abusive, causing terrible deprivation, the loss of thousands of lives and driving people to suicide. Save the Children are predicting that 5 million children could be trapped in poverty by 2020 caused by ‘a triple whammy of years of flat wages, cuts to benefits and the rising cost of living’.

Smith’s Telegraph article is entitled, ‘We’re giving everyone the chance to get on’ and he clearly passionately believes it. He is not concerned with evidence, either of paying attention to it or supplying it when ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner on the number of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014. He is clearly a man dedicated to regurgitating his own vomit and revelling in it.