09_july_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,142

Thursday 09 July 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Britain is to get a pay rise and IDS nearly had an orgasm. Starting at £7.20 an hour a worker, if they are fortunate enough to have a 40 hour a week contract and not a zero hours one which is likely as a way for businesses to get round the pay rise, will receive £14,976. That is just over double what you will receive as a pay rise hiking your pay up to £149,440. And, of course, public sector pay has been capped at a 1% rise for the next four years as Malcolm Rifkind complains that MP’s can’t live on £60,000 a year without looking for extra income. But don’t worry I am sure Britain’s hard working people will be ever so ‘umbly grateful.

I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up in a very different world to the world I see today and the greatest tragedy facing us today is exemplified for me by the free 30 hours of childcare for three and four-year-olds. No government has done more to steal our lives and identities than yours, where we find ourselves defined by work, or vilified by non-work, and your drive for full employment is really a travesty, not least because pay is no longer something on which a family can rely or depend. Pay is so poor that families can’t rely on a single income, everyone is expected to work, it’s the only identity that government allows us. Parents are expected to give up the care of their children at the age of three and parenting has no value, encouragement or status at all.

Osborne said in the budget that inequality in pay between men and women has narrowed, as it should, but it has happened through wage erosion, down, rather than up, minimum wage. Where is the choice for poorer people, there’s no slack, no space to aspire to anything. Offered a job by the Jobcentre people are expected to take it, whatever it is, or face sanctions. There no room to aspire, just do as you are told… or else. What an utter dismal failure of government, the benefits system is punitive by design, at the hands of a sadistic brute, but the bottom line is Iain Duncan Smith is not fit to hold office, he is a dismal failure of a man and people are paying for that with their lives.

The fact is that people deserve better, children deserve better, they belong with their parent/s, and parent/s, having chosen to have children, should have the choice to raise them and for children to enjoy the wonderful diversity of being raised in their unique individual family. Having been a stay at home parent I am glad of the cultural changes that made that an option for me, even though I was unprepared for how challenging it was and how much I had to learn in doing it. I am by no means suggesting that how it should be for everyone, nor that everyone has two parents available, but at least the choice should be accepted and natural without government breathing down people’s necks driving them into joyless jobs on piss poor pay. That is a travesty.