Saturday 25 July 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
After George Osborne’s ’emergency’ budget you’ve all swanned off for your summer recess. The media enters what is traditionally called, the silly season, digging up pointless stories to fill its pages in the absence of the antics the Westminster circus and maybe PMQs in particular. It is tempting to call Britain a rudderless ship during this time, but that would suggest a degree of helpless dependence on Whitehall that is far from the reality and never has been.
Rather, Britain will get on with doing what it does best, manage. It’s something we’re rather good at. I am old enough to remember the early years of post war Britain in my small neck of the woods on the fringes of greater London. People managed and we really were all in it together. Those baby boom days of less than sexually liberated discrete post war fecundity, saw a nation rebuilt on unquestioning hard work (with maybe a grumble or two) and stoicism. We didn’t need meaningless political sound bites from the privileged about hard working people and getting on, our parents got on and we got on, with life.
Unlike the veteran Harry Leslie Smith, who well remembers the days before we had our NHS and the human cost, I grew up in the world his generation fought for and which built the NHS and it is his generation and mine who are now being told we’re a burden on society, on the NHS and care services. My body is failing me because of hard graft, not sitting around insulting the nation, but just getting on. We didn’t ‘aspire’ to be millionaires and idiot criminal fat cats and work wasn’t a political hammer to beat people into the ground with, as that arch villain Iain Duncan Smith does with his ‘three generations of worklessness’ lie. A field-work study in very deprived neighbourhoods of Glasgow and Middlesbrough found not a single family with three generations which hadn’t worked. Smith wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him on his over privileged rear end but real people are paying a very real and heavy price for his endless lies and the violence of his policies. As Frances Ryan observed in a recent article in the Guardian, ‘I am not sure how we reached the point where we need an inquiry to establish that stopping a person’s benefits to the level that they can’t feed themselves or their children may be wrong’.
As we know only too well, it is ordinary people who pay the price for bad governments, despots and tyrants (and, of course, criminal bankers). It is bad governments who promote the hatred of others, turning one group against another for self serving reasons, demonising the poor, disabled people, immigrants, unemployed people, the elderly, young people, even, damn you, the NHS, nurses, doctors, consultants and all those who work long gruelling hours, with dedication, keeping us alive. So while you are lounging in the sun, or whatever else you have planned for your tax payer funded holidays, I assure you, you won’t be missed in these parts.