Monday, 22 November 2010

Never had it at all.

I deliberately restrained myself from commenting on Lord 'never-had-it-so-good' Young's remarks and subsequent downfall. Displaying insensitivity and crass class arrogance of such cunt-ish proportions, there was just nothing more I could add. 

It's clear that the  attempt to pass his comments off as a slip of the tongue were ridiculous. Actually what he said was considered and representative - of that section of not-so 'middle' Middle England who sit around at dinner parties and take as their economic indicators house prices and mortgage rates. Cuts in child benefit and the increased costs of putting their kids through university are minor irritantants but essentially they fly in a stratosphere above both recession and austerity packages.

Thinking about that got me to thinking about my local community: Despite a good local anti-cuts campaign, the most-affected, those large swathes of people here whose daily existence is dependent upon public services, are  also those least aware of what is coming - and least placed to do anything about it.

Far  from luxuriating in a soft-touch benefit system, life for these people  is largely a constant grind to navigate a way through a crumbling system to get what they are entitled to. It's a world apart from  my own experience, but one I see just a tiny piece  of when using my local health service and bouncing back and forth from one mis-managed and under-resourced service to another, with a confusing labyrinth of different agencies, ever-changing procedures, staff shortages and lost communications. 

But that's just for one small non-life threatening part of my life - multiply the humiliation, frustration and time wasting ten-fold  if your income, housing, child welfare etc are dependent upon 'the system' and it's easy to understand why living on benefits can became a full time job. And if you are in that position then your expectations may well have been so lowered that it's  difficult to imagine that things could actually get any worse. 

It is understandable that what  should be anger passes into fatalism - when you've never had it all.

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