Wednesday 20 June 2012

Letter 71: This is not poverty! Pull your socks up!

"Dear Dave,
May I distract you from Argentina and the G20 for a few moments to talk about IDS trying to sell poverty as a morality tale? It's mystifying that his current stance should be in such sharp contrast to how he felt at Easterhouse. Do you remember, he wept at the hardship he saw in Glasgow and decided there and then to tackle social breakdown? What can have moved him so far from his compassionate response in 2002 to now suggesting being poor is the fault OF the poor? IDEOLOGY? Pressure from the Chancellor? 

Whilst I'm all for looking at a problem with a fresh perspective, announcing a plan to reframe child poverty (or promising to deliver "a better set of indicators" as he puts it) as the answer shows a lack of humanity and compassion to me, and a fair few others. When he said "We remain committed to the targets set out in the Child Poverty Act, but it is increasingly clear that poverty is not about income alone", why would he think that gives him the right to go on to blame the poor for not trying hard enough, relying heavily on crude examples and stereotyping in such an inaccurate way, whilst ignoring in-work poverty? It would have been more truthful to cite poor housing, lack of opportunity and access social support and full time, well paid jobs as the chief issues, rather than blame them for their circumstances.

If I thought there was any point in sending a copy of this letter to IDS I would, but let's be honest, if he won't listen to Church leaders, he's not going to listen to me. Maybe YOU could tell him that he's coming across as shockingly mean, more like workhouse proprietor in a Victorian novella than the man who wants the Conservatives to be the "party of the poor". How does it sit with you anyway, another comfortably off middle-class father, moving the goalposts to reframe the miserable quality of life for those poor kids? I ask because I've heard that in opposition, you yourself said relative poverty did matter.
Maybe you'll think of that when you get back home form Mexico. When it's your turn to you tuck your lovely, well-fed children into bed (and I'm sure they are rather lovely), you'll spare a thought for those equally lovely poor children, whose needs you've allowed Iain to sweep tidily from your sight.

With best wishes, etc"

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