Poverty Porn

If you went down to the woods in North Ballachulish last weekend you were in for a very big surprise all the way from Ghana, The Kakatsitsi drummers The Solidarity Croft Party was a bright beacon at the end of a long dark week. Over the weekend party goers filled two bulk bags filled with donations for foodbanks in Lochaber an Glasgow. On the subject of foodbanks I read a tweet the other day criticising the  folk at post18/9 Yes events for donating to feed banks”so you fed a few junkies, well done” The only junkie I knew was found dead in his flat ,oded on his first fix after a day or two without heroin. Police found Bob as he didnt show up for court ,he had attempted to break in to a chemist shop a few weeks earlier.all this made it into the local paper.Bob died a junkie and a criminal. .Bob was a Royal Marine he served in the first Gulf War and in tthe Balkans. Bob was a farmer, and a builder. Bob was a son, a brother and to a fortunate few , he was an honest and trusted friend. None of that made  the paper. This made me wonder , how is it that some people become a lesser class of humans in the eyes of others. Why would junkies deserve to go hungry? Why is their crime worse for example than other thieves?  Why are those on benefits “scroungers” There is a campaign going on to vilify the poor . In a survey Michael Meacher found that many people believe 27% of benefits are fraudulent claims. Govt stats say only 0.7% is fraudulently claimed. Work gets people out of poverty they say well yeah, if you get paid a living wage. Meacher found hundreds of thousands of people in work need to claim benfits just to get by. We  tax payers are effectively subsidising those employers  who do not pay  their lowest paid workers enough to live on. If the min wage had risen as fast as pay for chief execs over the last 10 years it would now be £19 per hour. There is no trickle down effect. Sourcehttp://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2013/03/how-can-they-justify-persecuting-the-poor/  The current ethos seems to be that those who have the most, the economic might are right ,and this rightness slithers away as you get nearer the lower end of the social scale till you get to the least fortunate of all, the immigrants, the disabled,the jobless,homeless weakest of us all. We shit on them,with bedroom taxes, and benefit caps,and sanctions if they find a little cash in hand work once or twice. We shit on them with fit for work medicals and front page lies in the Daily Fail. Well it doesn’t have to be like that, it wasn’t always thus, and believe me, it does not have to be like this. I would not be proud to live in a country where vulnerable people can get a meal without using a foodbank. It would give me no cause for pride at all to look after those in need with sensitivity and without  passing judgement is not a mark of excellence it’s the bare minimum. There is an obvious,urgent need to overhaul the benefits system in the UK,but that alone is not enough, currently UK society is dominated by a view that” the market” knows best. This model is applied in every area of society, business,leisure and culture, sport, health and social policy,  safety at work.  To make a real difference to the world we as a nation need to agree that “the market is not king” or if you prefer “I’m not alright Jack.

Well it doesn’t have to be like that, it wasn’t always thus, and believe me, it does not have to be like this. We don’t need  an airforce to change this,nor backing from big business.Ghandi and Mandela would be welcome but,  they’re both gone and we can do fine ourselves.  Superman for f #### sake put your trousers on after your pants, and tuck your cape in, its Clark Kent we need. After ww2 Clement Attlee’s government brought in sweeping and courageous social reforms, the NHS under Aneurin Bevan and the ” Cradle to Grave” Welfare State as designed by William Beveridge. Attlee was a great prime minister, not because of charisma or fiery speeches but because he was pragmatic, diligent and a team player believed passionately that he should seek to benefit the whole of society collectively.  The Labour Party was something to be proud of then.

Last weekend at  The Solidarity Croft Party (https://www.facebook.com/events/626150497503358/?fref=ts) a  diverse crowd of folk  showed up, showed wiling, showed solidarity and in their own small way made the world a bit of a better place, by thinking and acting collectively ,to benefit the whole. Sure the few did a lot of work, to make the party happen so that the many could give a little to those in need.

We did this with laughter, with chat,with song ,and lots  of dancing ( not much falling down ) spirits were raised (and sunk) and raised again.

Aye Solidarity, Community,Collective, there’s something to be proud of right enough!

Many thanks to Griogair, all the bands, and all who helped make it such a memorable weekend.

Moran taing,

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