"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
This is a usually a blog about poetry, but I don’t keep my politics a secret on it. For those of you who find this an irritation, I’m sorry. I’m a whole person, and the poetry in which I speak of kindness or friendship comes from the same place as my politics. I beg you to read this anyway, especially if you’re not on the same political spectrum as me.
Three things strike me on the news this morning:.
1 The health secretary ‘doesn’t see anything wrong in principle’ with charging people for missing appointments. He simply cannot imagine, apparently, living in a world of unreliable public transport or the kind of poverty that makes many people fragile in the first place – nor any kind of punishment that doesn’t involve money.
2 No hospital in Britain – not one – is expected to balance its books this year. Are they all badly managed, and failing to make best use of reasonable budgets? Are our hospitals staffed by crooks and bureaucrats? Or are they simply not getting enough money?
3 Camila Batmangelidh is standing down as chief exec of Kids’ Company, because the government have accused her of mishandling finances and withheld the funding they give the charity. This comes after a long period of her repeatedly and publicly telling them that the care of very disabled and traumatised children is a duty of the state, and cannot be handled by the third sector in the way that they hope.
Repeatedly, we see the government making cuts to the point where they have a real, quantifiable impact on the sickest, poorest and most desperate. The government withdraws protection and support, and then when the effects are visible it blames the very people most in need of its support. Pay attention to the news. Note every one of these things.
Austerity, as journalist/activist Owen Jones has said, is not like the weather, a thing to be endured because we have no choice. It is a deliberate strategy by this government to roll back the welfare state and create a ‘new normal’ in which we blame those less well off than ourselves – the skivers, the irresponsible fools who miss their appointments and let us all down, the silly liberals who mean well but like children, can’t handle money and have no idea of fiscal responsibility.
Divide and conquer – they do it brilliantly. Kindness is not weakness. Stand up for love.