Well, there I was, late yesterday evening, idly wondering if there would be something good discussed at the Labour Party Conference today that would inspire a new blog, when David Cameron posted the following tweet on Twitter: “This is a clarion call to the whole world. To eliminate, for the first time in human history, the scourge of extreme poverty.” And there you go, blog subject decided. Thanks Mr Cameron.
Initially, calling for everyone to work towards eliminating extreme poverty, worldwide, appears to be a very laudable aim and ambition. There are certainly far, far too many people in the world who are, indeed, living in abject poverty and something needs to be done about this. But, and it’s a big but, how dare Mr Cameron say this when he and his Government are directly responsible for much of the poverty he is pledging he wants to eliminate. How dare he say this when he is doing nothing to stop what is happening here, in his own country, and the pain he is causing to the people of Britain.
David Cameron and Conservative Party policies have been directly responsible for the deaths of several thousand people under the banner of austerity cuts. Cuts to public services, cuts to welfare benefits, cuts to the NHS, cut after cut after cut. Food banks are proliferating nationwide because, thanks to cuts to welfare benefits, people are not able to feed themselves and their families. And it’s not Mr Cameron and his party that are setting up these foodbanks either, it is charities and religious groups of all faiths and local communities that care, not politicians who don’t and who won’t acknowledge that what they are doing is causing pain and misery to thousands..
Then there are the physically and mentally disabled people nationwide who are taking their own lives due to the poverty they are experiencing thanks to cuts to their welfare benefits. Disabled people who are being told they will lose their benefits because they are ‘Fit for work’ when they are not. When they are too sick to go out and find a job. When they need help and support, not sanctions and punishment. When medical professionals are saying they are too ill to work, not ATOS pen-pushers deciding they know best, stopping welfare benefits and saying the disabled person is a liar.
There are the homeless people who are in every town and city nationwide. People who are being evicted from their homes because they are unable to pay the rent due to cuts. People like tragic baby Daniel who has died thanks to being forced to live in a car with his parents because his parents were unable to pay their landlord thanks to cutbacks. Something needs to be done to help these people Mr Cameron. Extreme poverty exists in Britain everywhere you look today. Do what you can here Mr Cameron and reverse the policies that are causing it. Save the lives of British citizens who are being driven to despair and desperation by what you are doing. Do something to eliminate extreme poverty in Britain before you you start lecturing the people of other countries about the poverty they have wherever they live.
And when we do look more widely, when we do look at people living and experiencing extreme poverty in other countries Mr Cameron, you, and your government, are not blameless there either. War is causing pain and poverty in many countries. Sure we need to try to stop tyrants and despots, wherever they exist, from killing innocent civilians but, when these same innocent civilians are running, escaping from the horror and destruction and terror we can barely imagine, we need to open our arms and offer them safety and security, not try to ration them out and claim they are not really our problem. They are our problem. We helped cause the problem so we should help alleviate the problem. The desperate refugees who are paying people traffickers in Africa to get them out, struggling across the Mediterranean in rotten, leaky, worm infested boats and walking the length of our continent carrying all they own on their backs are not doing it for fun. They are doing it because of a war you, Mr Cameron, helped to create, Give them something to live for again, give them hope, give them a home.
If you want to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide, then Mr Cameron, start by looking at what you, and your party, are doing yourselves and begin by changing your own politics and policies. That should be your first and most important step. Then, only then, once you have done this, can you start calling for the leaders and the people and the politicians in other countries to do the same thing,