“Eat your greens! There are kids in Africa who’d be really grateful for what you’ve got there.”
So my mother used to rebuke me. It was a mealtime ritual that has stuck in my memory ever since. I was a picky eater as a child, to say the least. Oh to return to those heady years of my 32” waist and slim fit shirts. Those were the days!
We weren’t exactly wealthy when I was a kid. A student grant doesn’t go far when feeding three children and a single mother who’d gone back to college when my Dad abandoned us. We had lots of homemade rice puddings with strawberry jam. We had crumpets grilled on a toasting fork over the electric fire. We ate cereal a lot (not the fancy stuff) and jam sandwiches. My grandmother’s tatie pots were a joy to behold on winter evenings. So were her meat and tatie pies. It was basic fayre but it was tasty enough. And it was food.
Today, 50 years later I can still hear my mother’s voice echoing in my head. But this time the starving kids she talks about aren’t in far off parts of the developing world. This time she (or rather my mental representation of her) is talking about the children down the road, the school-leaver sanctioned because he didn’t get the DWP letter or the family of four with a single zero-hours contract to live on.
Today, in the world’s fifth largest economy there’s more hunger, poverty and destitution than ever before in my lifetime. And that’s just disgraceful!
This is what we get after 9 years of tory rule.
What will we see after another 5?
I genuinely do not believe that the majority of tory voters really meant for this hardship to continue – even to increase but as is becoming all too obvious, that’s what’s happening. That doesn’t mean that those usual labour voters who ‘lent’ Boris Johnson’s far right government their vote are stupid. But it does mean that they were lied to by an efficient main stream media and a slick marketing campaign aimed at whitewashing the conservative record and deifying Boris in particular. My people, my working-class brothers and sisters aren’t stupid but maybe they’re too trusting.
There’s no point in becoming too despondent about that right now. Instead we need to get active. Community groups are cropping up all over UK to combat the worst abuses of Boris’ government, to help feed the hungry and house the destitute. You can find out what’s going on by checking this link or by subscribing to this blog. Over the next five years I’ll be interviewing and showcasing a host of community action organisations, offering them encouragement and ensuring they keep getting their voices heard.
Why not join one – or start one yourself?