Today, in a move reminiscent of my former self – when I had time to loll about watching Sunday morning television- I watched Andrew Marr discussing politics with the current Chancellor (George Osborne) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Harriet Harman) earlier today.
My first observation was that, during my brief hiatus from the world of current affairs, I clearly haven’t missed much.
The second, highly disturbing observation, came when somebody in the production team decided that it would be a good idea to superimpose Ed Miliband’s face onto the body of Aidan Turner (the actor currently portraying Ross Poldark in the new TV drama of the same name). Sadly, I don’t have a copy of it here…
I’m sure I don’t need to insult your intelligence by making any obvious comparisons between the two men and, after all, it was an attempt to poke light-hearted fun at the Labour Leader in what can be taken as a flattering comparator overall. Apparently, after his recent visit t’up north to our friends over the border in Scotland, Mr Miliband is being hailed as a comeback king. Before, he was less ‘Rob Roy’ and more ‘Rab C. Nesbitt’. Now, he’s somewhere in between.
But, enough of that.
The serious discussion revolved around the Conservative’s plan to end inheritance tax being applied to family homes worth up to £1 million, from 2017. Naturally, Harriet Harman made it clear that this sort of policy is another way of benefiting the few rather than the many. On this point, I am inclined to agree with her.
I believe that the mark of any decent society is the way in which it treats the most vulnerable in that society.
A few examples:
Incapacity benefit? You don’t cut corners on providing help to those most in need unless you’re a miserly git. Therefore, look elsewhere to make your economic austerity cuts and stop pretending that everyone who makes a claim is a rotten apple or “putting it on.” What kind of idiot would think that anyone would prefer to struggle through life, incapacitated?
Benefit cheats? Bog off with your arguments about young girls having babies when they shouldn’t. Sure, I agree that if you have the luxury of choice, planning, a stable relationship and secure finances, planning is usually a great idea before dropping a little loveable bomb into your household. I also agree that, in ordinary circumstances, people should be responsible for their actions wherever possible. But that’s not always the case and comfortable, middle-class people like me shouldn’t go around wagging their fingers. You know why? Because you’re looking at it from the wrong direction. It’s not about spending money on the girl who had the baby. It’s about spending money on the child who was born.
Why should any child suffer poverty because society decided it didn’t like their parents?
Immigration? Yeah, you’ve guessed it, I’m liberal here too. Isn’t it so nice and comfortable to have been born in the United Kingdom? How mind-boggling it must be, for some people to imagine having been born in a war-torn society, or a very poor one, where the things that we take for granted are called ‘luxuries’. Were the shoe on the other foot, might we not wish to take advantage of the opportunities and lifestyle available in the UK, to help our families, or simply to survive? I think it’s obvious that we would. So, I think we need less xenophobic, knee-jerk reactions to the statistics on immigration. We’ve still got enough space, after all, but it would be helpful to focus on the many existing projects which try to help people to integrate – from both sides of the fence. You hear some people saying that there aren’t enough jobs to go around. Maybe true in certain areas of the country, but I won’t proclaim the truth or falsity of this given (a) I’m not a statistician and (b) many statistics are open to manipulation, depending on your point of view. What I will say is this: however hard you think you’ve got it in the UK, it’s a lot harder growing up without any safety net at all. No benefits, no healthcare, nothing. Oh, and bombs might rain down at any time, depending on your country of origin.
Think about it.
I should perhaps mention, at this point, that I am a white British woman, born and bred in the UK for as far back as the genealogy charts stretch. My family has experienced ups and downs, but mostly ups in the grand scheme of things. I am open about the fact that I have been afforded an excellent education and all of the perks which follow that. But this is precisely why I feel that we should be more open-armed. Without these advantages, my life might have been very different. If the very least I can do is hand over a chunk of tax to benefit those who have not been so fortunate, or who are striving to better themselves or their families, then I will gladly do it. Sharing is caring, people.
In summary, even if the result of any given policy (from any of the major parties) would benefit me and my family on an individual basis, I believe it is a better thing to consider what this would mean for the growing so-called ‘underclass’ in British society today. I might have a few extra quid to go for an expensive meal, but knowing the possible costs to other people in this country, the food might choke me.
Now, to end on a considerably lighter note, Poldark is showing tonight at 9pm on BBC1. I have at least two thousand words of Sycamore Gap to write, before I can lounge in front of the TV again, guilt free.
Catch you later!