Who will speak for the silent?

From today’s Observer

I have become a small a part of David Cameron’s “big society”. Islington is my corner of London and, contrary to stereotype, latte-slurping, croissant-nibbling liberals do not fill its every street. Around the islands of prosperity laps a grey ocean of poverty. Islington is the eighth-poorest borough in England, with suicide rates that can match the worst in the country. About one-third of its residents are in social housing, although where they will be living after government commissars have cleared the poor from their homes is anyone’s guess.

Local charities had already done what Conservatives and Liberals want them to do and formed a campaign group, Islington Giving, to raise money and volunteers to fill the gaps left by the shrinking state. After writing a few press releases – as I said, my contribution was shamefully small – I have learned that there is little point in leftists denigrating volunteers, particularly if they are scoffing at those who are more willing than they are to give money and time to others.

Public-school conservatives are in power, however, not the left, and their prejudices matter more.

Carry on reading

2 thoughts on “Who will speak for the silent?

  1. With excellent pieces like this one, you certainly are.
    I went through secondary school in remedial english; I left it with two ungraded GCSEs, two G grades and with the others a smattering of varying letters all under C. Eighteen years on, I still haven’t earned over £10,000 a year. And that time is holed with time on the dole.
    Too much, I would say; at a guess, if the amount of time I’ve spent in a civic centre could be rolled into a ball, it would probably be the size of the ones used to wreck such buildings. And my experiences are small in number compared to very many other people’s.
    It is very difficult when you are trying to find accommodation, work, friends – in a sense – a life, in these sorts of circumstances. It shouldn’t have to be said that few like such ways, but if some say they do, you can bet it is only superficially the case.
    A few years ago now, Michael Portillo spent a week living in the house of a supermarket worker with 3 young children. He was tested by what would hardly register with many people. This mother was someone who wanted to do good for her family, but what would she do if she lost her job? It would strike me that she would be upset and would go out trying to get another, not the opposite. In the mean time, though, she would be a doley. This term smacks people about when they are already down. We aren’t all like some of the people met by some people. I’m on £108 a week and glad to be away from the job centre. Just a little time ago, when meeting the eldest daughter from his week in the house, M. Portillo was gladdened to hear how she is now studying history at university. When people haven’t had the advantages of those who would whip them, help is vital indeed.
    Again, an excellent piece.

  2. I don’t see what relevance their schooling has, after all Thatcher went to a grammar school and Major to a comprehensive. But I agree with the rest of the piece.

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