Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas. And God bless us all, every one

Ah, Christmas and the season of goodwill to all men. Brilliant stuff. You know, Tiny Tim saying ‘God bless us all, every one’ and all that. 

For instance, God bless the half million people in Britain who are dependent on food banks, including 170,000 kids. Or the steadily growing number of Britons who are homeless, including 60,000 kids. God Bless them all because no one in authority’s going to do anything about them, anytime soon.

There were only 40,000 using food banks back in 2010, when the current government took office. It warned us that there would have to be sacrifices to deal with the crisis facing the country. We had to get the deficit down, along with public debt. And whatever needed to be done to make that happen, had to happen.

And it has. Benefits have been cut for people who have a spare room, which helps explain the growing numbers of homeless people, who can’t afford to pay the rent any more.

To reduce the invalidity benefits bill, rules on medical assessments have been tightened to the point where 1300 people found fit to work have died shortly afterwards. More generally, half the total number deemed capable of working and therefore denied benefits, have failed to find jobs.

It’s been tough. But you don’t make omelettes without breaking eggs.

Not that there’s been much of an omelette, really. Debt keeps growing. The deficit’s still not under control and more cuts are on the way. Though growth is back, it’s at a level which would have been regarded as anaemic ten years ago.

Still, there’s been some success. The tax on top incomes has been reduced from 50% to 45%, for instance, guaranteeing that we can hang on to some of the fine people who were in charge when the crisis first broke, and not lose them to some miserable tax haven. And who would want to part with them?

David Cameron in Christmas mood
with a load of balls to back him up
Tough times still lie ahead.But it’s Christmas now, so why think of them? David Cameron and George Osborne are no doubt surrounded by their families and their friends (but are they really their friends? I mean, would they be without the tax breaks?) in their pleasant houses and with their elegant tables. They’re certainly not wasting any thought on anything so unpleasant or discordant as kids without food or a roof over their head.

I mean, their colleague Iain Duncan-Smith, the Minister in charge of benefits, refuses even to meet the people who run the food banks. He may be a champion of denial, but surely he only reflects an attitude that runs through the government? You know – we can’t do anything about poverty, the poor will always be with us, and we’re even making rather a lot more of them, so why spoil the holiday season by thinking about them? 

In what Cameron likes to think of as a basically Christian country, surely mere charity allows our leaders to take a break from painful thoughts of those sad people out there.

Anyway. This is the Christmas season. Our fine Conservative ministers are raising their glasses to each other. So let me raise mine and wish you all a merry Christmas.

As for the poor. Well, we asked God to bless us all. Every one. Surely he can look after them?


Anonymous said...

A little anger at Christmas is much preferable to the false bonhomie that I have always execrated.

David Beeson said...

The bonhomie is indeed worth a little gentle qualification, isn't it?

Leonard Beeson said...

I thought Christmas was all about angry bonhomie, just as Ash Wednesday is all about frightful annoyance.