A Tale Of Two Daves (the full response to Cameron thinking he’s a firefighter).

 

  


When I was a little girl, I would sit waiting near the front door after I finished my breakfast, waiting for my Dad to come home. A key in the lock, and I would run to hug a man who reeked of smoke and petrol and boot polish, a man who sometimes came home quiet and shaken, and didn’t often talk about his working days and nights.

 

I overheard glimpses of conversation, tiny babies carried lifeless down ladders, a mum found dead in bed with her children cuddled in close and an ashtray on the bedroom floor. A man trapped in a burning caravan, his charred corpse found huddled and clawing at the door. The burning buildings loomed large in fitful nightmares, and to me, my dad was a hero. As were his watch, a loud group of muscular men who we would visit on weekends, share a cup of tea with in the mess room, as they scooped away the lads mags and flung an extra few mugs on the table. 

 

I grew up in the Fire Service, running around Southend Fire Station knee high to men who would later become my colleagues as I eventually joined myself, to work in the Control room answering emergency calls and dispatching appliances; a job much harder and more demanding than the in-house joke of ‘the girls on the phone’. Many didn’t last, a revolving door of new recruits entertaining the stalwarts with 20 years service, as staying up for 15 hours to keep your wits about you as a dying woman shrieked down the phone isn’t for everyone. People died, screaming and terrified, in my ear, in unforgiving Sennheiser audio, as I calmly delivered instructions to try to guide them to safetySeven years later, and those screams never leave you. Many more people were saved, with authoritative direction, with empathy, with logic, level-headedness, by guiding them onto the floor where the smoke would have cleared, to crawl to a window, soothing them up and onto the ledge while a colleague sent radio messages to the firefighters en route to tell them exactly where to throw their ladders. We waited on the other ends of phones in silence as a woman in her 80s jumped from a third floor, for the radio message from the crews that she was alive. Lungs full of smoke and a broken leg, shocked and shaking and sobbing, but she was alive. 

 

People accuse me of being hard around the edges sometimes. Abrupt. Military. I want to ask them, is it any wonder? My other half recognises what she calls ‘fire mode’, at football stadiums, festivals, crowded train stations and clubs, I harden, eyes flickering everywhere seeking out dangers, fire exits, mentally working out capacities and potential hazards. I still stroll into busy roads to nonchalantly hold up traffic so the children can cross. And now, David Cameron thinks he can do that job. “Sometimes I feel like a firefighter,” he said. “We’ve been putting out a blaze in this building and there is Ed Miliband coming round day after day – the man who set the fire there in the first place – complaining we’re not putting it out fast enough.”

 

My dad, who retired last year after over 25 years service to Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, made his views very clear.

 

“We get less than £28,000 a year to work 15 hour shifts, and five weekends out of seven. We pay 1/6 of our pay into a pension with less than a 20% chance of getting out what we put in due to premature deaths.

 

“We manoeuvre around pitch black buildings in temperatures that make our skin boil. Recovering dead kids, dead adults,attending coroners courts.

 

“Compare that to £200k a year, free accommodation, freetransport, a full pension and a £1m book deal when you leave for sitting on your a**e talking b******s. Cameron, a firefighter? Don’t make me laugh.”

 

But none of us were laughing. Not Dad, not me, not Andy from West Mids who writes the Utopian Fireman blog, and certainly not the FBU.

 

As part of the application process, hopeful future firefighters are given a list of personal qualities and attributes (abbreviated as ‘PQAs’ in that everything’s-an-acronym way seemingly unique to uniformed services) and asked to give comprehensive recent examples of fulfilling them. I guess it’s unreasonable to expect new recruits to know how to correctly lift a ladder onto a fire appliance or the right way to run a hose, so they’re there to assess character and potential against a cookie-cutter model of the kind of person who can withstandsweating their skin off in burning buildings, being attached by a rope to the anyone else on your watch and ensuring they get in and out alive despite whatever personal feelings you might have or that they beat you at volleyball yesterday. It’s to weed out the wheat from the chaff, and the process is brutal. In one service, all forms filled in in blue pen went straight in the bin. Across the top was the small instruction: “Please fill this form in in block capitals and black ink.” A person in HR offered the explanation: ‘If they can’t follow a simple instruction, this isn’t the right job for them.’

 

So, David, give me an example of treating people fairly and ethically, as prospective firefighters are asked to do? Oh yeah, cutting the Housing Benefit from parents who use a small spare bedroom to store their profoundly disabled child’s hoists and chairs and specialist equipment. Job Centre sanctions for the woman who didn’t attend her appointment because she was in hospital. And one for the mother of an autistic child who had a breakdown just before they left the house, for good measure. And one for the wheelchair user late to his appointment because his Job Centre didn’t have a wheelchair-accessible toilet, so he had to leave and find one nearby or risk soiling himself in his interview.

 

How about an awareness of the community and understanding its needs? Like closing SureStart children’s centres, not only depriving working parents of a good childcare resource so they could go and do their jobs, but taking twenty people at a time out of employment and onto the dole, with less money to spend in their local communities, and adding to the pool of people applying for a small amount of jobs. 

 

Accepting accountability for your own actions? ‘Labour spent all the money and we’re cleaning up the mess’ just doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid. Try harder.

 

How about considering immediate and wider objectives and implications and planning ahead. Cutting, sorry, “capping” benefits means people have less money to spend on their basic living essentials, and end up at the doors of food banks. Any idiot could have predicted that, so why does it seem to come as news to the Prime Minister?

 

And finally, awareness of the impact of changes to the Fire and Rescue Service? I imagine a silence as the PR-brain flails, furiously trying to spin the closures of fire stations, loss of frontline staff, longer response times unravelling years of Community Fire Safety initiatives as all the ‘getting your finger out’ to test your smoke alarm won’t save you if when you need that fire service, it’s too far away. It takes sixty seconds to lose consciousness from smoke inhalation. Every minute counts. Every closed fire station, every appliance taken ‘off the run’ because of unfilled vacancies and skeleton crews, counts. As the old Fire Brigades Union campaign slogan told us, Cuts Cost Lives. Images of firefighters on picket lines, rightly protesting that under new proposals they will be subject to the same fitness requirements at 60 as they were at 18, and will be sacked for failing to meet them.

 

London Fire Brigade recently released an advertisement for trainee firefighters. Thousands of people will apply for around 12 new jobs. Would Cameron get in? Based on his record, in the words of my father, “I wouldn’t have him on a Fire Station even cleaning the windows on the appliances, the t****r.”


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


(An abridged and less sweary version of this article is on the Guardian website.)

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Categories: Blog

66 Comments »

      • as someone who has to go to food banks for obvious reasons, I really hope and prey they dont get in again, I’m not sure another 5 years of toryis achievable..waiting in trepidation, many thanks for your posts Jack

      • I would far rather an honest firefighter ran the country than any Tory, ever again. Respect to your father, Jack.

      • I felt that this should probably start making the rounds (again):

        I believe you’ll possibly find the diction to your liking, Lady Jack and may even feel it’s worth sharing 🙂

        Hope you feel better soon, plus that you & lil one remain well.

        o:)
        ~x~

      • * ~ Hello again, Lady Jack… Glad that you appear to be feeling much better today 🙂

        I noticed something else you mentioned elsewhere… I am sure I shared it with you a while ago before (even if temporarily) but you may have missed it.
        I’ll leave it here for your additional knowledge and benefit:

        http://naturalingredient.org/?page_id=245

        Please read entire article as it does have a cautionary note.
        Incidentally, in regards to the caution… Soaking a support bandage in salt water and wrapping it around the affected area, will have a similar beneficial effect, without the potential risk.
        It’s been known about for ages… Can you guess why it’s no longer actually ‘common knowledge’ though?
        😛

        Anyway… Hope it helps, share it as you wish please (eases my workload…).

        You, lil one and all Truly Loved ones stay well, Lady Jack.

        o:)
        ~x~

    • Do you think Cameron is running the country? I think he’s just providing money and jobs for the boys, skewing the economy to suit the bankers and the non doms and screwing the poor. The country is fragmenting, the services are going to the dogs in the shires, with my local police force struggling to maintain a presence in my town, the train service running a scan 2-3 hourly service to take us 16 minutes to our nearest big town (only during the day) and a complete lack of buses to take people in my town to the town where all the council services are housed. Compare that to the life in London and it seems like a differen country and a different century. He’s run our industries and our welfare state into the ground, and now he’s going after the big bucks in the NHS, selling off contracts and money which should be going into services into the hands pof big business. If you ask me, most firemen could do a better job.

    • I don’t know Jack, or her Dad, but I’d rather he was in charge of running this country than that trash, Cameron. Jack, this article has me in tears here, just so you know.

    • Dave the PM has a BA Honours degree. So do countless others. He is the son of eye-wateringly rich parents and has a royal connection. Most don’t. I would wager though that most people – with or without Honours degrees but with solid experience of life and people – would change this antiquated, unequal and corrupt political system for the better and then run the country a damn sight more competently.

  1. Honest. Blunt. Heartfelt. As always Jack, thank you.
    Join the real world Cameron. But look at the other options… Despairing, voter, mother, teacher.

  2. I’ll be on the doorstep of the Voting Station when it opens desperate to cast my vote in the hope of getting this lot out. I’m in a marginal constituency so I’m very much hoping to contribute to Dave’s career change!

  3. Your dad is the true hero. Call me Dave wouldn’t know one if he tripped over them. Yes, he had his disabled son Ivan treated with dignity by the NHS, but despite all the money, the service he raves about is still going to be privatised by the back door.

    Does he care about the ambulance service that gets the patients to the hospitals? The police? Cutting and slicing into budgets? No. Any more than he “cares? about the Fire Service.
    If his own house wherever (because hopefully No10 Downing St or Chequers won’t be his for much longer) caught fire, wouldn’t he be counting the seconds till people like your dad arrived to deal with the blaze?
    All he has had to go through to give people their lives back from what can be salvaged in the devastation.
    Like the soldiers who defend our country as best they can, your dad, and his friends and colleagues should be applauded, given the wages and conditions they so rightly deserve.
    Let Cameron play with with words all he likes. He will fall flat on his arson.
    Long live the TRUE firefighters and nurses, doctors, police, soldiers etc.

  4. Hi Jack,
    Good post but would any of the Political Leaders get in? I think we know that would be a big fat no! Can any MP’s be trusted?
    My local labour MP lost after 13 years in the seat(1997-2010) and the first thing said in this election was we would loss our local hospital! So the neighbours were all up for voting the conservitive out until we googled to find that not only wasn’t the hospital closing but the conservitive MP had worked with the local Labour run council to help get the funding to have it rebuilt along with new homes and a new school on the grouds. So Ed has shot his self in the foot with that one. Also should have put someone new up for the seat as this one voted in favour of the Iraq War, claimed council tax and mortgage for 2 homes on MP’s expenses and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Do these political numpties not know we google/check the internet on what they say and do? Last MP we could trust from any party was the late Tony Benn.

  5. As per Cameron has no idea how hard real people work and live. My mum has been a nurse since she was 17, working incredibly hard caring for the living and dying. Is she fairly compensated? Nope. Bet Cameron wouldn’t clean up other people’s bodily fluids, risk exposure to swine flu, tb, Ebola and other diseases to help people stay alive every day.
    Growing up a huge number of my relatives, friends’ parents etc worked in front line services and they worked damned hard.
    Cameron needs a serious reality check.
    Jack’s dad for PM!

  6. Police, firemen, armed services all have my admiration, we would be stuffed if no one was brave enough and caring enough to enter any of these services, today’s MP’s no longer serve the people who vote them in they serve themselves, yes there still are a few who try but they are in the minority, as for DC can’t even bring myself to write his name, he doesn’t care it’s all the rich for the rich the rich whilst the rest of us struggle to make ends meet

  7. keep telling it like it is Jack. There are too many good-hearted people out there who live in a bubble of priviledge and *cannot imagine* what’s really going on because it seems too far-fetched. Unfortunately the spin merchants tend to win because ordinary voters find it more comfortable to follow them. we need more people like you telling the truth and fewer doses of ‘Benefits Street’. And that’s not counting all the people who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

  8. I agree with everything you say, I couldn’t have put it better if I had tried for a month of Sundays. May I just add that Mr Cameron thinks that public sector workers ‘are not in the real world’, most Tories think this I find . As a recently retired local government worker I can assure him that we were definitely in the real world of poverty, hopelessness and despair. We saw it every day and couldn’t put things right due to lack of resources. Jack, long may you carry on with your good work and more power to you !

  9. What CaMoron said is so patronising. My Dad was a Policeman until his retirement, so I can empathise with a lot of what you’ve said.
    This country doesn’t need overpaid ex public schoolboys. It needs a regular person from an average background, working for the average person, rather than against them.

  10. Brilliant!! No one understands except others in the same line of work. You can’t know what it’s like til you’ve been there. I still have that “high alert” reaction after 13 years retired. And of course I have the memories.

  11. You failed to point out the most important difference between your dad Dave and the man running your country. Your dad Dave is a real human being. He has empathy for his fellow human beings, he puts himself out there in order to save lives. The man running your country might also be called “Dave” but he is a Narcissist who intrinsically values himself above the masses. Your Dave might not be qualified to run the country, but then we all know that no figurehead of state does. At least your Dave would have the compassion to listen to those masses that he purports to be representing…

  12. Well said from another Fire Station brat. My dad was on the London Fire Brigade. I was born at Isleworth Fire Station

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  13. Jack,

    More appreciation for the way you make the politicians casual statements relevant to the real work force.

    To be fair, I wouldn’t want the job of either Dave, because both are thankless, exhausting and really affect lives deeply. The difference being: one Dave saved lives where possible, and the other doesn’t even appear to appreciate the work required to do that.

    P.S. Your Dad shouldn’t even consider getting out of retirement to prove anything to anybody!

  14. The mental and physical strength of firefighters is incredible. Their ability to face those things to help others, despite the risk to themselves, puts them so far above people like Cameron that it would be like the difference in scale and intensity between the sun and a lightbulb. Your dad would get my vote.

  15. Brilliant Jack. You can tell it’s from someone in the know so to speak.
    I have to say I’m from Down Under and I was comparing your critique to the current moron we have the misfortune to have as PM here.
    Oh, did I say comparing? I meant *matching*. At least hopefully Cameron and his gang will get turfed soon!

  16. Just as an aside… it appears that one of the words *** out is “bullocks”? Is that really such an offensive word in the U.K.? Forgive my ignorance, but being an Australian born to English parents bullocks still seems to me to be a pretty run-of-the-mill, synonymous word for rubbish?
    Like “Don’t worry about what they say…it’s all bullocks anyway”. ?

  17. Great article Jack from an Aussie. You can have our volunteer fireman Mr Abbott if you like. I believe that he was born in England. Cheers and keep up the good work.

  18. Trouble is, ordinary people, doing extraordinary jobs (like you and my daughter who is a nurse and a load of other jobs) is that you are too busy picking up the mess that the politicians have made to go into politics. I’m a carer for my oldest son who has learning disabilities and an ASD. I never in a million years thought that by the age of 25, he’d still need the support he does. I can’t go to the shops and leave him on his own, because if anyone ws to come to the door, he would let them in if that person said “oh, mum said it was ok”. Likewise, I can’t stay in the house and send him – he might get to our local shops, but no surety that he would get back, with what he was sent for.

  19. Well said Jack. As the mother of a Fire-fighter I know well the long silent face when they have had a bad shout. Give me a long service Fire-fighter in number 10 any day He’d have my vote.

  20. Well my former son in law has just quit his job as a firefighter, after 7 years full time and 5 as a reserve – he was so highly motivated and thrived on the camaraderie but the cuts and “reforms” (lauded by Boris, yes Dave and George’s other Eton mate) forced him to reconsider his priorities. So all that training, skills, knowledge, experience – 100% commitment – counts for naff all. Plenty more people out there, desperate for a job at any price – so the Tories are laughing. But what on earth do you do when, like me, you live in a place where it has only ever been a 2 horse race as betwixt Tory & Lib dems? Rather stick pins in my eyes than vote tactically for the latter to kick out the former.

  21. Someone’s got to have the guts to offer a word of dissent here. Although there are a lot of fair points in Jack’s article and in some comments, the left-wing bias is all too obvious, in the article and comments. Do no tories,liberals,ukippers take an interest in Jack’s blogs? If they do,why no counter-comments? So it’s left to me to ask of all the left-wing commenters,what makes you think “tories are laughing ” about cuts or whatever,that all tories are enemies of “what?” – the workers,the unemployed,the disabled or whatever group you feel are being badly treated by society/politicians? A large proportion of decent,empathetic people would describe themselves as conservative,so why demonise them all? My partner is disabled and living on benefits,so obviously I want to see him well looked after. Both he and I have recently needed a fair amount of medical support. So obviously I want the National Health Service to be well resourced. But I do know money does not grow on trees. Other people in the community,many not earning a great deal, are helping to pay for these social benefits.If you do not have a great deal of money,you know you sometimes have to make dreadful choices on how you spend your money.Not being able to spend enough on fuel or heating or cutting back on what is spent on food. Many solve their dilemma by getting horribly in debt . The Government’s dilemma is not much different. Essentially they have a pot of money and have to try to prioritise and allocate it sensibly to cover all the services we expect and all groups in society from children to pensioners.Obviously,for years there has been insufficient money available in the pot,otherwise why would recent governments ,both Labour and Conservative,still have to borrow money every year to top up the budget and why have we accumulated such an enormous national debt,which,if we are not careful will be passed on to our children and grand-children? The truth is that for years, as a country we have been living beyond our means ,spending more on all sorts of things which we could not really afford.Getting out of debt is painful but,as a nation we have to do it. Of course ,the arguments then start on where we can cut and how quickly. The politicians and the public will inevitably have different opinions about those issues. But do we need to tear each other apart because we do favour different solutions? As for suggesting that the country could be run by most firemen or whatever other man in the street ,what nonsense! I have a cousin who has been both a policeman and a fireman. Lovely,kind man ,probably courageous – I don’t know how he performed at work – but I do know there is no way he would have the mental calibre or commitment and many of the mental qualities or experience to do the job, and nor would the vast majority of people I know,even the most intelligent and capable.I know the level of responsibility would do for me.Look what happened to the Co-operative Society,of which I am an ordinary member,because its chief executive and its board of governors was full of people with good socialist credentials and dedication to the co-operative movement but little economic or minimal managerial expertise.What a mess these well-intentioned people got us into.Even amongst professional,experienced politicians there are few of them who could make the grade. Ed Milliband,for example,has said he knows he is the best man for the job. Doesn’t suggest there are lots of other colleagues who rate the job. Alan Johnson,who does have working-class credentials and is highly-rated apparently turned down the possibility of leading Labour. We don’t know why, but obviously you have to be up for it. People point out the flaws in David Cameron,so he isn’t perfect either. The same for Clegg or Farage or whatever. How is it that their colleagues, who have a much greater chance of weighing them up,assessing their abilities and deciding if they are of prime ministerial calibre, can’t come up with anyone better. Perhaps the most suitable candidates ARE all in the Fire Service but the point is they have not put themselves forward for the job,so that’s not much help.

    I also can’t understand why we have to show such personal hatred towards any of the politicians,just because we don’t approve of their policies or don’t like their looks or personalities or whatever, or the fact that they come from backgrounds of privilege – wealth or private education. There’s a whiff of jealousy and spite in a lot of this anti-feeling. Is it their fault,anymore than it’s the fault of people born into poverty and educated into the state system? (Dare I mention that destroying the grammar school system has prevented a lot of working class children bettering themselves? ) None of the political parties get things totally right in my opinion. There have been times when I have been so fed up with all political parties that I have abstained from voting.But,if one is honest,almost every party has some item of policy which seems sensible or necessary Occasionally I have changes sides. I voted Labour one time purely to try to see the end of fox-hunting! In the end one in elections has to try to opt for the lesser evil. But as with everything else in life it would be very strange if we all agreed on the same thing.

    I suppose a bit of passion is useful in politics. Too much apathy would not be good for the democratic process. However,I do think we should be able to be civilised with one another . We need also to stop stereotyping everyone in political terms. Some years ago I attended a demonstration against a Boxing Day Hunt. The anti- group were well-behaved and civil though making their point with posters and some conversations with members of the hunt. I was furious when one of the pro-hunting contingent came over verbally abusing us and “accusing” us all of being spiteful socialists motivated by class issues. At the time I regarded myself as “Tory” ,so was really annoyed and chased after him through a melee of horses and pro supporters to give him a piece of my mind.I was really angered that he thought that only socialists could be against blood sports and that the hunt protesters were not motivated by compassion for animals but by class envy. We may well find a lot of political ground with our so-called political opponents if we engage with them in good humour,trying to understand their reasoning rather than hurling insults at them,writing them off as enemies of the people, “fruitcakes ” or “loonies” or whatever.

    • I’m not saying any fireman could run the country, but my dad certainly could. He’s well read, articulate, intelligent, compassionate, a businessman, with real life experience in the public sector. A foster carer for 25 years as well as a firefighter, has run enormously successful safety initiatives, set up a charity, got an MBE for services to children and families, and above all is kind and just and fair. He is more qualified to hold office than most MPs, I’d wager.
      As for ‘left wing bias’ I publish all comments on my blog except the ones that are gratuitously abusive. There is dissent and disagreement but thankfully not to the extent that there is on my Twitter feed – and I’m grateful for some respite from all the hatred to be honest. I dread the day it all comes here – I get enough on Twitter and facebook.

    • Any political party that cuts so deep to force people to food banks isn’t using the pot of money wisely, they are helping the rich who since this unelected government got into power have nearly doubled their bank balances, that’s not left wing bias that’s fact, I don’t subscribe to any political propaganda I check the facts, those are the cold facts. For anyone wanting to cut through the spin and lies from any party look here https://fullfact.org/ independent and financed by the public, I donated all be it a small amount towards getting the truth in this election.

    • Taking the rise out of the inky swots from Eton has nothing to do with “class envy” – it is merely commentary on the sad fact that we are, in the 21st century, still being ruled – yes ruled -in every important sphere, by the privileged few. Exhorting the rest of us – the vast majority (or the “Great Unwashed” as we are known in their circles) to engage with the likes of Boris to understand his “reasoning” (and you will appreciate he is the master of the crass insult) is, in my ever so ‘umble opinion, on a par with telling a victim of abuse to understand the plight of the perpetrator. And I am no firebrand lefty socialist thingummy – I am just an ordinary person, like you, struggling with the business of everyday life with all its ups and downs. Cameron et al are not nearly so clever and knowledgeable as you think – which one of them is a trained economist do you think? I am sure Jack’s Dad is far more knowledgeable and I’d take my advice from him. There are many wise people like him in our midst who are more than capable of running a country – unfortunately they are rarely the ones who crave that responsibility – or should I say that power. .

  22. Thank you for putting into words what no Firefighter will. I read your article with tears running down my cheeks. After serving nearly twenty five years (twenty four years and a hundred and thirty eight days…), and having been retired now for sixteen years I am appalled at the state of my beloved Fire Service, brought about by meddling fools. It is good to know that there are people like you, and all the comment-makers that have preceded mine, who can put it down “like it is”. Once again, a heartfelt thanks.

  23. And Boris, without whose say-so London wouldn’t have been stripped of so many fire stations, is a selfish prancing prat. How dare he think he should be an MP as well as Mayor of London when he makes such a mess of that?

    Great salvo – hope you’re not running short on ammunition!

  24. I have thought long and hard about what I am about to say, I have no liking for the Tory party and here is why. I’m sorry to put my comments on your page , Jack but when you wrote about trying to feed your child on no money it stirred up feelings from my past. I am nearly 60 so was born when the Tories were in power . I was part of a ‘hard working family ‘, ( Mr C take note). we never had much but we got by, then my father had what we might call an industrial accident. not his fault, he was swiftly taken off to hospital where he stayed for several months . In that time our lives descended into poverty , the welfare state then was even worse than it is now. We lived in a house with no indoor WC, we actually had an earth closet in the garden, no bathroom and the only means of heating was a Rayburn in the kitchen and an open fire in the living room. I had chilblains on my hands and feet because I was so cold, if it hadn’t been for the vegetables that my father had grown in the back garden we would have starved. My mother often had to choose between eating or heating or even putting on lights . She had to beg the Salvation Army for help in paying the rent one week, I know. I was there when she spoke to them. No phone of course so she cycled to see them with me in the baby seat on the back. I ate everything I was given at school meals and asked for seconds or thirds if I could. I drank the morning break milk and again had another bottle if I could wangle one. when my dad recovered he couldn’t go back to his old job as he was permanently disabled and we still had to live on the breadline, it took years before we recovered , by then my mother had died . I often think because she just had not eaten enough for so long. She was always last in the queue to eat. Growing up and into my teens and early adult life I had hoped that life was improving for people in this country. I passed my 11plus, went to Grammar school and university but now what do we have, we have benefit sanctions we have people who have to choose whether to eat or heat,, we have a man who has been in the armed forces , a man with diabetes being sanctioned and being found dead with no food in his cupboards and no electricity in his home. I know others have also suffered in this way.

    I now ask the question, where does common decency come into all of this ? Do we as a nation, a rich nation not some banana republic , do we feel this is right? Is it ok to leave someone destitute , unable to buy food or put money on a fuel card, unable to have the very minimum that I think any decent human being would agree is acceptable. And all of these things are being inflicted on us by people who have never known want . so , no I don’t have any time for the Tory party , I don’t have time for people who have no ‘Christian charity’ , I have no time for people who think that taking 70 odd quid off someone when that is all they have to live on every week is fair and I don’t think it is fair that people in the 21st century in a rich country have to rely on food banks. If the point of government is not to provide shelter and a safety net for those in need then what is it’s point ? This is not a world I want. Can we please have a world which is not ruled by greed?

    Sorry for the rant , but I just wanted people to know why I take the stand I do and why I feel such despair over the state of things . Best wishes to you Jack.

      • sorry Jack, hadn’t wanted to make you cry, just wanted to make others think !

      • Comments like yours Sarah although got me quite choked up also remind me along with Jack and many of her followers there are decent caring human beings, I personally take comfort from that. Today will be spent hoping that the Tories (no not all are bad) don’t get in power again, they intend to make my life even more difficult than it is now ( I’m disabled) and I worry about my mother who out of no where told me last night if they get in power again she’ll be suicidal, this coming from an intelligent level headed woman was quite a shock. I told her we would cope I shouldn’t have to say that to a 71 yr old 😦

  25. I’ve become so much better informed, and involved, in issues in the UK thorough your blog Jack, that now I just wish I was able to cast a vote tomorrow too! Unfortunately our current conservative govt in Australia has another 18 months to run before any opportunity to use our votes here 😦

  26. Plato ,the Greek philosopher, said that the ones who should rule a state should be people who do not want to rule and have to be coerced by their fellow citizens to do so. I think he had a point.People go into politics for a variety of reasons,some selfish and self-seeking,some altruistically thinking how they can work to achieve good things for other people and society as a whole ( or perhaps some mixture of these), but how do we identify them? I am sure that political parties have their fair share of all types. You have only got to remember the scandalous way in which MPs OF ALL PARTIES,abused the expenses system,some really blatantly,justifying what morally no honest,thoughtful could justify,because they managed to exploit the rules yet claim they were acting legitimately according to the rules. Unfortunately this kind of thing,in different guises,happens in all walks of life,not just in the political sphere. We are all flawed,selfish and dishonest to some degree or other. I am not saying that we should passively accept this but how practically do we weed out the “good” politicians from the bad?

    As for the issue of how we stand up for what you believe,those of you who have emphasised political involvement by voting in elections are right to do so. This involvement can operate on all levels. Although I have mostly tended to be right-wing in my beliefs,I believe strongly that all workers should join an appropriate union and be actively involved,attending meetings,in order to help shape policy, and also by serving as reps. or officers serving on committee.I have done all these things since my mid-twenties,throughout my career.I never had the time or energy to be involved in local government but that is equally important and there are lots of other ways one can get involved as lay people in the legal system ,or in the NHS or in education as governors, or in all kind of charitable organisations. If more of us were involved and acting as watch-dogs the less chance there would be of malpractice,corruption or simply incompetence. Unfortunately,most of us haven’t got the energy or courage to devote ourselves to campaigning for years on end for some cause we hold dear without much progress in sight .The truth is that most people prefer “to get back to our sheep”,as Voltaire,the French philosopher said.
    The only thing we can do,I think,is to find small,manageable ways in which we can attempt to support some cause,affect some change or whatever. Contributing to or working for charities is an easy way but speaking up for what you believe in an appropriate way is also valuable.I am not sure that having a good moan or rant in blogs actually hits the target though.For example, one of the things which disturbs many of us at the moment,is the plight of some people who are entitled to benefits but have to wait for some weeks for money to come through or are unreasonably sanctioned for a minor infringement. To me this is unacceptable. There clearly should be some flexible mechanism for correcting this. However,the problem for many well-intentioned people is that ,having no personal experience of the benefits system and its rules, they have no idea what aspect of it is working badly.So,if you do find out what flaws there are in the system which could be corrected,why not write a polite ,well – argued letter to your new M.P. spelling out your concerns about specific weaknesses in the benefits system which any fair-minded person should find unacceptable. One good thing. I’ve convinced myself that I should write.

  27. Do you remember that film DAVE with Kevin Kline where the ‘Joe Public’ double for the president ends up doing a better job that the actual president? Just saying…..

  28. The Left are the same the world over. Spend, spend, borrow borrow, but without any answer to where the ackers are going to come from. Unless Labour have discovered a gold mine under the country which we didn’t know about. Lol. We’re a deeply indebted country, and when this government came in we’d got more going out than we’d got coming in. A fatal haemorrhage. We’re floating in the brown barrel, the cacky keg. The only reason we’re paying the debt off at 2% (and not 4, 5 or 6% like the PIGS) is because we’ve convinced our creditors that we’ll do everything we can to pay that debt off, and the money’s got to come from somewhere. They determine our monetary policy, not the Tories or Dave. The poor are dependent on the rich. The rich pay the bulk of the tax for our public services. The rich put money into the economy. The rich are the employers. Tax the rich heavily and they’ll clear off, as they’ve done over the Channel. Then the poor really are in it up to their necks. We’re a capitalist country. Accept it.

    • Absolutely continue to kill of the disabled and those who struggle to find employment with sanctions, keep the B&B’s full of families with children oh erm no that costs, malnutrition the lack of should shorten their lives with luck, Believe everything that comes from newspapers like the sun, daily mail etc the debt didn’t rise to 1.3 trillion that was a rumour, http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/debt_history never ever deal in facts just political diatribe.

      No some of us will never accept capitalism and this ideologically uncaring cruel Govt as a necessary way of life, it can be fairer.

      sorry its such a rambling reply this scrounging disabled person is in shed loads of pain and pretty p**d off

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