Jack Monroe writes about how her experience of poverty has affected her mental health and her personality. She is not the person she was, not the woman she could have been, because of the stress and trauma of poverty. This is something I have witnessed first-hand. I grew up around a man shaped by the harsh realities of poverty in the 30s and 40s in Kilmarnock. My grandfather ‘never missed a day of work.’ Rain, hail, or shine, hungover, sick, and – latterly – dying he got up and went to the garage where he worked fixing car engines.
We left school with this now ingrained assumption: That we were at the bottom of the hierarchy, that by our nature we were inferior, and that we could never escape our predestined and natural place in a world that was owned and managed by our superiors. Looking back, it troubles me the most that this was done to us by our fellow Scots; by men and women who daily made it their business to correct our Scots language – or, as they called it, our ‘bad English’ – and whose greatest ambition was to be thought of as British.
We can’t defend the indefensible. The Church in Ireland and all around the world failed children and vulnerable people. There was – and to a great extent remains – a culture of abuse within the structures of the Church. The sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of children in the care of Church authorities was a terrible wrong, but the scandal was far worse; it was the abuse of power on the part of an ecclesiastical hierarchy that protected abusers and covered up their abuse – often shielding them, by the use of canon law among other things, from civil justice.
Taking the fight to the Scottish National Party with the spectre of dead babies is the nuclear option of scare tactics. No fear will strike parents so close to the bone as this threat will. Every parent – every decent human being – who reads it will get it. They will understand the warning: That they will be complicit in the deaths of defenceless little babies if they lend their support, their votes, to the SNP and to the independence movement. Like the dull ring of a funeral bell, the message is unmistakable.
In Scotland we are blessed to see some of that genuine goodness being done by a Scottish government eager to make a difference in a nation that has suffered long at the hands of a self-serving and negligent London government.
A concert venue packed to the gunwales with kids, teenagers, and parents having the time of their lives, targeted and bombed. Twitter was full of images of happy looking youngsters, pictures taken from their social media profiles, with words begging a helpless internet to help find them; asking us to tell them to call home, to check in.
Verbal abuse is violence, and can often be every bit as harmful as physical violence. It is important that we are clear on this point before we proceed. James Heappey, MP for Wells in Somerset, made the headlines for telling a Scottish schoolgirl to “fuck off back to Scotland.”
Austerity in the United Kingdom has managed to plumb such entirely new depths that we can be sure now we are talking to beasts – people whose moral compass is so skewed their policy decisions can only be considered an affront to human dignity.