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.
Modern austerity – entirely designed by the British government – does not have the workhouse, but in many other respects it is the same. Austerity was implemented to exploit the effects of an economic collapse – again, entirely caused by the British state – to make the poorest pay for the excesses of the wealthy, to further reduce the working class, and to hammer a once mighty population into docility and fear. Austerity, like the workhouse in Ireland and the measures of the London government in Scotland during and after the Clearances, typifies the vindictive...
At midnight on Thursday 31 October 2019 our open borders with the European Union will close, the free movement of people will end, and every one of the thousands of agreements and common understandings on trade, security, policing, health and safety, and transport will be irrevocably terminated. On and after 31 October food will not arrive into UK ports from any EU member state until, as a foreign state, the UK has negotiated a new set of trade agreements with Europe – a process which cannot begin until after the UK has left the EU and which may take weeks or months to finalise.
Too many people in the UK seem incapable or unwilling to accept that all of this is a deliberate attack on ordinary people, a series of policies directed at soaking the wealth of society from the bottom to the top. Those who have died of starvation have died as the result of a policy which sees their deaths as nothing more that collateral damage. These same policies think just as little of the rest of us. Even how they speak of people – thinking here of Iain Duncan Smith’s “low value people” – betrays their vicious and avaricious contempt for human beings.
Details of an unpublished report leaked to the press reveal that Theresa May’s government is at present modelling three Brexit scenarios; “mild, severe and Armageddon” – yes, you read that right, “Armageddon.” In the event of a no-deal exit from the European Union – now the most likely outcome of the Article 50 negotiations – the “mild” scenario is a non-starter. Without a trade deal or a contingency plan – which, as yet, does not exist – the UK will be faced with at least a few weeks in which half the basic food and medical demands of the country cannot be met.
Feeding people is of course our number one priority. At a time like this feeding people is in itself an act of rebellion, but the foodbank must be militant – it cannot and must not feed people on a charitable and apolitical basis. It must not simply feed the hungry, but ask why they are hungry. Such a militant movement must use the soup kitchen and the foodbank as the mess halls of a revolution.
The purpose of austerity is to so completely and utterly destroy the ability of ordinary working people to resist the advancement of this government’s neoliberal ambitions. It is where class war gears up into total war; an all-out war of annihilation on the poor by the rich. It is designed and executed in such a fashion so as to fracture the bonds of society, weaken community and class solidarity, break the family, and crush the individual. Brexit – the British establishment’s hoped for break from European regulations – can only make the scope of austerity more far reaching.
Murdo Fraser, like the rest of his smug-faced cronies, is interested to know how many people who voted for the SNP last year will be feeling betrayed today. I think I am in a position to answer that question for them: Precious few. People all over Scotland have turned to the SNP precisely because they are tired with the kleptocracy the Scottish Conservatives in our country represent. Independence has turned out not to be about the “flag waving nationalism” they love to cite, but a boiling desire to make our country the nation Scottish people in growing numbers want it to be.