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.
Britain didn’t cause the blight. That was the work of an airborne pathogen that worked its way across northern Europe, Britain, and Ireland from 1844 to 1845. The failure of the potato crop was not Britain’s doing, but the Famine was. Since 1801, with the Act of Union of Britain and Ireland, the British government in London had systematically reduced the economy of Ireland and destroyed its native industries in order to reduce competition. Union with England makes countries poorer because union with England has always been to England’s benefit.
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...
Where one would expect to find compassion in Ms Davidson, even revulsion, what she gives is enthusiastic support to a government that would do this to women who are going through the hell of a psychological misery of which she has painful personal experience. There comes a point in ethical discussion when one can no longer hide behind the trauma of one’s own past when one is inflicting the same and worse on others. Ruth Davidson has passed that point – and this is before we mention the other Conservative policies...
Details of an unpublished report leaked to the press reveal that Theresa May’s government is at present modelling three Brexit scenarios; “mild, severe and Armageddon” – yes, you read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 object lesson here is that we are not powerless in our democracy. We do not need permission to act to safeguard the rights of others and the rights of our nation. In a democracy we elect – as free people – to delegate our power (that’s sovereign power in Scotland) to our chosen representatives. Nowhere does this delegation of sovereign power imply that we have given away our power. We have simply lent it, and we can just as simply take it back.
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.