Cameron – don’t you dare lecture me about poverty!

23_april_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,067

Thursday 23 April 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

In your speech, ‘Making Work Pay’, you talked about, “the heart of the country we are trying to build: One based on the principle of something for something, not something for nothing… where those who put in, get out.” and you went on to reprove Ed Miliband and Ed Balls saying, “So don’t you dare lecture us on poverty”.

Enshrined in the heart of a civilised society, especially one as wealthy as ours, should be support for the least able, the poor, the sick and the disabled; those who are unable to contribute financially into society or even into their own family or to support themselves. People, human beings, who need something for nothing, financially.

I grew up in poverty. When my Father was locked up in a mental asylum my Mother was blasted into poverty. It drove her to the limits of coping and despair, daily unending, unrelenting, worry and fear, leading to nervous breakdowns which broke the family up for periods of time during which I spent time in a brutal children’s home. You will never know what it took for my Mother to hold our family together and nor will you ever know how much, as children, we wanted to save our Mother. In my naïve young innocence I made a solemn oath to my Mother that I would always look after her, little knowing what was in front of me in my own life; a lifetime battle with mental illness.

As children we had no choice about being exposed to the horrors of poverty, despite my Mothers best attempts to shield us from it; like not joining us at the meal table, telling us she had eaten earlier. Yes, Mr Cameron, going without food so that her children could eat. I remember very well cutting up cardboard in the mornings before school to put in my shoes and walking on the sides of my shoes when it rained. I remember Christmases getting handouts of food and presents from the British Legion, my Mother accepting charity which shamed her and tore her heart out, for the sake of her children. Even now, at 64, I am still grateful for the kindness and generosity of those unknown people who unselfishly made our Christmases possible, who informed my life, though (in their kindness) that was not their intention, on what open hearted generosity means, giving something for nothing. I can also never truly thank my Mother for her many sacrifices nor fully understand the pain and suffering she endured for me, to give me life.

You, Mr Cameron, know nothing about poverty, so don’t you lecture me about something for something. As it happens, it was my sister who sacrificed her life to provide a home and support for my Mother until she died. My sister worked like a dog to do that and she vowed that she would never have an empty purse, until now when she herself is too ill and too broken to work. You will never know or understand what poverty means, the enormous price it exacts, the pain and suffering, the tears and sorrow of it. I don’t resent your wealth or your privileged life, but I do resent your presumption and your arrogance and your ignorance which is costing people’s lives. I do not forgive and I will not forget.

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