A letter a day to number 10. No 1,279
Tuesday 08 December 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
The late great Howard Zinn wrote in ‘Our War on Terrorism’: “Let us begin by recognizing that terrorist acts – the killing of innocent people to achieve some desired goal – are morally unacceptable and must be repudiated and opposed by anyone claiming to care about human rights.”
He makes it clear at the beginning of the piece that he was ‘calling it “our” war on terrorism because I (Zinn) want to distinguish it from Bush’s war on terrorism, and from Sharon’s, and from Putin’s.’ In other words, the people’s war on terrorism. That’s a fairly novel idea, that the people have a war on terrorism quite distinct from that pursued my political figures and the media and it is an incredibly important distinction to make. It is a distinction that lies at the heart of protest and activism, the right to peaceful protest, free speech and freedom of expression, those precise rights you are seeking to suppress.
In September this year a coroner demanded that the government take action to ‘prevent future deaths of disability benefit claimants, after concluding in a “ground-breaking” inquest verdict that a disabled man killed himself as a direct result of being found “fit for work”.’
In your ideological war on the poor, the imposition of permanent austerity and the cuts aimed at poor, disabled and vulnerable people, like the bedroom tax and ending the Independent Living Fund, you and your government have wreaked havoc in vulnerable lives and have terrorised them. People talk about the fear of the brown envelope, a fear I am intimately acquainted with, wondering what kind of hideous DWP imposed nightmare they might contain. Worse still is that you pursue these policies without regard for the views, experiences and suffering of ordinary people. We are denied any voice in your pursuit of dismantling all state provision in favour of privatisation. As Polly Toynbee and David Walker put it, “Cameron seized the 2010 “crisis” to realise his ideological ends. By exaggerating the parlous state of national finances, he was able to pursue his longstanding ambition to diminish the public realm. Margaret Thatcher privatised state-run industries; Cameron’s ambition was no less than to abolish the postwar welfare state itself. The Office of Budget Responsibility recently announced Cameron’s victory – by 2018, it forecast, we would have a state the size it was in the 1930s.”
In pursuit of such an ideological goal, the cares and considerations of those affected do not matter, that people are terrorised in the process is entirely predictable and, of course, must be routinely and ideologically ignored, just as they are. Your latest move to ban peers from overturning legislation is entirely necessary because in dismantling the state by deceit (never honestly declared), you must silence all opposition including the second house. That people are driven into poverty, homelessness, despair and death, is just collateral damage and exactly what Zinn was talking about: ‘the killing of innocent people to achieve some desired goal’. That is ‘our’ war on terror.