Stewart Paterson: Here we go again , blaming poverty on the poorest

·5-min read
Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

IT is that time again when someone blames poverty on the poor.

In times of crisis, you never have to wait too long before someone, almost certainly someone who has never contemplated using a food bank, tells people you can live on even less than the insulting amount you are expected to.

This time it is an MP who has caused a bit of controversy by suggesting people who can’t afford food or their rocketing gas and electric bills need to learn cooking and budgeting skills.

READ MORE: Stewart Paterson: Why must poorest pay for cost of living crisis when others get rich

No doubt some people could benefit from a little guidance but there are many people, in all sorts of income brackets, who could do with a bit of budgeting and cooking help.

Where he has got it spectacularly wrong, is in thinking that batch cooking and knowing how to use a pocket calculator is somehow going to help with the cost of living crisis.

The problem with people unable to afford food and heating isn’t that people can’t budget, it’s that that they don’t have enough to budget with.

As often happens when people are struggling and many are in the grip of desperation, we have someone who can afford to ride out the crisis, telling those who can’t it is their own fault.

In this case, Lee Anderson, Conservative MP, telling people if only they weren’t so stupid, they could make their meagre income stretch so much further.

Does he not realise that often it is the people who have the least who are often those who have the best budgeting skills.

READ MORE: Fuel poverty ready to rocket in Glasgow when bills rise

Parents working miracles to feed children and send them to school with clean clothes ans shoes and keep on top of household bills.

People juggling several jobs, often working unsociable hours on minimum wage to keep their heads above water.

Then, when a shock hits and heads go under, we inevitably get people, like Mr Anderson, telling people they can feed a family with pasta and peas for pennies a day, if only they knew how.

The problem is not people unable to manage their poverty, the problem is people being forced to live in poverty in the first place.

For people like Lee Anderson poverty is a choice made by those who are experiencing it.

Poverty is a choice but it is a political choice of those in power to consign so many people to it.

The problem is an unacceptably unequal society where the difference between rich and poor is not a gap but a gulf.

We have a political class, headed up by a number of people who see themselves as born to govern and a seat in the commons is their right.

Unfortunately, they are in charge at a time when a cost of living crisis is threatening to engulf millions of people.

Those in poverty are getting poorer, pushed, not falling, deeper into financial oblivion, anxiety, desperation and many towards suicide.

Others, who have built up a modest cushion are looking at savings that took years to grow being wiped out in a year or two just to keep the heating on, to protect the profits of oil and gas companies.

Others are contemplating selling houses to use equity to pay for the rising cost of living.

At the other end of this society there are those who never have to worry about where the next state banquet is coming from.

At the pinnacle, above the political elite is the head of state, who will celebrate the longest reign, this summer and which will be celebrated by millions of people who have paid for the institution.

A few days ago, Prince William and Kate Middleton visited Glasgow and took in a project that helps people in need of support.

It is a project, one of many that housing associations like Wheatley Group have been running, to help people at risk of homelessness and to cope with the cost of living crisis.

The point of the Royal visit, I am still trying to work out.

Was it to help the people who were in need and, if so, how?

Or was it perhaps to promote the Royal brand in Glasgow and Scotland.

As is often the case with these events there is an imbalance in who gets the greatest benefit.

Some would argue that is the relationship the people and society has with the country’s most famous family overall.

We are witnessing a transitioning period where the country is being prepared for a change in the monarchy.

We are moving from an era of Queen Elizabeth to her eldest son and in turn his son preparing to take over the family head of state business.

The visit of the Cambridges, or Strathearns as they are in Scotland, came in the same week as a milestone moment for the Prince’s father, as Charles sat on a gold throne - in front of unelected Lords taking hundreds of pounds a day in public money - where he outlined how his mother’s government intended to deal with the cost of living crisis.

An heir to the throne, reading a script how a government of multi-millionaires, and a party of opportunists that has been using the covid pandemic to line their own pockets, is going to help people with nothing.

But yes, if only those using foodbanks would pay a bit more attention when it comes to budgeting and cooking.

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