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Thursday, 3 July 2014

The inconvenient poor

A letter a day to number 10. No 788.

Friday 04 July 2014. The inconvenient poor.

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Dear Mr Cameron,

I had a rare outing today to meet up with a fellow creative artist, a documentary film maker. We met in Bath, a somewhat surreal setting for me, the urban, city, equivalent of fields of plenty. It was a convenient meeting place and a very poignant one to discuss politics and the inconvenient poor surrounded by the carefree bustle and busy-ness of consumer life. Ice creams were much in evidence and black caped graduates, the weather was sunny as were, it seemed, most of the passing faces of those I observed.

As an fairly recent émigré from London to rural Somerset, I have found a space far from bustling crowds which have always been a cause of extreme discomfort to me. Choosing a career in vocational work rather than the career ladder I have never had access to excess, disposable, income, nor any interest in the world of consumerism. I grew up in a world in which enough was as good as a feast and where the struggle was always to have enough, where money worries were and are constant and the idea of plenty was simply that, an idea.

Bath city centre is a very good example of an epicentre of commercial and consumer life, the poor and the homeless are unwelcome and Big Issue sellers are tolerated and largely ignored by most.

Returning home one of the first things I came across was a article in the Stoke Sentinel of starving children going through rubbish bins on the streets of Fenton searching for scraps of food waste. In the article one resident complained, "Some days on the school run we have had to actually cross over the road because there's so much rubbish on the pavement because of this. Luckily I keep my bins to one side so we haven't been too badly affected. But it's a real problem that people in this area are really concerned about."

There's the social disconnect writ large, Mr Cameron, the resident was seemingly not so concerned that there are starving children on the streets but that they created a mess looking for food scraps and inconvenienced the school run. As prime minister of the sixth richest country in the world, I am watching us plummet back to the values of Victorian Britain and, as we saw at Westminster, that the poor should be shuffled off and should not presume to confront the dignity of 'decent' society.

There's no room for urchins in your world, is there Mr Cameron? Even though you and your government are creating them.


 — inPeasedown Saint John.

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