Dear Prime Minister,
You don’t know me, and there’s no good reason why you should, but I’d just like a quiet word for a couple of minutes, if I can.
I was a journalist for around a quarter of a century – half my life up to that time – until I was made redundant two and a half years ago. Since then I have been unable to find full-time work. I have literally lost count of the number of job applications I have filled out and CVs I have sent.
None of these applications have resulted in an interview for a job. The majority of them didn’t even receive acknowledgement. It’s as if I have ceased to exist.
Now, I don’t suppose you’re familiar with this feeling, or ever will be, but having so many people treat you as if you don’t exist alters the way you feel about yourself. You begin to suspect that perhaps you don’t exist; you begin to tell yourself that perhaps you don’t deserve to exist. You begin to tell yourself that you deserve to be out of work because you just weren’t good enough, that you deserve to stay that way.
I want to work. I need to work. You won’t know quite how that feels, either. I suspect that for you work has been something of a hobby rather than the flat-out necessity it is for me. And I suspect that is why you and your Chancellor and other members of your government have set about demonising the unemployed, the long-term disabled, the working classes.
Casting the disabled, the ill, those who are literally unable to find work no matter how hard they try and how much it destroys their sense of self, as lazy and feckless in order to enact budget cuts in the services they rely on to survive strikes me as mean and cowardly, if you don’t mind my saying so. Governments should act to protect the most vulnerable in society, rather than turning them into sacrificial offerings to an economic policy which may not even work.
I am not lazy or feckless. I am a university-educated man with twenty-five years’ experience in the workplace who would, if he could get past the phrase ‘you will have a proven track-record of…’ in job advertisements, clean toilets rather than continue this nightmare, and I am not alone. There are many of us.
I have, however, become angry at the way you and your government are treating those who need your help and compassion the most.
These are people who, like me, are being treated as if they don’t exist, as if they deserve to be out of work, as if they don’t deserve the benefits and services which would make their lives not only bearable but possible at all. Being told by the government that, in addition to all that, they’re actually part of the problem. Evil jobless. Evil sick people.
It seems to me that, in pursuit of ideology and in desperation for some solution to the economic nightmare we face, you have abandoned common human decency, and I find that quite unforgiveable.
The Automatic Cat