You don’t know me, and frankly it’s hard for me to see why you would ever want to, but if I could take a moment of your time I’d like to introduce myself.
I’m quite a lot older than you. I had already graduated from university when you were still finding your feet at St Paul’s, and by the time you graduated from Magdalen I had already been a working journalist for very nearly a decade. There are more points of difference between us than similarity, not the least being that you have a very good and very well-paid job and I am an unemployed man with no money.
This is not, however, why I’m writing to you today. What I’m actually taking exception to, Chancellor, is the line in your Autumn Statement yesterday where you said – and here I’m afraid I’m having to quote from memory – “We want to be fair for the people who get up and go to work and see the curtains still closed in the houses of their neighbours who are on benefit.”
I addressed a letter a little while ago to your colleague the Prime Minister on the subject of what I regard as a creeping and rather shameful demonisation of the jobless and disabled on the part of your Government. Unless you and your colleagues are simply vicious, hateful people, the only reason I can imagine for this is to justify economic policies which seek to take benefits from the most vulnerable people in society in order for you to fulfill your own goals. Goals which, I gather, you have not succeeded in attaining.
I regret to say I was rather pompous in my letter to the Prime Minister. I said something along the lines of the way we treat our most vulnerable and needy says a great deal about us as a society, and that by this measure we are failing. It still seems rather apposite.
I am one of those people whose curtains are still drawn when my neighbours go to work, and I find myself rather offended by the implication that I am a shirker, a benefit slob. I have been out of work for two and a half years now, and it is my dearest wish that I could find a job, and I am not alone. The vast majority of the people you have been penalising, whom you and some sections of the Press have been characterising as little more than dead weight on the system, would much rather they had their health and a job. No one in their right mind would choose to live like this, and I genuinely believe that you simply do not understand that.
No one asks to be disabled, Chancellor. No one asks to be made redundant and have to scrape around for money to pay the smallest of bills. It destroys us, and to be further demeaned by public statements from yourself and your colleagues is really something of an insult and I would ask you to stop doing it, please. You are, for better or ill, a senior member of the Government which represents the people of this country and it would not take an enormous effort to treat all those people with some decency and compassion..
Thank you for your time.
The Automatic Cat