Saturday, 24 November 2012

Zoe Williams Asks The Wrong Questions Again…

On ‘poverty’ in the UK:
Whose work is it to make sure children in the UK aren't hungry? That they have shoes, that they're not sleeping with their cots jammed up against a mouldy wall, or in a house infested with rats?
It’s the work of their parents, Zoe. You’re welcome.

She isn’t finished, though:
The charity Action for Children published figures showing that two thirds of their centre managers were seeing children without enough to eat. Its chief executive, Helen Donohoe, spoke to Radio 4's Woman's Hour about the pressures families were under, giving the example of a rat-infested house – the children couldn't sleep, the father was so sleep-deprived that he lost his job, the mother had mental health problems anyway, and "we enabled them, through housing support and advocacy, to get rehoused". That's great, but I'm left with unanswered questions: who thought that was appropriate housing for a family?
Surely a better question would be ‘who thought it appropriate to start a family under those conditions?’..? Zoe, however, thinks the problem is with…charities!

There are three problems. First, charities need access to ministers; if they alienate them, they won't even get into the room, and that is more important than worrying about what concessions you've exacted before you leave.
Charities don’t seem particularly bothered about alienating the government; they are always issuing scathing press releases and commissioning reports claiming that the government isn’t doing enough.

The government never seems to mind, either. It never blacklists any particular charity. No CEO has to stand in the cold with his nose pressed up against the window on No 10 Downing Street, watching forlornly as all the other charity bigwigs tuck in to champagne and canapés.

One might almost conclude from this that it’s all a game they play…
Second, charities are legally excluded from party politics, and in the more consensual age just passed, this meant avoiding saying anything directly critical of the government. This message got so deep into the political bloodstream that when Save the Children launched its campaign in September, to help UK children who were going hungry and without shoes, it was slated in right-wing circles for "politicising" the issue, even though to avoid politics would have meant avoiding poverty altogether.
Yes, I’m sure the ‘Guardian’ would happily sit by and refuse to criticise a charity which, say, pointed out that unrestricted immigration was putting pressure on our infrastructure…
Third, the relationship between government and larger charities has been compromised by the fact that charities run so many services. Barnardo's gets around three quarters of its income from commissions to run services, and only a quarter from fundraising. The Children's Society only gets a third of its budget from government, but that's enough to make an adversarial position impossible.
Ah, now you’re talking! Good idea, Zoe, let’s immediately abolish government funding for charities! Let ‘em stand on their own two feet with the donations from the public, hmm?
Who's opposing the benefit cap? Who's calling for a ringfence of council tax benefits for families in need? Who's arguing to maintain the child tax credit threshold? Who's fighting against families being rehoused miles away from their children's school? Who's calling for more social housing?
Looks like it’s just….well, you, Zoe. And the rest of the progressives. Judging by the comments, though, the rest of us are finally getting a bit hacked off with it all...


Curmudgeon said...

Meanwhile, other charities are campaigning against childhood obesity and the absurdly low price of junk food.

Anonymous said...

the mother had mental health problems
I guess that time she spent in that Jap POW camp really took it out of her.

Anyone who goes hungry in this country has himself to blame - along with a few snivelling social workers who'll whine about 'cuts'.

The coalition has been in power for 2.5 years after thirteen glorious years when the socialists gave the disadvantaged the tools they needed to claw into the productive classes.

What really offends me about cretins like Zoe is that their hindsight is so myopic that they don't realise that the seed for this situation was sown all over their faces. With their eyes glued shut, they cannot admit that the demand for these inefficient charidees began long before Gideon had the levers of power.

Any comment I have on Zoe Williams might get me into hot water with all this litigation going on. So I am not going to say that I find her immensely ugly or that I think it must have been hard growing up with a face like that. Nor would I suggest that in her position, you might go after good-looking, successful, happy people as some form of retaliation.

John Pickworth said...

I'll tell you what annoys me most...

The term 'Third Sector' which has now become mainstream. As if we don't have enough problems controlling the bloated public sector we now have another blood sucking bastard offspring to worry about.

JuliaM said...

"Meanwhile, other charities are campaigning against childhood obesity and the absurdly low price of junk food."


"I guess that time she spent in that Jap POW camp really took it out of her."

Heh! But 'mental disorders' are now becoming amazingly common, if court reports are anything to go by.

"The term 'Third Sector' which has now become mainstream. As if we don't have enough problems controlling the bloated public sector we now have another blood sucking bastard offspring to worry about."

And no-one seems interested in examining it further.

Dick the Prick said...

I've had 2 rat infestations in just over 7 years living here and yes, it's disgusting, scary, offensive, horrific and utterly destroys domestic life. There are only 2 normal ways to deal with - kill the vermin or run away as fast as your legs will carry you. At no point do you hang around waiting for it to go away. There are firms that deal with it, there are whole isles in B&Q devoted to it (don't buy cheapy poison - it's simply breakfast for the buggers) and my mum said the council have guys who can help / advise.

A total unwillingness to fix a problem. Kidults, indolent victims. Outrageous with a family.

Anonymous said...

And whose job is it to secure full employment? The government.

And whose job is it to ensure a fair day's pay for a nhonest day's work, so that workers can afford to choose to have a family? Employers.

But 6 out of 10 children in families below the poverty line have a working parent. Neoliberal policies have increased long term unemployment and pushed down wages for the bottom third of the work force.

And of the other 4 out of 10, many of them are from parents whose circumstnaces changed after they had them. So it is wrong to tell them they made the wrong choice - people do not have crystal balls! That is why we have social security, which the government is currently dismantling under the cloak of 'welfare reform'.

And why is it that British child povety is so much higher than in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and France? Well, according to this blog it is because British people are terrible parents who make bad decisions. What an insult to British people! This is sickening, crude and misleading stuff. Makes me ill.

We don't need yet another ranting blog from a neoliberalist apologist. We just need to be rid of neoliberlism.