The United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights squeezed onto a school bench alongside a dozen children in one of Glasgow’s most deprived neighbourhoods and posed a question: “Who should help poor people?”
“The rich people,” Soroush, one of the children, shot back. “It’s unfair to have people earning billions of pounds and have other people living on benefits.”
It was perhaps the frankest answer Philip Alston received on a two-day visit to Scotland, where a million people live in relative poverty, including one in five children.Note that 'relative' in there. These children are not 'living in poverty' at all.
Little Soroush isn't rooting through a garbage pile for enough to eat, or sleeping on the streets, or dying of a relatively-curable illness.
The children were asked to jot down what being poor might mean for a person. John Adebola-Samuel, 12, quietly penned: “He cannot afford meals. He cannot buy trainers. He cannot watch TV.”Remember when you could go to a Scottish school and quote children called Hamish & Morag? Are there any left?
While Alston met Sturgeon, Karen Reid, 35, a single mother of four in the deprived Pilton neighbourhood - close to affluent Stockbridge and the elite Fettes College public school - told the Guardian how she last worked nine years ago, struggled with depression and once drank so heavily she suffered permanent nerve damage to her hands and feet.
Her disability allowance has been stopped, costing her family £600 a month.And relieving the taxpayer of having to support a workshy drunkard. Sounds like a good deal to me!
Alston is in Belfast on Saturday before finishing his tour in Essex and London. He will announce the conclusions of his investigation at a press conference on Friday.Don't bother. I can already predict what he'll say.