Wednesday, 9 July 2008

David Cameron tells the fat and the poor: take responsibility: Alan Wheatley comments

The following news item came to me by way of Community Care magazine news roundup.

David Cameron tells the fat and the poor: take responsibility

David Cameron declared yesterday that some people who are poor, fat or addicted to alcohol or drugs have only themselves to blame. He said that society had been too sensitive in failing to judge the behaviour of others as good or bad, right or wrong, and that it was time for him to speak out against "moral neutrality".
(Read more on this story in The Times:

One point to comment on about this piece is that in rich Tory tradition, he never seems to point any fingers at the undeserving rich as Terry Waite does in the July 2008 issue of Mature Times. As a disabled jobseeker on Jobseekers Allowance, I resent my helping to pay TV Licence Fee that helps fund radio presenters to the tune of £18m for a three year contract. (My Jobseekers Allowance is £60 per week, my monthly payments to TV Licensing Authority in excess of £10 per month.) Like Waite, I object to the BBC excuse that they have to pay the market rate.

Secondly, his picking on people who are obese reminds me of a statement from former Labour Health Minister Lord Warner. Warner said a few years ago that there were 900,000 people on Incapacity Benefit who are obese. Of course, Warner's authoritiative statement received banner headlines. A subsequent retraction blamed "an administrative error" for the inflation and misrepresentation of the fact that there were 900 people on Incapacity Benefit because of obesity. The retraction was not so feted in the tabloid press.

Thirdly, conditions such as obesity and drug addiction often have complex causes that are little understood in the mainstream, and Cameron's spouting on about these conditions being the fault of the beholder reminds me of an Amerindian saying that before judging someone else, we should, "Walk a mile in their moccasins." Many medications often bring on physiological reactions such as obesity as side-effects, for example. As another example, many drug addicts have learning difficulties and were excluded from over-sized classes by government that closed specialist schools without rechanneling the necessary funding to the mainstream schools.

Taking that Amerindian aphorism about not judging another person until we have walked a mile in their moccasins, it can be very revealing to consider what might be going on in the mind of the Tory Leader at this time. In Novemeber 2006 the Tory leader reported: "As we [roll forward the frontiers of society] this country will see a new generation of social leaders emerge...

Leaders in every community who take control and make a difference.

People to serve as inspiring role models, changing the cuture from resignation and despair to aspiration and hope.

On my first day as leader of the Conservative Party, I went to see such a social leader.

Ray Lewis, giving young black men in East London the confidence, discipline and inspiration to make something positive of their lives - to fight their way out of poverty. "

- David Cameron: Tackling Poverty is a Social Responsibility

No doubt the Tory Leader would rather point a finger outward at others, rather than address his own track record as a judge of human character. (Attack is the best form of defence?)

And my retired health visitor mother - a disillusioned Tory voter - marvels at the fact that in all the decades of poverty-line existence I have had as a disabled jobseeker, I have not turned to drink or drugs. Meanwhile, I build on the worthwhile connections I have made, and seek to change the world for the better, starting with myself.

Alan Wheatley
Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party,
Digital Artist and ICT Tutor to vulnerable adults

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