What kind of a society do we live in where mothers on benefits have to miss meals so that their children can eat?
It happened to my partner, Sharon, only yesterday afternoon. She was in Waitrose buying a few necessaries – (twelve cans of lager; a couple of packets of fags; a Euromillions lucky dip; a Rich for Life scratchcard, a mobile phone top up, a copy of Heat magazine and a packet of Pop Tarts for the kids’ breakfast.) She’d had nothing to eat all day except a McDonalds’ Happy Meal, a packet of custard creams , four Greggs sausage rolls and a mars bar so, feeling a bit peckish, she put a couple of packets of salt and vinegar Snack a Jacks into the shopping trolley. She then went to the till only to find she was £1.20p short. She needed to put something back. It was a straight choice between the Snack a Jacks and the Pop Tarts so, being a good mother, Sharon put the Snack a Jacks back and missed out on her meal.
Society should be ashamed of itself, because selfish rich people refuse to pay more tax so that the government can increase the jobseekers allowance, most single mothers struggling to raise a family on benefits have to make personal sacrifices so that the kids have something to eat when they get back from school – and they usually come home starving because they haven’t been able to eat their free school meals, thanks to Jamie Oliver (not one of our own) replacing turkey twizzlers, chips and treacle sponge pudding with rice, salad and fruit – how do you expect kids to eat that filth?
Mothers missing meals is a real problem in society. I saw a woman on TV last week explaining that, for her, it’s a straight choice – either she eats or the kids do. She was a single parent struggling to raise four kids on benefit, with absolutely no help from any of the kids’ four different dads. The interview took place in her front room and you could see the classic signs of poverty all around her – the standard Sky TV box, the cheap and nasty mobile phone on the coffee table, an empty Snappy (not Dominos) Pizza box on the floor and, worst of all, a non-flat screen TV. She was a big lady, around about eighteen stone, and it brought a tear to my eye as she explained that she sometimes misses up to eight meals a day to make sure the kids have healthy fast food for supper – but does Cameron care? No, all he cares about are tax cuts for millionaires.
Rich people are always bleating on and on about how much tax they pay. I bumped into that public school educated, tax dodging, so-called comedian Jimmy Carr (not one of our own) in a kebab shop near Trafalgar Square the other day and told him a few home truths.
“Your tax dodging antics are stealing the food out of the mouths of the poor,” I gave him both barrels.
“I suppose you want to return to the 1970s when the rich paid 98% supertax,” he snootily replied.
“No posh boy,” I said, “they should pay 100% tax, then the government will have enough money to increase benefits for society’s most vulnerable people, as well as investing in our schools, hospitals, prisons, local leisure facilities and public transport – it’s only fair.”
“But the rich don’t use any of those things,” said Jimmy, “they don’t claim benefits, they send their kids to private schools, they have private health insurance, most of them don’t go to prison, they belong to private leisure clubs and drive everywhere. What’s fair about them paying tax for things they don’t use?”
“We all do it Jimmy,” I explained, “it’s called social responsibility. The government spends part of my taxes on grants for the Royal Opera House, which I don’t use, but you don’t hear me bleating on about that.”
“Your taxes,” he said, “what tax do you pay?”
“I’m in between jobs at the moment,” I told him.
“So let me get this right,” said Jimmy, “I work ten hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks of the year, and I ought to pay most, if not all, of what I earn in tax so that people like you can sit around watching telly all day?”
“Without people like me watching telly you TV celebrities wouldn’t exist,” I said, “and if you expect me to go and watch your concerts or buy your DVDs you’ll have to pay more taxes so that I get more benefit money, it’s called Keynesian economics.”
“Maybe I should pay for your kebab then?” he said, pulling out a fiver.
“I don’t want your money,” I replied, “I’ve still got my dignity, I’ll pay for my own kebab out of my own jobseekers allowance,” and I did – that showed him!