April 14, 2013

Fear is something we have all felt in varying degrees, generally it is thought of as a fleeting response to a brief moment in time. But there is another type of fear that quite often people don’t even recognise as fear and that is that silent nagging fear that is felt by people who feel that they have no control over their lives, the nagging fear of people in debt and it is the gnawing fear of people who feel fingers pointing at them. In 1983 I left school straight onto the dole queue, I have to confess I knew nothing about politics, it had passed me by at school and my Mum never discussed it. I was only doing what everyone else was doing leaving school to join the seemingly endless queue, I vaguely knew it was because of the Tories but I couldn’t have told you why.

My political awareness awoke very soon after I became a single parent, I opened my eyes when I saw fingers pointing. But then of course the fear had started slowly gnawing at me before that, I just hadn’t realised it yet. The lack of money because of redundancy and living in a council house these weren’t seen as things you should be proud of. London Yuppies and Entrepreneurs were meant to be what we aspired too, everything else was a failure. Ordinary people just weren’t good enough, but then the right to buy happened and everyone could buy their way  out of their fear and distance themselves from the finger-pointing. I’ll tell you now if I had ever been able to get the money or the credit together I would have bought my council house in a heart beat, to have a secure home is the dream we were offered and I would have bought it. But luckily (though I didn’t know I was lucky then) one income just doesn’t cut it in this world if you want to get on the property ladder especially if you have children to support.

The thing about fear is that it is easy to believe only you feel it. It is easy to think the accusing finger only points at you, when in reality no one is safe is safe from the blame that the country is broken because of you and you and you, no matter what you do. So the fear affects the majority of us in some way and of course the greatest fear is that what you do have, could be taken away by the people who you are pointing your finger at, the immigrants the benefit cheats whoever it is that is your chosen foe. The politicians rely on our fear, it blinds us  and constrains us. How many people who took advantage of the right to buy are tied into mortgages that they wish they hadn’t bought and how many people have become wealthy landlords renting out former council houses? Why aren’t there more people pointing their fingers at the Tories,the aristocracy, the rich?

Margaret Thatcher and her ministers made me angry I remember their rhetoric and I hated them for it, I hated the way she and her cronies passed judgment on me and my small children. Others hated the Tories for similar reasons, they had policies that they wanted to implement and proceeded to do so irrespective of  what it cost the ordinary people of Britain. This anger of mine however didn’t dissipate the fear. But then there was an election and a ladder was provided for me by Tax Credits and I used it. I might have still been broke and still a single parent but I felt supported and encouraged. My single parent advisor Peter was brilliant, I told him my plans and he helped me, he also understood that people like me are ‘double parents’ and by that I mean both Mother and Father. Some of the fear that had built up over the previous decade subsided, unfortunately it has come back, it has come back for many people. The finger-pointing, ‘our country is full’,  ‘NHS tourism’,   ‘welfare state’,  ‘broken Britain’  V’s ‘Hard working and deserving families’, note the emphasis on so-called traditional families. Families with children, families with mortgages etc traditionally fear lack of money, lack of wages, lack of security; The Tories love tradition.

Whilst we finger point blaming and fighting  each other, believing that we are all competing for the same pot of gold the rich just keep on getting richer and more powerful. Of course some of us will get a helping from the pot thanks to our employers and they rely on this hope of ours, it makes us obedient and eager to please as we strive to survive and succeed. It also keeps the sale of lottery tickets going, it wouldn’t surprise me if gambling in general is on the increase as people desperately search for success and financial security, anything that make the fear go away. The next election is probably our best chance of that, but as the political parties seem to move ever closer in policy what is left for the ordinary people except the fear?


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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy


Lady things, explained.


"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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