Sick of Currie …

I just had breakfast and I have my halogen heater on, so I have no right to complain. Or so it would seem.

Former Tory MP Edwina Currie has said she doesn’t believe that people in this country go hungry. If you don’t know Edwina from her Tory policies or egg issues you might know her from such shows as Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother and, ironically, Celebrity Come Dine With Me.

Head in a curry

Edwina, stunned in response to a careworker sharing her experiences of people choosing between heating and food when appearing on Radio 5 Live, said:

“Are you telling me people in this country are going hungry? Seriously? Seriously? You know, I really have great difficulty believing that.

“I don’t think people in this country go hungry.

“Are these people at the same time buying the odd Lottery ticket? Do they occasionally have a cigarette? You know, I mean, somewhere along the line does food come as a first priority?”

I wrote recently about the rise in child poverty, about the growing queues for food parcels, about the ten million people living in fuel poverty.

I almost spat out my venison steak as I listened, Chaplin choking on his Sheba. I couldn’t believe that, all this time choosing between meals and heating, I’d not only been imagining my predicament but also buying Lottery tickets and smoking fags without realising.

I wrote to Edwina:

“I listened with interest and irritation to your disbelief that people in this country are going hungry. I currently live on a total of £67.50 per week to pay all bills and living expenses because I am unemployed: from this I usually spend no more than £20 per week on food and no more than £5 per week to top-up a gas meter which takes £2.50 per week in surcharges. As I write I have £10.35 to last me six days and almost £50 in debt for gas meter surcharges.

“I don’t think it takes a mathematical genius to recognise that, at some point each week, I am choosing to go without either food or heating.

“I am an unemployed journalist who, until recently, also worked as a part-time lecturer: cuts to the private and public sector, structural changes within both the newspaper I worked for and then the university, left me without work. I have qualifications and decades of work experience. I am not lazy, unqualified, inexperienced or unwilling to work. I have spent six months searching for work but am still among the 2.5 million unemployed workers in this country.

“I am going without meals on a regular basis. I do face a winter where I will not be able to put on the heating because I can’t afford the bills. My reasons for saying this are neither spurious nor political but a statement of fact. It is also a reality for many millions: many of whom are worse off even than I am.

“You say you have “great difficulty” believing that people in this country are going hungry. You clearly state, “I don’t think people in this country go hungry.” You are very, very wrong. You suggest we are perhaps buying Lottery tickets; I never buy them. I also don’t smoke and never have, which is your other suggestion for our lack of money-management.

“We are not going without food or heating due to an inability to spend wisely – we are going without food or heating because we are living in poverty. You cannot begin to empathise or feel any compassion towards poor people in this country – perhaps not even in your former constituency of south Derbyshire – while you dismiss us as Lottery ticket-buying, chain-smoking idiots who can’t tell a carrot from a can of Stella.

“I wonder if you have since researched and now realise the extent to which low-income earners, middle-income earners, the unemployed and the retired are going hungry. Having openly scoffed – pun intended – at the idea that people in this country are going hungry and contemptuously dismissing this reality you merely showed how out-of-touch the Tories are.”

Edwina Currie

I had explained to Edwina that I’m an unemployedhack and shared a link to this blog so I didn’t expect a reply.

Edwina sent:

“I said (and it’s on record) that I do not believe people in this country are starving. That is not the same thing.

I’m sorry to hear about your problems. If I were your MP I would talk you through various possible solutions. But with your intelligence you can work them out for yourself.

Good luck ECJ

“PS At least one of the solutions is NOT to advertise yourself as “unemployed hack.” that guarantees that you’ll stay that way.”

So Edwina does not believe that many millions of people in this country are going hungry, choosing between heating or food … but she also fibs about what is “on record”.

You’d think in this multimedia age that Tory politicians would realise they can be forced to eat their own words.

New name ideas: Jobless Journalist; Redundant Reporter; Fired Feature Writer …

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8 thoughts on “Sick of Currie …

  1. Listened to the audio: she certainly said she didn’t believe people in this country were “hungry”. She then changed her tune and started using the word “starving”. Rather disingenuous to talk about being on record as saying no-one here is “starving”, omitting to mention that she’s also on record in the same discussion as saying no-one here is “hungry”.

  2. Your letter echoed the poverty many people are living in today, Currie must be extremely deluded to give the response that she did. I’m unemployed, I have qualifications and some work experience (much less than you and many other people, but some nonetheless), yet many people seem confused when I tell them I’m on the dole. The attitudes of many people is shockingly narrow minded. The amount of times I’ve been told that people just can’t be arsed to work, and that there are plenty of jobs out there really does get me angry, it’s not just politicians who are out of touch, it’s lots of other people too!
    Anyway, I think your blog is great and I can definitely relate to what you write about.

  3. Pingback: Currie makes me choke … | unemployedhack

  4. Self-rightous people can be extremely patronising and Edwina’s reply to you was an example of this point. Well done for knowing that you would get a reply like this and still sent your letter!

    [predictable politicians’ behaviour – a politician who used her status to offend John Major’s wife in a particularly back-stabbing kind of way… even though it takes two to create an extra-marital affair – how can these ever be the words of a wise person?]

    The Roundtree Foundation claims that it is the poor who have the best money management skills, because of the fact that it is so necessary for them to manage whatever little money they have. Unfortunately, poor people do not have the same access to credit somebody in ECJ’s status can have … relative to her pedestal and political time zone… no… the poor are not “hungry” or “starving” in the sense of the kind of hunger and starvation which occurred during WWII… but ECJ forgets that she needs to compare like with like…

    I can quite understand that in this day and age ECJ would want to psychologically distance herself from the stark choices and realities that so many people living in England are having to experience… denying that hunger exists is a kind of self-denial … I actually feel sorry for her. She isn’t worth my anger.

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