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