Saturday 26 February 2022

Maggie Cooper speaking at the Cost of Living Crisis protest slams child poverty as "unacceptable" and demands oil and gas companies repay "obscene profits"

Maggie Cooper
Maggie Cooper, retired social worker speaking at the Cost of Living Crisis protest about the impact of poverty on people’s lives, and demanding that the oil and gas giants pay for this crisis, not ordinary people. Time to reverse Thatcher’s attacks on working folk.   

We’ve gathered today to express concern about the current economic crisis . Apparently ‘ we’re all in this together’. Aye right!      

While I believe inflation is currently running at an all-time high this is effecting poorer people disproportionately.

Food and fuel account for a greater proportion of poorer people’s income. Most supermarket budget brand staple foods have risen by a higher percentage of original cost. Fuel supplied by card meter costs significantly more.

There has been a dramatic increase in food bank usage , where incidentally not all beneficiaries are unemployed. The so called ‘gig economy’ with zero hours contracts resulting in insecure earnings means workers can’t rely on a fixed income. Debts spiral while awaiting payment of benefit. 

While company bosses and shareholders net huge profits and misuse furlough schemes … many having paid staff off during the pandemic. By the way  if you’re going for a drink after this please give Archie’s a body swerve!

We are swiftly returning to an era when workers were without rights at the mercy of unscrupulous employers. Don’t let this happen to you . Join a union!    

Rowntree Studies of The 19thCentury  exposed the fact that workers were not earning enough to meet their calorific requirements necessary for efficient labour.                                                                               

The Welfare State addressed some social inequality.

However I have vivid memories from the 60’s of my Ma making soup every lunchtime on her return from work and frequently porridge for supper. Only the living room was heated and she often didn’t have a shilling for the gas or electric meters. You can’t do homework in the dark!   

In May 1979 I pushed my son in his pram to cast my vote.That General Election heralded a long period of Thatcherism, the beginning of dismantling of The Welfare State, reduction of public sector and nationalised industries and services. ‘For profit and not for service’, was the mantra of Thatcher’s Disciples.   

In 1980 The Black Report exposed huge disparity in the nation’s health, morbidity and life expectancy. At that time I was living in Northern Ireland which had a higher than average rate of unemployment. With no family nearby, dependent on benefits, in a house with bare walls and floors we could only afford to light  a fire in the evenings, with whatever we could lay our hands on.             

Following my return to Aberdeen as a single parent of two small children I improved our situation through work and education. This was when student grants were readily available. Sadly my daughter, also a single parent, had to abandon her studies for financial reasons . She is now working for a little above minimum wage in a job that does not use her skills and talents. Social mobility on a downward trajectory. 

My eldest sister born the same year as The N.H.S. has battled through three lots of radical surgery and treatment for cancer. She can no longer go out alone and worries more about her increased fuel usage and bills than results of her next medical investigation.

Meanwhile Oil and Gas giants benefit from tax subsidies amassing obscene profits. They should be repaying this.

This crisis isn’t solely the result of the pandemic. Less control of business practices, Brexit and years of austerity have had a huge impact.

Cuts in local government funding causing lack of investment in Housing, Education and Care has brought hardship to many communities.

Groups are scapegoated and division grows.    

The Child Poverty Action Group reports an increasing number of children living in poverty. In The 21st Century. This is unacceptable. It is time to take action. What are you going to do about it?                               

M. Cooper 12 February 2022.