From the archive: The tenacity of us working class

Jayne Linney /   January 21, 2015 at 8:39 PM 2,148 views

workers

If you’re wondering why I’ve been so quiet, I’ve been ill, just a regular virus that most people get in winter; the difference is its taken me a couple of month to get back to anywhere near normal, even for me. Due to my varying health issues, including an auto-immune disorder, regular colds and other usual ailments have a tendency to knock the proverbial stuffing out of me; and then, just as I begin to physically heal… Bang, the depression enters, demanding every ounce of attention and strength.

Depression is a strange thing it means different things to each of us who know it; for me He is like a jealous spouse, He wants me all to himself, and should I try to make contact with others – He raves, stamping, shouting, reminding me of all my faults and shortcomings until I yield, and agree I’m only complete with Him alone. This circle continues, wearing me down, until something or someone gets through the fugue; this happened for me today.

Getting up as usual, I began browsing the online press and in The Guardian I came across the words “how working class people became the ‘problem” and I felt a vestige of life. I’m not going into the details of the piece you can read that for yourself, but the author Lisa McKenzie’s description of her life in Nottingham in the 80’s resonated with me, this could have been my life she was writing about. I found the piece evocative, it rekindled memories of the energy and companionship I felt then, as a part of the campaigns against the Tories, and Ms McKenzie’s anger at the class prejudice of successive governments, aroused my own rage at injustice; allowing me enough energy to shut Him up, at least for now.

My experience as the working class girl ‘done good’ is one I treasure, in so much as despite not sitting my O Levels as I was preparing to become a (very) young mum, I was still able to access local quality community projects; therein finding the support to develop the knowledge, skills and experience to run my own projects, and to enter university as a mature student. This is only dampened by the facts that similar opportunities are gone, victims of local government cuts, themselves a response to current austerity agenda and that my own ill health has forced me to return to poverty. Having said that without my working class background and ethics, I’m not sure He could be quietened.

There is a major incongruity in all of  this, we “working classes” so despised by the ruling elite, are the very people who carry out the tasks and provide the labour essential to maintaining the lifestyles and status of those who denounce us through their media. We are essential for the wealth of the nation, and unless we can work, pay taxes and invest our earnings the elite will ultimately pay the greatest price.

As David Cameron in his most hypocritical speech yet said:

‘When we say ‘we are all in this together’ that is not a cry for help, but a call to arms. Society is not a spectator sport.’ This is your country. It’s time to believe it. It’s time to step up and own it. So mine is not just a vision of a more powerful country. It is a vision of a more powerful people. The knowledge in the heart of everyone – everyone – that they are not captive to the circumstances of their birth, they are not flotsam and jetsam in the great currents of wealth and power, they are not small people but big citizens.’

Cameron, 2010, describing the Big Society

I can’t help but wonder, when reading this did Cameron dare for one moment to consider what might occur should people actually believe it; imagine a nation where everyone felt they had a role? Disabled people were adequately supported financially for them to participate as full citizens, poverty didn’t exist, the rich invested their money in the nation and not overseas tax havens, every adult had a home of their own and a purpose, children were taught to expect their rights in return for them being responsible; and everyone respected another as a human, irrespective of skin colour culture, lifestyle or belief.

That is my idea of society, how about you?

Courtesy of Jayne Linney

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