Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ed Miliband just doesn't get it

So, Ed Miliband has told the public that he went to one of those hubs of poverty and human deprivation. A state school. Logically it follows that he is one of us and understands what it is like to be poor.

OK fair enough, compared to the Etonian and Westminster schools that Dave and Nick went to, where privilege and wealth is the norm but does that mean he knows what it is like.

I went to a state school and I didn't notice the financial situations of my friends. I was too busy doing my school work, chatting and immersing myself in a Galaxy far far away. though I don't know how many of my friends or indeed the others who paid that much real attention to other people's circumstances at that age.

Further to that, just being surrounded by people who can't afford to do things, who may not have the newest mobile, or this seasons Spurs shirt, whose parents have just been made redundant doesn't mean you can identify with them.

I work at the Imperial War Museum, I've spent a couple of years patrolling the lower ground floor and World War One, read accounts from soldiers and histories of the western front - by the same logic I can identify with a soldier on the Western front? I'd be able to look him in the eye and say;

It's alright mate, I understand what you're going through


You can't understand what it is like to be working class without being working class. If you still have money to fall back on and a well off family that can support you its not the same. Its not until you add up the bills and realise you can't afford food for the rest of the week and its another week of pasta for dinner, or the panic because your rent is due in two days and you're rapidly closing to that line.  Not to be able to afford a birthday present for one of your best friends, to be forced into war time rationing just to make ends meet! (thankfully I'm now well out of that situation but a decade ago things were that bad.) To spend each working day toiling to get bugger all for it after taxes, railway fares rising, council taxes rising, nursery prices going up and my wages? 1%.

I spend a lot of time worrying about how I'm going to afford to send my kids to university should they get to that point, or just as importantly how am I going to support my wife and I in our old age as and if we can afford to retire with our pensions?  I've been poor, I've been unemployed for three months, I've had a bill so large that I simply couldn't pay it and We've worked hard to keep our little family in the black and above the water line but there are many who cannot.

Just because Ed "my family are quite well off but I'm still like you guys" Miliband went to a state school he now he knows and can empathise with my life?

My response is blunt and simple: Don't patronise me sunshine, come walk a mile in the shoes of those who are truly worse off and then you can say you can empathise.

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