The Tories are determined to get back to the Good Old Days, when Christmas conformed to that traditional picture that’s on Christmas cards everywhere – leaded windows throwing candlelight out onto a snowy street as rosy-cheeked traders do a roaring trade in hot chestnuts ……. and Bob Cratchit tries to feed his family on £1.50 while those even less fortunate starve in the gutter, orphans wake up to just another day at the workhouse and a thin helping of gruel, Tiny Tim wastes away as he sinks towards an early death because there’s no medical treatment and no help with his disabilities.
For a traditional Tory Christmas, you see, you need the cheery gaslights and the pretty fall of snow as the local mill-owner presides at his sumptuous family feast. You need Father Christmas showering the little ones in the nursery with gifts as the fire roars in the hearth and Mama hands Papa his hot toddy. But for a Tory Christmas, reviving those long-ago good old days, you also need unlit cellars with no heating and nothing to eat so that the poor can be reminded what the “shiftless” deserve out of life according to Victorian morality. For every feast for the workers, you need a character-building famine for the “shirkers”. For every Father Christmas handing out gifts to the lucky children, you need a workhouse overseer to make sure there’s no extra helpings of cold mush for parish paupers. For every Santa, you need a Scrooge.
This is where we’re heading in 21st Century Britain as Christmas rolls around again. Back to the Good Old Days, the Poor Law, the workhouse. Back to feasts and fortune for the lucky few and crumbs and despair for the rest. Back to hypocrisy, casual cruelty, oppression and greed.
About 20 per cent of people have gone hungry in Britain this year because they couldn’t afford a meal.
More than 40 per cent of households have seen their situation worsen over the past 12 months, and one charity alone expects to feed 20,000 children over the Christmas fortnight.
Chris Mould heads the Trussell Trust which runs more than 400 food banks nationwide.
‘We’re already meeting parents who are choosing between eating and heating and rising fuel prices mean that this winter is looking bleak for people on the breadline,’ he said.
Research commissioned by an alliance of charities reveals the extent of food poverty, even among working families.
The survey of 4,000 adults showed a third of those going hungry are doing so to feed their families.
And 20 per cent of the population is worried about how their relatives, friends or neighbours will feed themselves this winter.
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