Insulting to those with no choice

What is it about this government and their incredible ability to put their feet in their mouths?

Iain Duncan Smith’s frankly preposterous comments that he could live on £53 a week “if he had to”, is insulting to those many thousands who have no choice but to, given that he gets paid £2,587.79 a week, all right £1,581.02 after tax.

It’s easy for the likes of IDS to brag about being able to live on £53 for a week, taking a 97 per cent reduction in his income.

Maybe he actually believes it. Just jiggle a few things around, cancel a few dinner parties, park the Jag in the garage and cycle everywhere, cut out the sirloins and those clarets, watch the telly instead of going out, cancel the papers and go to the library to read, and you’ve pretty much done it.

But what happens when next week comes along; and the next; and the next; and still £53 is all you have to live on, it gets ever harder. As George Orwell wrote in The Road To Wigan Pier more than seventy years ago: “A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t.”

I remember another right-wing Tory, Matthew Parris MP, who took part in a World In Action documentary requiring him to live on £26.80. The experiment came to an embarrassing end when he ran out of money for the electricity meter.

The fact is, if you’ve never had that little to live on, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like.

When I was unemployed in the early 1980s, I found out first-hand that the realities of being poor are hugely different to the fleeting version the well-off put themselves through for charity, or worse, merely to prove a point.

Coun Nader Fekri,

(Labour/Co-op, Calder Ward).