There has been much talk recently about the future of Alan Pardew at Newcastle United and indeed whether he should even have a future at St James’ Park. I can’t see him going anywhere very quickly. I find it very difficult to believe that Pardew will resign and lose the opportunity of a massive pay-off from the rest of his long contract. On the other hand does anybody seriously think that Ashley is going to sack Pardew? Was he not brought in as a handy Yes Man and has he not fulfilled that role superbly in his three and a half years at the club? Things can change very quickly and goodness knows what is going on behind the scenes, but I really don’t think Pardew will going anywhere just yet.
Another person not going anywhere, despite seemingly being in open revolt with his boss, is Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith. His department have gone on the attack against the Trussell Trust, a Christian organisation which runs food-banks in various parts of the country. It has been reported that figures from the Trussell Trust, who are Britain’s biggest food bank provider, but by no means the only one, revealed that “almost a million people have sought three days’ emergency food supplies over the last year.” If one bears in mind that there are many other food bank providers, then it is not unfair to assume that the actual figure of people seeking emergency supplies of food over the last year is considerably higher than a million.
The Trussell Trust is also reported as saying that government use of sanctions against benefit recipients was “increasingly harsh” and that benefit delays or changes had afflicted half of those who had been referred to food banks in 2013-14.
One would like to have thought that the government response to what the Trussell Trust have been saying would have been one of humility and understanding, bearing in mind that organisations such as The Trussell Trust are actually on the front lines, in the real world, dealing with those suffering so much at present. Sadly this was not the case. Yet again, as with education, health and so many other areas, the government would rather be in denial and not listen to what is really going on.
Indeed it has been reported that, “one senior DWP source accused the charity of “misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking”, while another official said the rise in food bank use was down to the Trussell Trust “aggressively marketing their services””. However, further investigation into this shows that this is simply not true. To get food from the Trussell Trust, people have to be referred by professionals who think that they are in such dire need that they have to go to a food bank. It would certainly appear that all the Trussell Trust are doing is responding to an ever-growing demand and Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work and Pensions are in complete denial as to the pain and misery caused by the government’s Austerity policies and their part in them.
The waters were then muddied somewhat by David Cameron seeming to praise organisations such as The Trussell Trust. Cameron is clearly feeling under pressure from UKIP and to try and win back votes from them before the upcoming local and European elections and as part of this he has been trying to show his Christian credentials.
Accordingly Cameron recently held an event at Downing Street for Christian organisations where he was heard to praise the “provision of food banks” and said, “Whether it’s providing services for children at risk of exclusion, whether it’s teaching prisoners to read, whether it’s dealing with breakdown, whether it’s provision of food banks, there are some extraordinary organisations run by faith groups and Christians in our country and I want to see the possibilities for that to expand.”
Not only is this at odds with his DWP Minister, but it also raises another very worrying question. Does Cameron want to see more people in this country in such dire straits that they have to resort to food banks? It does appear to be the case doesn’t it? Now, on the one hand it is always heartening to see Christian organisations doing work in the spirit of Christ, helping those on the margins of society, whether they be destitute asylum seekers, the disabled, those in great poverty across the world or those suffering under our government’s austerity policies. This is what they should be doing and they should be applauded for it. Being able to care for those who are suffering is a tremendous virtue.
But….should they be having to do the work with the food banks at all? Should there be a million people, in what is one of the ten richest countrires in the world being referred to food banks? What an appalling reflection on the utter failures of this government to do its duty and look after the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society – while the bankers and other ridiculously wealthy people continue to get their massive bonuses. That Cameron seems to think that food banks are not only a good thing, but should be expanded sums up exactly why he is simply not fit to be Prime Minister.
In so many ways we seeem to be stuck in limbo lands. We still have over a year left of this dreadful, callous government. But at least there is an end in sight, providing the people of Britain take it. As for Newcastle United I can’t see any great improvement until Ashley sellls up and goes. That could of course be tomorrow….but on the other hand may not be for a long time. Whether they should be coming for Iain Duncan Smith or Alan Pardew, it seems those taxi drivers will have to accept other jobs instead…at least for the moment.
© Peter Sagar April 2014
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