For years now I have been commenting on just how cruel our government seems to be, the attitude of IDS and his department towards the people who are in their charge (I used the word care first but it isn’t appropriate at all).
Governments and public sector bureaucracies have become the by word for stupidity, common sense is a fast vanishing commodity everywhere you look.
Our society has, over the years, been changed by both internal influences and external ones to the point where we are no longer surprised at the stupidity of our leaders, or indeed of the population at large. Trying to sue a coffee shop because the coffee was hot, doing something truly stupid then resorting to lawyers when it goes wrong. How common have such events become that we no longer even notice them or bother to read about them.
Thanks to, for the most part, the Tory leadership as they charge headlong on their Neoliberal economic policy to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor we have become used to the insults and accusations thrown against the poor and the disadvantaged, the unemployed and the disabled. It seems every week that passes brings new attacks on the poor from the lips of our politicians. Though these days it’s not just the Tories as Labour rushes to the political right as it tries to reclaim what it sees as lost voters, Red Tories joining the Yellow Tories in competing to be a nasty as the real nasty party.
We have even spread this attitude to include the Scottish as Tories laughed to hear about thousands of Scots sold as slaves in the house.
Aside from the almost constant attacks on those benefit parasites, the unemployed, the disabled and the poor we have seen demonstrations of hatred towards another group, those even lower in our society than the poor. I am speaking here of the homeless, people who have fallen through every tattered remnant of social safety net that remains and found themselves without even a roof over their heads.
We have seen London’s police confiscating their sleeping bags and blankets along with their food in an effort to get them to move on. An act that in a cold winter would be akin to manslaughter if the homeless froze to death without the meagre shelter of those items. Not that anyone would ever be charged.
All of this is happening around us, just look at the benches in your town or city. This is all so common most of us no longer even notice it, it takes something even worse, even more cruel and even more stupid to catch our attention.
The London borough of Hackney managed to do just that. Hackney council legislation, the Public Spaces Protection Order has been in effect for several years but it was this years update that caught peoples attention. It categorised actions likely to be considered anti social behaviour and be subject to police action.
The main categories of anti social behaviour are listed as follows:
(i) Consuming alcohol
(v) Urinating or defecating
(vi) Dogs being off leads
(vii) Misuse of public toilets
Those found to be in violation of the act are subject to on the spot fines of £100 or court action and a penalty charge of up to £1,000.
I’m just focusing on the homeless today so its number three listed above that is (or was) the problem. Rough sleeping, people without a home or shelter and with noting more than a sleeping bag and or blankets sleeping outside, in whatever area they can fine that offers a little warmth or protection from the weather.
They are, in short, people in need of help by society NOT being treated like rubbish by the councils, move on or abused by the police and even taken to court and criminalised for the crime of being homeless.
In the case of Hackney this was reported widely and a very quick tsunami of public protest gave the council the choice of changing their policies or becoming subject to overwhelming social and probably legal action.
The council backed down and has removed rough sleeping from their PSPO.
But what kind of idiot would have considered that this was acceptable in the first place?
What kind of fool thought charging a homeless person £1,000 for the crime of sleeping rough and thereby criminalising them when they were unable to pay was acceptable?
What kind of cruelty and utter indifference to human suffering leads human beings to consider that being homeless is such a nuisance that rough sleepers need to be treated in this way?
How was it that no one, not one single person in Hackney council thought this was wrong and raised an objection to it that would have prevented this whole situation?
Why did no one think before this was done?
Or was it that cruelty and stupidity are now so endemic that it simply didn't occur to anyone that this was wrong!
I asked where has kindness gone, well that’s easy to see as our society is turned upon itself by ever falling wealth among the vast majority combined with an almost constant barrage of propaganda against the poor and against anyone in need of social support.
But when did common sense vanish, I know it’s been less and less common over the years but when did it vanish completely, when did common sense become extinct in our politicians?
When did our government, politicians, councils and the like become so stupid as well as being so cruel?
Or is it that I’m just old fashioned and hopelessly out of date.