Poverty, denial, and the Left

The Left in Britain constantly goes on about poverty. But, when you look at the facts, it has essentially been abolished in Britain, if you exclude Labour areas run according to Corbynite voodoo economics

Fighting poverty or causing it?
Robin Mitchinson
On 5 October 2015 08:01

It would seem that no politician of the left can open his mouth without uttering the word, ‘poverty’, as if our cities were in the grip of Dickensian dirt, disease, debauchery and deprivation (which may be the situation in Holloway after decades of Corbynite misrule, but uncommon elsewhere).

However, there are international  benchmarks for poverty, so it may be worth running the rule over them to judge the real extent of poverty in the UK.

First up is malnutrition, showing severe underweight with a BMI of less than 16 (normal is 18.5 to 25). As you squeeze past the bulging buttocks of the mother with the obese 5-year old in the supermarket, have a peep in her shopping trolley. TV dinners, crisps, the inevitable six-pack; you may be forgiven for feeling that the problem in the UK is the exact opposite.

Then there is lack of access to clean water within a 30 minute round trip. In genuinely poor communities, fetching water takes up a large part of a woman’s day. No problem here, although the prevalence of BO might suggest otherwise.

Next is lack of sanitation, with no access to a toilet of any kind (I once took a party of World Bank suits to inspect a pit latrine in a squatter camp. They never came again!).

The fourth criterion is access to health care. In the case of women this means no treatment for serious illness, no antenatal care or care at birth of a child.

For men, it means no treatment even for serious illness. Hardly NHS! Now here’s a funny thing. Smoking is reckoned to be the cause of 150,000 deaths annually. The heaviest smokers are in the lowest social classes. The average male manual worker who smokes will spend over £50 a week on cigarettes. There’s poverty for you.

Lack of shelter is a major problem in poor communities, ranging from people who don’t know where they are going to sleep that night to more than four people sharing a room or a house with no flooring.

Lack of education is another major indicator, but this does not mean the idlers and thickos who leave school at 16 with a reading age of six; it means never having been to school or being completely illiterate.

The final and least critical is lack of information; that is; no access to the media or the telephone. In the UK, the problem is more likely to be information overkill, with large parts of the populace almost permanently engrossed in an IPad or whatever.

The broad-brush criterion for poverty is an income of less than $1.35 a day. The UK  has a benefits cap of more than £60 a day.

So where are ‘your  poor, your huddled masses longing for a freebie’?

Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world

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