Dear Iain Duncan Smith
How are you? I hear that you were at Highams Park Day on Saturday, just like we were. Did you have fun? Were you sad that the bar ran out of beer? My husband was. He hates it when someone else's decisions affect his ability to meet his basic needs, in this case a pint. Don't you hate that too? As it happened, he made do with a fruit cider. I hope you found a good alternative too.
I just want to say a big Thank You for representing me. You're my local MP and you represent MY views to the House of Commons and gosh darn, I appreciate that. Let me tell you all the ways in which you represent me - I'm happily married, in a 2-parent, 2-child family. We're white, straight and middle-class. We own our own house. We're both employed. I've never really stopped working, even when the kids were little - we are your epitome of a hard-working family. I once went 10 years without taking a day off sick...so that's good news, given I don't fancy funding my own sick pay. And people who have a problem with that, well they should just stop getting sick, shouldn't they?
You see, Iain, not everyone is like me. Not everyone can do this working hard, not being sick, owning house thing. And occasionally, just occasionally, it occurs to me that none of us are that far from disaster. What would it really take, Iain, to derail this comfortable life I have? A accident? A chronic illness? A divorce? A redundancy? A slight change in interest rates? If those things should happen to me, Iain, would you still represent me? Would you still make decisions in Parliament that are purely for my benefit?
I find it hard to believe that you would. I believe that the moment I fell out of the exact demographic that you're "working for", I would be lost to you, just like so many other people in your constituency and around the country that can't work. The ones that can't get themselves out of poverty. The ones crippled by sanctions and the bedroom tax, surviving on literally no income while you decide how best to dehumanize them next. Or the ones not surviving, because there are plenty of those too. How many? We don't know, because your department keeps refusing to release the statistics. In fact, you denied that the figures ever existed.
I work hard for a reason, Iain. I work hard because I can and it's my duty as part of society to support those who can't. Why do you work Iain? Is it to squeeze money out of those same people, because it's a darn sight easier than closing a few tax loopholes? I understand you need to make some money. You have targets to hit. In fact, as someone who contributes to your salary, I'd like to know what your sales figures are like. How much did you save by sanctioning the sick and the disabled? Or are those figures similarly lost on the breeze?
Numbers clearly aren't your thing but words are something you're really good at. You can construct a double negative with aplomb - "I am not saying people won't be worse off." - and you're the master of the euphemism - "We need to support the kind of products that allow people through their lives to dip in and out when they need the money for sickness or care or unemployment". What kind of products are these? Moisturiser? A handy gadget for hulling strawberries? It's summer and I could really do with one of those, but I don't see how it would help me pay my own sick pay. Maybe the extra vitamin C would keep me healthy.
But I'm getting off track here. I get easily distracted by my lively children, who are neurologically typical (at a stretch, anyway) and physically able. Again, if they weren't, that would probably be a bit of a sticking point in the whole being-able-to-work thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that they're so "normal" because if there's one thing I've learned from five years living under a Tory government, it's to be grateful for what I have and to fear ever losing it. Because there's no safety net. The layers of protection that have been put in place to protect the vulnerable are being systemically stripped away. I hope my situation never changes. You should hope your situation never changes. And for those already at the bottom, whose situation needs to change? Forget them Iain. They're nothing to you. As you have proved over and over again.
From me, thanks. You represent me. I didn't vote for you and I never will, which seems churlish when you clearly have my best interests at heart. But this nagging voice inside me keeps saying that maybe democracy shouldn't just be for the white, middle class families. Maybe, just maybe, it should be for everyone.
Scrub that. Crazy talk. You just be you.
This post first appeared on London With a Toddler