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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

227. Mothers’ Day Manifesto

Every wealthy tax-avoider should be forced to have a large picture of a homeless person or an over-flowing hospital outpatient department or a starving child or the suffocating interior of a sweatshop, on the walls in their place(s) of residence. This way they could be reminded who really pays for their opulent lifestyles.

I’m just throwing around some ideas for Mothering Sunday, this coming Sunday 26th March.

I distantly remember that, as a child, you’d make a sticky card for your mum at school using the strange collection of odds and ends from the ‘craft’ cupboard. Often, bits dropped off on the way home. On the day, you would attempt to make breakfast for her. This usually involved tepid tea and soggy or burnt toast which she received with a surprised smile as if she had no idea what was coming. Dad would try to be useful and somewhere along the way flowers and chocolates might be involved.

Now, as a mother and grandmother, I am slightly repelled by the shelves of saccharine-pink cards, bouquets of desperate flowers, teddies with bows and schmaltzy messages hung round their necks, plus truckloads of celebrity-endorsed perfumes overflowing the supermarket aisles. The headache-inducing advertisements scream at people to buy buy buy something special for their special mother on this special day.

So, Ok – enough of the grumps. What would I really like for Mother’s Day?

Evidence is daily with us of just how grim it is for women trying to be mothers as they flee war. The current famine crises emerging in African countries, bring up the images we’d hoped to consign to history, of desperate women rocking starving hollow-eyed infants as the ravages of war and climate change go unchecked. Even in the UK we must ask, how is it possible to provide that essential motherly safety and nurturing while more families live in insecure accommodation or struggle with family debt. How powerless does a mother feel watching a child become ill with respiratory problems caused by increasingly bad air quality. So, I came up with a rough Mother’s Day Manifesto –

Let this government finally understand that the children and mothers languishing in refugee camps must be given a chance to make a decent life. The even more vulnerable lone child migrants must be given immediate help. The UK must reinstate the previously agreed commitment to accept vulnerable refugee children after Theresa May’s government shamefully overturned The Dubs Amendment.

Because this and previous administrations don’t seem to understand basic human decency – there should be – let’s say – a statutory £2million fine for every pregnant woman or mother and child group being held in immigration detention centres. Centres such as the infamous Yarl’s Wood are no better than prisons even though the people held there are not criminals but unfortunates who are in the limbo land of the current messy system.

More generally, there must be a coherent strategy to revolutionise the UK system where, if you are born rich, you rise regardless of how useless you are and you struggle if you are born poor regardless of how talented. Start by removing the charity status from private schools and increasing the per capita budgets for pupils at state schools. As I’ve said many times on this blog – the current system damages society on a fundamental level. Not just because the bright but socially unconnected youngsters don’t get on but, more to the point, dim but very well connected offspring get to be in charge. Then we all suffer.

As an adjunct to the previous point. Many private schools are set in extensive and beautiful grounds while very many state schools are situated on busy main roads or junctions where the worst traffic pollution occurs. These latter sites must be tested and if the air quality is consistently poor, the roads must be re-routed.

The government must finally ban the sale of weapons by UK arms manufacturers to corrupt regimes and those practising human rights abuses. This is an ongoing and identifiable problem. Somehow it keeps being side-lined. Many UK aid workers find themselves assisting refugees fleeing conflicts fuelled by armaments made in Britain.

This government must force the wealthy to pay their taxes. No more threatening a smack on the wrist. No more cup-of-tea ‘negotiating’ with HMRC when tax-avoiders are found out. New powerful sanctions must be imposed for those who asset-strip companies for personal gain (see blog 185 Does Sir Philip Green kick disabled orphan kittens in his spare time). Put genuine effort into retrieving the £millions / £billions owed and currently AWOL in the fiscal system. Then we can start to tackle the abomination of increasing numbers of homeless families in one of the richest countries in the world along with many other things on our social wish list.

Double the tax on private cars. Make buses free for children and the elderly.

Re-nationalise railways and halve rail fayres – so we can begin to improve the quality of the air our children breathe and reduce traffic accident mortalities.

Let the media, employers and governments stop dictating to women what they can / cannot wear.

Finally – make it compulsory for good-quality dark chocolate to be free on Mother’s Day 😊

That would mark a really good 2017 Mothering Sunday.

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