I spent Friday afternoon walking the streets of Central London wondering how politicians can all be so blind to what is taking place in this great City. Do they choose to purposefully delete out what is taking place right under our noses? You might think that I have lost the plot and that too much Lib Demmery has meant that I am on the slippery slope to joining the ranks of the sentimentalists and idealists.
Well, what triggered this introspection? About 2 miles down the road from where I was (Holborn), ‘suits’ were continuing to make their fortunes, buying commodities, selling them and playing the roulette wheel of ‘buy. sell, buy, sell.’ Yet in the room in which I had just sat in for 2 hours, all I saw were broken people, broken families, broken relationships and no hope. Just a blank black hole which would lead to early death and an epitaph in history that would read, “so much hope, yet so little achieved.”
I sat for 2 hours listening to social security appeals of people who were overpaid, people who did not manage to turn up to interview appointments at the Job Centre Plus and those who had not disclosed information. And what was the undercurrent through each case? Depression, drug-induced psychosis, alcoholism, domestic violence and divorce and separation. These were broken people whose survival depended on the State, who had been caught up in bureaucratic measures meant to ‘strengthen and develop people’ for the world of work. Yet, whilst I agree with the principle and practice of getting people to work, these were the people that would not be able to hold down steady jobs. Not only had worklessness become part of them, their self esteem had also reached a point that the only thing that kept them going was alcohol and the poison of drugs.
You see, we talk about London and wealth creation. We all want to be wealthy or happy in other ways, yet I can tell you that I joined politics to help make changes for the poor, the dispossessed and the sick and downtrodden. Time and experience has taught me that we also need the wealthy, the successful and the entrepreneurs who keep the beating heart of the City pumping. They are one valve of many that pump the oxygen round our City. Yet, we do not see the broken people who need our help. They need a voice, they deserve social justice and they deserve a chance!
I want London to be theirs as much as it is for a wealthy man or woman living in St Katharine’s Dock. I want London to be for the young Black man and for the Eastern European migrant who works in a food catering store. And I want London to be for the white young man who has lived on an estate for most of his life and who now feels excluded. For in his exclusion, we can all play a role in pulling him out, in giving him a chance, in giving him a vision. Will you stand by me and walk with me towards this vision? I hope you will, I hope you care, I hope you will act with me.