A five-year-old child has just sent Theresa May a blistering message. A video of the young girl, named Brook, was uploaded to YouTube by her mother. And it’s a rallying cry against the May government’s treatment of vulnerable people, and its eagerness for war.
Brook’s fury at the priorities shown by May’s government is clear, even before she launches into her fiery charge:
I’ve got something to say to you Theresa May [shakes head in absolute incredulity]. Yesterday night, I was out on the streets and I saw hundreds, millions, of homeless people. I saw one with floppy ears, I saw loads.
You should be out there Theresa May. You should be [bringing] biscuits, hot chocolate, sandwiches, building houses.
A real crisis
Although buoyed by a child’s enthusiasm, Brook is not wrong about how visible homelessness is in the UK today. Since 2010, the number of recorded rough sleepers in England has doubled.
In addition, as homeless charity Crisis has reported, the number of households in England that applied for statutory homelessness assistance increased by 11% in 2015/16 compared to 2010/11. To qualify for this homeless category, you must either “lack a secure place in which you are entitled to live or not reasonably be able to stay in your current accommodation”.
The total number of households in England that applied for this assistance in 2015/16 was 114,790.
And neither of these calculations include the ‘hidden homeless‘, those not registered with a local authority. Crisis’s research suggests that these people, who survive by crashing on couches and in squats, make up the majority of the actual homeless.
Austerity is exacerbating the problem
As Brook suggests, food and (most importantly) housing are required to resolve this crisis. But May’s government has shown a determination to continue with an austerity agenda that makes the problem worse. The policies the Tories have implemented – such as local council cuts, right-to-buy, and benefit sanctions (all in an alleged attempt to see the country ‘live within its means’) – have made homelessness much more likely for many citizens.
Brook then points out to May that it’s not money that’s the problem for the government:
Look, I’m only five years old. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m saving up money and there’ll never be enough. You’ve got the pot of money, spend some and help people. That’s what you’ve got to do.
Cause we’ve had lots of wars in this country and I do not like that Theresa May. I’m very angry.
It is startling that this comparison comes from a five-year-old child, but it’s an apt one. Obviously, the government does have money. But, Brook alludes, it is choosing to spend it on “lots of wars” rather than on the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Priorities, priorities, Theresa May
I have sat in this chamber too many times and heard we can’t afford to look after the disabled; we can’t afford to look after the unemployed; we can’t afford to pay pensions on time. But we the government are making the difficult choices.
And all those people who have been making that argument for austerity are now the very same people who are telling us that we can afford to write a blank cheque for these useless weapons.
According to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the cost of replacing the Trident missile could exceed £200bn. But this a small price for the government to pay for, as Black puts it, preserving “Westminster’s self-indulgent image of importance”.
That, evidently, is the government’s priority. But it’s one that many people in the country do not share. Especially this remarkable, and ferocious, little girl.
Take that, Theresa!
– Take action with The People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
– Find out how you can help Crisis with the UK’s homelessness.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
Image via Holly Matthews/YouTube
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?