The economy, “fatherless families” and the tale of the goldfish

Saturday 1st May, 2010 …12.30p.m and Roy Preston looks at his watch…

‘We’re done now, Pat; I’ll get the car and we call it a day……’
These words have been uttered ever so often since Roy, Rita Stephen and I mounted a Labour Stall in front of Marks and Spencer’s at the Royal Standard these past few weeks as the campaign picked up. The difference today is we were packing up for the last time before the 6th of May, our D-Day! It was with mixed feelings that we said our good-byes. As Roy drove off and I headed for the bus stop, I knew he wa asking the same question as me ‘Have we done enough?’ ‘Will our efforts be crowned with success?’.
We have indeed done enough… and that set me reflecting on our activities in Blackheath Westcombe ever since Alex, David and I became Labour candidates. We have been at the doorstep through thick and thin, even in the thick of the snow at the close of 2009 and early 2010! It has been gratifying having residents recognise Alex as having solved this, that or the other problem in the course of his duty as a Labour Councillor. Alex has been what residents would describe rightly as a ‘visible and effective Councillor.’
As my mind went through the various campaign activities, I thought of the Hustings organised by the Westcombe Society at Mycenae House on 17th April, 2010. My curiosity to meet candidates from the other parties took the better of me, overcoming the terror of sitting in front of the distinguished audience. Gordon Baker, the chair for the evening’s proceedings (bless his heart, for he must have known how terrified I was) did all possible to set us at ease, and one after the other, us candidates proceeded to let the distinguished gathering assess our capability to be their representative for the next five years.
Needless to say, I could only hear bits and pieces of the proceedings; one thing though that I heard perfectly clear was a reference to ‘Fatherless families’
– probably because I am the Women’s Officer for the CLP of Greenwich and Woolwich, but more so perhaps because I am too familiar with the negative connotation behind that accolade. Surprisingly, I was slightly bemused as the reference seemed to suggest that such families do so out of choice.
Shall we be more charitable and consider some of the causes:
– Death of the breadwinner
– Illness or incapacitation
– Physical or emotional abuse leading to a breakdown of the family unit
– Divorce through no fault of mother or children of such unions
– Rape
– Countless and many countless reasons…….
We should pause and reflect over which is the better of two measures to mitigate the negative effects of any of the above reasons for such ‘Fatherless families’
(i) Support from government to prevent a spill-over into society due to extreme poverty and hardship of such households, or
(ii) A reward system for households who are fortunate enough not to be hit by the axe of any of the above misfortune.
In my opinion, the government should go a step further beyond ‘support’, and teach those who ‘wilfully’ create fatherless families’ a lesson from those who get it right.

I reflected also on the debates…in particular the last one about the Economy.
Not because Maths and Economics were my strongest points in school, but because of the similarities I could draw from management of the budget of my own household in these harsh economic times.

To my mind, now more than ever when I have to stretch meagre resources, must I make sure that the nutrition of my family is not in jeopardy; now more than ever must I ensure that I am still able to run between school gates and after-school-clubs (and don’t come cheap!) Paying for school trips, purchasing extra resources to help with homework etc should be a priority even in the tightest of family budgets. This is no time to cut such resources, for therein lies the future of the children, and indeed of the whole family!!

In a sense, listening to Gordon Brown last Thursday made me see how right he was in his plan for managing the economy of the UK in these difficult times.
Much more needs to be pumped in to maintain frontline services-to get the vital sectors like the NHS, Education, and the Police running smoothly. It makes common sense to me, that keeping these sectors running at all cost is indeed an investment in a future generation that we cannot afford to fail.

As Thursday, 6th May, 2010 approaches, let us remember the tale of the goldfish who wanted a change of environment from its aquarium – let’s not avoid jumping onto the dry land of disaster!

Pat Boadu-Darko

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