Thursday, 20 October 2011

Do they owe us a living? Of course they do !

Here's a couple of quotes from the comments on the Evening Standard website about the single mother who Councillor Brian Coleman insulted.

(Here's where you can see all of the comments - )
"The father and mother are responsible for the housing, not the tax payer. Its about time this country realises that!"
- Mike, London, 19/10/2011 14:31
Here's another 
She needa a full time job not scrouging off benefits. Another sickening "I beat my chest" victim of a single mum. People are getting sick to death of this "I suffer more" rubbish!
- Colin from Colindale, Colindale - London, 19/10/2011 13:19
I've left the typos in.  These were not the only comments along these lines. The question is  this - are they fair?
Sharada Osman has a six year old child with special needs. She is a 39 year old single mum. Beyond that we know nothing of her. I am married and have three children, I know that bringing up children is not easy when there are two of you, in employment and your children don't have special needs. The first thing I ask myself about Sharada is this. Does society have a duty to help her? Not knowing the spectrum of problems her son has, it is hard to quantify how much help she needs, but yes. If like me, he's mildly special needs (I'm dyslexic) then I suppose that when he's in his mid to late teens he'll be fairly independent. If he has something more challenging he could require help permanently. Who is best placed to give him this help? The Council? A "home"? The Workhouse?  I'd say that his mum is the best person. Would the (presumably hard right wing) commentators say that a child with special needs which requires a more costly education has no right to a childhood and no right to life? Are they saying that if a child has the possibilty of such issues, they should be aborted? If that is the case, then I would most certainly have found myself in a hospital dustbin in early 1962. I'm dyslexic. I couldn't read or write when I was the age of Sharada's son. I now own a business and employ nine people. It seems that Brian Coleman is not the only one who "lacks empathy", his supporters are also shockingly afflicted. But taking the emotion away, I think there is actually a sensible economic argument for helping people who find themselves in a situation such as Sharada.

Sharada is doing a college course, to help her get a job. These commentators give her no credit for this. What would they prefer, that she gets qualified and gets a decent job in the long term or that she is forced to become a minimum wage slave now? Is it that hard to figure out that she has a sensible plan. As for the comments about the father helping. We know Sharada is single. We know nothing about the father of her child. She has made a decision that she is bringing up a child on her own, what right do we have to criticise her. When I was 18, I briefly went out with a single mum of my age, who had a three year old child (conceived at 14, born at 15), who lived on benefits in a squat and lead what you'd charitably call a chaotic lifestyle. She now has a PhD in psychology and is recognised as a leading expert in her field. We hadn't spoken since 1980, but she got in touch today as a direct result of seeing the story in the Standard website. She saw the blog and then realised who I was and felt the need to have a chat about the story.

So what happened? She cleaned up her lifestyle, got a job, started studying, got a PhD through the Open University and a job where she could help people. Because she is fiercely intelligent (my view) she has done well. She lived on benefits and in squats for 6 1/2 years. She had no help from her family from the age of 15, because of the shame she had brought on them (their opinion). As a result they've never seen their granddaughter (which I believe is quite sadly, their loss). She's happy, settled and like the rest of us she pays her taxes.

Unlike me she takes a completely different view of the type of people like Colin and Mike (who's comments I reproduced). Her view is that such comments are a sign of deep inadequacy. It's not that they have no sympathy for the situation of Sharada, they are scared to death of her. By making such comments, they seek to hide their own vulnerability. Much of this is misogynism. They cannot stand the fact that a woman may not feel the need to have a man in her life. They would rather Sharada was downtrodden and marginalised. This way they feel more secure, knowing that their own place in the "natural order" is preserved. The last thing they would want is someone like Sharada to get qualifications, become successful and prove that if you get a little help from society, you can pay that back many times over. The thing that scares them most is the fact that Sharada will not take these insults lying down. She's had the audacity to answer the big powerful man back and that scares the more inadequate members of male society. Imagine if more women started answering back in this manner? Not something I'd have spotted, but then I've not got the scars of soceity that my friend has.

I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know. I would have just put the comments down to pig ignorance and left it there. What I do know is this, Sharada has a young child and NO CIVILISED SOCEITY and NO CARING PERSON  would want a child to not have a secure home life. I wrote to Sharada yesteday and advised her not to get upset by the comments and not to respond. The trolls who leave them get a perverted satisfaction and sense of power out of upsetting people. It is interesting (and quite hilarious) to read some of the comments suggesting that Sharada has done this for publicity or "set Coleman up". How on earth could she have guessed how he'd respond? Someone even suggested that she'd had a professional photo shoot. Doesn't it occur to these morons that the Evening Standard employ photographers? I'd never heard of Sharada before she sent the email to the Barnet Eye mailbox. The reason the story has been picked up is because it is a very interesting and moving story. It is interesting to note that while half a dozen trolls have left an endless stream of messages, over 736 people recommended the story on Facebook and 366 tweeted it.

I think that gives a far truer view of the feelings of people towards Sharada (and Brian Coleman) than the trolls would want you to believe. As I finished my conversation with my friend earlier today, I asked her if she ever listens the the Anarcho-Punk band Crass, who at the time were our favourite. She was quite taken aback - she said "CRASS?????, Do they owe us a living?" She then said "I'd fogotten about that, it's funny how we've got a recession and things are going full circle. It almost seems quite relevant again".

Sadly, that is so true.


B.Coleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.Coleman said...


The Evening Standard could do no better than to publish your post.

Well Done....and THANK YOU.

Moaneybat said...


It's what all the trolls and nasties don't say quite openly and directly that says most about them. They're hardly likely to say "Work Makes You Free" which is similar to "Go to work and be free from your misery." If you can't do that get out.

Where did we hear that in one of the most AUSTERE times in Europe that made a starving nation into one of the nastiest, some 70 odd years ago, they began with the weakest in their society whom could not contribute to their growth and were re-located or exterminated?

Let's hope that in these very trying times they don't find their jobs redundant when their employer downsizes by giving them a P45 and a small amount for their past service. Relative to their ages and skills, possibly with their home re-possesed, they sure as hell, despite all the Equal Opportunities legislation could find themselves in the same predicament as Ms Osman, who at some point did actually pay taxes and would like to get back to doing so again, by following the Government rhetoric of "Get educated" then having graduated come out into the real world would ask, "Where's the jobs? Plenty Job if one speaks Mandarin or Hindi.

What is saddening is, that a good few of those commenters are the beneficiaries of Britain's humanity and compassion that allowed them to come and work in the UK, some with residency rights via the EU (remember the Balkans of the 1990s oops!).

Who could not notice the many languages spoken on council estates and our schools. How many of them turned down the Council home Child Benefit or Child Tax Credits and Local Housing Allowance?

Keep up the good work Forgive my modest tone and language or simply don't post it