Farrukh Dhondy | Food or warmth? Tough choices on Hedgieâ€™s watch as Christmas nears
“Three pairs of serrated, pointed leaves
Out-stretched -- each pair a crucified, angled arm
These branches of autumn shed and Earth receives
Next season’s generous flowering, begging palm!”
From Laments of Sweetji, by Bachchoo
Christmas comes but once a year! (There was joke extension which I dare not repeat in a family newspaper) So soon, my good readers, the carols will ring out -- songs of praise and of hope. Britain is good at anthems of hope.
One of the more notorious ones, a colonial boast, is Land of Hope and Glory. Then there is the one we sang in school choirs in India -- I Vow to Thee My Country -- only we didn’t quite understand to which country we were pledging a tryst. I now know it was “another country I’ve heard of long ago” -- for which Abraham laid “upon the altar the dearest and the best….”
This Christmas, though, the celebratory lights are festooned on front garden bushes and the street lights jollied up with coloured constructions. Yet, the Christmas of 2022 brings no rays of hope but shafts of discomfort for the population brought about by the strategic strikes by thousands of workers in public service professions. Here again -- nurses, ambulance, railway, postal, immigration workers, junior doctors … and some that I’ve missed.
They are all striking not just to demand that their wages keep up with the over-11-and-threatened-14 per cent inflation of the currency. They want reform.
The inflation crisis is called the cost-of-living (CoL) crisis as the price of everything is going up by leaps and bounds. That doesn’t in any way affect the lifestyles of the rich, but cripples the livelihoods of the poor who are even now weighing up the cost of food against that of keeping warm this winter.
(In case you’ve lost me, gentle reader, this is not about some God-forsaken country struck by terror and famine, but about Britain -- yes hunger versus warmth! -- and perhaps no conveyance to the hospital or care if you get there!)
This is, though the government led by Hedgie Sunak will never admit it, the consequence of 12 years of Tory rule and of the narrowly won vote for Brexit, led by opportunistic politicians appealing to the basest instincts of the voting public. They would rather obfuscate the larger impact of both those by blaming the obviously blame-worthy Covid-19 pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
And again, while the country faces inflation, the punishments of CoL, the justified withdrawal of vital services, Hedgie and his Cabinet turn once more to appeal to what they believe are the population’s nasty, uncharitable, un-Christian but “justified” beliefs. They announce their intention to renew efforts to send a few hundred asylum-seekers, who are not entitled to asylum, to Rwanda.
This determination initiated by Priti “Clueless” Patel, when she was home secretary and now supported by Cruella Braverman, Hedgie’s home secretary, and by Hedgie Sunak himself will, if the law finally allows its implementation, render a few hundred illegal asylum-seekers into Rwanda’s unsafe custody. But that will do nothing to dent the political and economic catastrophe of Britain.
Nothing! It’s an expensive ploy, paid for by the taxpayer, to get Hedgie and gang aligning themselves with despicable, if popular, opinion.
A peculiar coincidence comes to mind. The three great advocates of the “send Johnny illegal foreigner to Rwanda” brigade are all “Asians”. We have used that term in the political movements of British immigrants which declared ourselves “black and Asian”. The latter was a term which covered the subcontinent without making divisions -- whatever India thought of Pakistan or Bangladesh thought of their former oppressors, in the UK we were one.
And the coincidence is that the three Asian politicians demanding the conveyance of a handful of “illegals” to Rwanda, at considerable cost to the British taxpayer, are all from Indian families who migrated to Africa.
Hedgie, Clueless and Cruella are all children of immigrants from India to Africa who subsequently landed up in the UK. Is this a determinant in their deport-others-to-Rwanda policy? Have they inherited some attitudes to “other races”, to foreigners, to an acceptance of being uprooted? Do they claim to know that Rwanda is a fantastic place to start a new life because their parents thought it prudent to leave the African nations to which they had migrated? This may, as I said, be complete coincidence, but I suppose I could ask a Tory like Sajid Javid or Alok Sharma, who are of descent with no connection to Africa, if they are as enthusiastic as Hedgie, Clueless and Cruella about this Rwanda nonsense? Of course I can’t, because they wouldn’t countenance a query from a nobody.
And returning to the theme of anthems, there is a parody from the 1970s which goes: “There ain’t no black in the Union Jack”. But now, with the accession of Hedgie to the prime ministership without being elected by the British electorate or by the membership of his own party, it definitely needs modification.
“There ain’t no black in the Union Jack
But shouldn’t there now be some brown?
With the elevation of Hedgie Sunak
A PM with more power than the Crown?”
Or as Wille Shakesaheb might have said:
“The time is out of joint, O cursed spite!
That a hedge-fund Punjabi was not born to put it right?”