Sometimes Hartlepool really delights me with how good it can be to live here – We’ve got lots of green spaces, a fairly efficient council, a good standard of social housing, a brewery, some good museums and heritage sites and if you look hard enough then you can find just about everything you need here… Not all that you want, but all that you need. I spend quite a lot of time in Middlesbrough for one reason or another and I meet people there who seriously say that Im lucky to live in Hartlepool. They want to live here.
The only thing that’s missing from the town is a plentiful supply of long-term, stable work. More and more roles are now either temporary, part time (so that the employer can employ mums who have kids at school for the minimum wage), are fixed term contract of a few months or are funded/part funded by Government… or all of the above!
It’s not just here that this is happening – anywhere where any heavy industry or mining operations once flourished seems to have been hit by these issues. Government policies (of successive governments) have destroyed the country’s manufacturing base and left us with a bunch of service industries. Real, stable, long term employment is a thing of the past for some people. The few jobs that are left for ex-industrial employees to fill are now opened up to immigrants so that the owners of businesses can make as much money as they like maximising their profits at the expense of others (they say that this keeps them competitive but in reality this actually keeps them rich). Retraining is a joke as well these days, the powers that be dont just want new skills, they want people to make a whole lifestyle shift towards being more mobile and flexible – this is, of course, achievable if the wages paid by an employer wanting you to work all hours in different places where necessary are up to scratch so that you can put some by to cover any periods of unemployment. House prices also need to be relatively low and terms and conditions of work reasonable.
Currently, for millions of people, these three criteria are simply not being met. People work long hours for low pay and struggle to save anything at all. They are constantly at threat of “downsizing” or “outsourcing” or just being directly replaced by somebody cheaper. They can never afford to buy a house and so live in a situation where they are standing still financially… they cannot plan ahead because as far as they can see the little bit of spare cash they have this year will be the same as the little bit of spare cash they will have in five years time. These are the folks who have to use the likes of Farepak Hampers to save a little money each week so that they can afford a fairly decent Christmas. The light at the end of the tunnel is switched off for them. All they can see ahead for years is the same cycle or work, TV, sleep around and around and around. Current Government policies are not doing anything to address this: Creating Sure Start schemes, Tax Credits and At Work agencies is (just about) successfully hiding the problem but it’s not addressing any of the issues of the poverty trap because that would cost the top 5-10% of earners in this country real money and would mean a redistribution of wealth down the ladder (at present the system we have ensures it travels upwards).
You might wonder where all this waffle is heading… well here’s the crux of the matter – these are the people at whom the National Lottery is aimed – those people who can only see one way out of their grinding, crushing daily existence… a win on the National Lotto. Their vain hopes cause them to play this excuse for a competition week upon week, time after time. You have to be in it to win it the slogan says. This is undeniably true, but is not representative of the real situation which is more like You have to be in it to have a 1 in 14,000,000 chance of winning it and your chance does not improve if you keep playing, next week it will still be the same.
The folks running the Lotto are playing on the paranoia of people who do the lottery each week once youve played once, how could you forgive yourself if your numbers came up next week and you didnt bother playing But when this is the only way out of a lifestyle of endless drudgery and poverty who can blame you for trying Remember It could be you actually that should read It is very very very (keep saying very fourteen million times to get some idea of how much) unlikely to be you but go for it and I wish you well. Remember youve already won the lottery really you live in Hartlepool!