The Deserving Poor?

Alistair DarlingAlastair Darling has said that charities that benefit hugely from the union, citing specifically the national lottery, which would be under threat in an independent Scotland. It’s unusual for an argument so easily put to bed to be trotted out with such pride by the Better Together campaign, so let’s examine just how ridiculous it is.

For a start, there’s the absent-minded message to all of us working in the voluntary sector “Just be thankful you have the lottery, otherwise there’d be no funding for you!” Way to value our work! Presumably Alastair can’t bring himself to tell us there’d be more money if we stay (not even the most patriotism-addled folk over at Better Together believe that) so he’s saying we’d lose the lottery funding. Would that be so bad? Movements like Radical Independence and the National Collective are making headway, with the rest of the YES campaign, in convincing people that a Yes vote would give us full fiscal control to shore up the social care we so badly need.

The lottery is a double-edged sword for the voluntary sector, one of the tools which gives even the most ardent capitalist some impossibilist food for thought. A game of chance, offering people a catapult to the most hollowed echelons of wealth, which happens to give out money to charitable causes. Nobody would tell you that the lottery is a bad thing in and of itself, but virtually everyone would tell you they’d prefer their project be funded through public money. The difference in status is a significant one, although one that’s increasingly been blurred in austerity where organisations previously working on projects funded through government have had to turn for match funding or outright funding from the lottery.

Even without the lottery being mentioned this shows the vapid, petit-bourgeois stupidity that Labour and the other Westminster parties now champion under the guise of ‘social justice.’ They couldn’t care less about the work done for people-they’re only faintly concerned with caring about the public sector, having proven in power that they’re comfortable with privatising large swathes of that. Neither do they recognise the complexity of the voluntary sector, from the vitality of community projects which might benefit from some big lottery funding to the major organisations which provide healthcare services for issues the public sector can’t or won’t take on right now. The former should be getting public funding anyway (otherwise we are pitting communities against one another) and the latter should be receiving funding comparable to the public sector to do its work.

The idea that the ‘social union’ is anything to be defended should have whichever dry-humoured yes-voting intern who mentioned it in the BT office promoted. Charities in England have seen their funding slashed and the voluntary sector turned over wholesale to social enterprises. This in the name of the Big Society, the Liberal/Tory dream of ensuring that markets can cater for the things that really matter (causes which tug at Midland swing-voters’ heart strings). If there’s a no vote nobody up here should be in any doubt that the voluntary sector as we know it will be wiped off the map. Being ‘Better Together’ means ‘doing more with less.’ We can look forward to seeing the last vestiges of an infrastructure cobbled together to work for the most marginalised people in our society, rendered lovingly down to nothing in the sake of inconsistent 0.3% GDP growth-another ‘difficult choice’ for Cameron and co. to win back potential UKIP voters.

Nobody with any idea about how the voluntary sector operates would claim that the loss of big lottery funding would be something to cry about. Sure-the money is nice, but it’s tainted and we should be looking for something better, more long-lasting, and cognizant of the humanity which voluntary organisations serve. Ideally, a thorough understanding of what we need to fund at the periphery of our public sphere, to help those people who are the most vulnerable in our society. The really vulnerable. Not the deserving poor-Alastair’s cronies’ latest political concoction south of the border.

Comments (18)

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  1. Eliot Stark says:

    Just to mention that in the BetterDarling address @gatherscotland – what had leaked to the papers somehow never made it to the platform, although I am sure that it would have been challenged and left in tatters like most of the negativity and lack of vision that was shown!

  2. Mark says:

    Every time Mr Darling opens his mouth it seems is to let out a more trite statement than the previous one. Is he secretly on the payroll of the Yes campaign, a legitimate concern considering the vapidity if not outright stupidity of most of his comments. It is reassuring to know that the Labour Party has moved so far to the right that it no longer has to feign interest or concern over the views of what is left of the working classes.

  3. James Morton says:

    Its far worse than that – The no campaign has done such a hatchet job on Scotland’s place in the Union, at home and abroad, that it is becomingly increasingly clear that the Union will not survive a No vote. They have managed to convince so many English people that they pay for everything here, that no party who wins in Westminster will be able to resist calls to abolish the Barnett formula. The status quo won’t survive the No vote. Scots who voted no will not be regarded as people who believed in Union – they will be regarded as scrounging Scots who knew who paid the bills. We’ll be openly mocked for having voted no – even people who voted yes will be in the firing line. Scottish labour are just dumb enough to think they can occupy the ruins and once more preach “Only we can keep the Tories out”. They are going to be the biggest losers come the no vote…followed by the union they lied so much to save.

    1. fehvepehs says:

      Excellent insight that has been overlooked. The staunch no voters, will I think be seen as self interested traitors if the vote goes their way. They on the other hand will gloating as they think that their lives will continue unchanged and that normal service has been resumed. The Tories WILL be returned as the economy will be shown to be recovering (massaging the figures and they own the media after all). Labour in Scotland are a joke, but there are still people who refuse to see that they are a bunch of 2nd raters who can’t think for themselves and continue to spout the party mantra.

  4. Will Mcewan says:

    Surely the point has to be made that we contribute to the National Lottery and we presently get a proportionate amount back out of it in grants etc. It’s not charity.
    We would get the same or a better return in proportionate terms from a Scottish lottery. The Irish have been doing a national lottery (originally called the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake) for decades and you a can enter it in any UK bookmakers.

    1. fehvepehs says:

      Hi there Will when you are in the bookies you are not actually participating in the Irish Lottery. You are only betting on the numbers that come out so you are not eligible for any prize money. Its the bookies who keep the money and if you are lucky it’s them that pay out the winnings

  5. KeyStakeholder says:

    I saw something which upset me today in my local corner shop.
    Behind the counter was some POS material for the National Lottery, congratulating the people of Troqueer for raising some £675k “for good causes”, the photo accompanying the text seemed to be of the Olympic torch relay.
    I was in the queue behind a couple of people. One was counting his coppers to put some money on his gas-meter card, just in time to cook lunch, he said. The other – much the same. Oh and some scratchies they bought too.

  6. Surely some of them will eventually feel embarrassed enough to start being honest maybe when they find integrity.

  7. bringiton says:

    I seem to remember that Lottery funds intended for Scottish charities were used to fund the London Olympics.
    The only “benefit” to Scotland as a result of this was a drop in visitor numbers as a consequence.
    Of course, at that time we weren’t threatening to walk away and leave them with the bill.

  8. Dcanmore says:

    The benefits of an ever-growing sovereign wealth fund would be a far more effective (and ethical) way of funding our Third Sector rather than relying on someone’s gambling habits. Darling wants us all to be dependent on a bloated centralised government, preferably one where he has a say in and ultimately profits from. He believes in a detached government where the population is spoken to from high and the only way to be part of changing society, to what is believed to be ideologically correct, is climb the politico-carreer of a grey suit within structures of the Party. Darling is just another grey suit that rose without trace. Democracy has nothing to with what Darling preaches, only dependency and the mindset that follows it… ‘too poor, too wee, too stupid’. Orwell got it spot on.

  9. douglas clark says:

    I’ll stand corrected, but the National Lottery was not supposed to be a tax as such. The profit was supposed to be spent on frivilous stuff. Stuff that government’s wouldn’t fund in a million years.

    It has all got a lot more serious since then. As charities substitute for what ought to be state provided services, and as Lottery money is now allocated to that, where is the frivolity any more?

  10. £2 x 52 a year is pretty taxing on most, how much was the poll tax again? Then there’s those midweek blues, ah Wednesday has a draw, and all those scratchcards millions… Nothing short of using the poor against their own better senses, have a look around for bookies enrichment outlets next time you’re in an affluent area compared to a government funded one for perspective. Would love to see Scotland’s share of lottery entries, we can always stoop to setting up our own, or aim higher each Friday.

  11. Keef says:

    The lottery has actually meant a loss of £1.4bn to Scotland since it was started. That’s right it has managed to suck an extra £1.4 billion of Scot’s hard earned cash. Cash that could and should have been spent supporting the voluntary sector. The facts and figures are all to be found here

  12. Mark says:

    It’s funny how lottery funding has now become de jure public funding. I can well remember the Tory and their Labour fellow travellers reassurances that of.course lottery funding would be a supplement to, but never a replacement for public investment. It would seem that besides Mr Darling’s facile arguments against independence, that here again we have the goal posts being quietly shifted when history is once again re-written for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful.

  13. Dan Huil says:

    Darling gets increasingly desperate as he watches his future seat in the house of lords disappear over the horizon.

  14. Ken MacColl says:

    The National Lottery – a wee something for almost nothing, as Jola might say

  15. Gordon says:

    Agree with Keef. The Lottery is a tax on the poor, hoping for a bonanza to get them out of chronic poverty that has plagued them for generations.. Instead of the poor helping the poor in the way of charitable services, the money has gone to projects ‘dahn saaf’, mainly Lunnun for major infrastructure projects like the Olympics. To those who don’t need it.

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