Monday, 26 April 2010

New kind of Manifesto: The poverty truth commission

We have seen two of the three election debates on TV and I must confess that I have found them illuminating. Nobody has yet mentioned some of the appalling inequality statistics that poor people in our country and in Scotland have to face. This is why I am so much in favour of the work that Martin Johnston, of Faith Community Scotland, Jim Wallace and others of the Poverty Truth Commission are doing in highlighting these inequalities through their own alternative manifesto .

The Commission was set up in March 2009 by Church of Scotland  and Faith and Community Scotland, bringing together people with a direct experience of poverty and some of Scotland’s senior civic leaders. The Commission, co-chaired by former Scottish Lib Dem leader Lord Wallace of Tankerness and Tricia MacConalogue has brought together people with direct experience of poverty, and policy-makers who address poverty issues within their work. The result has been fabulous eye-opener information and conferences where the truth about what living in poverty in Scotland actually means, and the tremendous dignity, courage, resilience and determination of people who are set on ending the inherent discrimination and inequality of access to quality social, health and educational services brought about by their post-code.

The alternative manifesto is not just about statistics. This manifesto makes evident with faces and real life stories the life-choices that men and women of this country have to make when living in poverty. The numbers begin to have faces and names. Statistics are important. I do hope that truthful, meaningful statistics will be the backbone for decision-making for anyone of our candidates as they prepare for the third and last debate which will centre on economic issues. However, I would urge them to look at the real life stories behind the numbers. Some “prep” on the Poverty Truth Commission Manifesto might come-in handy during question time.

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