If anyone still wonders why so many people can’t be bothered to vote, the last few days has probably answered provided the answer. The debate amongst senior politicians over an MP’s dress sense was banal and rude, and from a woman’s perspective, just plain embarrassing. Some of the comments were so mean they would have had teenage girls called immediately to the Principal’s Office.
However it did highlight another issue, the misconception amongst the political right that activist groups and political parties concerned with fighting poverty and inequality, such as the Greens and the Alliance, demand austerity – that we believe that no one should have any fun or treats or own nice things.
Quite the opposite is true. We want everyone to have nice stuff! We want everyone to have the sort of lifestyle that means they can live comfortably and even splash out on some really nice clothes, or a plush new sofa, or an overseas holiday now and then.
What we do not support is a few people having a very extravagant lifestyle thanks to their exorbitant income, while others struggle. It’s not about austerity versus extravagance. It’s about equality and sustainability.
Nor do we want those on low incomes to have to rely on hand outs from the well-to-do. We believe everyone is entitled to a liveable income. Workers and producers are all entitled to receive a fair reward for their labour. Those who have no paid work are entitled to receive an income from the state that allows them to live with dignity and take part in our community.
Strong labour laws and progressive taxation should be the main means for equitable distribution of wealth, not MPs selling their jackets and giving the money to the poor!