This is how the scale of the undiscovered country remains so hidden – because three quarters of the population look around them and see nothing but prosperity. There is a veil over the experience of the other quarter. When the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, told the House of Commons in 1988, ‘Everyone in the nation has benefited from increased prosperity – everyone’, she was drawing this veil deliberately across the truth, but for most people there is nothing cynical about it. For the most part, they simply do not see it”.
I chanced upon this book recently & knew instantly that I had to read it. Nick Davies was already familiar for his rigorous delve into the Murdoch malignancy in the essential Hack Attack exposé. On closer inspection of this guy’s historical investigations, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that Davies has been ploughing into some of the country’s most necessary & important, albeit unsavory & troubling, wounds & afflictions, loosely orbiting – crime, abuse of power, corruption & the true adverse effects of poverty & inequality in a first world society. This book is a milestone which bares more urgency now in the inferno of psychotic austerity & remorseless Conservative sadism, despite its publication in 1998. It examines in assiduous, ground-level, up-close detail the wide-spread obliteration from the neo-liberal Thatcher & Major governments disastrous-spew of privatization, deregulation, financialization, cost cutting, structural adjustments & contraction of state services.
“Who are these 13.7 million people? Once again researchers have collected a mass of raw material. There are all kinds of different poor people in this country. There are literally millions of children. In 1993, the executive director of Unicef, the UN Children’s Fund, warned that Britain’s children were the poorest in Europe. By 1993/4, a third of the boys and girls in Britain, 4.2 million of them, belonged to families who lived below the two accepted poverty lines.”
Rather than stacking statistics or summarizing off of secondary information, Davies embeds deep’ deep within the communities, personalities, troubled spots & crime fraternities across the country & draws on an enormous array of contacts & sources to aggregate a sweeping & thoroughly extensive picture which includes the drivers, results, collateral & psychology of poverty & neglect in a rich developed country.it is often extremely grim reading of an extremely grim phenomenon. Despair, drugs, violence, alcoholism, prostitution, sexual abuse, vagrancy, mental illness, waste & the torrent of trauma that is synonymous & inseparable from poverty & class discrimination in a ‘rich’ society. This secondary ‘undesirable’ realm often remains hidden, whether that be by ignorance, obfuscation or intentional marginalization. When it does ‘intrude’, clash or manifest outside of its substrata, it will almost always be defined by the opposing reality that does not possess the experience, understanding & crucially, – ‘hardships’, of this parallel community, nor live with its consequences & threats (sympathy may also be entirely absent). As a result, & as self-representation or accounting is effectively obstructed – the insulated, the high-and-dry, the removed, get to write the script, the depiction & the verdict. This clearly erroneous misrepresentation leaves the portrayal extremely vulnerable to prejudice, demonization, minimization, disinformation, framing & justification for further ostracizing, condemnation, reduction or the continuation of neglect. This is precisely why journalists such as Nick Davies & books like Dark Heart are so important – they go right into this semi-hidden ugliness & expose it for what it is, also very importantly covering the political decisions that allow this awful & completely unacceptable toll to thrive & expand despite the profits, prosperity & increasing richness that continue to escalate for the select few in the countries ivory enclave.
“When the Church of England produced the faith in the City report in the late 1980s, highlighting “grave and fundamental injustice” among the inner-city poor, the government denounced the report as “Marxist theology”. One of the most senior civil servants from the Department of Social Security told the House of Commons committee: ‘The word “poor” is one the government actually disputes.’ The last Conservative secretary of state for social security, Peter Lilley, refused to heed the UN Social Summit’s call for a national strategy to fight poverty on the grounds that, in Britain, it was unnecessary.”
In regards to contemporary relevance, the book’s age means absolutely nothing – it remains acutely pertinent, if not more so. The current conditions under unspeakable Tory misrule continue to rot like a wet carcass in the full summer heat festering in advanced decomposition without abatement. How this party & its inhuman ideology has survived, let alone wields official power, despite such an unremitting amplitude of virulence, perversion, criminality, corruption, mega mendacity & toxicity to all, is completely beyond me. As the current epidemic of crisis, mutilation, cruelty & hazard outstrip, usurp & eclipse previous records in the country, (unless of course you go back to the Victorian era, which seems to be exactly where the Cancervatives seem intent on driving Britain, if not further, because why stop there?) this journalist’s astute & penetrative documentation of grievous previous ills meted out by that abomination of a party are more damning than ever & more salient for extricating ourselves from this monstrous nadir & the curse of Conservative doctrine, which is now overwhelmingly beyond any doubt crystal clear – has to go in entirety once & forever more.
Anyone that lives in Britain should read this book.
“The number of working poor trebled between 1979 and the mid-1900s. the main reason is simple; the government abolished the wages councils and withdrew the regulations that had once built a financial floor beneath which no worker was allowed to sink. Beyond this, the government stripped power from the trade-union movement, which had previously used its strength to lift wage levels. by August 1995, 78 percent of the jobs that had once been protected by the wages councils were offering pay that was below the level that a family with two children would receive on income support. In other words, the employees were paying below the poverty line.”
Nick Davies-1997-Vintage-305 pages