‘Workless or factless? Poverty and political myth’

I have been invited to talk about poverty in a pub by some very kind people involved with the Skeptics in the Pub venture in Newcastle. They wanted a big name in poverty in the region to do the talk and, when they failed to land one, they asked a few more people who turned them down before someone pointed out that, if they asked me, my expenses claim would amount to a Daysaver bus ticket, half a shandy and a bag of chips….

So, on 11th June at 7:30pm, I will be ‘appearing’ at The Bridge Hotel in Castle Square, Newcastle giving a talk called ‘Workless or factless? Poverty and political myths’. At the moment, it is shaping up to be part pub philosophy, part local history, part social science and part rant. My plan is to draw on local information and research carried out in the region or by people involved with the North East as much as possible, going back to work of Arthur Bowley in Stanley, Co. Durham in 1913. The official blurb for the talk is below and you can find out a bit more about the event here (mugshot advisory warning)

The UK is one of the richest countries in the world and yet, many people are classed as living in ‘poverty’. Political explanations for this situation include ‘cultures of worklessness passed down the generations’ and a welfare system which encourages ‘dependency’ with people seeing ‘living off benefits’ as a ‘lifestyle choice’. The increase in the use of foodbanks in the UK in recent months has been put down to simple market forces of supply and demand and the misspending of benefits. If only we could change the behaviour of poor people and improve the ‘choices’ they make, we could eradicate poverty, right? Unfortunately, over a century of social scientific research in the UK suggests otherwise….

Any ‘lurkle’ followers or readers of this are, of course, more than welcome to join me or, if it doesn’t appeal (and it probably isn’t how I would choose to spend a free evening to be fair), you could always turn up for a drink after the talk has finished – which is scheduled to be around 8:15 I think. I’ll share my chips with you, promise…..

Cheers,

Steve