i Editor's Letter: Where's the Christmas cheer?


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The Independent Online


So little Christmas cheer in today's i. There's E.ON putting up bills by an astonishing 8.7 per cent (has your income risen by 8.7 per cent this year? Thought not), the imminent arrival of the Beast from the East, and the Government's advice to not give money to a homeless person, but call a helpline.

Then, there's the news that one in six charities may not survive past January – such is the parlous state of their finances. I don't believe at all that this is because we have become a less generous nation. But it's clear that the squeeze is forcing ever more of us to make some very tough choices, including giving to fewer charities.

I often admitted to my naive optimism in this space, but I still believe Britain to be a kindly nation, where we believe in looking after our disadvantaged, most notably through the NHS and the benefits system. A tangible current fear is that, as so often during slumps, the poor are being turned against each other. Owen Jones articulated this with passion yesterday as "the working poor being turned against the non-working poor". That's where nonsense talk of people going to work resenting their (supposedly workshy) neighbours behind closed curtains leads us. I don't know these "workshy" people. On the council estate in which I grew up, in my mum's neighbourhood in Croydon today, or mine in west London, I have never met a single person who would rather not work. Period.

Oh, and, in case you wanted to take comfort in some Christmas warmth, it turns out Raymond Briggs, creator of The Snowman, hates Christmas. Never mind, the world ends tomorrow, doesn't it? Egg-nog, anyone?