This is our contribution to CarerWatch’s ‘Carers and General Election 2015′:
Carers, the perennially patronised and exploited resource all human societies rely upon.
Every political party wants to appear to value compassion, caring and respect by saying nice things about caring, but in practice carers remain valued by our political economy as an endlessly exploitable undervalued resource. Without carers the world would come to halt within days and human suffering would multiply exponentially, yet carers work is not paid at even minimum wage. Perhaps this phenomenon does signify a deeper truth about our political & economic systems, austerity might be described as the war between those who do not care for other people, against those who do care. To the cruellest and most selfish go the greatest wealth and power, and to the compassionate, respectful and empathetic go exploitation, disregard and vilification. One might suppose hard nose capitalists will assume as carers cannot strike as such (as daily, other human lives depend on them), then they can continue to be safely ignored. It certainly would appear successive governments of all political brands have born this thought in mind with their persistent undervaluing and exploitation of caring. So carers wisely have taken to no longer accepting kind words as adequate remuneration for their essential work, the time is well overdue for them to be properly rewarded with a secure existence, political, economic and social respect. Or to put it bluntly deeds not words, cash not platitudes.
And what leverage may carers have in this struggle? One might hope basic human decency in a civilised democratic society would afford them a rapid recognition of their value and subsequent improvement in conditions. I return you to the hard nosed capitalist once you have stopped laughing. Thus our resolution is that as long as carers are undervalued, exploited and patronised we will without sentimentalism observe, whatever our political and business elite may say, there are in fact indecent, uncivilised and undemocratic. And therefore our struggle will redouble in efforts to make this society one fit for humans to live, thrive and care in.