Profiteers are making money from victims of Tory austerity – Christine Grahame

There are food banks in almost every town and village in Scotland. Picture: Neil Hanna
There are food banks in almost every town and village in Scotland. Picture: Neil Hanna
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We all borrow things, says MSP Christine Grahame, but should never have to get in debt to buy the essentials of life.

My late mother used to always discourage “borrowing” even for the smallest of items and I suppose that’s why I’m so resistant to doing it myself

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

What’s the saying – “Neither a borrower or a lender be”? It’s not as I thought a quote from the Bible but Shakespeare. It was Polonius, a character in Hamlet giving advice to Laertes: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

Bit of truth in that. Mind you I have borrowed in my time; books, scissors, a Hoover, a screwdriver, hair dryer for example. I have borrowed money, apart from the usual mortgage or overdraft which is of course borrowing, There is the odd occasion when you have forgotten your purse or don’t have change for the coffee machine, but then it is essential and a worry that you will remember to pay it back as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than the friend fretting that you have forgotten that £10 you are due but not wanting to remind you.

READ MORE: Amber Rudd: Families on universal credit did have to use food banks

Sons frequently ask to “borrow” change for the bus or a stamp. I never see the return, of course. Indeed, how can you “borrow” a stamp? Who goes out and produces a replacement?

The car has been a target for “”borrowing” but I have firmly put my foot down on that one. My ex-husband had a trade among other things and would never let anyone borrow any tools from his vast selection, especially a saw. He explained how it could be ruined in the hands of an amateur.

So borrowing is fraught with difficulties. I’m not just speaking of books never to be returned but borrowing on a commercial scale, which you can see any day, especially on Daytime TV when Quick Quid, among other ads, promises your problems are solved.

Of course they are not. With dizzying interest rates a small sum borrowed soon multiplies faster than the Scottish midgie and it’s the very folk who can’t afford the interest rates who are caught up in spiralling debt. Now there’s a mountain of difference between borrowing for a luxurious holiday abroad or a swish state-of-the-art car – when you can’t afford it – and the folk who borrow just to get by. For the former I would take my mother’s advice and save as she did before a “luxury” was allowed across the doorstep. The gramophone and later the fitted carpet, both of which were her pride and joy, were treasured as it took time and effort to raise the funds but it is wrong, wrong, wrong, that in 2019 we have folk borrowing and getting into debt to pay to heat their homes, to cook a meal, to buy the food.

READ MORE: Christmas: When food banks cater for enough people to populate Dundee – Stephen Jardine

You see austerity hasn’t made a wheen of difference to the lives of Theresa May or Jacob Rees-Mogg or Boris, because the policies from Westminster under this Tory Government have been directly aimed at the most vulnerable: those on Pension Credit, Disability Benefits, Universal Credit.

They don’t have the luxury of “neither a borrower or a lender be” and why in 2019 we also have food banks in almost every town and village in Scotland. I’ll repeat: food banks in 2019 Scotland. What an indictment of the last ten years of Tory austerity.

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale