.@Theresa_May, here’s your #ScaredSociety – and a life lost to your ‘burning injustice’

This has been one of the hardest articles I’ve written – to maintain objective distance to write about a tragedy that has me close to tears and a callousness that makes my blood boil. I’ve done my best and I hope I’ve done one man and his family justice, at least.

Today, Theresa May gave a speech in which she spoke of a ‘shared society‘ and pledged to end its ‘burning injustices‘ – as if she’s not fully aware that the worst of them are caused by the policies and worldview of her party.

I’d like to tell her about one of those burning injustices. One that it’s too late for her to end, even if there had been a shred of sincerity in her speech.

Liverpool man Charles James Agnew – Chuck to his friends and family – was a human being. Loving, compassionate, flawed and a hard worker – a former merchant navy cook and baker, as well as a master butcher and trained confectioner. A man of skills and a love for life, who didn’t like to be in front of the lens but took his camera with him everywhere when he was well, which he hadn’t been for some time.

Like most Scousers, he had a big heart, a love for family and an innate generosity. He was close to his sister and three brothers and he loved kids.

I say was, because he died last week, after a series of sanctions imposed by his local Jobcentre – no doubt to meet targets the Dept of Work and Pensions claim don’t exist it’s been proven they do – left him starving and penniless.

Because my words are inadequate to tell his story, I’ll let his brother, who contacted this blog, do it in his own words.

Charles ‘Chuck’ Agnew as a baby

Hi, I am Paul the brother of Charles James Agnew – Chuck to all of us.

Chuck was in the merchant navy from when he left school till he was dismissed through ill health, I’m not sure exactly how many years he was in but at least 12 years. Chuck had a big heart – he had a long time girlfriend who at that time had two children in care one about 6 the other about 4 years old when Chuck met her.She suffered from depression and severe panic attacks. I don’t know exactly why they were put in care, but I do know it was Chuck who got them out.

My brother brought them up as his own – he took them to school, he picked them up from school, he cooked all their meals – all while being a carer for their mother. One day he had to take a bus journey with their mother, but when they got there she got off first and before chuck could get off the bus drove off with the doors still open. Because she was in a state at that time, my brother panicked and jumped of the bus. He fell and the result was severely smashed wrists, which ended his career on the ships – he’d never be able to do the jobs he was trained for again.

A couple of years down the line they both had a child together. Chuck considered all the kids the same – as far as he was concerned they were all his and they were all treated the same . But eventually things went wrong for him when he and she started having arguments, mainly over her not helping him round the house.

He got depressed and started taking some of her tablets to help him get through the day and eventually she threw him out and he ended up in our mother’s house. His ex stopped him seeing the kids – he went through the courts but she wouldn’t turn up to hearings and he got no where.

He missed the kids so badly that he started on harder drugs, but tried to get off them. Now I know people think drug addicts are thin and thieves but even in his worst times Chuck would rather give than receive and was a bit on the chubby side.

Anyway then came the changes to JSA (jobseekers allowance). Chuck went from getting disability allowance to JSA and it was all down hill from there. Chuck lost his younger brother, then our mother. He suffered from diabetes and then with all the stress the heart attacks started – and still, through all of this he suffered what I would describe as harassment by the JSA – appointments here, targets there, being passed from pillar to post.

Chuck had already had a stent in his left leg because of circulation problems from his diabetes and then he was told he needed one in his right leg as well. The operation wasn’t a success, so he was looking at amputation of his right leg and possibly his left as well.

The jobcentre had given him an appointment and with all this going on there was no way he was going to get there. Chuck called the jobcentre and the surgeon wrote them a letter as well – and they still sanctioned him again. It was heartbreaking.

After my mum died, Chuck had to move in with our younger brother, who’s on a low wage. The outcome of the sanction meant my younger brother had to carry the burden of paying all the bills and the extra stress caused him to start drinking.

My younger brother pays his taxes and my sister too and they were both having to pay twice – she’d bought Chuck a laptop so he could do his jobsearches and she could ill afford it. I pay my taxes as well, but I’ve had to subsidise both my brothers.

My brother Chuck, who would help anyone if he could, was basically frozen, starved and harrassed to the point of collapse. Within a year he went from a good 14 stone to just 7 stone, not a picking on him.

Chuck Agnew not long before his tragic death

And then on Thursday he was found dead in the street by passers-by. He had been to the shop for his small amount of shopping and his heart had just given out.

It feels like there’s a holocaust in this country but it’s being ignored and lied about.

Charles James Agnew of Kingsheath Avenue in Liverpool was my brother. Rest in peace, Chuck, we all miss you loads.

Theresa May, this is not a ‘shared society’ – it’s a scared society. A blighted one.

A society indeed of burning injustices – in which people who do their best are hounded even to their deaths.

A society in which hundreds of thousands of people, including 120,000 children, spent Christmas homeless and face a bleak new year with no hope of better.

A society in which you cut taxes for the rich while you starve the NHS to the point of collapse while you and your Health Secretary hide and ignore it.

A scared society – and you and your party are the cause, not the solution.

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  1. This state of affairs has been building up for a lot longer than most people realize. It’s disgusting.

    We need proper international court trials for the vile politicians that created this situation – from Thatcher, through Blair to the present day.

    Theresa May’s lies are just sickening. I say hang the lot of them – like we did with war criminals after the Nuremburg trials.

  2. Thank you for writing the article, hard as it must have been. It was hard to read. It needs to go viral on facebook or something.

  3. Even if Theresa May read this it would have no impact. She’d deny everything. She would have despised Chuck and people like him because he’d never have fitted the bill for what makes a good, likeable, worthy human being in her eyes. Chuck didn’t stand a chance … from Liverpool, poor, not in the best of health, personal difficulties, got a raw deal in life, not a fox hunter and not liable to vote Tory – all the things that Theresa May would turn her nose up at, and seize upon and use to target him, isolate him, grind him and people like him even further into the dirt… and potentially all the way down, six feet under, to make the figures go down also, to make them look better… to make it appear her “caring”, bogus, social justice approach is actually working. The Tories’ sick, unspoken equation: Suffering and an early death for those we don’t value = success.

    1. I agree with you Wirral but, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” (Edmund Burke)
      It matters not if Theresa May reads it, but it matters if people who were stupid or misguided enough to vote Tory last time get the message and change their vote next time. We have to keep pumping away at the message.

  4. The sacrifices the entire family made here are what we actually know the working class do – try as hard as they can to keep families together, and look after their own. Often they look after others too, as Chuck did by taking on children as his own, or through community groups etc. It’s always those who have least in our society who share what they have freely, because we all know what it looks like on the other side. I went hungry through poverty as a child, and I can never look away.

    But the so called “sharing society” is in fact TMay formalising this network and telling us, that’s all there is now, don’t expect the govt to pay decent (or any) benefits or look after the sick or the poor or those who have misfortune from poor health or unemployment or the many myriad of misfortune that afflict any of us.

    This is a brutal message tarted up with lipstick and sugar on the t*rd. We need to take to the streets. Demos are being planned for the NHS on the next 2 weeks and days of action in March too. We need to attend, we need to organise and we need to be heard. This is not optional now.

  5. The Tories have succeeded in creating a #scaredsociety – it was their aim. People who are frightened will do as they’re told and just take what’s handed out to them which a lot of people who are not frightened, would not.
    It seems we’re getting very close to people having had enough (going back to Thatcher coming in in 1979 and continuing to the present day). I had to go to see a doctor today (as a last resort) and eventually saw a Paramedic who said I was quite allright: I have been in bed for a week with a chesty cough, cold, temperature and wheezing. After examining me, he said my chest was clear and yet I continue to bring up a huge amount of phlegm (sorry about that). I looked at all the apathetic people and felt like standing up and shouting to them what was happening to our NHS but knew they would believe the Government rather than me; even if their eyes must see the huge change.I was told to come back if I get worse. I should have gone last week but postponed it as I read about the huge pressure on Gps and hospitals.

    1. I avoided A&E for two weeks to keep it free for emergencies, and ended up in hospital for two weeks with pneumonia. They used very expensive drugs which could’ve been avoided with the correct diagnosis in the first place

  6. What can any of us do ? Well, at least we can do What Charles did, and not give up on being something better than the creatures that politicians want us to be.

    I get inspired every time a wonderful person like Charles makes the effort. R.I.P brother

  7. This is my beloved uncle. Please share this article on social media. Thank you x

  8. Im so sorry for your loss. Sounds like a lovely man.
    Human beings no longer valued in our society.
    Govt deliberately harrassing disabled and vulnerable.
    Ive gone from affluence to penury due to divorce and disability. Legal aid cuts saw me under represented and trampled by team of hot shot london barristers who took everything from me, all my premarital assetts plus enable x ex to avoid maintenance.
    Ive been screwed over by former Coutts banker, Queens own bank.
    Im on benefits now and so afraid suicidal as result.
    Cannot stand the constant fear.
    Was married 10 years. 3 children but have gone from being a person to a non person.
    Miracle am not on streets and homeless.
    Just had PIP assesment. Absolute joke. Asked to count backwards in 7s. I can do mental arithmetic but cannot walk etc so the point of that is what exactly.
    Asked by phsio doing assessment why I dont kill myself. Just like that.
    Good question..may well come to it.
    Disgusting what is happening but nobody cares unless directly affected.
    National Shame.

    1. hi this is chucks brother.iam sorry to hear about your troubles and hope things improve for you in the near future.don’t give up that is what they want.as my brother said they can take every thing off him but not his pride or his love off life.the second photo of him is when my sister took him to Bletchley he loved nothing more than history , the code breakers like Turing ect.small things like that to some people,a big thing to chuck.and things like this got him through he would not let them beat him down.and I hope you don’t. your not alone.

    2. I’m very sorry hear of your plight. You are not a “non person,” but a “person,” under the stresses and strains of the current system through no fault of your own. I hope the tide turns for you soon.

  9. I believe every person of value.
    This govt just one of long succession been eroding this view. Our society does not value people anymore.
    Views and behaviours which would have been considered disgusting years ago,re normalising tax evasion, mps cheating expenses, you name it, seem accepted now. Money is only thing which counts.
    God help us all frankly as no sense of collective responsibility, no value placed on nhs, social morality erased. No justice system. You have the cah, you win!
    Thatcher must be grinning in her grave.
    It must stop one day but may not be in any of our lifetimes’

  10. Don’t really know how to start this conversation here goes I’ve been searching for a long time to find the love of my life his name was chuck Agnew he come to Holyhead over forty years ago to work on the ship’s I’m thinking to my self is this the same man that your story is about in my heart I’m hoping it is not I’ve kept a secret from him for all these years no offense meant to anyone only his family will no if it was hime with his long black hair I’m hoping this is private and confidential I find it so strange that I come about this article I hope you don’t mind me leaving my phone number as I will no if I still have to search for him or is it my last searche 01407765965

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