This late into the autumn of my life I should not have to be writing and working on the human right to a decent home. But I am. Or the responsibility of the organisations of the state not to be the enemies of our own people, but they are.
I am Daniel Blake. And I am Cathy Come Home. I am spray painting my truth on your outside walls. And here it is.
“I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user. I am not a shirker, a scrounger, a beggar or a thief. I am not a National Insurance number, nor a blip on a screen. I paid my dues, never a penny short, and proud to do so. I don’t tug the forelock but look my neighbour in the eye. I don’t accept or seek charity. My name is Daniel Blake. I am a man, not a dog. As such, I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect.
I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen, nothing more, nothing less, thank you.”
When I was twelve years old the course of my future life was set by being allowed to stay up late one day in November 1966 to watch ‘Cathy Come Home’ by Ken Loach. At a preview showing in Liverpool, 50 years later, I watched ‘I, Daniel Blake’ by the same director. Grateful the film has been made. Outraged that it had to be.
It went on to be shown to thousands of people in hundreds of cinemas and to get a huge amount of media coverage. Mostly supportive but with the expected denials from supporters of austerity.
And now it’s out on DVD, so everyone can see it.