‘SOMETIMES the Devil doth preach.’ Quite a few Tories must have been watching this week’s sinister BBC adaption of the Jacobean revenge tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi. After all, they seem much inclined to the themes of the playwright John Webster, and using their poison words to do Satan’s work.

I’m no Christian – there’s too much wickedness on Earth to believe in any decent God – but if demonising the poor, the very people you’ve brutalised with your political policies, isn’t a feat worthy of Lucifer, then I better go and consult some old medieval texts on black magic to find out what really rates as hellish cruelty.

A black parade of Tories have been queueing up to humiliate the poor. Let’s recount what these soulless creatures have been saying. Lee Anderson, an MP of no standing, blames the poor for going hungry as they don’t know how to cook. There were no food banks until the return of Tory rule. Now food banks are giving out blankets and clothes, as well as groceries. They’re also providing food that doesn’t need much cooking as increasingly people can’t afford to turn their oven on.

Jacob Rees-Mogg believes food banks are “rather uplifting”. Mogg says he’s a Christian. I trust his god deals with him appropriately in the afterlife. Rachel Maclean says the poor just need to work more hours or get a better job. Well-fed work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey sang The Time of My Life as universal credit was cut.

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Michael Gove has said the poor only have themselves to blame for food banks as they can’t “manage their finances”. George Eustice advises the hungry to buy “value brands”. Dominic Rabb thinks it’s all down to a “cashflow problem”.

The creatures in the press who slither in the wake of these politicians pile on the pain. Isabel Oakeshott says living on benefits helps “concentrate [the] mind”. And the creatures who buy the services of these politicians heap on the agony too.

Stephen Fitzpatrick is a major Tory donor, who’s handed buckets of cash to the party. The energy company he founded – Ovo – sent out an email through one of its divisions, SSE, advising customers struggling to keep themselves warm that they should do “star jumps” or eat “hearty bowls of porridge”. Ovo recently saw revenues rise from £1.4 billion to £4.5 billion.

Do we need to go on? Many years ago I was a court reporter, and when particularly brutal villains landed in the dock and their charge sheet was read out, recounting crime after crime, a sense of weary horror washed over me. That’s how I feel now, listing these sins against ordinary, struggling people by the richest and most powerful in the land.

It’s not a case of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘how do I love thee? Let me count the ways’, it’s more a matter of ‘how do I hate thee, how can I gaslight thee? Let me count the ways’.

‘Darvo', incidentally, is the new ‘gaslighting’ – proving Tories and their minions and masters are up on the latest hip-speak. Darvo means: ‘Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender’.

The Bank of England warns that “apocalyptic” food prices will have a disastrous impact on the world’s poor. Inflation spirals out of control. But what does that matter if you’re a Brexiteer who bet against Britain on the international markets and now bathes in money from the suffering you inflicted on your own country?

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The Tories offer no solutions – they smirk and lounge on the Commons’ front benches like Victorian workhouse masters. All they’ve got is a sneer, and their culture wars – ramping up petty bigotries to keep themselves in power, despite the damage they do to social unity.

We have hunger in this country. We have a housing crisis in this country. It’s not as if solutions are impossible to find: impose windfall taxes on the energy firms, and oil and gas companies, profiting from the cost of living crisis. Freeze social housing rents. Legislate for government to set a national energy price. Slash then freeze public transport costs. Raise the minimum wage. Cut VAT. Declare a national emergency. Issue meaningful hardship payments to the poorest in society.

And, most importantly: Tax. The. Rich.

I have a confession to make, though: part of me almost wishes that the Tory government remains unchanging. In fact, I know it will remain unchanging – because the one dependable truth about the Tory Party is that they are cruel people, devoid of empathy – their’s is the politics of sociopathy. You see, if they do nothing – if they just sit and sneer and watch as ruin claims millions of voters, then they will be done and then I will be happy. I want to see that party destroyed. But of course, if they do nothing, through their own indolence, arrogance and lack of empathy, then they crush more lives.

We’re getting to a place in 2022 which is both strange, and – at least in historical terms – familiar. We’ve a war that is adding to the crippling effects of financial collapse. We’ve hunger and we’ve a lack of housing. Do the words ‘Bread, Peace and Land’ sound familiar?

Now, I’m not saying that the Bolsheviks are coming. But war and hunger and the lack of a home make people very, very angry. If fate chooses the side of the angels, then that anger – not just in Britain but across the western world – will go in one direction, toward the rich and the political class. And that anger will mean change. Change which benefits the poorest in our society.

However, please don’t forget the Tories – or the Republican Party in America or Marine Le Pen in France or AfD in Germany – and their culture war weapon. The right, and those in power, could quite easily sway popular anger away from them and towards a scapegoat, and rather than bringing down the system that’s crushed them, voters turn their ire on a convenient ‘other’. Step forward the handy immigrant, who the Tories never cease to torment.

Poverty and hunger bring change. Whether that change is good or bad depends entirely upon us. But change is coming.

This column originally appeared in our sister title, The Herald, in Scotland.