Linda Colling: Happy days?

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron
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IF you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. Can’t hear you.

Maybe that’s because David Cameron’s squandering of £2million on a happiness survey sticks in your craw too.

What a substanceless waste of money, dreamt up by a PM, so privilleged and so out of touch, that he dares to see this sop as making any difference in our lives.

More window dressing with people being asked how satisfied they are with their husband, wife or partner.

And how much do you trust your local council? What is he going to do about it if you aren’t getting on with your spouse, haven’t got a job or one you hate?

And there’s more in the satifaction stakes – your life, health, income, neighbourhood, education.

It’s a totally pointless exercise, dreamt up no doubt, at a dinner party in Notting Hill by Cameron and his millionaire cabinet cronies who dare to insult us with this latest Big Society banal bunkum.

As if we’re going to fall for this dross, that answers to the questions posed will help shape Coalition policies to make us happier.

Mind, it’s keeping plenty in jobs.

And I can see them now, scratching their heads at the answers, lost off how to compile any analysis that makes any sense.

That’s because this is a nonsense.

How happy are you with your spouse? That’s got nowt to do with pen-pushing civil servants, the government or anybody else.

This is all a measure of our leaders’ total lack of knowing just what their business is and what they should be about in making life better for the people in this country.

No need to ask how happy or unhappy we all are. They already know – people’s jobs have gone to the wall and now their backs are up against it.

Millions are living on a knife-edge, fearing for their livelihoods as they struggle to keep afloat in the face of soaring food and energy prices.

Then there’s those struggling to keep a roof over their heads, ground down by constant poverty and can see no way out.

Millions of all ages are dreading this winter and having to choose between heating or eating. It will cost lives.

And that’s also a real danger for the genuine, too ill to work, who under a blanket assessment are being told they are fit for a job.

Stripped of the benefits they are entitled to, spending months going to appeal and at their wits’ end with worry, is it any wonder they lose the will to live?

Official figures out this week show that three and a half years after the recession started, the UK is in a worse economic state than it was at the same stage of the 1930s downturn. George Osborne can put his empty spin on the British economy being 0.5 per cent bigger than it was a year ago, but the fact is the UK is in a worse state than it was in the aftermath of The Great Depression.

And there’s no light on the horizon with analysts warning that Britain remains perilously close to a new recession.

Meanwhile, like Nero fiddling as Rome burns, official statisticians have, since April, been fiddling about with Cameron’s questions, asking 200,000 households as part of a monthly survey the ten signs of happiness.

I went round to Pennywell shops and asked folks: “What makes you happy?” No, it wasn’t money, although more would be nice, but the people in their lives who they love.

Happiness doesn’t come with winning the Lottery. And no amount of money can buy it.

Happiness is for Jerry Connor, 25, a factory worker and his partner, Claire Humphrey, 23, of Red House, waking to their six-month-old daughter Erin’s smile.

Everyone I met wrote this survey off. “A stupid waste of money”, said widower, George Batty, 81, who worries about heating his Grindon home and believes: “People make their own happiness.”

Of course they do, like devoted great grandparents Isabelle and John Aldridge of Thorney Close, who for Mr Cameron’s information couldn’t be happier after 56 years wed.

John, 73, said: “She makes me happy.” As for Isabelle: “I would be lost without him.” Both agreed: “There’s lots more important things than happiness surveys. They could have done better with the money.”

Too true.

“If I am honest, my family. Money doesn’t bother me either, just enough to get by and pay the bills. I am not materialistic, as long as I have got food in the house to feed my family. That makes me happy,” said charity volunteer and mother of two teenage sons, Emma May, 36, of Sunderland.

Her partner, Simon Strong, 25, hasn’t worked for four years since injuring his back and still wants a job.

Of course that £2 million, could have been put to better use. Which highlights one of the survey’s questions “Do you trust politicians?”

What a joke – just like the survey.

But thanks to the 74-year-old lady who had just won £5.50 on the Lottery which made her very happy and who put a smile on my face with her response: “Being alive and I’m very happy to have met you.”

Happy days ...