“WE’RE STILL ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”
George Osborne, announcing on 8 October 2012 that austerity will last until at least 2018
According to Gloucester’s Tory MP, Richard Graham, failing to push through a radical revamp of the benefits system would be “too awful to consider”. The Citizen reported that in a Common’s speech on the subject, Graham “hailed the controversial shake-up a ‘noble cause’. He claims the support of his constituents. The various attempts to demonise the jobless (especially the youth), the disabled, lone parents and migrant workers has borne fruit in some quarters. Talk about “scroungers”, parasites, “people who think it is a lifestyle choice to sit on out-of-work benefit” (Osborne) is helping to fuel resentment and even hatred.
The government has repeated its determination to stamp out “welfare abuses”, “get tough on welfare” and get people “back to work”. Osborne said it can’t be right that people in work earn less than those who are idle. But he doesn’t mean the super-rich who can afford to retire at fifty, people like him or the rest of the Cabinet who inherit fortunes or make vast sums buying shares or cheap property – or any other spiv or speculator.
Many disabled people feel Labour set the ball rolling by its approach to assessing disabled people’s ability to work. The last government’s schemes aimed at reducing youth unemployment also left much to be desired and anyone expecting an improvement under Ed Miliband will be disappointed, One of his first speeches on becoming Labour leader affirmed “Labour – a party founded by hard working people for hard working people” would try to solve the problem of ‘people on benefits who aren’t bothering to work’, adding: “We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness.”
All the mainstream political parties are shifting from the principles of the welfare state towards the concept of helping the deserving poor. This approach is reminiscent of Victorian attitudes towards the poor and vulnerable – CHARITY instead of RIGHTS.
So it should come as no surprise that party leaders at both the Labour and Tory Party conferences were talking about Britain being ONE NATION. But if you depend on a state pension, live on carers allowance, are disabled or receive only JSA to eke out an existence, this claim is hard to swallow – especially if you know that ten percent of the population own fifty percent of the wealth.