Cameron and his Liberal Democrat friends ought to be paying bonuses to their marketing managers as they have successfully turned the victims of gentrification against each other. The vilification of the poor has been a Tory policy from the beginning and its impact is now clear. Yes, £26,000 pounds in benefits sounds excessive but not all non-working families will get it, only those who live in the most expensive parts of Britain’s wealthiest cities. Most that will receive it are also in work and it is as a result of the extortionate housing costs and disgracefully low pay that the State has had to step in to support them.
Cameron must hold his patron neo-liberal saint, Margaret Thatcher, responsible for this as she sold the council houses in a failed attempt to create a property owning democracy. This, coupled with the heavy reliance on the private sector to provide social housing, has ensured that buy to let landlords got rich of the State and now their greed and the policy makers fear of intervening in the overheated and artificial property market by building affordable Council homes, has victimised the most vulnerable in society. The fear was always that State support and direct provision of public services through its bureaucratic machinery would create a dependency culture which would curtail individual ambition and national growth. But evidence today suggests that lack of state intervention has lead to the crisis that not only Britain but Europe finds itself in too. And dependency on the State will only increase as there is very little employment opportunities to assist citizens on the desired journey to self sufficiency Europe wide.
It is easy to attack the poor as they have no voice. Did we already forget that those who created the financial crisis are soon to be getting their bonuses again despite Cameron’s promises of curbing their excesses? I guess there is nothing he and his Liberal friends can do about their friends because they may leave for tax havens like Switzerland and never again want to be their friends. This must be a breach of their right to family life under the Human Rights Act 1998 and must never be allowed to happen.
The Labour Party has also been guilty of not building social housing. It stuck to the Neo-Liberal urban regeneration agenda of the Thatcher years and as a result, is unable to defend its record on new affordable home builds. Many Conservatives I speak with inform me that it was actually Labour who had the opportunity to introduce rent controls as the excessive Housing Benefit payments to Buy to Let Landlords increased but rather than appear unpopular and stop the housing bubble, they kept the mortgage companies and Estate Agents happy. Perhaps there is some truth in this argument, but what matters is that it is made absolutely clear that those on benefits, whether lifelong unemployed or working part time in poorly paid jobs, did not directly benefit from the increase in welfare spending. What increased the welfare bill were the excessive payments to landlords and not the lifestyle choices of the poor and low income earners who are been portrayed as the immorally wealthy underclass who live lavishly at the expense of the decent hardworking British people. The fact is that due to the rising cost of living in most cities in the UK, many families are relying on food banks or cutting down on buying the bare necessities. Rather than going on a spending spree at Waitrose in Chelsea, they are shopping cautiously in Lidl’s constantly fearing that they may soon be displaced from their communities because they do not (financially) deserve to live among them.
Most politicians enforcing austerity pride themselves on stressing how much they understand how difficult it will be and as such it is with great difficulty, having exhausted everything else that they ask the poorest in society to sacrifice for the national interest. But why must the poor always sacrifice when there are fatter groups that will feed the nation better and for longer? It is because they do not vote in large numbers, and there is very little political risk in hurting them that politicians continually target the poorest in society. They also are no longer members of trade unions and work in industries that can hold the nation to ransom. Furthermore, their social exclusion and poverty has been generally supported by a false representation of their pride in unemployment and tax payer sponsored living which is widely spread by the right wing press. The social and moral panic should not be that the most vulnerable are been supported by the State, but the fact that this is seen as wrong. What is the purpose of government if those in it want to reduce its role? Maybe they should start by not running for office if they want to reduce the size of the State and its role to fulfil its duties to its citizens. Or even better, create the employment that they want people to enter and pay a living wage so that the financial burden is reduced for all the tax payers.
There is a real moral and governance failure in today’s Britain. However, this failure lies with the government as the Thatcherite obsession with minimal state and privatisation has created the immorality and greed that is celebrated today. If you are not a crook and interested in doing an honest day’s work, it is hard to find and when you cannot you become the scapegoat for the gamblers of London’s failures. The most worrying thing is that the gamblers send those the general public elected to build a better future for them, to discipline them with austerity and take their tax contributions for essential public services to pay themselves bonuses. What is democratic about nudging (more like begging) the rich to better behaviour and punching the poor into compliance?
Robert Mugabe must be laughing at the much celebrated British democracy. Who can blame him?