The true cost of austerity – A wholly preventable loss of life

I will just start by saying that I don’t usually endorse the Daily Mail nor am I generally inclined to read it. However, this article has been recently drawn to my attention and I feel that it’s a subject worth discussing. The article in question is regarding ex-serviceman Mark Mullins, his wife, and their double suicide in November last year.

What a damning indictment of our current system of austerity and cuts this is. How deep an injustice that a man and his wife are forced into taking their own lives to spare themselves the pain and humiliation of yet another freezing cold, malnourished winter. Some will say that suicide is an easy way out, the cowards option. Let me tell you that this man was an army PT – of which I have known a few and cowardice is not a streak that runs through any one of them. Now, I don’t buy into the emotion of this story purely on the basis that he was “one of our boys”. I take a fairly (and sometimes controversially) robust view of men in the forces – it is my opinion that they have chosen to go to war and must therefore hold themselves responsible for any risks undertaken or injuries suffered. I would not knowingly commit myself to furthering this countries imperialist ideologies whilst commiting war crimes, so I have little sympathy for those who do.

This story gets to me because nobody, not a single person in this country – the 7th largest economy in the world – should be forced into suicide because we won’t provide them with food and adequate shelter.

How can this be allowed to happen in the UK? Before I get an outpouring of the usual “well it’s worse in Africa” replies, yes, it is worse in Africa. It’s worse across a large proportion of the globe. This isn’t absolute poverty in it’s global sense but if you look at it relative to the UK as a whole it is certainly absolute poverty on our national scale. We have a welfare system for this exact reason. The welfare system ISN’T populated by “scroungers” no matter what the media tell you – please eradicate this from your heads. The percentage of fraudulent welfare claimants last year was 0.7%! There were considerably more fraudulent MPs expense accounts submitted, than welfare claimants account – so I ask you, who are the scroungers? Both are spending public money. One group on Bollinger and caviar, the other on sustinence and heating.

For reasons that escape me and beggar belief, this country elected a conservative government during a time of economic downturn. As usual, we have been rewarded with a systematic attack on the poor and disabled of this country whilst watching the government line the pockets of their Eton schoolmates and banker buddies. It was Cameron who introduced stricter regulations of benefits – it was his system allowed these people to die.

Mark Mullins’ wife had learning difficulties. She was deemed to have too low a literacy and numeracy comprehension level to seek a job – so they removed her from jobseekers allowance. At the same time, they deemed her too able to recieve disability allowance. The result? Two grown adults trying to eat and sustain their property on £57 per week. Before people cite a lack of effort on their part, they would walk 12 miles to a soup kitchen for food handouts. This man was trained in Royal Armed Forces discipline – do you honestly believe he didn’t have the gumption to look for work? At a time where the official figures fluctuate between 6 and 7 jobseekers to each position, the suggestion that people are too lazy to look for work is wholly inaccurate right-wing rhetoric.

This isn’t even an isolated incident, I will write in more depth regarding the abhorrent use of Atos to decide if disabled claimants are fit for work at a later date. In a nutshell, the government awarded this contract to a French I.T. company who delcared terminal cancer patients as fit for work and left thousands of seriously ill and disabled people with no money to sustain themselves. Something which has, and still is, literally killing them off at an alarming rate.

What’s even worse is the fact that austerity doesn’t work. The government knows it doesn’t work. Experts are continously telling them that it doesn’t work. They are taking away from the working classes the very institutions and helping hands that keep them alive – to repay a debt passed unfairly onto us by their friends in the banking system.

The question is not is it fair, it clearly isn’t. The question is how many more will we watch die, before we intervene?

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