Firstly I need to apologise to any followers of this blog for my protracted absence, I dislocated my wrist and damaged the ligaments in my hand rendering me unable to type. Add that to a seemingly never-ending Christmas period hangover and you end up with no blogs! So apologies for that.
The first topic I will tackle as part of my prodigious return is the ever-widening gulf between rich and poor in the UK. A gulf that Thatcher herself once said we should “glory in”, but one that leads to stories like that of Mark Mullins; the ex-army PT and his wife that took their own lives to avoid another winter below the bread line (see my last post). We are rapidly approaching levels of social inequality not seen since the reign of Queen Victoria, whilst being sold the propaganda that this is somehow good for us.
The recent mediation of Tory spite towards “shirkers” will do little to fool a more politically aware public that are seeing daily the effects of voting in the “nasty party” during a period of recession. What this country needs is not aggressive spending cuts (spending cuts that leading economists denounce across the board), neither does it need sustained attacks on those living on benefits or welfare – it needs strong leadership, compassion and real strides towards rebuilding the economy. Where are the policies to boost the economy? Where is the help for construction, manufacture, small business?
Nothing that has been put into place by Osbourne has helped the UK into growth. He has provided tax breaks for millionaires, he has managed to sell his second home for a profit (the second home that we the taxpayer, bought) and kept the money – he has also made the gesture to stop claiming child benefit. How wonderful, George, that you should stop claiming something that you have never needed and are stopping soon anyway. We should be beholden to you and your benevolent chums at number 10.
Those same gentlemen would have you believe that the reason people live in poverty is because they are “shirkers”. Their thinking is “they don’t want to work – why shouldn’t we freeze (read: cut) benefits for people who can’t be bothered to work?” This is a diatribe you will hear trotted out up and down the country. When I hear this I ask one question and as yet I have not heard one feasible answer – how do you expect people to work their way out of poverty, when the figures show that there are on average 6 job seekers for every job? Are people really shirking, when there is no work for them to do? The infuriating thing is that George and Dave and the majority of Tory voters seem to honestly believe that people choose to live with nothing, go without meals to feed their kids – unable to heat their houses. In their minds the only reason these people aren’t rich is down to a lack of hard work. Birthright and privilege don’t seem to come into it.
To add insult to widespread injury, this lack of equality between income and standard of living actually negatively impacts the capitalist market. Increasing amounts of money in decreasing numbers of pockets has a damaging effect on the economy. The less money there is in the collective pool to be spent, the less that gets put back into the country. Your Rockerfellas and Rothschilds don’t spend huge amounts of money and neither to their (slightly) poorer financial relatives – it is generally the middle and lower classes fueled by consumerism that pump cash into the economy. The wider the gap becomes, the weaker the financial system will be. Given our current state of recession, anything that negatively impacts spending is fatal.
We currently have the largest gap between rich and poor in the Western world. Think about that for a second. In a country that recently spent £25bn (yes, billion) on two nuclear submarines – we are coming close to levels of poverty not seen for over a century. In the infamous word of Tony Benn, if a country can find money to kill surely it can find money to help people.