DWP and benefit issues are front and centre at the moment, with (Duncan) Smith due to appear before a parliamentary committee and a supposed ‘hit squad’ announced to ‘work with’ unemployed people by getting even tougher on them and draconian sanctions set to force hundreds of thousands into penury.
Meanwhile, the right-wing media continue to parrot the ‘scroungers’ issue to try to fool the ignorant into believing these measures are anything but wantonly cruel. But the whole issue of ‘scroungers’ is a nonsense – even the few that exist are irrelevant to the benefits bill, as this post of mine from the beginning of this year shows. It also shows why the government is obsessed with them – and it has nothing whatever to do with reducing the benefit ‘bill’.
I’ve written variously about this Tory-led government’s fetish for demonising the vulnerable in order to facilitate its attacks on their state support. Disabled people, young people, housing benefit claimants, the unemployed – all come under sustained propaganda attack from government spokespeople, echoed by the right-wing press and even, on occasion, by the BBC.
This demonisation usually takes the form of some kind of ‘scrounger’ rhetoric, although the perpetrators will throw in ‘shirker’ or ‘skiver’ occasionally, just to mix it up a little. It’s clearly a tactic aimed at the basest instincts of people who are able, or willing, to believe it and resent the ‘scroungers’ who are supposedly the opposite of the ‘strivers’, or ‘those who work hard and do the right thing’, according to the Tory mantra.
This kind of rhetoric is in every government statement about the ‘Uprating Bill’ that will be voted on today in…
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