It would seem the more David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s government tries to reform the system the more trouble they are getting into. Most recently, we have had the Gay Marriage Bill. David Cameron was quick to seize the opportunity to make himself look modern and in touch with popular feeling, by backing this Bill most wholeheartedly. But one can’t help feeling as a heterosexual himself it was only a ploy to catch votes. Half of his party voted against it, some of them trying to use their faith beliefs to cover a straightforward rejection of the idea that two men or two women can ever be ‘married’ in the accepted sense of the word. So the conservatives end up looking like dinosaurs while their leader has attempted to suppress his real beliefs to garner public favor.
The Labor opposition was much more receptive to the idea. So, come the next general election, it is looking increasingly likely it will be a Labor victory. Not least because of what Ian Duncan-Smith is doing in order to cut billions off the Social Security budget. His plans are very unpopular among the poorest in society, but working class people too are affected, not just dole wallahs or the disabled. The latest scheme to emerge is the bedroom tax; a quite zany idea that takes us back to the medieval days of a window tax when you had to live in complete darkness if you were poor. Granted, too many are caught up in claiming Housing benefit, but many are working families who just happen to have a low income and cannot afford to buy their own house. When you consider the average price of a house in Britain is circa £130,000, depending on which area you live in, maybe this is no surprise. But the actuality of putting the bedroom tax into operation comes up against all sorts of problems.
Again, the most vulnerable in society are hit. A disabled couple, we hear on a news program, find it best to sleep in separate rooms for comfort reasons. This cannot be tolerated now and they must face an eighty pounds cut per month in their benefit for having the audacity to use two bedrooms, not one. A foster carer who takes emergency foster children cannot do her work as it entails using her spare bedroom. As this bedroom is not always occupied she faces similar penalties to the disabled couple. And then there might be a family with a university student in it. Once they have left home that is it, they have created a spare room, but of course they will want to return in holidays and maybe even after graduation. These anomalies then make nonsense of these draconian measures. They stop people living; doing the things they want to do. It becomes ultimately a question of human rights.
Another thing which has been mooted are food vouchers, but apparently if the unemployed are paid in vouchers there is no money for clothes, hardly surprising when the weekly rate is £65. Are they expected to walk naked on the streets of Britain? Some disabled people need special foods; again no provision is made for them. Perhaps Ian Duncan-Smith’s worst faux pas to date was his comment ‘work makes free’. This of course was written above the death camps in Auschwitz in Nazi Germany: ‘Arbeit macht frei’.
And then there are the ‘fitness for work’ interviews. The government is so keen to cut the bill for disablement that it is prepared to put ill people back onto the ‘to work’ register even when these people are clearly not fit for work. These annual assessments are another draconian measure that creates much resentment and unease in Britain. The government should be concentrating on the young and getting these into work, not trying to flog a dead horse by asking old and past it people to take a cut in benefit that sees people careering into debt.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, needs to cut the deficit in Britain’s funds quite seriously but in attacking the poorest members of society it seems a backward way of going about it. Where is the compassion, the decency, the mercy of good men? Apparently that has been lost along the way a long time ago. Bankers continue to get obscene amounts of money in bonuses, and the richest in Britain are left untouched. This must be the most far right government we have ever seen in Britain. Vince Cable’s mansion tax has never been given house room. Too many Tories would have been adversely affected by it; how much more palatable to them is the insidious bedroom tax none of them need worry about.
And then there are Britain’s students, expected to pay £9,000 a year in fees alone. The government is collecting from them but will it really be able to deliver when these students ask for jobs? It looks increasingly like the answer to that is no. Already graduates are up against unprecedented competition for vacancies. There is one vacancy for every seventy students. All in all then, the future looks bleak, but it looks like there will be no winners. Come the next general election David Cameron and his men will definitely be told to get out.
Unless the people believe vinegar is good for you, no matter who it hurts.
Written By: Russell Webster