Welfare ‘Reforms’

Having been brought up hearing horror stories about the 1979-1992 Thatcher governments (I live in Scotland), I’ve often vaguely wondered what it would be like to have lived during those tumultuous times, where privatisations skyrocketed and the trade union movement brought to its knees, where traditional industries declined and we became a service-based economy.  Increasingly, I no longer need to wonder.

Almost every piece of news emanating from our current Conservative-Liberal Democrat government makes their policies appear more hateful to those of us who don’t accept allowing market forces to continue concentrating wealth and forcing the less well-off sections of our society into worse and worse living or working conditions.  Just today, new pieces of legislation have come into effect – most controversially the ‘Bedroom Tax’, which reduced the benefits people in council housing receive for having a spare room.  The government fancy themselves as social engineers, I suppose.  I understand the principle of making a more efficient use of housing – even though encouraging the construction of increased council houses would be more effective as well as help limit a growing homelessness problem (blog post on that coming soon) – but this method is not, as Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, maintains, fair, particularly where 2/3 of affected houses include a disabled person (4/5 in Scotland).

Other changes have been introduced today.  Working age benefits will increase by 1%, which is a lower rise than living costs.  Changes have been made to the management of the NHS, which some critics have gone as far as to call it’s ‘death’.  If some genuine attempts were made to stop the wealth gap growing, to clamp down on tax avoidance, to increase taxes on the wealthy – perhaps also introducing some form of a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on large businesses – then there’d be some credence to the claim that “we’re all in this together.”  As it is, again and again the government appears to only care about their own wealthy elite.  They either really are as heartless as they seem, or have really terrible PR.

I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to boot this government out in 2015.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that any future government would be much of an improvement.  Oh, the joys of living in a ‘liberal democracy’.

(Oh, and please take a moment to sign this petition.  It’s rather amusing).