Written By: - Date published: 9:58 am, December 30th, 2013 - 230 comments
Categories: child welfare, class war, election 2014, health, housing, national/act government, poverty, spin, uk politics, unemployment, wages, welfare - Tags:
I have had one or two little discussions with poverty denialists on the The Standard lately – usually denialists from the right of politics, and some pushing posts from one of the well-known right wing blogs.
They continue with their denialism,
in the face of evidence of people’s inability to either feed themselves and/or their family, or to be able to afford food that is adequately nutritious, adequate housing, health services, etc.
in the face of evidence of an increase in diseases and ailments of poverty,
in the face of evidence of bigger than ever foodbank queues this summer season, (and that compares with a drop in foodbank queues in 2005).
There are similar processes of right wing, poverty denial in the UK, and this article in The Guardian exposes the way the UK government avoids facing (or admitting) the truth. The author Nick Cohen visited a foodbank recently. He considers how he would have expected political conservatives would admire such charitable giving. Cohen ponders,
It would have been easy for the government to say that it was concerned that so many had become so desperate.
The coalition might not have meant every word or indeed any word. But it would have been in its self-interest to emit a few soothing expressions of concern, and offer a few tweaks to an inhumanely inefficient benefits system, if only to allay public concern about the rotten state of the nation.
But the coalition is not even prepared to play the hypocrite.
However, Iain Duncan Smith, UK secretary of state for Work and Pensions, ignores the evidence of both the levels of unemployment, and the amount of jobs that fail to provide a living wage. Cohen provides some background, of how Duncan smith
refused to face the Labour benches as the Commons debated food banks on 18 December. He pushed forward his deputy, one Esther McVey, a former “TV personality”. All she could say was that hunger was Labour’s fault for wrecking the economy. She gave no hint that her government had been in power for three years during which the number attending food banks had risen from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000. Her remedy was for the coalition to help more people into work.
If she had bothered talking to the Trussell Trust, it would have told her that low-paid work is no answer. Its 1,000 or so distribution points serve working families, who have no money left for food once they have paid exorbitant rent and fuel bills.
And just as with the denialists in NZ, the UK Conservative government would rather campaign for the next election on propaganda, blame-the-poor-smears and mis-information, than admit the realities: that too many jobs pay too little, and that too many people are living either in poverty, or on its insecure edge:
Put bluntly, the Conservatives hope to scrape the 2015 election by convincing a large enough minority that welfare scroungers are stealing their money. They cannot admit that a real fear of hunger afflicts hundreds of thousands. Hence, Lord Freud, the government’s adviser on welfare reform, had to explain away food banks by saying: “There is an almost infinite demand for a free good.”
My visit to the food bank showed that our leaders’ ignorance has become a deliberate refusal to face a social crisis. Of course, the volunteers help working families and students as well as the unemployed and pensioners. Everyone apart from ministers knows about in-work poverty. As preposterous is the Tory notion that the banks are filled with freeloaders.
Watch for the NAct spin machine to intensify their, always-just-around-the-corner, “brighter future” poverty denials and beneficiary bashing as we move in to election year.