Divisions beyond repair: Class warfare and austerity Britain

Although condemned for their free-riding of the state welfare system only recently, a horrific incident led to the massacre of six innocent children at the Philpott’s household when petrol was poured into their home, unleashing an uncontrollable blaze. 

However, as those who survived the blaze have to somehow rationalise and deal with this atrocity, Carole Malone – the notorious ultra-Tory who hates anybody that doesn’t have a 6 figure salary – argued on national television that it was, virtually, their own fault and they brought it on themselves.  “This family became a target a couple of years ago,” she argued on ITV’s This Morning; they had “probably upset a lot of people” by being a family of 17 who were receiving state benefits. “I suspect they have many enemies out there because they were seen to be on benefits,” she suggested. With the country in such a dire financial state, “People have seen families – maybe like this – wanting to take advantage.” Referring to the “culture of the family” and the fact they had brought “attention to themselves”, Malone concluded that “six innocent children have died as a result”. 

Although I won’t try and argue that there isn’t a free-rider issue, of course there is, it’s a basic economic issue when goods are provided free-of-charge, the way in which Malone attacked the family showing no compassion was completely outrageous and insensitive. Malone, after the Karen Matthews incident claimed to “live next to a council estate full of people like Karen Matthews” implying that they’re some kind of sub-human race. She later confirmed this view by saying that they are “sub (human) class that now exists in the murkiest, darkest corners of this country”, as though Karen Matthews is some how representative of all people in Britain. 

However, much like Mitt Romney’s facts and figures were inaccurate when attacking similar sects of American society, so were, too, Malone’s. A recent study showed that just 3.4% of families in long-term receipt of benefits have four or more families. So where does the real issue lie? 

Prejudice against those receiving benefits is rife in Cameron’s austerity Britain. Rather than attacking the root cause of the issue, Cameron turned attention to public spending as the cause of financial dismay. However, the issue arose when he had to justify cuts to welfare, and so a campaign of demonisation had to be enforced in order to crush sympathy.  A campaign of people scrounging from the state whilst taking multiple holidays on low-budget airlines whilst having several humongous TV’s paid for courtesy of the taxpayer. 

Yes, benefit fraud exists (and the government should know..). But according to the Government’s estimates it accounts for only less than 1% of welfare spending, but the absolute extreme examples are passed off as representative of the fraud. We’ve seen Sunday Times articles in which journalists have blazoned their perverse views of the benefit system and argued that they wish to turn disabled in order to earn as much as “they” do; when in fact this is all nonsensical propaganda. It’s belligerent journalism like this which leads to prejudice against the most indigent and destitute people who, without the support of the state, would simply suffer an unimaginable life. 

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