By Lesley Roberts.
On the BBC One Show on Friday, 11 September 2015, before the announcement of the new Labour leader, Giles Brandreth carried out a piece of TV research on the people of Guildford to see how many were ‘closet socialists’. The few Tory voters who actually agreed with most of the policies detailed in a list, were shocked and surprised to find out they shared many of the same views as Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course, the BBC toying with the people of Guildford is not scientific research, but it does make you want to ask the question: Is a Tory voter nothing more than just an announcement of pretentious status, rather than a person with clear understanding of Tory political ideology?
We all know that the Tories are reliant upon the private sector, competition, higher levels of charity involvement and the free market. Most, if not all of us, are aware that there is no ‘fairness or loyalty’ in this, not when it’s about making money, beating the competition and cutting costs which includes ways to lower our wage bill.
We are aware that beating the competition does not necessarily mean better, especially when it comes to our loyalty, as it no longer pays to stay with one company. Now we have to change every year, as we do with car insurance on comparison websites.
We are all aware of the risks that the financial sector can bring; not just to the individual but also to the whole country.
Not all of us are financial or legal geniuses, even paying someone to help can make you vulnerable to as many losses as gains. More importantly, are we prepared to do the same with our welfare, education, pensions and health?
When the Tories talk of fairness for the “hardworking people”, what do they really mean?
Social security protects us all
Our social security system was set up to protect us all from the dangers of poverty and destitution, with all the health and financial risks they pose to society.
Ask any ‘hardworking person’ what they would expect if they had to claim benefits and you’ll find that many don’t really know just what the realities of entitlement are, let alone the payment rates, besides they won’t ever need to claim them, or will they? Yet anyone can use the clever tool provided on the government’s own web page to work how worse off you would be. Our welfare system no longer serves as a ‘safety net’ because the Tories have placed too many holes in it.
Once you have worked out just how much you will get, you will fall into that ‘land of make believe’. Where you are still unaware of the requirements needed to maintain your claim, it is then that you will discover that it is not a case of ‘playing the system’ as understanding it to be able to survive.
One of your major concerns will be housing, especially if you have a family. The Private sector rental or purchase housing market is not interested in your welfare, as they purely focus their interests upon your bank balance, as housing is for profit not for living in. Whilst you may be able to continue to live in your rented home after you have negotiated the ‘bedroom tax’, it is the Landlords, social or private, who take the money.
It is far worse for those who own their home via a mortgage. If you have not taken out that private insurance to cover sickness, disability or unemployment, then the DWP will insist that you take a further loan with them to cover the mortgage interest whilst you claim. You will then have to pay back once you find employment.
The double whammy of long-term illness or disability, without that extra housing cost of insurance, is that it will lead to the sale of your home. It is then inevitable that you will become one of ‘those’ who have made themselves homeless and therefore not eligible for assistance.
The Tory led government now believe that it is apparently easier to find work if you are homeless, especially when the ‘Bully in the room’ continues to demand this, as they think that Housing Benefit is the claimant’s gain.
Even though you may get your housing sorted, the next hidden hurdle you will come across is the risk of falling foul of the benefit sanction regime; where it is very easy to have your benefits removed.
Sanctions according to the Tory government encourage people into work, yet how it helps someone unemployed with a family is something that no sensible person can understand. Surely, it is down to the employer if you get the job or not!
The Tory’s belief in the sanction system, the stick and inability to understand disability and long-term illness, was clear in the now infamous benefit sanctions leaflet exposed by Welfare Weekly.
The last thing you will need if you are recovering from an illness is a starvation diet, even with the limited support of food banks; it does not help you to get better and therefore able to return to work.
What is more amazing is how many former hard-working people, whose ill-health and inability to keep the momentum going, are not recognized as unemployable. Instead, they faced sanctions like naughty children with all respect and fairness removed.
Of course, all hardworking people know how easy it is to live with no money at all. They also know how invigorating it is if you are too ill to work. Let alone how happy you will be when you find that you are “fit to work” as you lie on your deathbed. This of course is total fairness for any former hard-working person who has to survive or not. For many when they reach the very bottom the only option, with the impossibility of being able to work themselves out of deepening poverty, besides living on the streets, is suicide.
Nor one in their right mind would ignore increased levels of death in a medical practice. Yet why is the DWP refusing to hold an investigating into the 90 people a month, who have died after been found “fit to work”.
When you finally know the truth and realities around claiming benefits to survive, even at a subsistence level, then you will know what will happen to you if you ever need help and support from the state, no matter how much you have paid into it.
So when you hear people using the myth that claiming benefits is a “lifestyle choice”, what they are really saying is that every hardworking person doesn’t deserve to have a publicly owned ‘safety net’ or welfare system of any kind, for any length of time they may need it.
When David Cameron talks about your children or grandchild’s future, you only have to read any novel by Charles Dickens to understand what kind of society he wishes for them. Where was the fairness for ‘hardworking people’ then, where will it be with that kind of future to look forward too?