I am all for a sensible welfare reform debate, which hopefully Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals will initiate, but if to get there we have to enact damaging benefit cuts for those who need them most, in a time of slash and burn economics, then the proposals do not maintain the much-needed principle of fairness and so the the debate is a loser to start with.
This comes in the context of a new Demos report where it is estimated the benefit reforms up to now will result in £3.5 million disabled people losing around £9.2 billion ‘critical’ support by 2015. This is nothing short of infuriating, especially when considering the bank levy will raise less at £8.3 billion in the same period and actually when including the deduction in corporation tax will result in some banks making a profit.
On top of this, the argument that this is ‘unavoidable’ and ‘inevitable’ adds intensity to the annoyance. How ‘stupid’ we are to think there is an alternative, even Ed Miliband is rapidly losing any radical and progressive credential he had through appointing Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor who purports that Darling’s cutting programme is the best way to go. Ed just couldn’t make the jump. He was too scared by the Rupert pacts. He might feel safer from the tiresome ‘deficit denier’ line, but when the cuts come to bite the only party calling for an alternative will be the Green Party.
This mentality that cuts are ‘inevitable’ links to the much cited philosophy of endless growth assessed by measures such as GPD. Labour are firm supporters of this. It is one of the reasons for why the current government’s policies are so divorced from the context of lives they will be effecting. The numbers above are just simply numbers, the government can step outside of place and experience value and just put forward the same old ‘inevitable’ discourse. But how can anyone who claims to have morality, empathy and fairness at heart impose such detrimental and damaging cuts upon people who actually need more money invested into society so as the prolonged social barriers are removed once and for all?
These cuts will hardly promote the independent living movement that has grown amongst the disability community, which signs up to the social model of disability – a model that the Green Party incidentally support. The current mentality of the government is focused upon the demand side of the equation, ignorant to the true reality of the supply side. What is needed is a real investment in restructuring the society, its structures and functions, so that social barriers (such as providing ramps) can be removed. Instead, as always, the government goes for the ‘easiest’ and ‘cheapest’ way (well these are capitalist subjective defined terms) and passes it off as ‘inevitable’.
It is saddening to see the LibDems and then Labour give into the capitalist mantra of ‘inevitability’ and scapegoating instead of sticking up for those they once claimed to be such protectors of. Ed Miliband has in the words of the song I am currently listening to, Blown It Again (Daniel Bedingfield), as it becomes clearer by the day that the right-wing press might soon start singing “I Can’t Read You” (same artist – sorry, its addictive once started). As the protests and the movements against the cuts start to take off we have to make sure that we don’t have elitist views where people argue against joining protests with groups such as SWP – as well as unhappy Labour supporters of course! We disagree on things, so what – but we are stronger fighting together on common issues, as least we all accept that these cuts are not ‘inevitable’, ‘fair’ or ‘cheap’ (economically, socially and environmentally).