December 19, 2012 3 Comments
Non-essential, desirable and damaging – it could describe Essex voters and their political preferences. Instead it is what some Tories imagine the very poorest are spending their (or, in the terms of the Tories, our) money on. It seems that at least one Tory MP believes that those on welfare should not be allowed to choose how they spend their state hand-outs.
This is the politics of envy. This plays on the paranoia that some have; those who believe that somehow, somewhere, someone is getting something they shouldn’t.
For the poor, you see, the indigent dependent on the largesse of the rest of us, should be allowed no luxuries. No fags or booze, no Sky TV, no holidays. If are on the very lowest rungs of society’s ladder then you must be in want of a kicking. The idle poor must adopt monastic lifestyles, for this is the way to salvation.
So very wrong on so many levels.
Firstly, adults should be treated as adults. We can argue about the size of the welfare bill, and who should get what, but those in receipt must be allowed to choose what they spend their money on. Since pensioners are often in receipt of benefits are we going to ban bingo and subscriptions to the local Darby and Joan club next?
Secondly, why shouldn’t we all aspire to few non-essentials? I am occasionally frivolous, as are we all. In fact, the whole of our consumer society is built around the concept of desiring non-essentials. Those brainwashing advertisements are designed to tease money that we could easily avoid spending if we all limit ourselves to life’s necessities. (Perhaps Alec Shelbrooke is a secret communist.)
Thirdly, as alluded to above, frivolous, inconsequential consumption is what drives our economy. Turning this off really would scupper George Osborne’s plans.
Does anyone seriously believe that the minute one become workless one can then cease to be a smoker? (If that was the case then we could sack every nicotine addict and save a fortune in health bills.) Does unemployment make alcohol less delicious? As for TV, a big element of which is its educational value – are the spawn of the workless to be kept ignorant?