The Deny Everything Guide To Austerity
by Princess Indigo
I’m writing this in the aftermath of the European election results, Theresa May’s resignation and the ensuing leadership battle. The morass that is Brexit, the Tory leadership circus both continuing to cloud and conceal the terrible damage that the Conservative’s have inflicted on this country.
Prior to the elections, following up on the UN report on Poverty in the UK, Philip Alston once again attacked the government for its diabolical and callous approach to welfare reform. ‘I found that the Government is doubling down on anti-poor policies that have led to the systematic immiseration of millions across Great Britain’
The weight of evidence against the government’s policies is damning. In response Amber Rudd swiftly dashed off to complain that the report politicised the issues. Yet again displaying a total refusal to engage with the finding of the report, and Philip Alston’s subsequent comments.
Amber Rudd’s eager repost achieved several things at once. Firstly there is the dictatorial Trumpian notion that there is nothing actually wrong. Of course there is something desperately wrong with the way the poor and disabled are treated in this country, any fool can see it. To deny reality in such a way is a candid admission of guilt and also a clear assertion of power.
Secondly, this stance pats the Tory party base on the head as if it were a dog. ‘Nasty things have been said about the government but don’t worry nothing is actually going to change. We’re still going to be shitting on the poor from a great height. Here have a tax break and don’t you worry!’
Thirdly and most deliberately, it kicks up dust which distracts attention from the report itself. Never mind actually engaging with the findings of the UN and changing things. Not to mention undoing some of the enormous harm and misery that has been done to vulnerable people’s lives.
Fourthly and most manipulatively of all, it sows doubt into the political narrative. People are sucked into debating whether all this poverty is actually real. The more right wing parts of the public and press can shake their heads and solemnly declare ‘Well Amber Rudd said everything was ok!’
All of this comes on the back of the recent PR campaign for Universal Credit. As if all that’s needed to fix the problems is a nice little PR company brochure stapled to the Metro. All those horrendous tales, about people being made destitute while food banks spring from every crevice, will all just melt away. On every front there’s pretty much an attitude of lie your tits off and do nothing.
As the candidates fight it out over leadership of the Conservative party, I see no genuinely sincere champions of the people among them. Disingenuous press conferences aside, they are all pretty much of the ‘let’s carve up the NHS, privatise the kitchen sink and sod the poor’ variety of Tory. Under their collective supervision Britain has become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. Participants in a cabinet who’s Austerity policies have been responsible for well over 120,000 related deaths.
Which brings us to the recent DWP inquiry into the death of Stephen Smith, that was been held behind closed doors. Perhaps the most single damning incident in the whole history of Austerity, and the scrutiny of those directly responsible has been deemed not for the public eye. Its hard not to be disgusted by this whole sorry business.
On its heels Theresa May’s resignation speech started with the proud boast that she had helped ‘create a country that works not just for a privileged few but for everyone.’
Yet literally days before in the Work and Pensions committee Frank Field MP heard testimony about a rape victim, who whilst recovering from her traumatic experience, had been placed on permanent sanction for not attending the Job Centre. In spite of obvious complaints at this cruel and callous decision, it has not been overturned.
It’s impossible not to compare Theresa May’s airbrushed version of Britain with the reality of a Job Centre literally punishing a woman for being raped. Resoundly confirming the accuracy of Philip Alston’s UN report, and the grim legacy of this whole administration.
In words of the departing Prime Minister ‘This is what a compassionate decent moderate Conservative government can achieve.’
I find myself writing a sad postscript to this article. The Institute for Public Policy Research has just revised the number of Austerity related deaths to over 130,000, with little sign that anyone in the Tory party, remotely gives a damn.
In addition to this and Philip Alstone’s report, there may be an even more chilling case to answer. The authors of the 2017 report that originally documented the huge number of Austerity related deaths described them as ‘economic murder’.
The North of England has borne the brunt of these policies, inflicted by the more prosperous South. Any scrutiny of the levels of bankruptcies evictions homelessness and death, would confirm this disparity in the two regions.
One geographical group inflicting large scale misery and death upon another has very serious connotations in international law. Not to mention the very deliberate targeting of the poor and the disabled in such huge numbers.
The UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including the systematic harm or killing of its members, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’
It is very clear that in the United Kingdom there has been systematic harm and suffering caused to large swathes of the UK population. The staggering figure of 130,000 deaths surely constitutes not just economic murder but an economic genocide.
The end result unsurprisingly, has been a massive increase in inequality. Fuelled and sustained by nearly a decade of Austerity policies. The afflicted often losing their homes, their possessions and sadly even their lives.
All of this reclaimed wealth ending up in the pockets of the rich and the powerful. With millions more wage slaves trapped in low paid jobs with no real rights. The oligarchical main stream media stifling serious debate on any of these issues.
In fact if you view Austerity as an oligarchical rather than just a political process, then Brexit becomes merely an extension of Austerity. Austerity and Brexit both extremely destructive tools of the opaquely powerful ruling class, with the same goal. The ensuing loss of vast EU funding to struggling regions and subsequent loss of employment and environmental protections will fuel the already rampant inequality even faster.
As will our increasingly polarized, and fragmented society alongside our increasingly embattled democracy and its populist mischief makers. Which brings us neatly back to those shadowy oligarchs, who were no doubt all rabidly lobbying for Austerity in the first bloody place.
Now take a deep breath and relax.
Don’t worry I’ve finishing ranting and frothing at the mouth with moral indignation. Amber Rudd will be back on the telly any minute now to tell us everything’s fine. Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith and Ester McVey left her some old cue cards so she doesn’t have to waste time preparing her answers.