Recently I was asked on Twitter what was the best rebuttal for the Government’s policy of setting a Benefit Cap; this was shortly after watching a Labour leadership candidate back the Benefit Cap when challenged directly by a BBC journalist.
Clever, clever Tories.
If anyone doubts the cleverness of those in power then consider this:
The Government has devastated the income of the poorest, not by the Benefit Cap, but by a whole series of technical changes to how benefits are claimed and calculated. The poorest 10% of families lost 9% of their post-tax income in the last 5 years – down from a mere £100 per week. Yet the policy which the BBC uses as a litmus test for welfare reform is the Benefit Cap – a policy which applies to very few people (0.1% of families) most of whom live in London and where benefits are simply being used to subsidise excessive rents and therefore actually fund landlords.
Clever, clever Tories
There is no doubt indeed that we are dealing with some very intelligent and cunning people.
This Government’s policy can usefully be divided between:
- Real policy – which is hard to see but which largely functions to impoverish the poor and to pander to the wallets of middle-earners and the truly wealthy.
- Apparent policy – which is easy to see and which panders to social prejudices, the need for simplification demanded by journalists and which puts social justice on the back foot.
Of course one of the advantages of Government is that you can instruct your civil service to do most of the work of designing and defending these disgraceful policies. It is hard to compete with the billions invested in defending injustice.
However, perhaps we should think like Sir Frances Drake, when faced by the Spanish Armada: small and sprightly ships, connected by strategy, but attacking from different directions may be what we need.