All in this Together

All in It Together – Past Lives and the Chav Demon

All in this Together
A British Labour Party cartoon from 1929 is eerily apt for 2013 in the UK.

Old Tory ideas never really die, they are just too Conservative for that. This cartoon, a Labour recruiting poster apparently (via David Milliband) certainly indicates as much.

It comes from the year of The Wall Street Crash when the chaps further up the ladder learned what the markets really could do when feral forces went to work. 1929.

The year The Great Depression stirred in Britain. But the satire portrayed in the poster is true in 2013.

Yesterday’s Welfare Debate, featured much old thinking including the deserving and undeserving poor and the Striver and the Skiver, which was largely uncontested by the current stagnating Labour rump and its hangers-on.

The ConDem coalition is aware that more people are in work than out. It is also aware that more people than ever before who are in work are also having to claim benefits in order to educate their kids, warm their parents and survive as more than high functioning industrial robots. I say, ‘industrial’, I mean nothing like that as industry was killed long ago in this part of the world.

This presents a delicate problem. How to blame the poor, the benefit claimant,’Skivers’ for the sour state of the economy without actually blaming your own voters: Strivers. It’s a problem because, with benefits paid to working people… well, Strivers and Skivers, the Deserving and the Undeserving become false categories.

We’ve already seen that the Coalition is going to find it hard to blame the ‘generational laziness’ following the Joseph Roundtree Foundation report that pointed out via the medium of facts that, well, it’s not true.

It’s now going to run into the problem of the sudden realisation among core voters that their childcare payments weren’t rights that they actually could opt to give up. Not at all. Something else may occur. Something even darker than their own lack of choice: What the hell happens to the streets where they live if those “chavs” they mock and deride for being workshy in places where there is no work because the work has trickled down to even poorer people in poor countries… what will happen when those ‘Chavs’ finally do have all of their benefits withdrawn?

So, step forward Mr David Milliband that is. While his brother blustered on unmemorably and ineffectually, here is some of what DM pointed out in terms of actual numbers, cash, money.

The Government have projected the cost of all benefits, all tax credits and all tax reliefs. I am happy to debate priorities within that envelope. A proper debate – about choices not the total sum.

The measures before us raise £3.7 billion in 2015/16 from poor and lower middle income people.

Meanwhile the Chancellor has cut tax relief for pension contributions – but only by £200m in 2013/14 rising to £600 million in 2015/16. The cumulative saving between now and 2015/16 from the richest is £1.1bn – compared to £5.6bn for those on benefit and/or receiving tax credits.

He concludes well and he shows at least some memory of what the Labour Party once meant in terms of enabling the less well off, well educated, confident and secure from the bully and bluster of those who feel that wealth is the valuation of people.

He says:

“So this is not equality of sacrifice. The Chancellor reminds me of the man in the 1929 election poster, standing above others on a ladder. Water is up to the neck of the man on the bottom rung, while the man at the top shouts “Equality – let’s all go down one rung”.

The full speech is here.

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