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Thursday, 9 January 2014

From Cannon Fodder to Sanctions Fodder, 'Your Country Needs You'?

While the Royal Mint is releasing a 'your country needs you' coin to commemorate the start of WW1, I believe these words from an August 2010 blog post by Peter Beresford are highly relevant:

Fear and insecurity

These days as I listen to the radio, overhear conversations or have casual contact with strangers, I am increasingly hearing people highlight two targets from a growing sense of fear and insecurity. I am shocked at how often conversations turn to attacks on immigrants/asylum seekers and people on benefits and how much 'they' are costing 'us'.

These are both groups with more than their fair share of problems to bring to social work and social care, yet the prevailing response is increasingling negative and hostile. I have had to listen to such poisonous tirades when I've bough things in shops. I've overheard such rants from neighbours in a supermarket café, standing in a post office queue and sitting on a bus. Worst still are the radio phone-ins where tam experts who'll to the dominant line encourage callers who respond in kind. But perhaps worst and most irresponsible of all, are government websites that encourage all kinds of hate mail against people on benefits.

Grimly fascinating

There's something reminiscent of the mindless cruelty of first world war conscientious objector tribunals and medical boards set up to drive people into the bloodbath of the western front in these developments. With it comes a sense that it may be more and more risky and difficult to speak out against them....

Isn't it marvellous that instead of creating real waged employment for people, this Government is finding more and more stupid reasons to deprive tens of thousands of JSA claimants per month of an income?

Alan Wheatley

PS: Peter Beresford has since commented on my comments:
 thanks for this Alan, what a dreadful coin and how true your comment is. all v best peter
A current example of how the Government is maligning benefit claimants while letting extortionate landlords get away with robbing the public purse is this January 2014 headline from the Daily Mail: Revealed: How 33,000 families were claiming more than £26,000 per year in benefits before benefit cap was imposed.

Of course, as Mike McNabb pointed out in 2011, the Mail tends to focus on maligning vulnerable people rather than highlighting how offshore companies have been the ones really milking the system. And when I was interviewed by a Mail on Sunday reporter in February 2003 about something entirely different, I mentioned to the reporter that I was a disabled jobseeker who had applied to teach computing skills to [other] disabled people. So, presumably to give my witness account greater credibility to Mail on Sunday readers, the reporter stated that I taught computing skills to disabled people and did not mention my true source of income.

Alan Wheatley

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