Like many of my comrades on the left, I was very angry when I saw this headline on the front page of the Daily Mail. Not just because Mick Philpott burned six of his children alive, but because the Daily Mail tried to make it look like the welfare state was somehow responsible for this.
It’s a revolting sentiment to have towards the welfare state and millions of people who claim benefits, who DON’T happen to be murderers. Mick Philpott was convicted of manslaughter because he is a psychopath, not because of the welfare system.
However, this problem of attacking people who claim benefits is not a new one. It stretches back to when Thatcher was in power. Benefits claimants were the scapegoats of society, Thatcher saw them as useful people to have around to blame her failures on, instead of actually blaming her own government.
The reality is that a life on benefits isn’t very pleasant at all. I don’t imagine it would be, I can’t comment on what living on benefits is actually like because I’ve never had to live on benefits.
You only have to look at the increasing rate of foodbanks to see that life on the dole isn’t as peachy as Melanie, Moir and co. make it out to be. You also have to look at the rising prominence payday lenders to see that people are genuinely struggling. I would argue people are struggling more now than they were four or five years ago when the recession started. Some people try to blame this on Labour’s spending, but as living standards fall, that’s becoming a far more superfluous and unfeasible argument as the Tories cut more and more. With benefits caps and bedroom taxes, and every day in the media, more and more horror stories emerging, you can really begin to see the failures of Neo Liberal individualism.
The incredulous idea that Mick Philpott murdering his children is somehow linked to being on benefits is one that is rather idiotic.
What we need to start doing, is being rational about the benefits system in the United Kingdom. We need to start addressing the issues. We need to stop asking HOW and instead start asking WHY. WHY are people being consigned to a life on the dole? WHY do people still need benefits when they have jobs?
Addressing issues of underemployment and poor wages have to take precedent over simply saying we need to make cuts because Labour spent all the money. That’s just rhetoric. What is blaming Labour honestly going to do for people who can’t afford to put their dinner on the table or heat up their homes? It’s a poor excuse that justifies treating poor people like they are nothing. Don’t governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all of their people?