In February 2014 the Archbishop of Westminster spoke out against the so-called "welfare reforms" being conducted by the Conservative party (and their ever wiling Lib-Dem enablers). Vincent Nichols is the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and has recently been brought into the inner circle of cardinals by Pope Francis. Here's a quote:
"The voices that I hear express anger and despair … Something is going seriously wrong when, in a country as affluent as ours, people are left in that destitute situation and depend solely on the handouts of the charity of food banks."Nichols is by no means the first religious person to speak out against the immorality of imposing ideological austerity and cuts on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society whilst ever more wealth gets distributed to the tiny establishment minority. The Church of England has criticised "welfare reform"; At Easter 2013 a coalition of smaller churches spoke out against attacks on the poor by Tory ministers and the mainstream media; and other groups such as the Quakers have been constant champions of social justice. It's not just religious people that are complaining either. Countless charities, voluntary organisations, anti-poverty campaign groups and social activists have spoken out too.
David Cameron's riposte to this latest condemnation of his government's attacks on the poor and vulnerable was absolutely extraordinary. He claimed that the sustained attacks on the social safety net his government have been conducting (which affect far more working people than unemployed) are part of a "moral mission" aimed at giving "hope" and "opportunity" to "people who had previously been written off with no chance".
Given the appalling history of the Catholic church, even after Pope Francis has begun steering the institution towards the path of social justice, few people would accept a high ranking Catholic as an perfect moral arbiter. However, nobody in their right mind could accept the leader of a political party which is absolutely obsessed with their bankrupt "greed-is-a-virtue" neoliberal economic ideology speaking as a moral arbiter on their own brutal welfare policies.
If the religious organisations of the nation, charities and the voluntary sector are speaking with one voice to condemn Tory "welfare reform" as immoral, it is absolutely extraordinary that Cameron could attempt to defend his attacks on the poor and vulnerable by describing them as being part of a "moral mission".
The idea that Tory welfare reforms bring "hope" and "opportunity" to the poor and vulnerable is yet another extraordinary assertion. Here are a dozen facts about this supposedly "hope" inspiring welfare system.
- The DWP admitted that between January and November 2011 at least 10,600 people died within six weeks of being declared fit to return to work under the Atos administered WCA regime.
- The DWP is currently stonewalling Freedom of Information requests to ascertain how many people have died in similar circumstances since November 2011.
- The DWP didn't even count how many people had died within weeks of being declared fully fit for work and thrown off benefits entirely.
- The Atos administered WCA regime has been condemned as discriminatory by the courts on two occasions, the DWP have ignored these court judgements and refused to abandon their discriminatory assessment regime.
- The number of people stripped of their social security entirely per year via sanctions has soared to an all time record high of 897,690.
- Tory ministers and DWP officials repeatedly lied that there were no league tables for imposing sanctions until the league tables were leaked to the press in March 2013.
- Hundreds of thousands of people are being compelled under threat of absolute destitution to give up their labour rights and work for free on Stalinist style compulsory labour projects. Even though these people are still in receipt of unemployment benefits, the government excludes them all from the official unemployment statistics.
- Comparison between the official Labour Market Statistics published in February 2014 and the same period in 2010, we can see that the Tory welfare reforms have been an absolute disaster. The total number of people out of work for more than two years has skyrocketed from 250,000 to 448,000 and the number of 18-24 year olds out of work for more than two years has more than doubled from 55,000 to 114,000.
- 4 million children in the UK are growing up in poverty, and this number is increasing all the time as a result of "austerity" and "welfare reform".
- The number of people living in such dire poverty that they are reliant upon food banks has grown exponentially. Studies have linked this rise in food bank dependency to Tory "welfare reforms".
- The majority of people to have been made poorer by Tory benefits cuts are not unemployed, they are the working poor and their families.
- Between 2009 and 2013 the number of working people claiming benefits to keep their heads above water rose by a staggering 104%.
- Driven to suicide by the Tories deadly "Bedroom Tax" blundering
- "Bedroom Tax": Impoverishing the poor to subsidise the rich
- The "Bedroom Tax" and Tory hypocrisy
- The flawed "Bedroom Tax" justification narrative
- Why I oppose "Bedroom Tax"
If we look through David Cameron's extensive back catalogue of lies and distortions we can find many other examples of this kind of Orwellian use of language. Cameron's pre-election lies about the NHS are some of his most famous, so we'll start there and move on to some of his other lies.
Cameron said that he'd cut the budget deficit, not the NHS, then imposed £20 billion worth of austerity cuts on the NHS: "Cutting is Not Cutting".David Cameon's long track record of subverting the meanings of words means that we shouldn't be surprised that he is at it again with his "Morality is Immorality", "Opportunity is Destitution" and "Hope is Fear" nonsense, but it is enough to make us wonder whether this is some Old Etonian game to test how much cognitive dissonance "the lower orders" can endure.
Cameron said that the NHS would be safe in his hands, then he carved it open for the private sector and fed £1.5 billion worth of NHS contracts to Tory party donors: "Safe is Not Safe".
Cameron promised "no more top down reorganisations of the NHS" then pushed through the biggest and most controversial top-down reorganisation in the entire history of the organisaation: "No More is Another"
Cameron claimed in a 2013 party political broadcast that the Tories are "paying down Britain's debts" when the reality is that they have increased the debt by more in their first 3.5 years than New Labour did in the previous 13: "Paying Down is Dramatically Increasing".
In October 2013 Cameron claimed in parliament that Labour "bankrupted Britain" even though the UK kept their AAA credit ratings until George Osborne lost them due to his blundering economic mismanagement several years later: "Bankrupted is Investment Grade"
I can't help thinking that this is some kind of game, like the England footballers at the 1998 World Cup trying to sneak song titles into their interviews with the press, David Cameron is perhaps trying to impress some of his Old Etonian chums with his Orwellian word games.
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