Wednesday 27 June 2012

How Tory scapegoating works

A Tory campaign poster from the 2010 election. Jobseekers
Allowance was already being cut for people that refused to
work, but since when did the facts ever stop a right-wing rant?
Less than a week after David Cameron ignited a storm of criticism by hypocritically attacking the tax arrangements of the (so-called) comedian Jimmy Carr as "morally wrong", he decided to win back the public with a speech at the Bluewater shopping centre aimed at scapegoating the poor and needy.

Anyone capable of critical thought could spot the rank hypocrisy of a man who leads a political party funded and supported by tax-dodgers, who inherited a fortune from his father's tax-dodging empire, publicly criticising a comedian for his dodgy tax arrangements. Similarly the critical thinker should also be able to see that Cameron's speech was nothing more than an attempt to divert attention away from the huge scale of tax dodging and the brazen mismanagement of the economy under his leadership by attempting to blame the poorest in society.

One of the most bizarre and controversial proposals was to cut housing benefits to all under-25s, forcing them to return to live with their parents. The fact that around 80% of housing benefits clamiants actually have low paid or part time work, seems to have passed him by entirely. The reason the cost of welfare is so high is not because there are millions of "feckless scroungers" as Cameron would have us believe, it is because corporate bosses have got away with paying poverty wages which are then topped up by the state via housing benefits and tax credits. The main beneficiaries of housing benefit payments are not the poor sods that can't afford to buy their own homes or even pay the over-inflated rents in their areas, it is the virtually unregulated buy-to-let slumlords, that inflated house prices by buying up all of the available affordable housing then parasitically enriched themselves by renting their shit houses to the unemployed and the working poor, creaming off a huge proportion of the £20 billion annual cost of housing benefit for no effort at all. If any sector of society can be described as "idle scroungers" it is these buy-to-let parasites, living off other people's labour and when that is not enough, expecting the taxpayer to subsidise their "investments" through the housing benefits money faucet.

If Cameron really wanted to cut the cost of housing benefit payments he would ensure that employers actually pay a living wage and stop relying on the state to top up their poverty wages for them and he should ensure that the private rental market is properly regulated, via the introduction of rent caps and similar environmental and habitability standards to which all social housing properties must comply. Obviously these kinds of reform would never happen under a Tory government, since the corporate exploiters and the parasitic rentier class are two of their major sources of votes and political donations.

Cameron's proposed welfare cuts are an obvious smokescreen, to divert attention away from the people that really caused the economic crisis and the ever growing budget deficit, the reckless bankers, the tax-dodgers and the hopelessly compromised and incompetent political class. Under Tory rule the rich have continued to get richer whilst ordinary working people and the desperately poor have been made to pay for the reckless gambling of the financial sector elite via brutal "austerity measures". These austerity measures are also causing further economic contraction, via the austerity death cycle.

The core Tory objective is to further enrich the economic elite at the expense of millions of ordinary people, it doesn't matter to them if the UK economy falls back into recession, as far as they are concerned the only indicator of whether they are doing their jobs properly is if their rich friends continue to get richer.

Such a divisive and malicious core objective is impossible to justify to the millions of ordinary people that must suffer in order to further enrich tax-dodging Tory donors, exploitative rentiers, greedy corporate bosses, reckless bankers, landed gentry and the like, so the Tories need another strategy, a narrative that unthinking reactionaries will tend to believe in, thus the scapegoating of the poor, the blame-the-victim narrative.

From a critical perspective it is almost impossible to see how this strategy works. Even if you allow the absurd assumption that absolutely every claimant is a "feckless scrounger", that 100% of all housing benefit (£20 billion) and Job Seeker's Allowance (£12.5 billion) go directly to the workshy scroungers that Cameron invokes, these figures are drops in the ocean compared to the cost of the "feckless rich". It has been estimated that tax-dodging costs the UK economy between £70-150 billion a year, the Bank of England has devalued the Pound by "magicking up" £375 billion to distribute to their wealthy financial sector mates, the UK government handed out another £900 billion to the financial sector and the absurd Tory cut to the 50p tax rate for the extremely rich is set to cost up to £20 billion according to the Daily Telegraph. The facts just don't add up. Getting rid of housing benefit and Job Seeker's Allowance entirely still wouldn't be enough to cover the ever growing budget deficit created by Neo-Labour and significantly worsened by the Tory led coalition and their barmy cut now, think later austerity agenda.

The maths don't add up but these kind of scapegoating strategies remain popular with the right-wing press and the ever growing crowd of braying reactionaries that lap up and repeat the feeble narrative that "feckless poor" caused the recession and must be the ones to pay. The reason that this grotesquely distorted version of events remains popular has nothing to do with facts or reality, it is all to do with perception and ego.

Even the unthinking right-wing reactionary has to recognise that there is something wrong with the economy, after all they (like the rest of us) have probably suffered several consecutive years of pay freezes, whilst their costs of living has sky rocketed. Blaming the poor, the young, the disabled and immigrants is the easy option for the reactionary mind, since the reality that they are being robbed by the financial elite and the political classes implies that themselves they are lower down in the social order and that they must have been completely stupid to have allowed themselves to be duped in this way by their "superiors". Blaming "lower-class vermin" for the crisis allows the reactionary to feel superior and absolve themselves from all blame for the economic crisis.

The reactionary doesn't care about facts and accuracy, all he needs is a simple narrative that allows him to explain complex situations in basic terms. This narrative is much more likely to stick if absolves the reactionary of blame and gives them a smug sense of superiority. Hence the desperation from Cameron and the right-wing press to blame the poor and needy, who had virtually nothing to do with the global economic meltdown instead of allowing the finger of blame to point at Cameron's financial sector backers, (the ones that actually created the crisis in the first place) and the cack-handed mismanagement of the economy from his government that exacerbated it.

See also



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