Shanene Thorpe was interrogated by two-bit hack Allegra Stratton on Newsnight after being invited to give an interview about her experiences as a Housing Benefit claimant. Shanene has rightly taken Newsnight to task for attempting to portray her as a ‘benefits scrounger’ and conveniently ignoring the fact she is working.
It is a shameful indictment of the ugly society that is emerging that to be compared to a benefit claimant is now seen as a gross insult. It harks back to the Victorian ‘back to basics’ morality the Tory Party once loved so much. The hard working poor are idealised whilst the unemployed, or all but the most severely sick or disabled people, are seen as feckless architects of their own misfortune, the undeserving poor and only fit for the workhouse.
But Shanene has missed a trick if she thinks that being employed will get her off the hook. The Tories are all too aware that huge numbers of Housing Benefit claimants are working. This has not stopped the rhetoric one jot. They should be forced to move say the braying toffs, giving up work if need be, to a poorer part of the UK where they will no longer be a drain on the public.
Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit is just as squarely aimed at those in part time work, or self employed on a low income, as it is at anyone without any work at all. Part time workers will be forced to seek out ever longer hours or face what meagre benefits they receive being stripped away. Those in self-employment will be bullied onto workfare as punishment should they not quite earn the minimum wage. Already part time workers can be sent on Mandatory Work Activity in their spare time should they have the gall to claim some kind of benefit.
Meanwhile no disability is enough to garner sympathy. Nadine Dorries MP recently called on her constituents to report anyone they suspected of claiming benefits whilst using twitter. If you can tweet you can work was the clear message.
It matters not that rents are out of control, food prices soaring and families find themselves unable to heat their homes. Whether unemployed, disabled or simply on a low wage, your poverty is your own fault. We are all the undeserving poor now.
The only deserving poor left are the squeezed middle. People like Allegra Stratton forced to live with her in laws despite her huge salary. Or the wretched souls on £45k a year who simply can’t afford a second holiday if child benefits are cut. The leafy suburban voters, who have been undoubtedly hit by the recent financial crisis, but cannot, by any leap of imagination, be considered poor. Only they, and of course millionaires, are worthy of tax cuts and financial support.
It no longer matters how hard you work, how sick or disabled you may be, how many mouths you may have to feed or even how you got there. The message from this toff Government is clear. If you rely on benefits to survive in any way, then it’s your own fault, and we are coming for you.