Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Them & Us

Sharpening the divide that has been evident for some years now (taking in the latter part of Labour's period in office), the ConDems' approach is as plain as can be. A litany of reports on the consequences of "austerity" has appeared over the last few weeks, some of which detail in stark terms what it means for those at the bottom (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/03/disabled-benefits-claimants-fines-work ).
Even those who once considered themselves "safe" now realise that the term has a relative meaning (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/22/living-standards-report-divided-britain ).
What it means for those who fall through the cracks was articulated through the quiet desperation of a supposedly "Middle England" family in an accompanying Observer piece (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/22/voices-vanishing-middle-divided-britain ).
The local effects of the cuts are evident to many; the acres of wasteland & boarded-up retail units outside the city centre tell their own desolate tale, a grim continuation of a deindustrialisation process which intensified during the early 80s & hasn't abated. Its human cost in the city is an indictment of a failed system (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner/2012/sep/06/liverpool-homelessness ) .
Parallels with the 80s are obvious, a phenomenon strengthened by the callousness & stupidity of Tory MPs who claim that the jobless can sing for their supper (it's OK to busk in Church Street now that BID have thrown in the towel) & toil for a pittance which makes the minimum wage look extravagant (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/20/tory-mp-youth-minimum-wage ).
All of which allows the elephant which has always been in the room to raise its trunk & shriek the walls down. I am referring to class. As in class divide. As in class warfare. However, contrary to the perennial cries from the mouths of the titled & tax-dodgers, that war has long been waged by those who think nothing of calling police officers "f***ing plebs" who should know their place (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/24/andrew-mitchell-david-cameron-police ).
It's a philosophy & approach which has now begun to exact the grimmest of tolls from those earmarked as the new 21st century scapegoats (http://www.channel4.com/news/disability-testing-system-failing-says-dead-mans-parents ).
I make no apology for dwelling on this avalanche of gloom & injustice. This is Britain in 2012. This is the sobering reality.
So is there a ray of light in all this? Difficult to say. However, there are those who have cleverly & humorously sent up the double standards of this recession's architects. Take UK Uncut (http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/ ) who continue to highlight the tax dodging dealings of the corporate crowd. A group of protesters, known as the Black Tie activists, recently gatecrashed a retirement do for HMRC boss Dave Hartnett at a splendid & sumptuous dinner in Oxford. Hartnett has seen to it that multinationals such as Vodafone & Goldman Sachs certainly aren't in the same boat as the rest of us; cosy, secretive deals have been agreed.  With an elegance befitting the occasion, the protesters presented Hartnett with a spoof award for services to tax dodging. The words uttered by a minion who eventually ejects them tell you everything you need to know about them & us (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w4tcIsaInE ) .

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