The political rhetoric that talks about everyone being in the same boat as part of the justification of austerity measures to reduce national debt would be laughable if its consequences were not so serious. In part the real agenda is about reducing welfare to a minimum and likewise the overall role of the state. It’s about allowing ‘market forces’ to dictate what happens not only to the economy, but in the wider society with government focusing on property rights above human rights.
If this sounds extreme think about the on-going attack on human rights legislation with the government threatening to withdraw from international human rights legislation. At the same time it actively works on behalf of the City to ensure that bankers pay is not limited, while cutting the higher rates of tax for those earning over £100,000.
Politicians appear to be programmed to either open or end every statement with reference to ‘hard working families’ and the need to do the right thing by them. Yet it is this group and particularly families in low paid employment that have been hardest hit be government policies. The government is less happy about talking about the consequences of its austerity policies as evidenced by its failure to seriously address the growth of foodbanks and the fact that a significant number of people using them are the ‘working poor.’
There is also little if any debate about inequality and the fact that it continues to grow. Poverty seems to be regarded almost as a ‘natural fact of life’ rather than the consequences of economic policy. We need to continually remind ourselves and our political leaders that Britain is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but also one of the most unequal. If we are all in the same boat then it’s the Titanic where the first class are knocking back the campaign and caviar, while the crew and most of the other passengers are struggling to keep their heads above the water-line.
Getting By is about making sure that the real stories of hard working families get told, the story of trying to cope with the consequences of government policies that in reality have little regard for them.
Paul Kyprianou, Getting By