If you’re still not convinced that the UK coalition government’s plans to “reform” welfare – by slashing tens of billions of pounds from the DWP’s budget, in order to fund tax cuts for the rich – are an example of pure, unambiguous evil at work, we suggest you spend half an hour reading this page and the ones linked at the bottom of it.
Done that? Filled with boiling rage and an urge to commit violent acts of revolution? Good. That suggests that you’re a vaguely decent human being with at least some basic level of compassion for the most vulnerable people in society. Congratulations.
It probably also means you’re NOT a Labour Party politician or activist, because a 2010 report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (entitled “Not much disagreement on welfare reform”) pointed out that Labour’s policy on the brutal state persecution of the poor and the crippled – like its policies in almost all other areas – differs from that of the Tories and Lib Dems only in degree and speed, and even then only slightly.
That won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying any attention at all over the last few years, of course.
The sarcastically-named “Atos Healthcare” were first unleashed on disabled people by Labour, Labour introduced the Work Capability Assessment test – under which dozens of people have been found “fit to work” and then promptly and selfishly died of their terminal illnesses – and Labour pioneered the idea of workfare too.
The coalition is merely continuing and accelerating a programme of measures that Labour started and which Labour still supports.
But what does all this have to do with Scottish independence?
The answer, of course, is that the vindictive, murderous attack on the disadvantaged and defenceless is only possible under the Union.
Who says so? Not us, but the government’s own Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.
We’re paraphrasing his words for dramatic effect, of course, right? Wrong.
“The Work and Pensions Secretary – in Glasgow for a welfare reform conference – defended his plan to replace a string of benefits with a single payout called Universal Credit, stressing how “only the Union could offer this sort of wholesale reform”.”
We have to admit, we’re staggered that the Secretary of State, who doesn’t even support the latest round of welfare cuts, would have so clumsily handed the independence campaign such a large, six-inch-nail-studded stick to beat the Union with.
Unless, that is, he did it on purpose.
Because the only possible explanations are:
(a) he’s a complete idiot
(b) he thinks driving the sick to suicide is a surefire vote-winner, or
(c) the Tories actually want the nationalists to win the referendum.
We’re going to be generous and discount (a).
Dismayingly, there may well be some truth in (b), as a constant diet of “benefit scroungers” stories in the right-wing press for the last 25 years has had a malign effect on public opinion, as shown in the British Social Attitudes Survey published this week.
(Click the “Welfare” tab at the bottom of this document to see the chilling extent to which the public has been deliberately conditioned to regard benefit recipients as undeserving, lazy, parasitical burdens on the taxpayer.)
But as for (c), there’s a growing body of opinion in the Scottish chattering classes that feels the Tories do want to rid themselves of a country that regularly returns 40+ Labour MPs to Westminster.
We’ve never been convinced by it before now, feeling that a combination of genuine ideological commitment to the Union and fondness for Scottish oil revenues persuaded Conservatives that they needed to hang onto the ungrateful Jocks, at least until the North Sea was sucked dry.
But with more and more figures showing that Scottish independence would – in and of itself – make very little difference to the finances of either Scotland or the remaining UK; it may be that the Tories have decided that now is the time to cash in on the electoral benefits, particularly as it becomes apparent that austerity isn’t working and the polls suggest they’re going to have a real fight on their hands (Kinnock Factor notwithstanding) to win the 2015 election.
Apparent “gaffes” like Duncan Smith’s are becoming more and more common.
If they keep popping up every few weeks, it’s going to start to look like a strategy.
Either way, we recommend you don’t get sick any time soon.