Opposition to the Conservative government’s welfare reforms are high on hyperbole and outrage, but tellingly low on alternative proposals
To listen to many voices on the Left is to be told that we live in a uniquely heartless and uncaring age, where living standards are being deliberately driven to unprecedented lows by the deliberate actions of a government which is not just wrong, but actually evil.
Here’s Laurie Penny in the New Statesman, pouring scorn on the very thought of verifying that claims for sickness and disability benefit are genuine:
I should say “fitness tests”, because nobody gets to be sick any longer under Iain Duncan Smith (so good at rebranding ideological cuts that they named him twice, once for each face). Navigating this system is humiliating enough for disabled people without them being lied to every step of the way. If the DWP would just come out and say that it doesn’t believe the state should help people who are ill, disabled or injured, it would somehow be more bearable. At least people would know where it stood. But the stated aim of the welfare changes is to “get people working”, because: “Work is the best route out of poverty.”
And here’s the Green Party’s Jonathan Bartley, churning out the latest conventional left-wing thinking over at Left Foot Forward:
For IDS it is now clear that disability is not something to be embraced, let alone celebrated as part of the diversity which makes us all stronger. Disability is an aberration. It is a problem which needs to be fixed.
And if those who are different get the right therapy, or where necessary they are sanctioned, they can be pushed into the workplace to become like ‘normal’ people.
Left-wing opposition to Tory welfare reforms has now become so reflexive and so unthinking that encouraging people to work and be economically self sufficient – with all the freedom that it brings – is now actively seen as a bad thing.
Britain is now such a “diverse” country that it apparently contains a large bloc of people for whom any kind of work is permanently impossible to contemplate, and for whom any attempt to help or encourage them away from dependence on benefits (thus protecting them from vulnerability to future policy and benefit changes) is seen as an unconscionable assault on their “human rights”.
This is dangerous, hyperbolic nonsense.