Issue #1559 8 August 2012
Culture & Life
Assault on the vulnerable
Tory cuts kill. It’s a stark truth proved by the shocking case of Christine and Clive Arnold, who are living under the shadow of a benefit cut that threatens their home, Christine’s health – and even her life.
The attacks on disability benefits are not the Coalition’s biggest cuts but they are surely the most shameful.
They are a naked assault on the group least able to defend themselves. They are a measure designed to drive millions into misery, poverty, illness and an early grave.
There is no justification for them on financial grounds – not when the government can find bottomless billions to bail out the banks.
There is no justification for them on the grounds of fairness. Never mind the right-wing lies – disability benefits aren’t supporting millions of work-shy scroungers, they’re a vital safety net that brings a measure of dignity and security to society’s most vulnerable.
And there is no justification on economic grounds, not when benefits such as the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) help disabled people to work.
The benefit cuts are a false economy – just like the closure of Remploy factories employing thousands of disabled people, and just like the rest of George Osborne’s cuts. [George Osborne is the British Chancellor of the Exchequer – government’s treasurer.]
They mean more misery, more fear and more despair. Growing poverty and growing dole queues. And ultimately a toll in human life among the victims who can’t or won’t struggle through in the face of the Con-Dems’ vicious class war.
At times this summer it has felt like a matter of not if the riots would return to London but when.
As the temperature rose and the Olympic security crackdown took full effect there was unrest in the air – and no wonder.
The bean feast inside the Olympic Park is a stark contrast to the situation on the streets outside, where a year on from the rioting almost nothing has changed.
Some of London’s poorest boroughs got a lick of paint to avoid offending the delicate sensibilities of tourists.
But the Olympics are just one more a reminder that the state will squander billions on corporate extravaganzas while slashing spending on those who need and deserve it.
The rows of empty seats, left bare by corporate sponsors while locals are denied tickets, are a final insult on top of a long list of injuries.
Poverty, unemployment, soaring rents and crowded housing all remain. And so do cuts to education and benefits – and police brutality and racism, the spark that lit last summer’s flames.
Twelve months after police shot Mark Duggan dead there is no sign of any answers and no sign of his killers being brought to justice.
And so there is no sign of the justified anger over his death being assuaged, or of the Metropolitan Police being forced to tackle the problem of the racists and thugs it harbours in its ranks.
In this heated climate it will only take one more spark to ignite another inferno – one that would come as a shock, but not as a surprise.
If there was any better example of the corporate desire to profit from every nook and cranny of our lives it is the spectacle reported of thousands of fans imprisoned in Wembley Stadium without access to food or drink.
Visa sealed a deal with Olympic bosses that gave it sole rights over all payments made by card during the Games.
And that meant closing down all the cash machines at Wembley because they would hand a few pennies per transaction to competitors.
The greed backfired during five hours of desperation for the young and old, not least families who had no way to feed their children on a day out which should have been a pleasure.
The people’s games? As if.
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