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Weaponising Poverty



I went for a walk this morning. This is something I like to do when the weather is less onerous – which includes when it’s hot. Though I hate to moan about our weather (that’s a lie), I find myself struggling in the heat these days. I use the word heat in relative terms; it certainly isn’t as hot as really hot parts of the world, nor has it been as hot as it was last year during that heatwave. You’ll forgive me if I wish for more tolerable weather than that.

The weather has taken a more sedate turn with some welcome rain and a chance to walk where it’s fresh and fragrant. This is surely the essence of a healthy lifestyle. Why then am I made to feel, as someone receiving benefits, the opposite?

We have a society where, even if one does things that are healthy (such as enjoy a simple walk in nature), they are made to feel negative as a result. Currently I feel exceptionally negative about society; I do not see any immediate solution to the problems we have because there is no real opposition. There are certainly a lot of angry people and a lot of people in real hardship as a result, but there is no organisation against these problems.

Problem isn’t even the right word; that would imply something beyond our control. These are circumstances that have been engineered by those in power to both maintain that power and to increase it. I’m not seeing much that will change it, even though we, the people, have the real power because we have the numbers. Unfortunately the will just isn’t there to organise it properly.

I can’t take a walk without feeling guilty that I’m enjoying the most basic thing life has to offer: my passive presence in the natural world. I am made to feel that I should be doing something else, something proactive, because that’s the role imposed on me by the system and its masters. Meanwhile these masters do everything they can to maintain their system. They make sure they are as well as can be; you will hear Tories refer to people such as William Hague as being non-aristocratic, but he receives no less compensation for being part of that power base. Compare that to a teacher who is struggling to survive on a wage far beneath what their workload demands. That is of course deliberate. Steve Webb, Pensions minister and Bedroom Tax apologist, not only receives the generous wage that ministers get (at least 150k) but also a shit load of perks including mortgage relief!

It’s a scam and if you aren’t in on it, or aren’t playing the part of gullible mark, you are to be ostracised. This is the essence of the weaponisation of poverty that has taken place over the last four years. Consider how people that are sanctioned from the system are treated. Whatever the reason given, I can see nothing to justify this almost religious level of punishment: to be removed from society through financial means seems utterly cruel. Once excluded these people are abandoned: there is no policy within the DWP (and I’d love someone to put this to IDS, who will doubtless argue such people deserve their fate) to help such people. They invent the Work Programme, they give money hand over fist to unqualified and unprepared organisations to harass and bully the unemployed, punishing them for their position. Yet no help is offered once you’re out of that system, through a sanction. Does that make any sense? It’s the use of money, to put it crudely, as a weapon. This is reinforced by the revelation that full employment (in the true sense) is not desirable.

There is a strike on Thursday. It looks like it’s going to be a big one. Of course the BBC will be in full propaganda mode (this is the same organisation that denies the truth when reporting unemployment figures) with trolling throughout the day. Unfortunately one day alone isn’t going to cut it. We need the stomach to stay out for longer. Sadly since Thatcher broke the back of industrial action in the eighties there just isn’t the appetite. You can’t really blame people when they are facing a government that wields poverty as a tool against them.

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