Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blaming the poor - whatever happened to solidarity ?

The Guardian today reveals that even Labour supporters have bought into the Osbornite vision of the undeserving poor.   "Labour party supporters increasingly believe that welfare recipients are undeserving and that the welfare state encourages dependence, with a noticeable share saying that poverty is caused by a personal failing rather than a problem with society."  This is the conclusion of a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  

The maps above come from a different report last year showing where the greatest risks of poverty according to Experian.  Leaving aside Experian's total inaccuracy about my own affairs, I suspect there is a strong correlation between the riskier areas and the areas with the highest Labour votes.  We know that Tories and UKIP blame the poor but where is our society headed if Labour voters join in ?

The Rowntree website has a lot of material on poverty but I couldn't find the actual report so I don't know about the attitudes of Liberal Democrat voters.  The party's membership cards quote the preamble to the constitution: "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."   Much debate goes on about the relative merits of liberty and equality but a better phrase uttered on the radio by David Goodhart has stayed with me: "The twin aims of Liberalism - solidarity and diversity".   

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