Thursday, 23 January 2014
The Angry Mob
The Benefits Street argument just won’t go away. But the unassailable fact is that some people are simply worth less than other human beings… and some of them do quite well for themselves. There are crooked lawyers, coppers, businessmen, sportsmen, entertainers and politicians – you don’t have to be broke to be bent – it’s human nature to grab the opportunities and it takes a lot of training to overcome the temptation.
But it seems there are good crooks and bad crooks. When some ‘loveable rogue’ hijacks the welfare system to live off the labours of others, anybody daring to condemn them is howled down by a chorus of righteous leftie frenzy, yet when it’s an elected official legally claiming expenses or a high earner legally avoiding tax the same mob turns on them instead of their persecutors. Tell me, are there different versions of legal depending on your social status? It’s always seemed that way, but this is the reverse of the traditional ‘them and us’ divide.
On the one hand, some hold that there is no such thing as the undeserving poor – everybody is equally wonderful – but on the other, there is such a thing as undeserving rich. I believe we are mining a very rich seam of hypocrisy here, where it’s fine for Polly Toynbee to be paid much more than most people for writing about the heinous inequity whereby some people’s labours are worth less than others. And it’s fine for millionaire career politicians to dishonestly lay claim to a humble start because they say they speak for the ‘most vulnerable in society’, but it is not okay for other millionaire politicians to accept their good fortune without apology?
Owen Jones repeatedly bemoans the lazy stereotyping and ‘demonisation’ of the Chav – a creature we all recognise as one of questionable values, low education, poor taste and minimal social merit – who contributes little if anything to the sum national worth. But it’s absolutely okay for wee Owen to simultaneously repeat the lazy stereotype of Tory Toff, whose (admittedly enviable) privilege rarely costs the country a penny.
It’s a real conundrum for Labour and the left; how to plough the equality furrow without straying into the politics of hate and envy. Some, indeed, are more equal than others. But Labour long ago lost their working man ethics and are desperate to re-establish any credentials to support their repeated but false assertions that they are champions of the poor. All of which made Prime Minister’s Questions a tricky obstacle course for Ed Miliband yesterday – he had to steer clear of the economy and employment pretty much altogether. And as for Ed Balls, Labour’s front bench Rottweiler remained firmly muzzled as he has been for weeks.
What a shame that the righteous indignation of the left allows them to give no quarter to a supposed enemy – anybody doing what they see as their job. For all the hatred Iain Duncan Smith attracts, for all the brickbats lobbed at him daily, his is the one mission, throughout the whole system of British politics that Labour should be backing to the hilt. Getting people back to work? Ending automatic, lifelong benefit dependency? Attempting to lift people out of the poverty of both mind and pocket? How dare he?
Labour - So angry they could throw the phone down.
And – the horror – what if he succeeds? What if aspiration and self-reliance make a comeback? Will Labour just have to hate everybody then? Or will they just do what they’ve done for almost four years - stamp their feet and jump up and down like a demented little Mr Angry… from Purley?