i Editor's Letter: All in this together? I beg to differ!


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The Independent Online


I’m not quite sure how many more of these letters I will write as editor before departing for TV land, so there’s much to pack in. At the moment it’s difficult to write whilst maintaining the i creed of no party political bias. Hopefully i will always call the government of the day to account, but the trouble is, in our brief history we have only had this one.

So, it’s not being deliberately parti pris to express despair at the current language of, and emphasis on, the welfare debate – not least because two parties are in government (and the opposition is strangely quiet). IDS’s run at pensioners is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to both reduce in number and isolate those that receive state benefits of any kind, and further exacerbate the “them and us” Britain of 2013. With each new outburst or initiative, the difference between so-called “strivers and shirkers” is writ larger, and all recipients of benefits tarnished with the same brush.

What’s happening is a none-too-subtle shift in public discourse away from notions of universal social security and a welfare society. It’s a return to the idea of the poor or otherwise needy being required to show they are “worthy” of assistance, and that such assistance comes at a price. So BE GRATEFUL!

Quite the most galling thing about the drip, drip of these initiatives is that they are masked by the “all in this together” rhetoric. Really? None of the above targets the truly rich. Remember all the talk of widescale reform of the banking system or cracking down on high-earner and corporate tax dodging? Yeah, me neither.