The spectacle of representative democracy is fully underway in the UK, and what a ride it's been so far! Declaring low taxation at the heart of his political beliefs (no shocker there), David Cameron has come up trumps with his frankly laughable comments on high tax being “morally wrong” and there being “no such thing as public money”. Nigel Farage managed to up his campaign of hate and racism with his thoughts on "health tourism" and the NHS, centering his focus on HIV-positive migrants (killing two birds with one big hateful stone there, I suppose). Meanwhile, over in camp Labour, the jury's out on whether Ed Miliband can convince the public with his “Hell yes, I’m tough enough” routine. Perhaps that wasn’t his first choice of catchphrase, but that’s the magic of live TV. And all cower behind Nicola Sturgeon, maybe the most dangerous woman in Britain.
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In the UK this month austerity has revealed itself to be in the mode of naked class war. Monday began with welfare reforms, the introduction of the notorious bedroom tax and reductions in the access to Legal Aid. These attacks will be followed in the coming weeks by the replacing of disability living allowance with a personal independence payment policed by Atos, the reduction in the 50p tax rate (providing tax cuts to the rich) and the introduction of the controversial Universal Credit scheme. Combined with other aspects of late capitalism (from food prices to housing shortages) the reality of life in austerity Britain is uglier than it has been for some time.
With textbook ideological manoeuvring these assaults have been accompanied by a rhetoric designed to divide the working classes between “workers and shirkers.” To the chorus of the right wing press, statements, such as this one by Liam Fox or this from Iain Duncan Smith, ultimately aim to crush the possibility of an organized resistance. Most revealing this week has been efforts by the right wing to frame the horrific Philpott manslaughter as a result of ‘benefit dependency.’ Almost beyond belief, this story’s beginnings in the Daily Mail and right wing blogs were reinforced yesterday with this statement from the grubbiest man on earth: Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.