Thursday, 4 November 2010

It's interesting.... people think.

Or, to be more accurate, how different people think differently about the same issue. An example is prison and if/how it "works". The UK has more of its people in prison than any other comparable country except the USA. Right wing Tories see this as evidence that there is more criminality in the UK and call for even more people in even more prisons, whereas more "liberal" Tories (and others) see it as a problem that we jail "too many" people and look to find ways to reduce the prison population. Same situation, same evidence, different views on what is important.

The Housing Benefit changes are another case in point. Ed Howker at the Spectator has an interesting article on these changes. To be fair to Ed and the house publication of the frothing right, it's not an unthinking endorsement of Osborne's tactics. He makes some searching criticisms of the policy and shows some interesting graphs produced by a Cambridge academic which show some real and damaging likely outcomes of the changes. By the estimates provided, between, 70,000 and 135,000 families may be evicted due to the policy. Ed thinks that this is not a good situation and you and I might agree, it is a disgrace that families can be thrown out on the streets in such a cavalier fashion.That would seem to be self evident to any right thinking individual. Ed, however, has his own reasons for regretting the predicted policy outcomes, and it's not the humanitarian morality that you might imaging. Ed states his reasons baldly:
"....the sheer number of vulnerable people cast out of their homes is, I suggest, a significant political liability for the Government." 
"...Ministers will find it very difficult to answer questions from those forced to move into temporary accommodation when they start telling their stories on Question Time..."
According to Mr Howker, throwing thousands of families on the street or into B&B accommodation, far from their established homes, friends and relatives, schools and schoolmates, doctors surgeries and social contacts, isn't (as you and I might believe) a moral or social outrage. Oh no it's ".... a significant political liability for the Government".

It's a matter of PR, that's all. How do they explain away city pavements blocked with the meagre belongings of discarded citizens? How do they address Question Time when the people concerned get in front of the TV cameras? What a dilemma the poor Tory MP or junior minister has when confronted with such troublesome matters.

You have to have some sympathy for the poor souls. Especially those with homes in the more expensive London boroughs: they might actually have to clamber over the debris of an evicted neighbour to get to their front door some summer night, (Oops sorry! Did I break your ukelele?), and all that after a hard day at the office: have a heart!

As I said: it's funny how different people see the same thing differently....

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