Thank heavens for the Bishops!

By Roshan Doug on Jan 25, 12 09:25 PM in

I am the recipient of a reality check.

Just when I was beginning to think that the members in the House of Lords were a bunch of snivelling, retired captains of industry without any real political clout or impetus to challenge the government, they suddenly surprise me.

This week, for instance, I was delighted when the House of Lords rejected the government's Welfare Reform Bill headed by Iain Duncan-Smith of the Conservative Party on behave of the Coalition government.

They've got the bottle after all.

To me their rejection - a proverbial slap in the face for Cameron - was further prove that the current recession is having more of a detrimental effect on the working class than the middle and upper classes. Here is proof that when the chips are down - when the country's finance experts make a hash of the economy - the government will try and bail them out by squeezing the poor, limiting their means of support. Whilst the rich bankers maintain their lucrative jobs with bonuses and hefty pensions, the poor will be scapegoated and vilified - it's a fact.

The point is that a recession - any recession - enables the government to take advantage of the climate by applying a divide-and-rule strategy and thereby creating cultural suspecion in our society.

The government has already attacked the students by giving universities the legitimacy to increase the tuition fees to above £9,000 whilst at the same time abolishing the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) which had entitled every 16-19 year old to £30 per week whilst in full time education.

To me the politics relating to the House of Lords' vote on Monday is relatively straightforward: you can argue against it - like the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds did.

He implied that in a first world country like ours, morally at least, we are obliged to support the unemployed and those unfortunate enough to find themselves in the gutter. Like him, I do not accept that people are born - or give birth to children - with the view that they can become dependent on the state. I believe that that is the kind of odious right-wing hysteria that we are subjected to on a daily basis and which we become accustomed to. We get used to this to such an extent that we get brain-washed in thinking that anyone on the dole or is a single parent must be 'rinsing' us in one way or another by claiming social welfare benefits that they are not really entitled to.

Similarly I do not believe that every teenage girl wants to have a baby so that she can move up the council housing list or that everyone who claims Jobseekers Allowance is living in a mansion in salubrious end of London like Hamstead Heath. I also do not accept that the majority of British people are inherently disingenuous, deceitful or out to 'skank' one another.

Believing in the nonsense put forward by the government is dangerous and elitist. It is clouded by narrow-mindedness, snobbery and social/cultural bigotry.

If you don't accept this than perhaps like Lord Freud you might be dangerously treading on the other side of the argument.

But honestly - really?

Do you really believe that there is a mass of people who are cheating the welfare system to such an extent that so many of them are living in mansions and who drive around in big expensive cars? Do you really believe that the cost of a few people falsely claiming some benefits is equivalent to the millions and trillions gambled away - legitimately - by the elite class of people from public schools who have terribly posh accents?

If you do, perhaps it's time you too had a reality check.

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Jonathan Walker

Jonathan Walker - The Birmingham Post's political editor
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