Posts Tagged ‘Close Up West’

Gloucester Homeless Hotel and Victim of Bedroom Tax on Bristol Local TV

February 16, 2016

Last night – 15th February 2016 – the regional current affairs programme, Close Up West, did a feature on the Dorchester Hotel in Gloucester, contrasting it with the extremely posh and swanky establishment of the same name in the Metropolis. Whereas London’s Dorchester is reserved for the high paying filthy rich, Gloucester’s is basically a skid-row hotel for the homeless. One of these was a young woman, who had been forced out of her council house because of the Bedroom Tax. She had not been able to find regular, alternative private accommodation because she refused to give up her dog. As it appeared on camera, the animal appeared well-behaved and contented, and a well appreciated why she did not wish to be parted from him.

The hotel’s owners and managers were shown answering the telephone from homeless people, inquiring if there were any vacancies. There weren’t. The manager stated that they had six such phone calls a day, making about 30 each week. This she blamed on the current economic climate and the government’s welfare cuts.

While this is hardly news to the people reading Mike’s blog over at Vox Political, Johnny Void, Another Angry Voice, Britain Isn’t Eating and so many other left-wing blogs reporting from the front line of poverty, it does add yet another small piece of evidence to the overwhelming mountain showing how aIDS wretched welfare reforms are damaging the people of Britain, and throwing them onto the streets. The only people who don’t accept this are obviously the Tories, and particular the Spurious Major himself. Ian Duncan Smith, however, is so sure of his policies that when challenged about them on a factual basis, he splutters about ‘belief’. That it is if you can find him. Mostly he runs away, and embarrassing documents tend to disappear from cyberspace. Others elsewhere in the Tory cabinet also share his cowardice. Jeremy Hunt last Friday ran away from the junior doctors when they threatened to turn up at the fundraiser in Fareham. Never mind. Perhaps aIDS will let him have the use of the laundry basket he’s been known to hide in.

The Principle of Less Eligibility in the Words of the Poor Law Commissioners

February 15, 2016

Bloggers such the Angry Yorkshireman, Mike over at Vox Political, Johnny Void and very many others have pointed out that the dominant ideology behind the Tory cuts is essentially the principle of less eligibility. This was the idea behind the New Poor Law, which saw the creation of workhouses across the UK, in which the poor were incarcerated. Conditions were made so unpleasant in order to deter what would be known now as ‘welfare dependency’. They were to stop people entering them unless they were in absolutely dire need.

I found this statement of the principle from one of the 1832 commissioners responsible for the ‘New Bastilles’ in Pat Young’s Mastering Social Welfare (Basingstoke: MacMillan 1989).

Every penny bestowed, that tends to render the condition of the pauper more eligible than that of the independent labourer, is a bounty on indolence and vice. But once the condition of the pauper is made more uncomfortable than that of the independent labourer then new life, new energy, is infused into the constitution of the pauper; he is aroused like one from sleep, his relation with his neighbours high and low is changed; he surveys his former employers with new eyes. He begs a job – he will not take a denial, he discovers that everyone wants something done. (p. 71).

This was the principle that saw families split up, husbands separated from wives, and punished if they even kissed each other in the morning. And it resulted in terrible suffering and hunger, such as the scandal which erupted when the inmates in one workhouse were found to be so starving that they were eating the marrow from the bones they were supposed to be cutting for fertiliser.

It’s the principle that Maggie espoused in her wretched ‘Victorian Values’, or as she called them, ‘Victorian Virtues’. It’s the appalling system of values that has seen 590 people die in despair, neglect, starvation and through their own hand, and 290,000 suffer mental problems, through benefit sanctions and the stress of the odious ‘work capability’ tests.

It’s also interesting that tonight, on the regional current affairs programme for the Bristol area, Close Up West, that they mentioned self-reliance as a factor in the high rate of male suicide. Suicide is the leading killer of men under 50. Five times more men commit suicide than women. In Bristol the rate is even higher: it’s six times more. The hospitals in Bristol and Bristol uni are taking steps to counter and treat this. Among the factors cited for the high suicide in my fair city by one of the female doctors interviewed was the current economic climate. Joblessness, and immense debt incurring while studying, which also didn’t give you a job after you graduated, were important factors. Women were better able to cope because they were more open and had more ‘networks of support’, in the sense of sympathetic friends. Men suffered because they tended not to go to the doctor. And part of this was the need to be self-reliant. If you’re a bloke, you can’t be so ready to be weak, or seen as weak and unable to cope. And so it destroys those who need help, and can’t cope. Like one in four British citizens in their lifetime.

The Victorians had a lot of virtues. They were clever, inventive, worked hard, and at their very best had a very strong sense of moral responsibility and social consciousness. Among the men and women, who campaigned against slavery, were people who lived, worked and worshipped with the people they were sworn to champion, and they suffered from it at the hands of the bigoted and privileged. Marxism as a political theory is deeply flawed, but Marx himself was fired by a genuine, burning outrage at the poverty and squalor he saw around him. As were F.D. Maurice and many of the Christian Socialists he disparaged. But ‘less eligibility’ is a vile doctrine, that should have gone out along with the Poor Law and the Workhouse. It should have no place in the 21st century.