Posts Tagged ‘Rosemary Rees’

Liberal Election Poster for 1909 Unemployment and Health Insurance

April 24, 2016

Yesterday I put up two photos from Rosemary Rees’ book, Poverty and Public Health 1815-1948 (London: Heinemann 2001). One showed a queue of mostly children waiting for charity hand-outs of food from the early 20th century. I said that this was still very relevant as such queues had returned with the appearance of food banks in the 21st. We are now in a period in which 4.7 million people in Britain are in ‘food poverty’.

Disgusting.

The other was of the very first person to draw an old age pension from 1909. I said that it should be an iconic picture, as it marks the beginning of the welfare state, which Cameron’s Tories are doing their level best to destroy.

This is another picture that also deserves to be a well-known icon, and is about the same subject. Entitled ‘The Dawn of Hope’ it urges the British public to support the Liberal government and their introduction of national health and unemployment insurance in 1909. Although it’s for the Liberal, rather than the Labour or other Socialist party, it marks the beginning of the modern welfare state. Which as I said, the Tories hate with a passion and are doing their utmost to demolish. This poster should be up everywhere as a symbol of what Cameron, Osbo, IDS and the rest of their coterie of toffs and factory masters are attacking through benefit sanctions, privatised ‘workplace’ pensions and the privatisation of the NHS.

We cannot let them.

Liberal Insurance Pic

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Photo of First Person to Draw an Old Age Pension

April 23, 2016

One of the other illustrations in Rosemary Rees’ book, Poverty and Public Health 1815-1948, is this photograph from 1909 of the first person to draw their pension. Pensions were first introduced by the Liberal government, and they were paid through the Post Office as a way of avoiding the stigma of poor relief. This should be an iconic image of the necessity of providing decent pensions to our senior citizens.

Drawing First Pension

The Tories are trying to undermine state pensions, by forcing people to take out ‘workplace pensions’, private pensions which are neither as generous nor as easy to draw as normal state pensions. It’s another case of the Tories rewarding their friends and paymasters in big business. They’ve also moved the goal posts on pensions by raising the pensionable without giving sufficient notice so that people could plan to support themselves between the time they believed they could retire and the real pension age.

Mike over at Vox Political posted up a piece from Lizzie Cornish, a ‘pensionless pensioner’. Mdm Cornish retired at 60, which was the normal pensionable age for women. Then the government raised the age to 66. She is 61, and has spent a year without pension, and fears that she cannot survive the next five. She explains that she’s been caught out precisely because of the way the government raised the age without telling anyone they were planning to do so, thus giving them time to prepare.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/22/pensionless-pensioner-brands-uk-government-most-brutal-regime-in-living-memory/

Mike has repeatedly described the policy of the Tories towards the poor, the disabled and the unemployed as ‘chequebook euthanasia’, like the Nazis’ murder of the congenitally disabled. It’s done in order to save money and provide tax cuts for the rich. Mdm. Cornish and the thousands of women like her provide further evidence that the Dave Cameron, Osbo, IDS and their replacements really don’t care about the mass deaths they are causing. It just another blow to the system of pensions inaugurated by the Liberals, and drawn by the chap above for the first time in 1909.

Photo of Charity Food Queue 1900

April 23, 2016

Late last night I put up a quote from Richard Oastler, condemning the Victorians’ treatment of the poor as criminals by confining them in the workhouse if they wanted poor relief. This came from Poverty and Public Health 1815-1948, by Rosemary Rees (Oxford: Heinemann 2001). The book is school text on attitudes to poverty, poor relief, health, housing and sanitation in the 19th and early 20th century before the foundation of the NHS and welfare state. It’s profusely illustrated, with contemporary photographs, cartoons, drawings, plans and diagrams. One of the photos is this picture of a group of mainly children waiting for a hand-out of charity food in 1900.

Charity Food Queue

About a year or so ago I put up on this blog a late Victorian – Edwardian poem about children waiting in a queue in the early morning to receive food given as part of poor relief. I commented that this could describe the situation now, in the 21st century. Hundreds of thousands are being forced to use the food bank thanks to Ian Duncan Smith’s, George Osborne’s and Dave Cameron’s destruction of the welfare state and imposition of the sanctions regime. 4.7 million people are living in ‘food poverty’.

The photo is a document of the face of poverty at the turn of the 20th century. With just a few changes in fashion, it could also be the face of poverty in the first years of the 21st.

And it’s a disgrace.

Richard Oastler, on Why the Poor Deserve to Keep Their Liberty from the Workhouse

April 22, 2016

I found this quote from Richard Oastler’s The Rights of the Poor to Liberty and Life of 1838 in the book Poverty and Public Health, by Rosemary Rees (Oxford: Heinemann 2001):

Remember, always that liberty – freedom from confinement as well as food and clothing – is the birthright of every Englishman, however poor. What, Sir, is the principle of the New Poor Law? The condition imposed upon Englishmen by that accursed law is, that man shall give up his liberty to save his life! That, before he shall eat a piece of bread, he shall go into prison. In prison, he shall enjoy his right to live, but it shall be at the expense of that liberty, without which life itself becomes a burden and curse.

Thank God, the law of the land does not yet say – though the Commissioners of the New Poor Law have dared to say – that poverty is a crime, by which an Englishman may be deprived of the blessings of liberty.

(p.99).

Bloggers like Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Tom Pride and Mike over at Vox Political, and myself have repeatedly pointed out the similarities of the workfare system to slave labour. It’s also been pointed out, time and again, that a benefit claimant may spend longer on workfare than a criminal sentenced to community service. It doesn’t seem to me to be at all a stretch to apply this quote from Oastler about the ‘New Bastilles’ of the workhouses to workfare and the wretched sanctions regime.