Dispelling the myths: Are we “all in this together?”

No, that’s not a reference to the popular High School Musical tune, but to the slogan of David Cameron’s pre-election Conservative Party, which set the stage for Tory-led austerity measures to combat Labour’s apparent inability to manage the economy. The phrase itself can be traced back to late 2009, when Cameron told his party conference:

“The progressive thing to do, the responsible thing to do is to get a grip on the debt but in a way that brings the country together instead of driving it apart. That means showing leadership at the top […] It means showing that we’re all in this together

To prove how serious this message is, you can even head to the Tory merchandise store and buy horribly designed posters that will plaster the slogan across your bedroom wall, if you so desire.

Cameron sorta won the election, roped the Lib Dems into a deal, and the Coalition government was formed off the back of this famous (or infamous) phrase of national togetherness, which was regurgitated by other Tory politicians throughout the election cycle. Four years later, the Coalition has implemented all its policies and we now approach another general election. Before we do, let’s see how much Cameron’s national togetherness has played out through his austerity policies.

Now in his speech Cameron did admit that the measures would be “painful”, but togetherness implies that we’re gonna have to make sacrifices no matter what income bracket we fall into. Whether it be rich or poor, being “all in it together” means we’re all going to suffer for the necessary economic recovery.

Or not.

  • Homelessness is on the rise as under 25’s are being driven out of their homes due to the Tory benefit cuts. Under 25’s homelessness rate rose from 1.7% in 2013 to 10% in 2014. 90% of those asked in the same research group also said the Tory benefit cuts caused significant damage to their ability to find new accommodation. [Source: i Paper 19/11/14]
  • A report by the Church Of England, the Trussell Trust food bank network, Oxfam, and the Child Poverty Action Group shows food banks (non-profit voluntary ventures that provide the poor with free food) are seeing increasing use as a direct result of the following: Poor people paying the bedroom tax, poor people enduring the welfare “reforms”, poor people awaiting their benefit claims to be processed, and/or poor people having their benefits stopped due to breaching Jobcentre rules. [Source]
  • Additionally, the Trussell Trust claims that nearly 920,000 people used food banks in 2013-2014, a figure that has almost tripled since the previous year. [Source]
  • Most horrific of all, the Department of Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith has investigated 60 deaths that directly relate to people being found “fit to work” under the crackdown on disabled people. In other words, as many as 60 people may have died as a result of Cameron’s government, including one woman who committed suicide after her mental health benefits were slashed. [Source]
  • George Osborne is expected to need another £25 billion in benefit spending due to the rise of poverty-level wages, a rising deficit, and people in work not making enough to pay their bills. [Source]
  • Despite this, Osborne has announced that a re-elected Tory government would freeze public sector workers pay for two years (meaning that their pay is below the level of inflation for 7 years) and would freeze benefits spending for two years, resulting in “children [losing] as much as £490 a year in child benefit and tax credits”. [Source]

Alright so sure, the poor have endured a big chunk of the austerity movement, but hey, we’re all in this together, which is why the rich have suffered too, right?

  • A report by the London School of Economics and the ISER recently revealed that wealth inequality has actually risen under the Coalition government, resulting in the poorest 5% of Brits losing 3% of their income, while the richest half of the country have seen their disposable income rise by 1-2%. [Source]
  • The Tory reshuffle of taxes has not contributed to cutting the deficit, as tax breaks for the wealthy far outdid the money saved by cutting benefit claimants’ income. [Source]
  • David Cameron has promised a £7.2 billion tax relief cut package for the wealthy, paid for by the aforementioned Osborne pay and benefit freezes. [Source]
  • Cameron famously took the banker bonus fight all the way to the EU last year, spending thousands of pounds fighting a proposal that would see banker bonuses to “only be allowed to reach twice the annual fixed salary if a majority of a bank’s shareholders agrees”. [Source]
  • This also came around the same time that the European Banking Authority’s figures showed that David Cameron has delivered nearly £1 billion in tax cuts to the banking sector. [Source]

PoorPeople

The verdict: Over the last four years, the Coalition government has delivered some of the most inhumane and brutal crackdowns on the poor, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Thatcher years. People are being sacrificed at the austerity altar while the wallets of rich bankers, city stockbrokers and heads of corporations continue to fatten. We are not all in this together. We are paying with our livelihoods and, in 60 cases, with our lives, for the mistakes of the rich, who caused the financial meltdown in the first place.

Feel numb yet?

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