Monday, August 26, 2013

Return of the Means Test

Edinburgh City Council has decided to crack down on smokers and
drinkers. Anyone who smokes or drinks will lose benefit. They are the
first council to admit this openly but one wonders how many others are
taking similar decisions behind closed doors.

They are clearly the "undeserving poor" so this SNP/Labour Council
feels free to punish them. What next, I wonder. Will bankers who drink
not receive their bonuses? Will MPs who smoke have their expenses
withheld? Apparently not. Apparently it is only the poor who are

This is arguably more intrusive than the means test which precipitated
the hunger marches and it is just one more stick to beat the poor.
Setting smokers against non-smokers, drinkers against non-drinkers, it
is the age-old tactic of divide and rule. People who are struggling to
make ends meet are encouraged to demonise people who receive benefits
but have the temerity to drink and smoke. Some even watch TV and read
books. Horror!

People who are unemployed, disabled or retired deserve to be treated
with respect. Instead every opportunity is taken to humiliate them.
To take a small example, the Job Centre in Horsham expects people to
attend meetings of up to an hour and a half but there are no toilet
facilities for the general public. They do not even provide water -
presumably this is a precaution because they don't provide toilets. It
is tempting to say they are taking the piss.

Only the trade unions have any interest in helping the poor. The
political elite are otherwise engaged. We could do with a party of the
working class, open to smokers and drinkers!


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