Why the Right is wrong

A large amount of current political discourse centres on the UK’s welfare and immigration policies- these are absolutely not the things this country needs to be focusing on. The current government has been incredibly cunning and managed to turn a global recession into a chance to usher in their ideology, an ideology that is one of the major causes of the disaster in the first place- neoliberalism. “Ah” I hear the Conservative cry “the recession happened under Labours watch though, not ours!” This merely proves the point this article is attempting to make- the debate has been so narrowed in this country that even between two originally diverse parties, the essential ideology is now the same. Both Labour and Conservatives have been implicit in the economic system that is slowly destroying this country, and Labour have happily allowed this spotlight shone by the government on all the wrong things. Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” is often lauded by right-wingers and yet Smith himself advocated free movement of labour across borders and social protection for the vulnerable from the “invisible hand” of the economy- two things the current government are showing disturbing signs of wanting to destroy.
The prize for most misleading slogan in political history must surely have the Tories “making work pay” in its shortlist. Not only does this sell the slightly twisted idea that the most important thing you can ever do is slave away at a job that you detest for a pittance, but it’s simply not what this government is doing. Slashing benefits and encouraging a culture of distrust and even outright detest towards welfare claimants is not the same as making work pay. The vast majority of benefits are paid to those already in work, working in jobs that do not pay enough for them to live. If you wish to “make work pay” then cutting the aid from the state for workers is at best counter-productive. I will again presume to know what the Tory supporter will reply- the recent claim by Mr Cameron that we are now experiencing a “recovery for all” and so the recent tax cuts are actually making the majority better off. This could easily be argued- all that’s needed is for you to lack even a basic understanding of economics and statistics. A man who clearly does not learn from past mistakes, Mr Cameron is again deliberately misleading the public and fiddling the stats in his favour- his “evidence” completely fails to take into account soaring rents and energy prices, conveniently the two highest contributors to the cost of living crisis. It also conveniently ignores the slashes to benefits these individuals will have suffered. Let us not ignore also the brilliant progress the government claims to have made on unemployment, but let us also not ignore (like they have) that this brilliant progress has come about through the rise of zero-hour contracts, draconian measures such as the Workfare scheme and benefits sanctions, and increasing youth and long term unemployment. The overwhelming majority of jobs actually created in the private sector (80%) are also based in London- a heavily skewed “recovery“ at best. If your agenda really was to “make work pay” then rent caps and a higher minimum wage would be far more effective than attacking the welfare state.
Ok, so maybe cutting workers benefits is bad, but what about all the scroungers? They’re bleeding us dry and slowly destroying the country! The percentage of benefits claimed fraudulently accounts for 0.7%. The fact that the government and the media have managed to distort and narrow the debate and create an unnecessarily hostile public is proven by the fact that actually the British public believes this Why the Right is Wrong. These facts show that it is not lazy scroungers that have caused this country’s problems, but poverty paying business’ and extortionate landlords- these are the individuals the British public is really subsidising. But where is the investigation into their finances? Why are they not debated over and scrutinised? Because the spectrum of currently acceptable debate does not allow for it- it does not sit nicely with Conservative values or Conservative ideology to entertain the idea that it might actually be the rich that are causing the problems.
Alright, alright, so maybe benefit fraud isn’t such a big issue, and welfare cuts aren’t helping that much… but what about the immigrants? They’re all coming over here and stealing our jobs, and sponging off the state, sucking up our hard earned money! Well for starters, it’s not logically possible for both of these often flouted claims to be true- if they’re stealing our jobs then they’re not on benefits, if they’re on benefits then they’re not stealing our jobs- it must be one or the other. So, let’s take each one separately and explain why it’s not true and has become a common misconception in the British public because of an ideologically driven government and an all-too subservient press.
“They’re stealing our jobs”. Essentially, this argument relies on the idea that there is only a finite amount of jobs in the economy, and that the only effect of additional workers to it will increase unemployment. This assumption fails to entertain the idea that an influx of workers can actually help the economy grow, increase the profits of a business, which in turn allows for expansion and thus more jobs created. It also means more money will be being spent as there are more workers, again exacerbating the aforementioned factors. The evidence supports this latter view, rather than the “they’re stealing our jobs” fallacy.
“They’re scrounging off the state”. If we really want to be crude and materialistic in our decisions (as we must be to be neoliberals) then the evidence tells us that on average, immigrants are better quality for money than the average British citizen- having paid more than 34% more in taxes than have ever taken in benefits. Evidence also suggests that if the lucrative benefits on offer are the main reason for immigration (despite the fact that laws are already in place stopping immigrants claiming straight away) then the UK would not be their first point of call. And let’s pause for a moment and think about this idea of evidence- where’s the evidence for benefit tourism? Why do we assume that immigrants come here to sponge off the state rather than contribute to it, and why do we assume that people on benefits are happy to stay on them providing they provide for them well enough? These ideas have absolutely no empirical evidence behind them, and are simply based on scare-mongering, manipulation for political goals, and a pessimistic view of human nature. And yet we have allowed this pessimism concerning our fellow man to permeate our media and penetrate our minds, despite the lack of evidence for it.
The real problems that our country faces are poverty paying bosses, extortionate rents, and an unregulated financial sector (a financial sector that Tory’s say they wish to reform but have failed to do so yet). Overwhelming evidence shows that a more equal society is better for all that live in it, so let us end a system that creates 85 people having the wealth of 3.5 billion, let us end a system that stigmatises and divides, and let us end a system where tax-payer money is spent subsidising corporate profit, where we actually help fund their growing control over our lives. Let’s fight for a system where income is awarded fairly, where debt isn’t intrinsic to progress, and where growth and profit aren’t prioritised over standard of living and equality. Let’s, for once, actually fix the problems that we face, rather than exacerbating them.

Why the Right is wrong

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