By Andrew Simms, NEF fellow
If nothing else, the habit of blaming the victims in times of economic crisis is remarkably consistent. Making the behaviour of people receiving welfare benefits in times of high structural unemployment the focus of debate, is a convenient political trick to distract attention from the failure of government economic policy. It was used repeatedly during recessions in the 1980s and 1990s by a government that thought high unemployment was ‘a price worth paying’ to control inflation.
If the discussion is about whether or not people are trying hard enough to find a job, it neatly suggests that the problem is with the individual rather than the state of the economy. As a divide-and-rule technique it is marvellously effective and immensely socially divisive. It pits the world (and especially the media) against the poor, and the poor against each other.
The Coalition’s benefits bill may have been blocked by the House of Lords yesterday, but there remains a mainst...
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