Another week, another scandal. This time is has to light that a sizeable number of MPs rent their properties to colleagues. A pretty nifty way to use up more hard-earned taxpayer’s cash, wouldn’t you say?
But we are not here to pick an argument over MP’s expenses; there have been plenty of those. What I would like to draw your attention to is this boxing match of the stereotypes.
Aaand in the right corner we have Mr Smith MP, whose fortune stands at several million pounds yet he claims for every Kit-Kat that he consumes (all the while lumbering the office’s intern with a full-time job without providing sufficient remuneration). Outrageous.
Aaand in the left corner we have Mr Everyday Smith, with no education whose most prized item right now is the 1.5lt bottle of Strongbow that he purchased with ALL that money that he claimed from the government (and is clearly living like a king on that £50 weekly allowance). What a scrounger, why doesn’t he get a job? [Incidentally, these two fictional personifications are men but that’s for another time.]
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? I sure do. Clearly not every single MP fits the above criterion; ditto for those that rely on the welfare state. So why are we so quick to jump on this bandwagon of hate?
For one, it’s always nice to have someone to blame. Be it a politician, or those ruddy youths that do nothing except hang around on street corners. Well, my suggestion is go get involved. Remind me again what the turnout for Newport was in the PCC elections? And for all the things wrong with Davey’s Big Society push, you’ve got to admit that he has a point.
What is more, it sells more papers. Ever notice how no one ever focusses on the positive? When the election cycle comes around no journalist ever writes about how Candidate A used to volunteer, or that Candidate B regularly keeps their promises. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The recession is nobody’s friend. Now, don’t get me wrong, the British middle is getting squeezed more than anyone likes to admit. However, I can assure you that those reliant on the welfare state are not having a whale of a time. The general public seem to forget about the vulnerable, the elderly, and the disabled. Just because there are those unfortunate individuals that take advantage of the system, it doesn’t mean that we have to paint all claimants with the same brush.
Perpetuating this myth undermines the trust in the political system and in society, and without either what are we left with?