They’re All The Same, Aren’t They?

I thought my anger about anti-welfare propaganda might have cooled by now. Just when I think it is, I read or see some tosser politician mouthing off and it’s reignited. What really fans the flames however, (throws kerosene on them more like) is seeing the responses to it on social media. Responses that show just how uncritically this nonsense is swallowed, (or to quote Kryten from Red Dwarf: “hook, line, sinker, rod and copy of Angling Times”). And swallowed by people who should know better: colleagues from when I worked in housing benefits.

The recent Channel 4 programme Benefit Street is a good example. I must point out that I didn’t see the programme, but it sounds like yet another piece edited to paint claimants in the worst way possible. One of my friends on Facebook (a former colleague) posted a rather nasty rant about claimants (basically: they’re all the same, lazy bastards living it up while I have to work; so what if there’s a bedroom tax etc.). When I pointed out that that hardly represents claimants, the person was quick to qualify by saying that they had nothing against “genuine” people. Oh really? So why did you accept the programme at face value? Perhaps you should pick your words more carefully.

If anyone was to make such sweeping generalisations about gay or black people (let alone make documentaries on the same lines) they would be rightly criticised and condemned for doing so. So why is it OK to make equally offensive generalisations about welfare claimants? Is it some collective need to have someone to bully, someone to blame? Or a need to feel superior to someone? Or is it simply stupidity, as I’ve long thought? It is strange that many people are contemptuous about politicians, holding them all to be liars (generalising again), yet it’s the same politicians who are leading the way with the anti-claimant propaganda. And that gets believed. Funny that.

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