One wonders what was going through Grant Shapps’ mind when his notorious, now viral poster, was tweeted. I can only picture the scene in his office – “So Grant, what do ‘hardworking people’ enjoy?”, “Booze and gambling! I should know- I visited Manchester once!” As Owen Jones stated in his excellent critique of the recent budget announcement, the notorious tweet was simply “the final nail in working-class Toryism.” The fact the Tories view bingo and beer as what ‘hardworking people’ enjoy shows their attitudes towards the modern day public as archaic, and hopefully every re-tweet that infuriating picture gets will make the Tory Party wake up from the hibernation it took in the 20th century and find itself in the realism of the 21st.
Shapps’ denigrating tweet aside, the main budget itself needs analysing. Now, I can certainly say I’m not an economist in any sense of the word, but the budget has some gaping flaws that even an economic Luddite such as myself can recognise. Indeed, although the budget is certainly aiding those people you expect the Tories to help; businesses, manufacturers and so on, once again those on welfare are being hit, hard, by the government.
Yes, Osborne’s budget was relatively compromising towards job-seekers compared to the Tories’ usual standards, and even more sympathetic towards pensioners, but since the Chancellor is pressuring the welfare budget, he is hammering those who need it the most – the disabled, as well as other working-age benefit claimants. An incredibly unfair proposal. When one looks to balance the welfare budget, the disabled shouldn’t be in the Chancellor’s iron sights.
As well as this, one issue that I take to heart, is young people. The youth unemployment rate is nothing short of a disgrace, currently standing at 19.8%. But, despite Osborne mentioning the words “young people” in his budget announcement, there were virtually no measures in the budget aimed at those under the age of 24. It appears that the younger ‘hardworking people’ struggling to find a job are only being pushed into the pub and the gambling halls and not into employment by the contemptible Osborne.
That being said, Osborne’s budget doesn’t appear to be doom and gloom for everyone. As he said, ‘middle-income’ families are being helped. But wait, let’s look closer at this statement, what does Osborne mean by ‘middle-income?’ Well, to further his quote, he stated middle income families earning between “42k up to 100k”. Now, the average wage people earn from their labour in modern day Britain is £26,000. When in any stretch of the imagination then could people earning £100,000 be considered middle income? Perhaps, and I feel physically sick writing the next words, Michael Gove was right when he brought up the issue of the Conservative Cabinet having one too many Etonians in it. To consider £100,000 ‘middle income’ shows how out of touch some of the Cabinet are. Or perhaps Osborne is merely trying to sugar-coat the fact his budget primarily helps the wealthier members of British society.
To conclude, the budget itself is rather grim, although there are some welcome measures tangled in the mire of the Tories’ warped economic degeneracy. Like attempting to clamp down on the big problem of tax avoidance for example (which many libertarians seem to defend almost too passionately). However, young people are being left out in the cold whilst ‘middle-income’ earners are being given a helping hand. And the disabled are being hit hard by Osborne’s dreaded cuts, whilst gambling and alcohol corporations are being given an olive branch.
It seems far-fetched, but perhaps the controversy that has surrounded this budget will make Tory strategists realise just how they are viewed by much of the public and make them consider a new direction.
The Tories need to reinvent themselves; their contempt for the poor and condescension towards the masses leaves no-one impressed, especially not the hard working people of Britain.
By Rory Claydon