The poverty of responsibility and the politics of blame – part 2

Politics and Insights

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Social security came about precisely because we evolved to recognise a need for a social safety net to protect vulnerable citizens, because we learned last century that we are all potentially vulnerable, and that it isn’t anything to do with a person’s characteristics, they are not to blamefor socio-economic circumstances, or becoming ill and disabled. Unemployment, accident and illness can happen to anyone.

In 1992, Peter Lilley, the somewhat salacious Tory department of social security secretary said he had “got a little list” of people to stereotype as scroungers. Lilley amused the Conservative Party conference with a plan to “close down the something for nothing society”, delivered in the form of a parody of the Lord High Executioner’s “little list” song from The Mikado  by Gilbert and Sullivan:

“I’ve got a little list / Of benefit offenders who I’ll soon be rooting out / And who never would be missed…

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