Social Welfare and Neoliberalism


Regular readers will know that I sometimes refer to my mother who had been affected by poliomyelitis. (polio) Growing up as a carer – whether I was aware of that ot not – still gives me a valid viewpoint from a time a few years after the introduction of the National Health Service.   I have referred in other pieces in this blog, to how my mother was first in the queue for vaccinations for me and my brothers. She had already been through Scarlet Fever, and Diphtheria, and  I wrote how practicality in the NHS  operated,  in fitting her special shoes, or eventually fitting her for a three –wheeler Invacar.  Our family seemed to live like most of the steel & mining workers in our housing scheme  -on a knife edge between complete poverty and some semblance of comfort. I personally was used to my mother “recycling” school clothes from sources other than my older siblings.  I was given a pair of “ tackety boots” when I was about eight years old.   It was common to recycle good wearing “ hob –nail” boots in families, by re –nailing or soling them.

What are tackety boots? Go here to find out

This was in a period after WW2 and into the 1950’/60’s  where an attitude of make do and mend, recycle, and self =pride in not taking charity, which  was seen as a social stigma of sorts.  Wearing these boots would mean that other more affluent children would shout that our family were poor, or a jibe they probably did not understand : “ yer oan the Parish”!   A reference to times in the 20s and 30’s when people sought help from the only source of “compassion” they could – the Church or Parish Board. .  Tackety boots for children were given out in cases of extreme need.  Clearly, mine had been cared for and were well oiled, and had new soles, the result of several not very careful owners.

Politicians at that time had one big advantage that warmongers do not have nowadays. They probably had fought on the beaches in France, fought in the desert or though Italy.  They had seen death, life – changing injuries, and they knew the welfare system for these soldiers and those left behind had to change.

In 1948 using the wartime Identity Cards as first registration, people received their NI number and the health Service was born.  I well remember the heated debates on the Dr. Finlay TV Series, starring Andrew Cruickshank, as the “ old guard” who tried to justify their position on fee-paying hospitals and doctors.  The author of the book which inspired the screenplay,   AJ Cronin,  was a medical doctor..   A quote from  the Wellcome Medical Library Blog states “ 

“Cronin did have  have a radical edge.  His novel of 1937 The Citadel had an enormous impact (some would say even helped create the climate in which the National Health Service was created) and has been praised as a prime depiction of ‘social doctoring’, a description, though, that also fits for the character of Dr Finlay: “…the true heroics are not the ambitious and the famous, but the doctor who is socially responsible to patients and wary of therapeutic ambitions that cannot be realized”

Since those days people have forgotten how tough things were medically, socially and how modern vaccination, hygiene, housing design, domestic sanitation, and some bad mistakes of sweeping away communities to replace them with  soulless Soviet style concrete blocks did no favours to the working class communities.  . Heavy industry has moved on, but we still gave the same human problems.

About 30 years ago I saw the beginning of the demise of the Welfare State and an open attack by Right –Wing Politicians on the civil service and public workers. “ Too many benefits and perks ” was the cry of the Thatcherite Government at the time.   Since then I have seen a steady attack on our Nurses, Police, Teachers etc. Why?  I believe it to be that the Right –Wing politicians of a certain arrogant upper class, have a sneering hatefulness of those classes who want to improve their lives. It feeds into the attitude of all disabled being charlatans, frauds and a waste of space.

The Americans are only too happy dismantle our NHS and privatise it.  As we have seen with the Assessment Companies like Capita etc. I wrote about that in a blog –piece about Mo Stewart’s Book “Cash not Care” *

This article from the Institute of Public Policy Research in the Guardian is to remind people that the past is not all rose –tinted.   Times were difficult, but most folk had a sense of what was right and wrong.

To quote from that article “Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the RSA, who advised the Conservative government on the future of work, will on Monday say that economic insecurity is a new “social evil” that must be tackled and that “lies behind much pessimism and anger as the public prepares to elect a new government”.

In a speech that attacks the assumptions of neoliberalism, including the idea that “all poor people are potential welfare free-riders who need compulsion to be motivated to work”, Taylor will say a “painful gulf” had opened up “between people’s exaggerated sense of personal sovereignty and their bleakly diminished hopes of social progress”.

The neo –liberal and hard right populist ideologies to care only about oneself is the monster that has been created, by the right –wing media &, TV and has played on the idea that someone is getting t something  free “ that I am not”. 

This has now been ingrained into the minds of the public as “ They are undeserving” .  In that respect the  uncompassionate eyes of the right –wing Victorians that masquerade as modern politicians have succeeded.

Further Reading at this Blog.*.

are just some of the articles that have commented on the ideological harm heaped on disabled people by this present UK Government

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One Response to Social Welfare and Neoliberalism

  1. Alan Cameron says:

    I was watching a Vox Popon TV the other day where a young single mother, visiting a foodbank was asked by the reported who she thought she would be voting for. ” Boris Johnson”, was the answer. It is is moments like that, that I despair. This woman just liked Boris because he seemed a ‘nice guy’. A more thoughtful friend wrote to me ” These right wing sentiments have even penetrated the consciousness of people who are in most need of better health and social care and welfare, to the extent that they are often critical and disbelieving of fellow disabled people’s entitlement to these services. So we have people voting against their own interests. False consciousness is alive and well.”

    I could add to that the personality of Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson who has promoted policies through his party, that are against the poor and disabled since 2010.

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