Thursday, March 28, 2013

Feeding back on feedback

Just in, from head of an examination board - who obviously has too much time on his hands... "You have provided us with a rich and detailed source of feedback and we have a lot of work to do to further analyse and consider how we move forward on the issues you’ve raised. I remain committed to providing you with feedback about this over the coming months, through the newsletter as well as through other means as appropriate." A never ending loop of feedback, going forward. Arghhhhhh. My idea of a living hell.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tories: so many scapegoats, so little time - but IDS really doesn't want to frighten you

Interesting piece in this week's Private Eye. Apparently, IDS is concerned that people are being unnecessarily frightened by changes to housing benefit for social housing tenants. Bit of a mouthful that, isn't it. Could shorten it to Bedroom Tax, After all, that's what some journalists and a lot of the Twitterati seem to do. And that's the problem: you see, IDS has taken the BBC to task - and they've agreed not to call it the Bedroom Tax anymore. So simple really. Except it isn't. As you see from the article, IDS really only wants to frighten 'social housing tenants', not people in private rented accommodation who claim housing benefit (presumably he'll be coming after them later). But this is a perennial problem for the Tories. They have a political ideology that is built on fear: fear of the 'others'; fear of the immigrant; fear of the poor; anyone that might possibly be useful when it comes to keeping the marginal Tory voter on side. Right now, of course, with UKIP on the rise, the fear and scapegoating is taking on a new urgency. This can be seen in the reply from my MP - Tory in key marginal by the way - to an email I sent him. In this, I voiced my concern about politicians and the media victimising the poorest in society. But as you see from his response, he artfully only picks on the journalists (but doesn't name any Tory scribblers, presumably for fear of losing support; but we know who they are, don't we?). He only bothers to take up the first paragraph half-answering my point before turning the reply into a veritable hymn of praise to IDS's Universal Credit. . How reassuring it all is. And how reassured I'm meant to be; as long, that is, as I'm not a benefit claimant, or even, presumably, someone who doesn't have a job of work. I'm not, and I do: but I have claimed benefits and been unemployed in the past and recognise that I could be either of those again in the future. I also recognise the fear and loathing that scapegoating like this causes those who are claimants now. Which is why I spend so much of my time reading and writing about the subject - because we are responsible for those the Tories and their fellow travellers in the media tell us to distrust or castigate. Which is also why I'm so impressed by the Truth and Lies about Poverty Report from the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church Joint Public Issues Team. The Report dispel myths, in particular those of the 'everyone knows' sort that IDS and his happy band of SPADs like to feed to the Daily Wail, the Sun, Express et al. The truth is that benefit claimants did not cause the deficit. They do, however, come in useful as a government tool to deflect concern away from the real culprits: the message that we should take from these deflection strategies is that we shouldn't even think of attacking the bankers and financial institutions that are really to blame - because IDS doesn't want us being beastly to his friends.