The Government Snooper Squads

So, Experian (and other credit check agencies) are to be paid by our government to snoop through our spending information and make judgements on how that spending fits with our income profile…

Of course, New Labour did soften us up to this concept of snooping with their (2008) plans for a Home Office ‘Big Brother’ database which would detail our every phone call; text message; email; internet search and online purchase.

Strikes me, though, that if I am to relinquish civil liberties then the New Labour reasons cited (‘fighting terrorism’) rather trump the Condem’s reasons cited (fighting benefit fraud).

It also strikes me that this is simply the beginning of the nastiness.

The mythology which has built up around those numerous apocryphal tales of sponging benefit claimants who enjoy a luxury lifestyle on your taxes is never more potent than when the screw begins to tighten on access to benefits whilst economic recessions deepen.

And no, I am not suggesting that fraud is pretty or morally neutral – or that it does not exist. I abhorr the fraudulent claimant – however statistically small – as much as the next person.

I have never subscribed to the view that being left-wing means being soft on fraud; or that it means defending unwillingness to work or to contribute to society. In fact, for me, being left-wing means being pro-society; doing as much as you can to actively work for others; contributing to the tax system to ensure a fair society which protects the vulnerable and disadvantaged, the sick and elderly.

A Condem assessment of Benefit claimants entails an assumption that all claimants are undeserving scroungers out to screw the innocent taxpayer. A Condem assessment launches itself from a platform of suspicion and a belief that only the stick motivates.

When will our politicians – when will we – realise that a failure to tackle poverty will only result in perpetuation of poverty and inequality.

Generally the children of the long-term unemployed suffer deprivation on a multitude of levels. Housing is poorer; educational attainment lower; chronic health conditions more common and life expectancy lower; and the liklihood that they too will be unemployed is greater.

Breaking this unholy inheritance is essential if we are to reduce the size of the Benefit bill.

Sure Start – and programmes like it – are being scythed by the gleefully grim Chancellor Osbourne. Routes out of poverty are being closed off. The rhetoric of scrounging takes their place. We will not provide avenues out of poverty; we will reduce opportunity. We will use the big stick approach to beat our undeserving poor. We will castigate them for being poor. We will make them poorer still. We will increase ourbig pool of cheap labour – and force this lumpen pool of low-life scroungers to move from their communities and families in order to follow employment.

And big multi-million pound companies like Experian will sell our civil liberties down the river whilst they take their cut from this beating of the poor…

8 thoughts on “The Government Snooper Squads

  1. Ouch. I live in a neighbourhood of Blogland where even the ardent Christians accept my athiesm (A word I actually abhor and which they believe is a temporary state of mind) and controversial feelings are rarely aired. This is so refreshing.

    Added to that I started my career in a Town Clerk's Office where political views were never aired by Officers) and ended up as a Returning Officer where the same criteria applied. Even my wife had no idea about my left wing views. In fact until a couple of years ago no one knew my views. So my feelings reading your posting are mixed. I knew you should be posting again (interesting given that you and I are complete strangers) and now I am quite excited that you are.

    Oh and by the way throughout my life I've never had the certainty of mind that you display.

    It's a funny old world.

  2. I trained with a council too…and had to try to hide my views (not too hard though as I was a lowly trainee – and in any case the Director knew my political connections when he employed me…it was that kind of a place).
    I'm interested that you think my mind 'certain'…sometimes I've despaired a bit as I have prevaricated such a lot. But I've survived the youthful ideologies of left-wingism (think of that old cliche: 'if you're not a socialist when you're young then you've no heart; if you're not a conservative when you're old you've no brain' – don't agree with it of course but it describes a journey we all go on) and arrived at this place: a pragmatic atheist left-winger who is increasingly angry.
    One who is feeling a bit pissed at the political rhetoric of today!
    I was reared on a diet of political argument (largely uneducated – but there was a strong history of trade unionism, activism and communism). So it's part of what makes me tick.
    I am just so bewildered that even your wife didn't know your views GB…given that it would always be the first thing I'd find out about a man (his political persuasion that is!)…couldn't bear even the thought of 'sleeping with the enemy'!!

  3. My wife and I never discussed politics. I suspect she was pretty Conservative but then she probably thought I was too. It's quite interesting that you say that a you are a 'pragmatic atheist left-winger who is increasingly angry'. I'm obviously considerably older than you and the only difference I would make in that in relation to myself is that I no longer have any anger.

  4. You've made me wonder if anger is the right word.
    I'm finding it difficult to explain what I mean. But here goes:
    In my (humble imperfectly expressed)opinion: To live is to hope. Hope requires emotional investment. You hope about what you care about. You fight for what you hope and care about. 'Anger' indicates to me that I am still alive: hoping and caring and fighting about all that's worthwhile and valuable to me.
    Does that help?
    And yes, I am younger than you but you do realise that you are starting to sound just like your pal? (said with tongue firmly in cheek!).

  5. Oh dear. If my pal thought he sounded like me I think he'd top himself. After all when I were nowt but a lad and he were even more of a lad he described me as a boring old fart. However despite that I love him dearly. On the subject of age I was not meaning to suggest that youth lacked something but that age has made me lose something.

    And, yes, I do follow the point you've made. I think I've lost that fire which makes me care about things which I cannot influence. But if anyone tries to hurt those I care about let them beware.

  6. I heard the 'boring old fart' story. What can I say about our pal… other than I know he values you very greatly. (But that doesn't mean he's not the singularly most frustrating person I have ever met!! – aka I probably mean: he's a singular person – stress on singular.)
    Experience (age? or maybe something quite different) does make pragmatists of most of us I think.
    You say that you've lost the fire etc – but I am certain that you still feel the embers flicker at injustice etc

  7. Yes. You are right. Injustice is definitely one thing that can make me truly angry and make me want to take up the cudgels.

    And yes, our pal can be very frustrating although I've rarely if ever experienced it I have to say. He, on the other hand, once saved me from myself in one page of text entitled 'a very hard thing to say'. It was. He did. I survived and changed my entire life. And it wasn't the first timke he'd done something like that for me. I owe him big time. And you know what makes him so special? It would never occur to him that that a debt was owed. So it isn't owed. That's true friendship.

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