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By Jason Michael
Government policy leading to some 120,000 unnecessary deaths in England alone over ten years is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the real cost of austerity. The time has come for us to defend ourselves.
It is rather surprising that the news of austerity causing the unnecessary deaths of 120,000 people “in England” since 2010 has come as a shock to anyone, yet it has. The publication of the report “Effects of health and social care spending constraints on mortality in England” in the British Medical Journal linking British government policy to a steep rise in the mortality rate – in England – has clearly caused some outrage in the media. Apparently journalists in the mainstream media and their readers need academic research to tell them that something is seriously wrong. Yet, even in welcoming this report, I feel the need to point out its limitations.
In case you missed it, this report addresses only the increase in the mortality rate in England. It says nothing of what is happening here in Scotland, in Wales, or in Northern Ireland. Across the whole of the United Kingdom people – poorer people – are feeling the effects of callous decisions made on their behalf by very wealthy politicians in London. Furthermore, this report deals only with the increase in the mortality rate within the spheres of health and social care. It sheds no light on the change to the mortality rate more broadly across society as a consequence of Tory government policy. It says precisely nothing, for example, about suicide; a rate that has increased by almost 13.5 per cent in England over the last ten years.
Austerity is having a massive and detrimental effect on people the length and breadth of the UK, and the true cost of it is simply not being counted. Even with this report we are quite clearly being left very much in the dark.
Rachael (@Rachael_Swindon) November 17, 2017
So what’s the point of austerity – it obviously has a point? What every austerity policy shares in common is its targeting of the well-being of people belonging to two distinct social and economic classes – the burgeoning underclass and the dwindling working class; the two classes that have become surplus to requirement in twenty-first century Britain. Be it the savage cuts to health and social care or the limits on child welfare, the object is to encourage a reduction in the number of unnecessary people.
The industrialisation of Britain required the creation of a huge working class; people who could live in slums – in the worst imaginable conditions – and who could transform Britain into the workshop of the world. At the height of the industrial age – the age of British imperialism – this often politically dangerous class could be managed by sending the youngest and fittest of its population to face machine guns and artillery shells in the trenches, but that is no longer possible. The industrial age has come to an end and Britain, like other post-industrial societies, has been left with an excess and unwanted population.
De-industrialisation and the proliferation of automated and mechanised modes of production have reduced the need for a human labour force, but the size of this traditional labour force has only increased. There is less work for the “working class” to do, forcing much of it into unemployment and inter-generational poverty. In short, this class and the class it is fast becoming – the underclass of the permanently idle and the precariat – have become a burden to the state. Once upon a time, thanks to the exploitation of its labour and the relatively low cost of its care, the working class paid for itself and made the industrialists rich. Now the grandchildren of its exploiters find themselves having to pay more to keep these “scum” alive – and they don’t want to do that.
Labour policy in the Blair era was to write the unemployed of these classes off as “disabled.” This, at least for a while, reduced the official unemployment figures while driving up the welfare bill. But there was only so long this could go on. Sooner or later the actuaries would come to the conclusion that the solution was not hiding this population behind sick-notes. The answer, certainly under the Tories, was always going to be a cull. Austerity is that cull.
Lady Birdy 🐥 (@thebirdynest) May 30, 2017
The era of the sick-note has ended. We have well and truly entered the age of “fit to work.” It doesn’t matter if people are fit to work or not, they are being declared fit to work in order to save money, and when people are fit to work in a country where there is no work they are subject to the cutting edge of austerity – the sanctions regime and the foodbank. The purpose of this is to reduce people to destitution, and they are duly complying. Under this pressure people are becoming depressed and stressed; they are getting sicker, suicidal, and dying faster. This was always the plan.
What we can be damn well sure of is that this figure of 120,000 deaths in a decade is only the tip of the iceberg. Add to this those who have died in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Add to it too those across the UK who have taken their lives as a direct consequence of the stress that has been put on them and the hopelessness they have succumbed to. This too was always part of the plan. We can be absolutely sure that austerity is a calculated act of social engineering; the application of heartless social Darwinism.
Something has to be done to stop this in its tracks, and it is not hard to think of what shape stopping it should take. We have tried almost everything else. Placards are not enough. Studies clearly have little effect on the Tory conscience. Given the poisoning of people’s minds by the media, democracy is limited in what it can achieve in halting it. If we are serious about stopping austerity and the state-sanctioned murder of people in this country then it is time we thought about measures that have been known to force governments to step back and think. Bearing in mind that resistance and self-defence are not acts of violence, it is time we thought about more direct measures to help the British government think about its nastier social policies. Our response to austerity cannot remain one of reaction indefinitely. At some point we need to take the initiative and force them to react for once. One way or another a spanner needs to be thrown into the works. Make of that what you will.
120,000 Deaths Linked to Tory Austerity