The slogan ‘For Hardworking People’ loomed over the smug head of David Cameron at the Conservative Party conference back in September, where he unveiled a number of policies designed, he claimed, to help ‘hard working families’. It’s one of the their favourite soundbite phrases, often accompanied by the loaded epithet, ‘decent’. They were attempting to send out a very clear message, but I have to wonder what precisely the ambiguous terms ‘hardworking’ and ‘families’ actually mean to the Conservatives. I also sincerely doubt that their policies are as helpful as they claim.
The Government’s obsession with their archetypal ‘hard working family’ is defined in relation to the ‘lazy family’ of ‘shirkers’, ‘skivers’ and benefit cheats who swindle decent taxpayers out of their hard earned cash and spend it on fags, booze and holidays to Benidorm they don’t deserve. The Tories are wholeheartedly convinced of their own invented stereotype, completely ignoring the reality that half a million families are being forced to use foodbanks, who Michael Gove insultingly insisted have only themselves to blame for being unable ‘to manage their finances’. It’s not hard to realise how the Tories envisage their hardworking families either, the tax break for married couples makes it fairly plain, the government would prefer it if you had a family after you were married, and preferably to a member of the opposite sex. Cameron’s ‘hardworkers’ are not the people working for minimum wage, trying to bring up children alone or struggling to find employment, his concern is for the squeezed, but comfortable, middle.
Two new policy ideas, the Help to Buy scheme and their plans to freeze rail fares reveal this to be the case. The Help to Buy scheme is a poorly thought out policy which will do nothing to help the majority of families struggling to find suitable accommodation. Instead of investing in desperately needed, affordable new buildings, the Tories are risking a boom in house prices forcing even more people off the property ladder altogether. The policy is aimed at assisting first time buyers of houses up to £600,000, meanwhile thousands of lower income families are being forced to relocate out of their council houses due to the draconian Bedroom tax.
The Conservatives second brainwave, to freeze rail fares, is a response to Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze energy bills which they dismissed as a gimmick. Although it’s certainly a welcome policy, I’m struggling to understand how it will really help cut household bills for families across the country. Ministers estimate a saving of £20 a month, but of course this only applies to families who use the train everyday, hardly a typical expense. The policy is London-centric, and a case of pandering to commuters. It laughs in the face of the average British family, even though it is meant to be in their best interest.
The phrase ‘hard working family’ is nothing more than rhetoric employed by the Government to gloss over the terrible reality of Britain today. Families are being punished for refusing to work despite incapacitating disabilities and forced to bank on charities and donations, rather than the Government, to sustain their children. Meanwhile Cameron and his cronies harp on about saving £20 on train fares and risky housing schemes which benefit a minority, it’s dangerously deluded and does not have the interests of those most in need at heart.