Beveridge, the Royal baby and Osborne’s sickening ‘scrounger’ rhetoric


There are two things that are really striking in recent days: George Osborne’s proposals to make real term cuts to welfare and the impending arrival of a new Royal baby; to my mind these things are inextricably linked.

Kate-Middleton-pregnant-Royal-babyWe are increasingly living in a polarised society of haves and have nots. The Tories are trying to weave a narrative that pits ‘strivers’ against ‘scroungers’. However, our attitude to the news of a Royal baby to me shows how confused our attitude to the state and state provision has become.

The British Monarchy is a cornerstone of our social structure but one that is arguably funded by the public purse. Currently, the monarchy receives 15% of Crown Estate income amounting to about £200 million a year. Debatably this land isn’t private land but land kept in trust for the public.

Further, there are myriad costs of running the monarchy including security and special occasions such as the Jubilee celebrations. While the public subsidy for the monarchy has been subject to trimming, few have expressed anything but delight at a new addition to ‘the firm’.

This article doesn’t seek to make the case for a Republic but instead to probe why we can express unreserved joy at the impending royal birth and simultaneous disgust at so called ‘scroungers’ and their families.

Osborne’s decision to increase welfare benefits by 1%, under the rate of inflation, will mean real term cuts for many. One of the groups who will be adversely affected by these cuts are mums (and dads for that matter) who will be hit by below inflation rises to child benefits and working tax credits. This has been termed the ‘mummy tax’ by Labour. The term seeks to highlight the impact of Osborne’s tax cut on real families who rely on these benefits to work and support their families.

It is a piece of misdirection by Osborne to suggest these tax cuts will affect the jobless only or in Tory lingo the ‘scroungers’. What he has failed to identify is that cuts to maternity and paternity pay mean many new parents will have to make difficult choices about returning to work early so they can financially support their families.

Meanwhile, what the celebration of the royal baby showed was the continued importance of families in our society in whatever form they may come in. So why do we celebrate the birth of one but view the others with a cynical eye? Tory language of ‘scroungers’ and ‘wastrels’ hides the impact these cuts have on many working families, who are often struggling with an increasing burden in recessionary times.

So where does this leave us? In need of a candid debate about what the welfare state is for in this modern age. Beveridge’s report ‘Social Insurance and Allied Services’ had its 70th anniversary only a few weeks ago. This seminal idea of a social insurance to guarantee a basic standard of living for all was expressed to be an attack on ‘Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness at home’. Welfare to Beveridge’s mind was about citizenship not dividing up givers and takers; the contributory principle meant welfare wasn’t for one class but it was for all.

When Labour talks about a one nation UK it must therefore square the circle and inject new meaning into Beveridge’s state. We must be a party that believes not only in celebrating the Royal baby but guarantees a basic standard of living for all children. Whilst this will be a difficult debate it is one Labour must not shirk from if we are to serve the squeezed working families in the UK.

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  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    What a seriously daft leap of logic this article is. We don’t celebrate the new royal baby as a symbol of the importance of families. We celebrate the arrival of the next heir to the throne and the continuation of the monarchy. Whether this writer likes it or not, the Royal family is different from all other families in the UK.

  • ibrahim

    I walk past scroungers every morning on my way to work. Music blaring out. In summer they are all out in the garden, adults drinking Becks, kids running about.

    I’d rather set up a school in Africa or buy more anti-malarial bednets. You could do a lot for the money it costs to keep these people out of work.

  • marge

    we should take anybody below mean wages out of tax.

    no able bodied person should get benefits for more than 3 months.

    no going on benefits straight from school – you have to pay in before you take out

    there, fixed that for you

  • will

    it is important to note that the main determinant of a child’s success in life is whether they live in a household where someone works. so giving benefits to single parents so they don’t have to work might seem kind to the mother but it annihilates the child’s chances in life.

    better get the parent to work and free childcare

  • LB

    Correct. It’s completely immoral that if you define poverty at min wage, that they should be taxed 3K a year. Shows how desperate governments are because of their ponzi frauds.

    It’s also equally immoral, that people get more than min wage in benefits.

    The better solution is to abolish the current welfare state and replace it with personal saving.

    For a 26K a year worker, that would have resulted in a pension fund of 550,000 pounds, but the welfare state, gives them a 130,000 pound pension.

    420,000 pounds looted off a 26K a year worker.

  • jonny morris

    Yes, Rahul. They have more money.

  • marge

    and less privacy and most people wouldn’t swap with them. would you?

  • http://twitter.com/tristanpw1 TristanPriceWilliams

    I expect that this child won’t have to strive much to get the top job in the country with the first and prime ministers and cabinet secretaries, church and civic leaders and the armed forces at its beck and call. So much for supporting strivers.

  • http://twitter.com/tristanpw1 TristanPriceWilliams

    That would be ok if there really were jobs. But there aren’t, and most of the ones that there are, are part time and very badly paid. So you would have starving children on the street begging, as you do in many other countries. I don’t know if you have ever seen this, but I have, and it still causes me to have nightmares.

    Of course as a starving person will do anything to get food, especially for their child, no one is really safe in a society like that, which is why gated communities are the only possible way for the well off to live.

    I don’t think that’s the way forward, do you?

  • http://twitter.com/tristanpw1 TristanPriceWilliams

    Why is it. Is their blood different? Do they not do all the things that we do? Is this baby not the result of sexual intercourse between her parents. Was Kate Middleton specially born, although into a working class household?

    The royals are not special. They originate in a family of upper classes that were stronger than the others, that killed more people and stole more land than other nobles. This made them supreme. It’s very simple.

    And in fact the newspapers and tv stations celebrate the birth or impending birth 8 months away, of this child. I’ve not met one person who is actually happy about it, or unhappy about it, or actually gives a stuff one way or the other, except one old lady who is not very bright. She seems to think that God had something to do with it, but she may be getting it mixed up with Christmas, another unacceptable expense!

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    They are different because they have a constitutional role ordained by birth/ bloodline that no one else has. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a different question altogether. But to deny that that is the current reality is simply being ostrich like.

  • marje

    only an idiot would believe the world to be so black and white that you either a) get paid to do nothing or b) starve

    grow up

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    Funnily enough when it comes to the really rich they don’t have that much money. I think the Queen’s fortune is about £450M. The civil list is possibly < £30M a year. Let's compare to say Lakshmi Mittal (£12,000M) or Roman Abramovich (£9,400M).

    Seeing the pictures of Prince Andrew cavorting with various American hedge fund magnates I felt almost sorry for the man whose income is about £150K a year, has a fortune of say £10M (sale of his house) and no freedom to do anything about either of those two facts.

  • JM10

    Are you objecting to people on benefits
    a) listening to music
    b) having gardens
    c) being outside
    d) having children
    e) drinking Becks
    f) enjoying themselves?
    Bear in mind that the music system, music and garden may have been purchased while the owners were in work, the children may have been born while their parents were in work, and also that unless you have access to their personal records you are in no position to judge if these people are claiming their benefits legally or not. You might also bear in mind that only 2.1% of people on benefits are overpaid (due to either fraud or DWP error) and 0.8% are underpaid. You might also try to remember that there are not enough jobs for people who want them.

  • Newsbot9

    Ah yes, so when they can’t get a job because you’ve further devastated the country by slashing services massively, you’ll have them starve. Kids can go die in the street.

    And yes, your cheap foreign workers will indeed “fix” your profits, after the minimum wage is cancelled…

  • Newsbot9

    Tax isn’t 3k, of course, it’s just over 1k. And yes, you’re desperate to hide your shares from everyone, whereas the debts in question are on the books.

    And yes, yes, it’s immoral in your world that the poor are allowed to live together or anywhere with jobs. Abolish everything everyone has paid in and ensure they’re not paid. Moreover, as usual you’re lying about the pension, you want to give the poor under 2k a year, given current private rates.

    And yes, the UK system is cheap. Thanks for highlighting this compared to your beloved America!

  • Newsbot9

    Ah yes, so you’re objecting to the local rich.

  • Newsbot9

    It’s the usual, the arguments that only the rich should be allowed to have kids, that people should only work predictable shifts every single day, that….

  • treborc

    yes self made to being born

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    Lots of heirs/heiresses have way more money than the Royals. Gina Reinhart in Australia is an excellent example of this. Look I’m not arguing the Royals are not rich. But to say they are special because they are rich is just not supported by the facts. They are special because they have a constitutional role ordained by birth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fathered.edward Terence Edward

    For Christ’s sake,enough of these useless cossetted benefit recipients,how the fuck do they have any value whatsoever?,no wonder this old land is up shit-creek,a combination of nazi-tory scum,persecuting the poorest in society,whilst supporting a bloated outdated indolent hierarchy.. . no austerity in their stately piles and palaces…. the whole shambles needs a complete ‘rationalisation’

  • http://www.facebook.com/cris.meehan Cris Meehan

    are you suggesting that children of single parents in reciept of benefits lack the will or ability to seek gainful employment? also, can you link me to a study that shows how a childs success can be affected by the number of working adults in a single household?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cris.meehan Cris Meehan

    ok, lets see.

    young John is 16 has been in care since he was 13 due to a breakdown of his family unit. he gets through school and leaves with reasonably good exam results. unfortunately, he doesnt have a stable home and lives in a small town where the main industry is unable to offer him employment. John wants to move to a bigger city, but due to his age he cant get housing benefit and his grades werent good enough to get him into college. john is just one of thousands in the same situation.

    what happens to him? should he just be abandoned? youre playing right into the tories hands with your attitude. you see people like the one described as a burden on the state rather than the responsibility of the state, and as long as youre ok everybody can go hang.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cris.meehan Cris Meehan

    like a tree celebrating woodworm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cris.meehan Cris Meehan

    how do you know theyre not on holiday?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Shemjaza Anne Selby

    Utter rubbish, they have no constitutional role because Britain has no written constitution. The Monarchy are nothing but figureheads with no real power. They have had no real power since Charles the Second was restored to the throne but on condition that the power of the Monarch was stripped down to nothing. They are rich because as someone else pointed out they were part of the original ‘robber baron’ families who had power, wealth and because they got rid of anyone who challenged them. The current Royal Family aren’t even of English descent, they’re actually German. I am more British than they are with a genealogical tree going back to the 10th century in the north of England and Scotland. The current Monarchy serve no real useful purpose other than to prop up the pomp and circumstance that means everything to them, the upper classes and the government and very little to the rest of the population.

    People ramble on that they boost tourism, but in fact they don’t. Tourists come here because of the history of the country. If they come here to see the Royals then I wish them luck because they only turn out for official occasions. Mostly they hide behind the walls of their palaces and country houses. They are virtually inaccessible to the general public. Just drive past Buck House and see all the people waiting behind the iron railings to catch a glimpse. If the Queen and her family really cared about the public they purport to serve then they would at least step up to a window and wave or something, but they don’t, they live in their ivory towers and we live in the real world. By the way, I wouldn’t mind having the non riches of £450 million to be sure.

    They are no more special than you are or I am.

  • paulishep

    So pay for a surrogate to look after the child and have the parent go out to work just to pay the surrogate.
    Fine and dandy if that is what you want, but how is it detrimental to a child to be looked after by her own father/mother?