Monday 2 June 2014

He Who Must Not Be Named and National Insurance

Concerned that they hadn't put him on our screens for more than 30 minutes; the BBC decided it was vital that they put He Who Must Not Be Named on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday.

I'm calling him that because clearly the constant attention he's getting is giving his party a huge boost in the polls, despite most of the press about it being negative. You can point out that they're homophobic, racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, and all the other -isms and -phobics. Not to mention elephant-haters. But He manages to brush it all aside with a photo call in a pub. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, and it's clearly true. The more racism and homophobia allegations arose; the higher their poll ratings went.

He's previously distanced himself from the party's 2010 manifesto. A manifesto which said they wanted to drop the rate of Incapacity Benefit/ESA to the same rate as JobSeekers Allowance, and claimed that Disability Living Allowance was an out-of-work benefit for people too ill to work.

But yesterday He defended one point in the manifesto (though admitted it was badly explained 4 years ago): He said that they still want to abolish the National Insurance scheme.

I think all disabled people have had incidents in recent years where we've been on the receiving end of hate crime - or at least harassment - for being "scroungers". Like Pippa's experience of being targeted in the street for walking with a crutch.

National Insurance is the one reason I can look harassers in the eye and confidently say "when I could work I paid my National Insurance premiums. I paid into an insurance scheme so I would be protected if I ever became too ill to work."

National Insurance was a bloody brilliant idea. And it's such a simple plan. You pay into the scheme straight out of your wages so you're looked after both in your old age, and during your working life if you ever become unemployed or too ill to work.

National Insurance gives me a bit of dignity. When other people call me "a burden on the taxpayer," or my inner monologue tells me that I'm "a waste of taxpayers' money" (though it's not just my inner monologue that's called me that); I can tell them (or myself) "I paid into an insurance scheme and now I'm claiming back. It's how insurance works." When Radio 5Live put me up against that rentagob Hopkins who was banging on about how people should use private insurance schemes rather than scrounging taxpayers' money, I could screech over her "I paid for insurance! It's called 'National Insurance' for a reason!"

Now The Party Which Must Not Be Named wants to take that last shred of dignity from me. The party which got the most votes in the election a week and a half ago.

And it really is my last shred of dignity. I'm constantly ashamed of not being able to work. I can't even go to the emergency dentist to get a broken filling fixed without the humiliation of having to say "nothing" in response to the question "what do you do for a living?"

It's not just a matter of pride or shame. There's the practicalities too. What's going to happen to contributory ESA and JSA? Will they only offer means tested benefits for the ill and out-of-work? What about those who've worked and saved for thirty years when they get diagnosed with cancer? Will they no longer be eligible for ESA because they've got too much money for the means test?

Given that they've gotten more promotion than all the other parties combined for the pending Newark by-election; I wouldn't be at all surprised if they've got their first seat in the House of Commons in a couple of weeks. And given how popular they were on May 22nd; I wouldn't be at all surprised if they've got enough seats this time next year to forge a coalition with the Tories. (Because, let's face it, the Lib Dems will be lucky if they've got 10 MPs left. They won't be the Kingmakers next time if it's a hung Parliament.)

I really didn't think it would be possible to be any crueller than the Tories and be popular enough to win elections. Looks like I was wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment