Since the financial crisis of 2008, successive governments have pushed forward increasingly vicious cuts to welfare under the excuse of austerity. Meanwhile they have been busy diverting wealth into the pockets of millionaire corporations, cutting the taxes paid by the wealthy, and permitting outrageous tax avoidance and evasion.
Sick people are denied benefits by cruel tests devised to force even the dying to sign on. People desperate for a job are forced into zero-hour contracts with no rights, or even into unpaid work. A draconian system of sanctions for the jobless has been set up to make us compete for poorly paid jobs and the unemployed can now be asked to sign on every day.
Soon people will be obliged to leave the part-time employment they have had for years, in order to work full time in worse conditions or unsuitable jobs, under the threat of sanctions. Help for those in work has been slashed. Families on low wages go without food or heating to pay their rent due to housing benefit cuts. Many pensioners are faced with choosing between heating and eating, and thousands die each year as a direct result.
Now local councils are doing the government’s dirty work, with savage cuts and privatisation of services. Brighton and Hove City Council is no exception. Unsurprisingly, Labour and Tory alike are happy to impose swingeing cuts on the worst off, and the Greens seem incapable of taking a radical stand. Increasing numbers of households are sliding into poverty, while the services they rely on are slashed and sold off.
The rich have become massively richer, while the numbers of those affected by austerity are soaring. None of us is safe. Ordinary people see their jobs disappear, their pay frozen, their services smashed, and help for those most in need snatched away or made conditional on their working as virtual slaves.
Yet we are told to blame each other for increasing poverty and desperation! Or informed by the unimaginably better off that being poor is due to our personal failings.
The privileged rely on us being desperate and divided. Let us refuse to believe the propaganda which divides us. Let us not divide ourselves, again and again, into tiny single issue campaigns. We need to be united, to see our common interest, and to fight side by side for each other. Enough is Enough!
Enough is Enough! is a new initiative proposed by Brighton Benefits Campaign to bring together all those affected by the assault on the rights of ordinary people over recent years, to take action in solidarity with each other. We are starting with a party for anyone, on benefits or not, who wants to be involved. Join us!