Jeremy Hardy thinks… about people’s concerns

'Most people are not cold-blooded and are quite shocked when they learn how low benefits actually are'
July 2013

I am not in receipt of any benefits, apart from roads of varying quality and occasional firework displays. And policing, I suppose. And a fire service, should I need it. And museums, parks and art galleries. And free healthcare. And the advantages that have flowed from a free education to tertiary level. And some other bits and bobs. But that’s it.

So, by rights, I should be livid that asylum seekers are given a free house on arrival, that prisons are like holiday camps and that unemployed single mothers are paid more than the prime minister. Except I know that these things are not true.

I don’t wish to suggest that people are stupid, merely ignorant. As a rule, only people who are in receipt of benefits, or who administer them, know how much they are. No one who’s never been inside a prison has any grasp of the realities of incarceration. Only a refugee knows what it’s like to be one.

But most people are not cold-blooded and are quite shocked when they learn how low benefits actually are. If they were to spend one night in a cell, they would cry throughout it. When asked what sentences they think are appropriate for various offenders, they show themselves to be more liberal than judges. And if they were to meet an asylum seeker and hear their story, they would probably want to open their own wallets to help them out.

There are three types of ‘you couldn’t make it up’ stories: the ones that are about very rare instances, the ones that are misrepresented, and the ones that are made up. The duty of politicians of conscience is to say so. To listen, yes, for a bit. Then to say, ‘I hear your concerns, but they’re bollocks.’ That’s just common sense.



Jeremy HardyJeremy Hardy is a comedian and writer who regularly appears on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.


 

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patrick © graham (@smile_of_decade) 9 July 2013, 11.42

indeed. Every prisoner, first time they go to jail, tears.
Every prison,
without fail,
punishing 24/7
most asylum seekers live with that fear due to being victims of appalling crime.

thinks…

bedroom tax…

let’s tax the bedrooms of the cabinet instead.


Anthony Turtle 9 July 2013, 11.48

“The duty of politicians of conscience is to say so. To listen, yes, for a bit. Then to say, ‘I hear your concerns, but they’re bollocks.’ That’s just common sense.”

The duty of politicians of conscience is to say so. To listen, yes, for a bit. Then to say, ‘I hear your concerns, and I shall do something about them.’ That’s just common decency.


John Peters 9 July 2013, 13.19

So…why don’t you get out and speak to a lot of people that live solely on benefits? I can tell you from experience that an awful lot of the ill-feeling exists in those that live in the same communities as those on benefits, but who do work. They see neighbours, friends and in some cases, members of their family that have no intention of working under ANY circumstances. This anamosity is very real and it’s not just from those that exist in their middle/upper class ivory towers – far from it.


Lulu Agate 9 July 2013, 18.19

John Peters:
To say, ‘the same communities as those on benefits but who do work’ is to fall for the trick perpetrated by the government of viewing workers and claimants as Us and Them.

Certainly there are people who claim benefits without the intention of changing their lives so that they are not reliant on them. However they are very much in the minority. This was revealed in 2012 when the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published its report which tested the claim so often made by those wishing to prove that benefit claimants ‘get stuck in a life on benefits’ that there are countless families in Britain in which three generations have never worked, “Under 1% of workless households might have two generations who have never worked – about 15,000 households in the UK. Families with three such generations will therefore be even fewer.”

More details of this report are available in this excellent and clear article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/06/welfare-britain-facts-myths
I suggest you read it and reconsider your position.


John Peters 30 July 2013, 22.30

And I could say exactly the same to you about reconsidering your position. I do not base my comments on a single report and it’s frankly of no relevance – it argues against there being >2 generations in a cycle of benefits. So what? I base my comments on experiences working and living in two towns both with a number of areas of deprivation. And I will most definitely not reconsider my view that a sizeable proportion of ill-feeling against those that remain on a cycle of benefits comes from within the same areas but from those that do make the effort to work.



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