It was an inescapable front-page. Middle-England's comic book, the Daily Mail, decided to run a rather splenetic headline even by their baneful standards. Whilst addressing the tragic deaths of six children the 'newspaper' decided to dispense with sensitivity in favour of pushing agenda - the headline read: Vile Product of Welfare UK.
There was a rather weighty insinuation that all of UK's benefit claimants are Jeremy Kyle fodder with a penchant for debauchery owing to their affluent handouts. If the Daily Mail's front-page wasn't bad enough, George Osborne has decided to hijack the hyperbolic train and ride the rails to insinuate that Mick Philpott epitomises welfare claimants.
It's become unavoidable; the 'benefit culture' is now emblematic of all the country's woes -- the strain that welfare claimants are putting on 'good hardworking families' is tantamount to treason. What isn't receiving any inked attention is the other product - an extremely vile product - of what the welfare cuts have predicated. The mawkish rhetoric of 'strivers and shirkers' has fully run away with itself; the firm implication being that if you are a benefit claimant then you are lazy and a burden by default.
In real terms, the disabled community of the UK are now facing a ravaging like never before, and not in a good way. I've been following a few social media outlets and blogs to see what the benefit onslaught is doing in real terms, to real people, with real disabilities: The Diary of a Benefit Scrounger blog has made for some compelling reading.
There is an overlooked aspect to the rather vicious language that has been spat from the Government mouthpiece during the PR tour of welfare reforms: the knock-on effect of what this is doing to our culture is worrying on a far bigger scale than is being acknowledged.
An inundation of hate and disablist comments are in plain sight, there's an array of venom from those that have been subjected to what can only be described as modern day propaganda at its very best. Despite the actual figures and evidence, the UK is seemingly oblivious to the realities of welfare claimants. The poll by the Trade Union Congress indicates that there has been an almost brainwashing like motif surrounding the subject.
Not a day goes by where I'm not reliably informed of yet another anecdote and example of hatred towards the disabled. There's a small but vicious faction of the population that have seemingly fallen for the witch-hunt rhetoric: "They're all on the take" or "Out for all they can get" are just some of the examples of the language that is now tragically commonplace. I can personally attest to some curious social media interactions of those that have taken it upon themselves to act as judge, jury and executioner. Disabled parking bays have now become the stuff of turf war, disabled railcards have become a badge of shame, and woe betide any disabled person that has to prove their welfare claims when in a chemist or any other place of free healthcare. The looks, the comments, the utter disdain for a recipient is rife at this vociferous time. Jokes are free-flowing of disabled people and their state aid.
Disabilities are also under scrutiny. There are still those that forget and disregard any disabled person that isn't wheelchair bound. We've taken a step back in our understanding of the nuance of disability and impairment.
The other product of 'welfare UK' is the near state ownership of any claimant. Life is no longer one's own under such a calamitous weight of scrutiny. It seems everyone has their own projected ideals of how help should be distributed, and what conditions should be attached. It's fair to say that the initial premise of the welfare state, to help the needy, the vulnerable, and to create a safety net for us all in times of need has been trashed and left by the roadside in favour of new vigilante analysis. This basic premise of compassion has been discarded in favour of a vandalised emblem of benefit claimants. Consequently, we're left with a quagmire of alienation and abhorrence.
It needs remembering that we're all but one of life's curve-balls away from needing help: a loss of job, an accident, a cold shot of reality when health fails, or of course if you have a disabled child. None of us are immune from calling on the state to help us in times of need. None of us should be subject to the stripping of pride and dignity that now ensues, and we certainly should not be defined as 'on benefits' if we're unlucky enough to need help.
The most basic of concepts based on collective compassion has been yet another casualty in the welfare massacre. No longer are welfare claimants in need of a helping hand, the default reasoning now seems to be that you are characterised by benefits, you are the infamous 'skiver', looking for an easy life, and you enter a new sub-class. The stigmatisation of benefits has not been caused by the fraudulent minority and their actions, but through a rather odious projection of myth. The UK has reached an edifice of illusion of what benefit claimants look like, encapsulated by a few publicised figureheads such as Mick Philpott.
As a country, we hang over a rather tenuous precipice. This isn't someone else's problem, someone else's welfare system, this is, collectively, ours. We either let the false rhetoric shape our imaginations of who benefit claimants are, or we gather our senses to pull ourselves out of what is increasingly becoming a very real threat of class warfare; we need to remember that we're all potential beneficiaries of the welfare state if personal tragedy befalls us.