United Kingdom, against immigrants and the poor

Welfare state costs in the limelight, Europe even more distant...

The poor and the migrants are the scapegoats of welfare cuts introduced by the conservative government of David Cameron since its installation in 2010. Political parties, TV networks and the press portray them as swindlers who thrive at the State’s expense, while official reports show that in the UK even those with a job receive benefits, but salaries are not enough to sustain a family.Welfare cuts. It has become the most famous street in all of England. It’s James Turner street, 99 houses, 13 different nationalities in the worst neighbourhood in Birmingham really exists, although the Channel Four documentary, titled “Benefits street” may seem like a movie. Five million viewers on Monday night found out what life is like at the bottom of society, among the poor who depend on those 50 pounds a week: the amount of state benefits, in messy housing units, smoking or drinking all day long. Up all night, engaged in small thefts. Sitting outdoors on mattresses and sofas in the trash … “Benefits street” represents a small minority of those who receive subsidies, but a large part of the political class and the media devote much attention to these poor to justify the drastic cuts to the welfare state that Prime Minister Cameron has introduced over the last three years. Nor will the Labour Party that might succeed to the Tories in the 2015 elections are likely to change direction. Public opinion has changed. On the aftermath of the Second World War people dreamed of a “new Jerusalem”, a just society, where rich people would take care of the poor through the instruments provided by the welfare state. Nowadays, middle classes struggling with ever more expensive light and gas bills, with the cost of grocery that grows higher every week, are allured by populist claims, and want to be sure that their tax money won’t end up in the pockets of those who are too lazy to find a job. Only Christian Churches still defend a protection net for the weaker brackets, said Clifford Longley, Catholic commentator for the BBC and for the Catholic weekly The Tablet. “The welfare system expresses the generosity of the State toward those without a job and to the disabled. But during a period of economic decline, people are less generous”, said Longley. “With a populist move the government has decided to second this attitude by spreading the idea, along with right-wing tabloids such as the” Daily Mail and the “Daily Express”, that those who get subsidies are cheats. In fact, those who live at the expense of the State are only a minority because the majority of the British, while receiving aids, also work.” Upcoming referendum. For Charles Moore, Catholic, ex editor-in-chief of the “Daily Telegraph”, “an example of the new form of protectionism” is the demand to step up control of migrants precisely because – it is widely believed – they risk becoming a burden on the welfare system, which migrants can access once they enter the UK. “Improved control of European immigration is precisely what the UK is asking in Brussels”, said Moore. Longley and Moore agree that if the British people had the possibility of deciding to exit from the EU via a referendum, as might happen in 2017, they would say no. Provided that David Cameron continues to obtain from the EU more powers for Westminster. Moreover, the United Kingdom Independence Party UKIP, whose goal is to bring the UK out of the Europe, and which according to recent surveys could gain more seats than the conservative party in May’s European elections, would be less successful in national polls.UKIP, protest votes? “UKIP is like a garbage can that collects all protest votes”, determinedly affirmed Clifford Longley. “It is not related with new right-wing parties that are rising all over Europe. The DNA of the British people never had fascist chromosomes. Here the political centre prevails, and extremist parties, whether left-wing or right-wing, fail to gain consensus. There is a tradition according to which protest votes against the government are channelled to a third party, between elections, to eventually return to the major political parties during national elections. At present, voters’ discontent is not reflected by the Liberal-Democrats, who sit in the government, and thus they turn to UKIP.”

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