The Common Good

Poverty As A Political Choice

Source: Holyrood
Date: December 16, 2013

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement reminded of how far modern Conservatism has abandoned any pretence of concern for the poor and disadvantaged and instead sees inequality as merely an inevitable and apparently acceptable consequence of the economic strategy his government is pursuing. ‘Responsible recovery’ clearly means for the few, not the many and Britain is becoming more bitterly divided than ever on social, economic and financial grounds. Austerity is a political strategy designed to tackle debt and deficits, slash public spending, downsize the state, promote the market and commercialisation, weaken the great pillars of social progress, such as the welfare state and the NHS, and destroy the postwar consensus of an ethical society where justice and fairness matter….

In his book, The Soul of Politics, published in the US, Jim Wallis, talks about the relationship between politics and morality being absolutely vital for the future of society. He asks: ‘Is it possible to evoke in people a genuine desire to transcend our more selfish interests and respond to a larger vision that gives us a sense of purpose, direction, meaning and even community?’ His comments could apply, equally, to Britain.

The relationship between our politics, ethics and public life remain at the heart of this inequality story. Towering above everything else is the idea of fairness in the context of justice and opportunity for all, regardless of economic or social status.