MANY of Charles Dickens' characters, have become archetypal English types. This is no less true, when we look at English politics. The Pecksniff's and Podsnap's, Gradgrind's and Bounderby's, seem to be prolific in the Tory party and in the House of Commons. Some of these MP's, seem to have fallen straight out of the pages of a Dicken's novel. The character of John Podsnap, who appears in 'Our Mutual Friend', has become a model for English middle-class pomposity, complacency, and condescension, and represents a person who cannot face up to unpleasant facts.
There was a great deal of humbug and 'Podsnappery' on show during the debate on the 'Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill', which took place in the House of Commons on 2 December 2016. The level of ignorance that was displayed by some MP's and their refusal to face up to unpleasant facts, was quite astonishing. While it was apparent that some Tory MP's swallow the official drivel about sanctions, others had clearly put their consciences in cold storage. Not only have people been driven to hunger and food-banks because of unfair sanctions, they have also been driven to suicide.
Despite repeated assurances by Tory stooges that benefit sanctions have had a benign effect on claimants and have not driven people to suicide, in 2014, it was reported that the DWP had carried out '60 peer reviews following the death of a customer' since 2012. A 'peer-review' is triggered when suicide or alleged suicide is 'associated with DWP activity'.
In a letter sent to four MPs, including Angela Rayner, the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, Brian Bamford, Secretary of Tameside Trades Union Council, condemned the appalling level of ignorance and indifference that was displayed by some MP's during the debate on Benefit Sanctions. He wrote:
'I don't suppose that any of us should be surprised to hear this sort of thing. Even in the mid-1860's, when according to reports, people were dying of starvation in the streets of London at a rate of about two a week, there were plenty in the House of Commons, who denied it, or dismissed it, as the work of providence - the poor will always be with us.' Read More...
Members of Tameside TUC have been protesting every Thursday against benefit sanctions outside Ashton Jobcentre since August 2014. For further information call Steve on 0161 338 8465 or email firstname.lastname@example.org