WORKHOUSE BRITAIN SOLITARY, POOR, NASTY, BRUTISH and SHORT
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Millionaire Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond has rejected the idea that ‘vast numbers of people’ in Britain live in ‘dire poverty’ – because he doesn’t see it. Mr. Hammond said he didn’t accept a report by a UN rapporteur which compared poverty and welfare support in the UK to a Victorian workhouse.
In a devastating final report published last month, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty Philip Alston said the welfare safety net has been “systematically and starkly eroded” since the Conservatives took power in 2010.
Mr. Alston’s report warned years of austerity to condemn Britain’s poorest people to lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
But Mr. Hammond, who represents the leafy upmarket Surrey constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge, said he didn’t accept the expert’s findings because it didn’t fit with what he sees. Speaking on BBC Newsnight last night, the Chancellor said: “I don’t accept the UN rapporteur’s report at all. I think that’s nonsense. Look around you, that’s not what we see in this country.”
The comments from the multi-millionaire Chancellor, who is currently worth an estimated £8.2 million, did not go down well in Liverpool, one of the cities in the UK hit the hardest by austerity. Across the Liverpool city region, around one in three children are now growing up in poverty.
Dan Carden, who represents Walton, hit out at Mr. Hammond and urged him to visit his own constituency. He said: “The Chancellor should step outside of Westminster to visit north Liverpool and see what reaction his words get here.
“There is something grotesquely wrong with our politics when those in power can be so disconnected from the impact of their own policies.”
This was echoed by equality and human rights lawyer Matt Smith, who tweeted: “When I look around myself on my journey to work via Birkenhead, Liverpool, and Manchester, I see that the number of homeless people has rocketed from 10 years ago. Where is Philip Hammond looking?”
Mr. Hammond earns £134,565 from his combined jobs as Chancellor and MP making him one of the highest paid figures in the government. Mr. Hammond added that “of course there are people struggling”.
But he said the Conservative government is “addressing these things by getting to the root causes”.
Around the time Newsnight was airing, Mr. Hammond was attending a glitzy state banquet with US President Donald Trump.
But Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who was born in Liverpool, slammed Mr. Hammond as “multi-millionaire who lives in a different world to the rest of us”.
He added: “He displays a brutal complacency about the scale of poverty and human suffering his austerity program has created.
Heartless, without compassion or any sense of humanity, after these remarks he demonstrates he is not fit to hold office and should consider his position.
It’s not just the United Nations: Human Rights Watch and others have commented on the poverty and inequality under this government.
“Meanwhile Philip Hammond’s colleagues compete with each other to promise more tax cuts, showing how utterly out of touch the Conservatives are with the problems of today’s society.”
MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of RISE OF THE SUN WEEL, EUROPE ARISE, TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROES, MEGACAUST, THE ALLIED INVASION. DEATH OF A CITY, WITNESS TO HISTORY, THE BUSINESS BOOSTER and THE FIFTH COLUMN VOLUME I and II, and 50 other book titles.
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