This is our truth, tell us yours
Many of us will be used to the fact that the right in the UK have been determined to demonize certain sections of society for a number of years. When George Osborne stands up and announces he supports hard-working families it is a phrase that has come to mean not those evil people on benefits (despite the fact child benefit and tax credits are claimed by these hard-working families). Cuts to the welfare sector are presented as simply stopping scroungers and being fair, despite the patent unfairness of tax cuts for the rich whilst the poorest suffer. Channel Fours latest attempt to grab the headlines while dehumisnisng people for being poor, Benefits Street is only to be expected, as are the death threats against the participants.
We have another campaign against benefit fraud, with more calls to dob in your neighbours if their curtains are not open by the state approved hours, whilst the cost of fraud remains low, but of course it is not about the money, it’s about the climate it creates. The current government has seen how by a drip feed of negative language and news stories immigration has been turned into a political issue. Along with many when Gordon Brown called a horrible old bigot a bigot I cheered, but to coin a phrase, they wont let you say that. Challenging racist anti-immigration rhetoric has become next to impossible as we are told we have to accept there is a problem, there is a shortage of x or y and that blaming immigrants is realism not racism. The fact that the whitest areas of the country with the fewest migrants are the most likely to blame immigrants presumably simply tells us that migrants have some mystical power to create job shortages even where they don’t live. No wonder Farage is so scared of the Romanians coming here, they all attended Durmstrang!
SO far so big picture, but recently I learnt the term microagressions and I think it is relevent to what is happening in the country today. Microagressions are not the Klan cross burning, or the EDL demanding we sport our troops, but those careless, or carefully chosen words that wear away at people, that create a climate of distrust and hatred, that feed into cultural stereotypes and prejudices. There are lots of examples here.
Which brings us to another story from today, which at first glance might not seem connected. The BBC reported that they had uncovered the fact some patients visit A&E multiple times, and it was presented as a shock horror something must be done story.
Data from 183 sites obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed nearly 12,000 people made more than 10 visits to the same unit in 2012-13.A small number of those – just over 150 – attended more than 50 times.Doctors warned that the issue, while confined to a minority of patients, was adding to the mounting pressures on the system this winter.
The implication on how this has been reported is clear, more scroungers making things harder for us hard-working families, demanding more than their fair share, the evil bastards even overuse A&E, no doubt whilst watching plasma screen TVs and texting from smart phones.
Now I am not an expert, but even I can think of a number of reasons someone might need multiple visitsto A&E. They may have a chronic illness, they may be homeless and unable to access a GP, they may be a substance user (shocking I know but the NHS still treats people who use alcohol or drugs and come to harm). They may have mental health conditions that cause them to harm themselves. If people who fit any of these are having to visit A&E over and over again to get the help they need, and are entitled too, then something is going wrong. They are not getting the standard of care they need, and there should be journalists investigating, as should the cuts to social care and services such as distrect nurses.Instead they castigate the people for having the temerity to have complex health needs though!
Which is what i mean by microagressions. We have reached the point where even a story about a small group making multiple visits for medical treatment is framed through the lens of the undeserving poor who are a burden on society. This is a scary place to have reached and as far as I can see it will only get worse.