When historians look back on David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister it is pretty certain there will be at least one chapter dedicated to his much-mocked mantra ‘we are all in it together’.
Rarely has a catchphrase been used so frequently to bash its originator.
And rightly so, because when Cameron uttered it at the start of his reign he can’t possibly have believed he would get away with such simplistic rhetoric. As the years roll by and the economic gloom deepens it becomes increasingly clear, with every huge bankers’ bonus payout, hefty fuel bill increase and closed factory that we are certainly not in this together. That sound byte has become Cameron’s ‘let them eat cake’ moment.
Western democracies can never be equal, a fact highlighted by the current media witch hunt centring on a mum of 11 after it emerged her local authority are building a six bedroom ‘mansion’ to house her family.
The story was front page news, the talk of radio phone-ins and even resulted in mum putting us off our Coco Pops when she appeared on the breakfast television sofa. Everyone I have spoken to has an opinion on her – almost all of it is uncomplimentary – with the most common complaint being ‘why should we pay for her because she has decided to have 11 kids?’ Things reached fever pitch when it was revealed that, as well as having enough kids to field a football team, this benefits claimant found both the time and the cash to keep a horse. The following day it was revealed she had once bought her partner flying lessons. Personally, I have grown weary of such stories as we have heard them before but because there is currently a climate of envy, partly fuelled by Cameron’s insistence that we are all in the same boat, then the quest has been stepped up to expose the nation’s benefits ‘scroungers’. The furore surrounding the 30-something with pink hair, missing teeth and her mansion amuses me because I know her part of the world well. To call her new Gloucestershire home a mansion is disingenuous – how many mansions do you know with a £400,000 market value – and the estate where it is being built is no Beverly Hills as it sits next to a railway line, the M5 motorway, an army camp and a busy business park. But nonetheless she does not have to work to be housed in a property many of us would be happy with and for the masses that is unfair. Who said life is fair? Whether we like it or not she is entitled to everything she receives and that isn’t going to change anytime soon as the benefits system is, rightly, here to stay. Yes we can clamp down on those who cheat the system, reduce tax credits and cut child benefit to those who don’t need it but without the benefits framework we would be a country where millions more children lived in abject poverty.
And we certainly wouldn’t all be in it together then.