In days gone by it was only very occasionally that an elected official would let slip their guard and, for a moment, allow us to glimpse at the beating heart of their party’s politics.
Given that we are assaulted on a daily basis with a conveyor belt of largely indistinguishable empty suits spewing forth empty rhetoric and benign universal pleasantries, such candid moments hold a greater purpose than being collated into a YouTube montage of Politicians Say the Silliest Things.
Yesterday, at a fringe meeting in Manchester, the Health Minister Jeremy Hunt defended the Tories’ tax credit cuts of up to £1,300 for some of the poorest workers in the UK. In so doing, Hunt stated that the tax credit cuts would encourage people to work harder and create “a culture where work is at the heart of our success.”
For a man reputed to believe in quack science it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is capable of such a staggering display of ignorance.
Hunt’s belief is that being poorer promotes a better work ethic – quite how that reconciles with bankers and their bonuses has passed me by, I must admit. The Tories believe that tax breaks and subsidies incentivise our millionaires, but that Joe Bloggs needs a more humbling inducement.
Leaving aside the fact that the UK’s GDP per capita is six times greater than that of China’s, Hunt’s ill-conceived outburst indicates a level of disregard for the UK’s poorest that borders on contempt.
Why would the Government wish to indulge in ‘income shaming’ unless it truly abhorred those unable to make ends meet?
Why is being poor a status deserving of contempt? Since when did wealth confer dignity? Often it is the wealthiest who make money to the detriment of those around them.
The ensuing headlines may focus on the Government’s reneging on yet another pre-Election pledge, but the real insight has been afforded to us by Mr Hunt. It’s almost as though the Tories have given up trying to keep a straight face.