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Apr 1
“They will be hoping that we’ve been sufficiently distracted by anecdotes about a handful of individuals cheating the system to lose sight of the mountain of evidence of an entire tax system designed to allow the richest people and the biggest companies to avoid paying a fair share that is measured in billions of pounds a year. They will be praying that the phrase ‘the deserving and undeserving poor’ has started to sound less like a Victorian relic, as risible and inappropriate as having a butler iron the morning newspaper and bring it in on a silver tray, and more like a nugget of sound common sense. And waiting to find out whether they have, via the power of simple repetition, pulled off the same trick with other phrases and concepts yoked in suddenly binary opposition. Has the war between ‘hardworking families’ and ‘feckless single mothers’, say, moved from handy assertion on their part to unassailable fact in our minds? Are those who object to workfare jobs really objecting to a modern form of bonded labour, or arrogantly and ungratefully rejecting the chance for self and social betterment? When we think of the welfare state, does our mind’s eye still picture a safety net, or has that been supplanted by Iain Duncan Smith’s cruel mantrap with its teeth sunk into the nobly struggling legs of the common man and insisting on dragging him into the dark woods of dependency?” Lucy Mangan, “Has the coalition lost its cutting edge?

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