In an article about the heroism and composure of Antoinette Tuff, (who talked down a man who had walked into the her school armed with an assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition), there is an interesting description of society:
Our politics, particularly in an age of terror, austerity and growing inequality, is predicated on the basis that people are basically venal, selfish, dishonest and untrustworthy. The poor are assumed not to be looking for work but cheating on welfare; foreigners are assumed to be taking something from a culture rather than contributing something to it; public sector workers, like Tuff, are assumed not to be devoted to public service but a drain on our taxes. The disabled are assumed to be well. When we look at others, the default position in much of western political culture is not to see ourselves in them but to see a threat.
Gary Younge, The Guardian website 25 August 2013: The heroism of Antoinette Tuff reveals what’s missing from politics
Younge’s article is about the USA, but the description of society is more universal (the UK links in the quote are the Guardian’s). Often changes in society seen in the USA are seen in Europe and the UK within a decade. In this case I fear it is taking less than a decade.
The language battle is being fought well by the Tories. They have successfully demonised welfare and are taking us towards a more American Society. The alternative is a more European Society, but the Tories have made “Europe” a bogey word as well. I fear that the EU question is lost and part of the collateral damage is the ability of Labour to offer the obvious contrast to Tory aspirations. Can they make the case for a European Society without getting tangled in the EU question?
What type of society we want is a key question that needs to be debated now; we cannot let the shape of our country over the next few generations go by default.