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Jonty Leibowitz @JontyLeibowitz
, 16 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
I have just finished reading UN Special Rapporteur @Alston_UNSR's report on extreme poverty and human rights in the United Kingdom. It is a truly extraordinary document. Here are some of the key messages :(1)
The report starts with a basic, sobering question. How can it be that in the world's fifth largest economy, we have such extreme levels of poverty? 14m in poverty, 1.5m destitute, with child poverty going up to 40% by 2022. (2)
This sentence is worth reading a few times. "For almost one in every two children to be poor in twenty-first century Britain is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one." A social calamity. Wow. (3)
I know we're still on the first page, but this is also really important. @Alston_UNSR argues that the institutions of the state know precisely what is happening, but are wilfully ignoring it. They are too far down the road to turn back now. (4)
"In the area of poverty-related policy, the evidence points to the conclusion that the driving force has not been economic but rather a commitment to achieving radical social re-engineering." (5)
The report then goes on to outline the worst excesses of the new welfare regime. On Universal Credit, a system designed to intentionally strike fear and resentment into the hearts of vulnerable users: (6)
On Legal Aid, a "gutting" of the capacity of the state to provide the basic tools of justice and free trial to all citizens. (7)
The local state cut to the bone, to the extent that it can no longer provide basic services. How can you file for Universal Credit if you can't afford basic broadband, and your local library has shut? (8)
The hardest hit? Women, children, people with disabilities, pensioners, aslyum seekers, those in rural areas, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Not hard to draw the dots: those who were most vulnerable before austerity started in the first place. (9)
The conclusion is sobering. Life in Britain has not always been perfect, but a basic social security net has been in place for generations. Austerity has callously, needlessly, and intentionally, eviscerated it. Without it, life is 'nasty, brutish, and short.' (10)
This report is remarkable for so many reasons. Thank you to @Alston_UNSR @Bassam_Khawaja @rebecca_riddell and others for putting it together, and having the courage to tell it like it is. (11)
This report should be sent to every household in the country. Every Conservative MP should be forced to read a copy, and comment. We should stick it on a giant Edstone outside David Cameron's shed. We must never forgive the architects of this cruel, callous system. (12)
It is not all doom and gloom. As the report says, we can solve these problems. Britain is a rich country, and the wealth is there. We need a national movement- from Parliament to the street- that will reject a politics where the rich punish the poor for being poor. (13)
Britain can be free from the misery of austerity. The first step to achieving this is understanding the scale of the problem, and @Alston_UNSR has done a valuable service in doing so. We must bear witness to this moral and social crime, and vow to never let it happen again. (End)
Full report here. Print it out, and share it with everyone you know. ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/…
Austerity is not simply an economic issue, but also a question of basic human rights. @rights_info
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