17 February 2019 — New Eastern Outlook
It seems that the most haunting question in Britain today is: What future awaits its citizens after Brexit?
This is hardly an example of lazy thoughts, as the rapidly deteriorating living conditions of the British population that is a direct result of numerous miscalculations of the May government, and there’s no logical explanation how UK’s withdrawal from the EU could affect this situation in any positive fashion.
In fact, British residents are facing longest decline in living standards in modern history. As it’s been pointed out by the Resolution Foundation, their real incomes will not return to the peak pre-2008 level in the foreseeable future. Even the most optimistic evaluation of the economic situation in England shows that its GDP may start growing again in 2020, hardly reaching the level of 1.6% a year by 2022.
However, British government is unable to provide a comprehensive plan to address this situation, since the problems that led to hundreds of thousands working people living in poverty are numerous and rather complicated, so there’s no easy fix that could turn the tide on poverty. With British people getting increasingly unemployed, deprived of medical care and social benefits they start getting increasingly bitter and pessimistic.
And it’s hard to blame them, as finding a decent job that would provide food and shelter to a regular person and his family is not a trivial task in the UK these days. According to the data released by the House of Commons, the number of people living below the poverty threshold in the UK reached 10.4 million people last year, which translates into 60% of the British population receiving less than half of the average salary. This makes anyone who states that Britain is a post-industrial economy looking like a mean cynic.
However, all of the attempts that Theresa May made to address this challenge did nothing to restrain poverty, with the situation getting so desperate that it attracted the attention of the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
According to a recent study penned by the Lancaster University shows that Theresa May’s austerity measures and budget cuts may be regarded as a form of social genocide. The study underlines that austerity can be understood as a form of structural violence, violence that is built into society and is expressed in unequal power and unequal life chances, as it is deepens inequalities and injustices, and creates even more poverty. This suggests that as a result of the violence of austerity working class people face harm to their physical and mental wellbeing and in some instances are ‘socially murdered.’
Moreover, the study presents a list of examples of where social security austerity has led to a range of harms. Those are:
· an additional six suicides for every 10,000 work capability assessments done
· increasing number of people Britain dying of malnutrition
· increasing numbers of homeless people dying on the streets or in hostels
The dire situation that regular British citizens have found themselves in finds some form of reflection in the British media, but those stories leave Theresa May and her government unsympathetic. For instance, recently a number of UK newspapers would circulate the story of a British war hero, who back in 2013 fought off Taliban militants in Afghanistan for 90 minutes after being shot through the neck, being forced to sells his medals to improve his living conditions.
Unsurprisingly, this results into soaring crime rates, with London murder rate overtaking New York for first time ever after spate of fatal stabbings and shootings, as it’s been reported by the Independent.
Moreover, Britain remains the only Western country where life expectancy keeps on declining year after year. The Times believes that this fact can be explained by poor health care and hardships that elderly people are facing. But life is cruel in England to pretty much everybody, as tens of thousands of workers across the UK are forced to spend hours in food bank queues as they are unable to afford foods.
There’s been countless reports of people taking their frustration over continuous health care cuts to the streets. While attending one of such gatherings, labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowd with a statement that – this was “the fault of a government who have made a political choice.”
A recent study of the Trades Union Congress showed that on average every employee across Britain lost 15 thousand dollars in real earnings over the last decade. As it’s been stated by a Statista journalist, Niall McCarthy Britain is among the leading economies in the world when real wage cuts are concerned, with London workers suffering the most.
It’s been pointed out that the UK has not been in such a pitiful state since the Suez crisis of 1956, when Washington crashed Anthony Eden’s attempts to restore British influence in Egypt.
Yet, it remains unclear whether Theresa May will be held accountable for the dire social situation in the UK that is getting increasingly volatile.
Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”