The Winding Road To The Welfare State


The Winding Road To The Welfare State –
Economic Insecurity& Social Welfare Policy in Britain
By George R. Boyer
Princeton University Press – £35.00

To middle-class observers inside and outside the government, there were definite lessons to be learned from the crisis of the 1840’s and, especially, the 1860’s. First, the system used to finance the Poor Law was not able to handle sharp increases in demand for relief. Second, while it was possible to raise large amounts of charitable assistance quickly, that aid, when administered in an indiscriminate manner, often did more harm than good. Third, and perhaps most important, the ”principles of 1834” clearly were not being enforced in northern industrial cities or working-class districts of London.

(‘Social Welfare Policy, Living Standards, and Self-Help, 1861-1908’).

Sound somewhat familiar?
Were the dates of the years changed to 2019, and the words ‘Poor Law’ altered to ‘Minimum Wage,’ we could just as well be talking of today (and absolutely not in marginal terms might I add).

Not that the atrocious, nigh-self-imploding Tory Party, will take any notice whatsoever.

Just one of the reasons being, the self-proclaimed – and in cumbersome, harsh reality – assumed to be next Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has just been found not guilty of lying to the British people. Not lying about the infamous regularity of £350 million being sent to Brussels, that could much better be spent on the NHS – during the lead up to the Referendum on Brexit.

That he vehemently LIED, and continues to do so, is, for all intents and poverty induced purposes, neither here nor there in the ultimate big scheme of things.
Manipulation of and by the media, will continue to reign.
While out-and-out ignorance and the selective listening of the predominantly ‘working-class,’ will (most probably) continue. As such, wholeheartedly swallowing the hate-fuelled, divisive rhetoric of Messrs. Johnson, Farage and Gove et al.
Thus leading the country unto total disaster.

And if not total disaster, then very, very far away from that which The Winding Road To The Welfare State – Economic Insecurity & Social Welfare Policy in Britain is fundamentally based.

A most concise, comprehensive and cohesively written study on surely one of the most important, and intrinsic principles of British political policy.

As Peter Lindert of the University of California states: ”In this book, George Boyer convincingly maps and explains the twists and turns of income shocks and British social policy from the Industrial Revolution to the postwar welfare state. After lagging behind other countries in the building of safety nets, Britain became a social-policy leader only when changes in political voice and public opinion permitted it.”

The irony off course, being that the current (and loudest) political voice(s) are essentially responsible for the unravelling of any form of social well being.

One can and simply ought to forget the term: safety net – which is why these 310 pages (excluding Acknowledgements, References and Index) make for such vivid and important reading. Especially now that ‘the rediscovery of poverty’ is very much now upon us.

Furthermore, we now have the very real possibility of that other great British institution, the NHS, being up for grabs; especially if the narcissistic Donald Trump and his aforementioned partners in blatant crime (Johnson, Farage and Gove et al) get their way.

From the cutting back of the Poor Law after 1834 to Parliament’s abrupt about-turn in 1906 with the adoption of the Liberal Welfare Reforms, author George R. Boyer herein offers new explanations for the overt oscillations within Britain’s social policies and how these shaped worker well-being.

A ”well-being” very much under threat.
Soon to be extinct.

(Thanks Prime Minister).

David Marx

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