The PM Himself is a Product of a “Something for Nothing” Culture

Nicholas Pentney 

Image © DFID

In a recent speech, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of his desire to overhaul the benefit system and to see an end to the “something for nothing” culture. The speech likely forms part of a political strategy that aims to tap into widespread public resentment at the current benefit system and to, as The Guardian described it: “protect those at the top smarting from Nadine Dorries’s ‘posh boy’ charge.”

As a fierce advocate of the concept of working-class dignity, I understand the resentment felt towards those who exploit the welfare state but we must be wary of an attack on these people when it comes from someone like David Cameron. The PM’s speech failed to make any mention of the scroungers at the other end of the class spectrum and omitted the fact that he himself is the product of a something for nothing culture.

There can be little doubt that Cameron works hard as our PM or that he worked to get where he is today. However, being born into immense wealth meant that he has enjoyed huge advantages that helped him immensely to get to the position he holds today. What did Cameron do to deserve these benefits? The answer is of course nothing; he merely had the good fortune to be born into that particular family. It is from that nothing that Cameron has been able to get something, but Cameron never passes judgement on himself or his mates who benefit from the inherited-wealth system and he doesn’t discuss the need to reform it.

If Cameron had been born into an impoverished family and grew up on an inner-city estate, would he have had the opportunity to work for Tim Rathborne MP or study at Eton and Oxford? Would he not feel the status frustration that comes with being subscribed to goals that his economic circumstances won’t ever allow him to achieve? Would he find himself at odds with the inherited-wealth benefit system that favours only those at the other end of the class spectrum? Believing this to be an unjust state of affairs, would he have perhaps a few less qualms about signing on to the state’s welfare system himself? 

The purpose of this article is not to act as an apologist for those who exploit the welfare state but to point out that Cameron is in no position to judge those who have enjoyed the benefits of a something for nothing culture. Yes, we are right to resent those that exploit the welfare state on our end of the spectrum but don’t judge them any more harshly than those who exploit, preside, encourage and devour the inherited-wealth benefit system at the other end like Cameron and his rich pals do. To do so would be allowing the PM’s divide and conquer strategy that is aimed at the lower classes to prevail.


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