UK: A Tale of Two Disappearances Under New Labour

When Socialist structures such as the Welfare State and National Health Service (NHS) are initiated within a society that retains its predatory capitalist nature, then the fundamental inequalities of the capitalist system are retained. People may be prevented from starving, dying of disease, and receive a rudimentary education, but still occupy an ‘alienated’ position within society that can lead to social isolation and exclusion from the mainstream. This is the reality of capitalism and not any weaknesses of the Socialist System. If capitalism is allowed to continue so as to enrich and empower the middle and upper classes, many are born into a working class that has projected upon it, highly dysfunctional psychological and behavioural modes of existence. It is exactly this dysfunctionality that people Jeremy Kyle (and others in the entertainment industry) encourage and take advantage of. Yes, individuals are responsible for their actions, but it would be incorrect to ignore the effect of social conditioning upon character formation, or the responsibility that the capitalist system must take for much aberrant behaviour. The following BBC Panorama programme aired in 2008 during the times of the New Labour attacks on the Welfare State and NHS. Notice how police officers are allowed to voice highly rightwing attitudes about the Welfare State – and be allowed to package these views as being part of effecting policing. This unsympathetic ‘working class’ disappearance (and deception) about Shannon Matthews may be compared to the highly sympathetic manner in which the White, middle class McCann family are treated.

Portuguese police are of the opinion that the McCanns killed their daughter and hid the body. However, because of their association with the New Labour Government, Tony Blair had diplomatic passports issued that allowed the McCanns to leave Portugal and escape arrest and prosecution – despite the fact that both parents lied to the police. In the UK, there has been nothing but official praise for the McCanns who were so distraught about their daughter’s disappearance that they felt they had to sell their story to the rightwing and racist Sun newspaper. The British Government basically set the stage for every doubt and inconsistency in the McCann’s story to be ignored and replaced with an overly sentimental sympathy that obliterates logic and reason. These two examples demonstrate ‘class’ within British society and show how even in 2007 and  2008 journalistic standards were slipping at the BBC.

Following the Shannon Matthews case, the rightwing and racist Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph newspapers initiated a wide=spread attack upon the principle of the Welfare State – linking the receipt of benefits with ‘greed’ and ‘criminality’ (without ever providing any reliable academic evidence). The rightwing press never addressed the inequalities within capitalist society, but instead attacked the very Socialist principles designed to alleviate such social problems. As soon as New Labour had come into power in 1997, disabled people were attacked for receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This attack upon the vulnerable within British society was extended into all areas, and a colleague of mine who worked for the Audit Commission, attended a meeting in 2009 with a New Labour Minister, and was informed that the Labour Party was going to abolish the Welfare State and privatize the NHS over a 15 year period – providing they won all the subsequent elections. Of course, Gordon Brown lost the 2010 General Election, and the Tory-LibDems Coalition took power and immediately set about putting the New Labour policies into practice. The BBC Panorama documentary about Shannon Matthews looks very much like New Labour anti-Welfare State propaganda.

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