In our happy 'liberal democratic' political consensus in this country, it's an accepted fact that you can't raise taxes by targeting the rich. Indeed, inherited wealth is something to be protected and cherished, as both 'Labour' and the Tories agree.
Even the 'liberal-left' BBC is so worried that rich people might have to pay tax and therefore not be quite as rich as they otherwise would be, so they offer handy tips on how to 'minimise your liabilities' for capital gains tax and inheritance tax. Do they offer a similar guide for the poor on how to 'minimise' the taxes they pay? No, funnily enough, they don't.
So there comes a problem. How to raise some money when the easiest way of doing so, while perhaps being morally justifiable and acceptable to the vast majority of the population if it was explained properly to them, isn't politically expedient because enormously rich newspaper owners, the CBI and the corporate sector will squeal like scalded pigs and lie that the poor will suffer?
Simple. Target the poor, sick and disabled.
The Conservatives are to unveil plans for incapacity benefit reforms which would require all claimants to be assessed to prove they cannot work. The Tories say their plans, to be announced later, would mean 200,000 people losing their benefit.
Hooray! 200,000 people will lose their benefits.
And do what? Get jobs straight away - or just go onto job seekers' allowance rather than incapacity benefit when it turns out it's not as easy as some Tory cunt sat behind a desk might think to get a job when you have a disability?
Sure, people with disabilities or mental illness might be able to work, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily employable in the real world or that they face a level playing field when it comes to employment. The Tory plan assumes that all employers are fair and good people who wouldn't mind taking someone on with a disability or mental illness. It assumes that the reason why people with disabilities can't get jobs is because they're not trying hard enough, not that society is prejudiced. It assumes that employers don't see people with disabilities as an insurance risk, as unsightly, as a problem - which, unfortunately, many do. It assumes that an employer, given the choice between two equal candidates, one of whom has, say, cerebral palsy, will choose to employ the person with cerebral palsy. I'd love to hope that that would be the case. But is that what really goes on in the real world? Is that the experience of people with disabilities or mental illness? How many people with disabilities are employed by the Conservative party? How many of their prospective parliamentary candidates have a disability or a mental illness?
Incapacity benefit is claimed by 2.64m people across the country at an estimated annual cost of £12.5bn.
About £40,000 a year each on average, if my rough mathematics is correct. So under these Tory plans, how much money will be saved if, as they say, 200,000 people are forced off incapacity benefit? About £800million. Except... it won't be. They won't 'lose their benefit', as the Tories lie, and as the BBC repeats, because it can't be bothered to think about things in stories. Those people might not find it as easy to get jobs as the Tories think they can. They may just claim benefit elsewhere in the system, as they're perfectly entitled to do. They may work on a low income, and be eligible for income support and other benefits there.
And how do the Tories know it's 200,000 people anyway? How has a political party managed to do the kind of thorough research that would be required to get these numbers? We don't know, because they won't tell us. But I'm guessing it probably has more to do with plucking a figure out of the air that will get The Sun hot under the collar about 'scroungers' than research and science.
So what does Labour say about these proposals to target the poor, sick and disabled?
Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain accused the Tories of copying the government's ideas.
He said: "They are plagiarising plans already announced by us before Christmas and seeking to present them as their own.
So that's that, then. We have consensus. The only matters for debate are questions of to what extent people claiming benefits are just scroungers who should just get on their bikes and go to work.
Welcome to Britain, 2008. Targeting the most vulnerable in society, to protect the rich. Under a 'Labour' government.