Divide-and-rule politics, will they pick on you?
THERE is a well-established Machiavellian principle in politics that the way to ensure the continuance of power is to divide the opposition.
This practice is alive and well today as it ever was in medieval times. It is particularly noticeable in attitudes to the unemployed.
When redundancies are announced, the initial reaction is one of sympathy and concern regarding bills and mortgage payments.
However, before many weeks have elapsed, this concern turns to intolerance of the jobless who have metamorphosed into "lazy feckless layabouts", who do not want to work.
This view is encouraged by George Osborne, who refers to people "hiding behind drawn curtains while others go to work".
Having marginalised the unemployed, who can we persecute next?
Well the disabled, of course, by suggesting that many of them could do a job if they wanted. Assess them and reduce their benefits, but don't actually find them any work to do – just give them a hard time.
So, having identified two groups of citizens whom we can scapegoat, the rest of us can sit back, smugly complacent – the blame is placed firmly where it ought to be.
I don't think so! You may have noticed around the time of the Autumn Statement that the spotlight is now being shone on the retired population.
Pensions are too big, free TV licences, free bus passes, they have never had it so good and it's time to take them down a peg or two.
That's the problem with divide-and-rule politics, you never know who they are coming for next.
And it's no good looking to the Opposition for a moral lead. Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet know how popular such policies are.
Next time you are judgmental about others, remember that your job could disappear. How long will it be before you become a lazy no good scrounger?