The National Centre for Social Research recently published their 34th edition of the British Social Attitudes survey. The survey is particularly useful for examining public perspectives towards current cultural trends, as well as the current political atmosphere.
This year’s report points the spotlight at the public’s growing disdain towards austerity, with an encouraging growth in demand for an alternative.
A respective 70 and 80 percent of the public now support increased funding into schools and the NHS, even if this means an increase in taxation.
It is also worth noting that attitudes towards welfare recipients are generally softening, with the proportion of the public who believe that claimants are improperly exploiting the system dropping from 35 to 22 percent over the course of the past two years. This drop is particularly significant when considering the nature of the reactionary political media in Britain, which so often seeks to hold those at the bottom of society’s class ladder to blame for societal and economic instability.
Our message in response should be loud and clear: it is the ruling class, the architects behind the capitalistic mode of production, currently represented by the Tory government, who are to blame for our underfunded and failing social infrastructure. It is this same class which enjoys the benefits of tax breaks and offshore bank accounts and who stand to gain the most from any public intolerance towards society’s most vulnerable.
This message needs to be continually agitated for; despite the softening in feeling, the public still judges those who improperly exploit the benefits system with greater harshness than those who avoid taxation. This is despite the massive economic disparity between these two “offences”, with the latter costing the economy far more than the former.
With left-wing policies now entering the mainstream, surveys such as this should motivate us to fight for a genuine socialist alternative as an answer to the problems that austerity has brought us.