The UK government has decided to scapegoat the obese this week. If fatties don’t seek help to get back into the workplace, they’ll have their benefits cut. Fair enough; they could do with a bit less to eat, anyway. But, hang-on, what about their kids? Won’t fatties keep stuffing their faces with lardy food but just have a bit less to spend on their their kids? You know, like smokers who use food banks? Like addicts whose kids inherit their bad DNA or addiction – we know all about this because the kids of such folk tend to do less well at school. Right?
Don’t worry, because it doesn’t actually matter that none of it adds up – we’re just going to go into serious scapegoat mode for the next few weeks, until the election’s over. So it’s more sport than reality, which means we can all play without worrying about conscience or consequences.
What bothers me most about this official scapegoating, though, – Labour going on successful people last week, Tories going on unsuccessful people this week – is that it’s so damn undemocratic. I mean, when do we regular folk get asked who should be scapegoated next?
Perhaps one of those pointless, opportunistic websites like change.org or icareeversomuch.org.uk could run a set of contradictory polls in order to harvest personal details and build petty careers off making people feel they can ‘make a difference’ just by feeling irrationally outraged about something or other? Yeah, there’s that.
But better still, why not simply write to me and I’ll ask the Speaker of the House of Commons if I can have as slot to propose a proper, funded and democratic mechanism for choosing each week’s scapegoat group? I’d prefer to use private sponsorship, obviously, but that would create a problem with perceived objectivity. Of course, it could be that a government-funded scapegoat-nomination mechanism would fall prey to sneaky civil servants making sure it wan’t them. There’s a simple answer to that, though. An expert.
That’s why I’m tentatively suggesting here ‘Dame’ Carol Black as someone we should all place our confidence in as an impartial expert who would ensure our weekly selection of scapegoats is done on a truly objective basis. She’s the long-retired rheumatologist who’s helping the government with the fatty-scapegoating this week, so she’s well qualified for the larger task of ensuring our weekly scapegoating has a solid, scientific foundation. There’s absolutely no way ‘Dame’ Carol would allow herself to be used as a patsy for a cheap party-political publicity campaign, or any such nonsense. And it’ll help her to her peerage, too, the dear.
A final word of advice. When thinking of what group to nominate for scapegoating, it’s always best to concentrate on the disadvantaged. In general, it’s more popular and populist to kick the less well off, along with their kids. This is because rich folk – in their bastarding tax-free mansions and country houses – couldn’t give a toss when they get kicked by the plebs, so it’s frankly much less satisfying to scapegoat them.
So, go on, get your thinking caps on. Nominations are open….