It’s been a new low in terms of Tory scapegoating this week with Osborne and now Cameron seeing the opportunity to spin a bit of class warfare out of the deaths of 6 children. Lots of people have already spoken eloquently about the viciousness of turning a tragic act from a controlling and disturbed individual into an opportunity to demonise the poor (including the very community who even now will be dealing with the devastating aftermath). But the other issue we need to look at, identified by Polly Neate yesterday, is that Osborne etc are not just churning out nasty propaganda, they are drowning out what should be a loud public discussion about prevention of domestic violence with their ongoing war on welfare.
If Gideon and Dave are serious about taking on the culture that created a man like Mick Philpott, and about protecting future children from a similar fate, then they need to invest in a proper national strategy to tackle domestic violence. Because that is what domestic violence is about. Not benefits, not handouts, and not entitlement. Lots and lots of work has been done by groups such as the EVAW coalition to produce detailed recommendations which if followed fully would make a real difference to our communities. In my view, there are two specific strategies any government who want to protect children and vulnerable adults from domestic violence can follow: educating for change, and commissioning and properly funding services for survivors so that they can be supported in safely leaving a violent home sooner rather than later.
1) Educating for change: If Cameron wants to talk about the signals being given to a man like Philpott from society, then he should be looking into the way in which violence is embedded into male socialisation from pretty much birth onwards, and at the ways in which men and women are educated about women’s bodies in terms of ownership and control. Taking on the billion pound industry of promotion of warfare in child socialisation would be difficult, though there are more things that could be done in terms of providing positive alternatives. However, one area in which Gideon and Dave’s mate Michael could be taking on the culture which produced Philpott is to put education to prevent violence and promote gender equality into the curriculum for schools and colleges. Unfortunately apparently he is a bit busy leading the battle for children’s souls against an army of Marxist enemies of promise, one whitewash of history at a time.
2) Commissioning and funding support for survivors: Spending on support for domestic violence survivors has been slashed by a third in part of the ongoing austerity campaign which prioritises tax cuts for “wealth creators” over the basic safety of those suffering domestic abuse. This week there was a welcome move to include relationship violence in those aged 16-18 in the category of domestic violence. However, as highlighted by Sue Lowe when we were discussing it on twitter the other night, we can go much further than lip service in meeting the needs of vulnerable young people and actually commission specialist services – as well as properly funding the existing ones. People working in domestic violence services in the UK are in the position at the moment where abused people who have left a partner are told there is nowhere for them to go. This situation is absolutely inexcusable. The safety of children and vulnerable adults is not window dressing.
Our cabinet of rich boys are determined to use the death of 6 working class children to their advantage in stirring up self loathing in the people who lose most under plutocracy. But this is not a class issue, it is about domestic violence, and we need to keep talking loudly about it and fighting for change.