“In Clacton-on-Sea I heard about the young man who had been sanctioned, and had his benefits removed, because he was late to his appointment when the bus broke down. He couldn’t phone to let them know because he had no credit on his mobile phone. He was told he should have used a phone box but the bus fare had used up all his money, so he had no food.”
This isn’t my quote; it comes from the following document, looking at foodbanks.
Now let’s get this straight, we’re not talking about government policy or legislation. We are talking about a nasty jumped up bureaucrat who has just been revelling in the joy of being able to put a fellow citizen firmly in their place.
But this is a symptom of a bigger issue.
First let’s look at the young man who was sanctioned. To whom did he appeal? Obviously not to the department who sanctioned him. But what about his MP, or even the local newspaper, why weren’t they involved?
Some of the problem lies in the fact that so many of our population are poorly educated as citizens. They’re conditioned to just accept the decisions of authority. Yet it is the duty of a citizen to overthrow the state by obeying its orders to the letter.
Petty bureaucrats know better than to try this sort of trick with well connected middle class people. If I’d been the young man’s advisor, before the hour was out he’d have padlocked himself to the doors of the centre, super-glued the lock, announced his hunger strike, and with photos on the web, local journalists harassed, his MP phoned, and I’d probably even made sure the BBC got to know about it.
But would it have worked? Would these organisations have bothered to go to the trouble of defending some nameless nobody in Clacton?
I don’t want to bring the MP for Clacton into this, or the local paper. I want to look at the general rather than the specific.
Have we as citizens forgotten our duty? It was probably Edmund Burke who said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
If we watch petty bureaucrats acting tyrannically without protesting, are we abrogating our right to be considered citizens?
Perhaps we don’t approve of people on benefit? Perhaps we feel that there are too many people ‘not pulling their weight.’ Perhaps we feel that people ought to face the smack of firm government, for the good of the state?
Perhaps we ought to stop and think, and remember that all of us can find ourselves on the wrong side of a petty tyrant.
Perhaps we ought to remember the words of Pastor Niemöller
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me