Martin McKee and David Stuckler
December 20, 2011
Martin McKee and David Stuckler watch aghast as American examples are followed to destroy the European model of the welfare state
Christmas is a time to count our blessings, reflecting how they came to be. For people living in England this reflection is more relevant than ever, as the coalition government paves the way for the demise of the welfare state. This statement will be seen by many as reckless scaremongering.
The welfare state, not only in Britain but also throughout western Europe, has proved extremely resilient. How could any government bring about such a fundamental change?
To answer this question it is necessary to go back to the 1940s, when Sir William Beveridge called for a national fight against the five “giant evils” of want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness.His call secured support from across the political spectrum. Although he sat in the House of Commons as a Liberal, his plans were implemented by a Labour government, and continued under successive Conservative ones. The reasons for such wide ranging support varied but, for many ordinary people, the fundamental role of the welfare state was to give them security should their world collapse around them.
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