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All In This Together?

Identity, Politics and Church in Austerity Britain

Author: Peter Herriot

Who are we, in Britain today? There was never any doubt about Britishness during the first Age of Austerity, immediately after the Second World War. ‘Of course we’re British’, would have been the response, ‘we’ve just won the war, haven’t we?’ Yet today, in the second Age of Austerity, being British, like some other traditionally held identities, is not as prominent nor as confident an identity as it used to be.

The collapse of traditional identities, and the creation by those in power of new labels such as ‘skivers’, ‘shirkers’ and ‘hard-working families’ has created a divisive narrative with devastating personal impact, giving the lie to the Conservative Party’s campaign slogan: ‘We’re all in this together’. Moreover, the conduct and outcome of the recent EU referendum is likely to ensure divisive effects of inequality and austerity are further reinforced and enlarged.

However, Peter Herriot believes the tide is starting to turn. New and complex identities are being developed and, as cuts to services start to affect almost everyone, different institutions such as the Church, advocacy organisations and academia are collaborating to challenge the dominant narrative.

Fully up-to-date to include fresh reflections on both continued austerity, Brexit and the ensuing economic, social, religious and political turmoil as well as projections for a post-Brexit future, All In This Together? sets out to challenge the need for and indeed continued relevance of the Conservative Party’s austerity government – a political elite that has presided over what Herriot terms the ‘Second Age of Austerity’ since 2010.

"Peter Herriot’s book is a powerful survey of the process of scapegoating and alienating disadvantaged groups as an essential part of Austerity politics in the UK. He demonstrates the dangers of dividing a country against itself and the dilemmas facing church leaders and others who are trying to halt our slide into deeper levels of social injustice."

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform

"This book powerfully exposes the disturbing realities of a deeply divided Britain in an Age of Austerity. However it is not despairing, holding out the hope of building a sense of identity based on valuing everyone equally."

Savi Hensman, writer, activist, voluntary sector worker, and author of Sexuality, Struggle and Saintliness: Same-Sex Love and the Church

"All In This Together? is a serious treatment of the damaging narrative of Austerity put in its wider historical context. In this valuable book there are useful insights into the ideology of Austerity and the devastating impact that cuts have had on the most marginalised members of our neighbourhoods. Peter Herriot rightly points out that it is only when we bring civil society together, through allied institutions speaking confidently against injustice that we can bring an alternative. I recommend this book to any leader in civil society keen to take a stand."

Revd Dr Keith Hebden, Director of Urban Theology Unit, Sheffield, and author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus