During the 1960s it was not uncommon to see signs on houses or flats that were to let that stated "No pets, no Irish and no Blacks". Quite rightly it would now be considered totally unacceptable to publish such racist and discriminatory signs - and they are also now illegal.
However, I recently discovered similar signs on display in an estate agents in Wellingborough. This time, however, the group now being discriminated against are those in receipt of welfare benefits (DSS) and the cards in the shop window read: "Sorry (sic!). No pets. No DSS" - see photos of the cards on display below.
I must say that I was shocked that a new group of people are now being collectively demonised and discriminated against in such a demeaning way when trying to find housing for themselves and/or their families. Could this be the consequence of the recent high profile attacks by some politicians on welfare "scroungers" and attempts to set so-called "deserving"/working poor from those less "deserving" who are not in work. Or is it simply reflective of the fact that housing benefit no longer covers the rental of even the cheapest of private rented accommodation? So where will the poor - whether "deserving", "undeserving", working or not working - going to live? What sort of society are we?
Although we may have moved on a little from the racism of the 1960s, are we now re-creating new groups to exclude and dehumanise? Sometimes I wonder how much progress we are really making and how little we seem to learn from the nasty activities of the past.