You’ll grow old and grey with wonga.com. Not me that says it, but their curiously couched TV ads.
So is their main target market the elderly struggling in Coalition Britain to make ends meet? Or is it, in fact, the young who have no alternative but to age rapidly before their time? From university students to the rest of us who occupy the squeezed middle, is a lifetime of indebtedness becoming the new aspiration for us all?
As Carl indicates over at Though Cowards Flinch:
Cllr Osborne has blogged about it himself:
The CAB has rightly been held in high esteem by politicians and public alike for holding to a firm line; that these types of loan shops are predators in our community, leaches on society, and should be vigorously opposed at all levels. The CAB does immense good in Medway and has been working very closely on getting money from government; they are a fantastic example of good intentions.
However, make no mistake, Wonga is giving the money and paying for the service and that to them is small change for maximum benefit; legitimacy. These types of firms are desperately seeking to legitimise themselves to the public and I would personally feel very very uncomfortable seeking sponsorship from this type of firm.
This, perhaps, is the true face of social mobility in the UK today. Not the crass attempt by Mr Clegg to hijack an agenda he and his cohorts have deliberately worsened in their time at the top. No. Quite the opposite, in fact.
In the snakes and ladders of British privilege, the ladders belong to those already at the top – even as the government’s sponsors and supporters do everything they can to ensure the snakes are the lot of the rest of us. And companies like wonga.com, which form part of a flocking set of interests, are clearly playing their part in keeping the people under the thumbs of a very bad capitalism.
When it could be so different.
Hardly surprising, then, that wonga.com should choose the greying and balding imagery of its TV ads to describe where you will end up if you use its services.
Curious, though, how they manage to make it seem attractive. Is the subtext really a gently authoritarian “as British as fish & chips and grandfatherly cuppas” kind of idea perhaps? Does wonga.com revert to the wartime Dunkirk spirit of doing your national service, whatever the personal consequences? Are they asking us to believe that we do the economy a favour by falling into awful debt?
That seems to be the general message our government more generally is now transmitting – if not directly, at least by implication.
The Coalition as flag-waving standard bearer of social mobility? Not really. Not the sort of mobility we’re looking for, anyhow. Whilst these kinds of businesses continue to impose their will and offer outrageous levels of interest to desperate clients, the power they exert will continue to be unjust and unfair. Bordering, in fact, on a kind of financial bullying.
And meanwhile our political leaders talk about aspiration and freedom from class boundaries.
Do they truly not see the wider reality?
The only aspiration that those who journey on the snakes of social mobility can possibly have is being less at the bottom of the pile than their neighbours. And that is not the sign of a society on the move.
That is a sign of a society on the make.