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Five Live Unemployment Discussion

I missed it as it went out live, but I'm writing this as I listen to the iplayer repeat. It's broadcast from Salford in the wake of another rise in unemployment. I guess it really is the price worth paying for the unstoppable juggernaut of Tory ideology. Let them eat cake, eh Gideon?

Ok, so the show starts off with a couple of people saying who they are and how long they've been unemployed. Then suddenly some mouthpiece from Morrissons (nice free advertising there, reminiscent of last Summer's BB3 Jobfest bollocks piece that I commented on) saying they are creating 7,000 odd jobs this year. Of course they won't be saying how poorly paid those jobs are, especially given that the big 4 supermarkets are the third biggest employer (together) and that's right after the NHS. Megabucks for the boss class, free advertising, and shit jobs for the rest of us. Fortunately Sainsbury's have had the sense to pull away from the government's workfare frenzy, not so the rest of them. Does that include Morrisons? I don't know, but maybe corporate shill Richard Hammond might. Or Chris Evans, another vacuous overpaid supermarket millionaire. Mr Morrison's is followed by someone from a utility company I've never heard of, more applause. I suspect the Hangman could receive the same applause if he showed up to offer work.

Now this discussion was first mentioned after an earlier episode discussing the Work Programme. Lots of people rang up to say 'the WP stinks'. Curiously, Chris Grayling's seemed instead to hear 'the WP is the best thing since sliced bread'. Perhaps his radio was affected by the smell of money wafting from the unemployment gravy train.

Now a young chap is talking about his experience applying in a theatre highlights a salient point about the ludicrous nature of some job interviews. The job, apparently, was bar work in a theatre, darlings. We've all had these crazy interviews; one in particular, for WHSMiths, features a board game. This game was basically an empty board save for some random items culled from the shop (the board was empty, by the way, the pieces came from shop stock). We rolled dice and, when we landed on one of these items (the sellotape for instance), had to sell that item to an imaginary customer! I doubt even Lord Sir Alan of the Sugar Apprentice could do the hard sell on a round of sellotape, or a pair of scissors, or a pencil! Everyone palpably felt how utterly fucking stupid it was. I didn't get the job.

And bingo, the first goal is scored: someone comes out and says 'the government doesn't know what it's like' in respect of the pittance that is JSA. But that will never change. It is core to the ideology of the capitalists that JSA should be low. They fundamentally believe that, if it were increased (it's among the lowest rates in Europe), everyone would give up work. They believe that welfare is a lifestyle choice in that respect. Tells you all you need to know about the Tories: know thy enemy. They hate welfare and they hate claimants. The speaker is living with a mortgage she can no longer afford.

Three politicians are introduced: a Tory whose name I can't remember or spell, someone called John Leech (or Jon, I don't know) for the Libdems (so two Tory contributors then) and a Labour person called Emma Reynolds. They are asked if they could manage on JSA and the latter two admit they couldn't while Mr Tory dodges the question. This character is all over the place; he's nervous, and he's on the defensive. I expect him to resort to trotting out the usual Tory propaganda and try and bluster his way through.

Another speaker, more vociferously, challenges Mr Tory to live on Jobseekers for a week. At this point the Tory does indeed resort to type: yes folks it's Labour's fault, they maxed out the credit card. Excuse me, I must vomit. Ok, back. Ugh, sometimes it just takes a long time to get the taste of Tory bullshit out of my ears. Now Emma is talking, in response to that point. Ok, she's pushing at an open door here. To be fair, she doesn't overplay the card. Good move, I'm no fan of Labour but it's their fight to lose (and so far they've lost every time, but then they are no less right wing than the Tories).

The spotlight shifts and a speaker from Church Action on Poverty (something like that) raised the point about work paying by way of mentioning the poverty wages that some people earn. I hope we come back to this issue, but for now a young man called Matt is laying into the Tory MP (Sam someone or other, I'd look it up but I can't be bothered). He knows what's going on; it's privatisation all the way. That's what all this Work Programme (which I'm sure we'll come onto) is all about: privatise the JC+ and give it over to the likes of Emma Harrison to make more money from.

Over to the John Leech now who is, in my view, comfortably equivocating. He mentions Nick Clegg's Work Experience scheme that has had some success (51% apparently) getting people back into work within 13 weeks. I don't know this scheme, but that may well be true, but given the lack of jobs out there, this initial success rate is naturally unsustainable. I think he's being a bit disingenuous here. The jobs will dry up and the spotlight will move away to another scheme in another area run by another provider and so on.

Over to Norman (his name, apparently) from Morrisons; it seems the local community wanted him/them to come up with 'pre-employment schemes' (the usual confidence building bullshit) so they delivered. But what about the quality of these jobs? Supermarket work ffs! Is that really what we want for our society? A nation of supermarkets. I've commented on this before, but I don't believe a job at any cost solves the problems our society has. It might make a given applicant smile (assuming the wage isn't a joke).

Michael, a trained teacher, speaks now. He's noticeably emotional in verbalising his feeling of humiliation - and the suicide of a young graduate who couldn't reconcile her qualifications with her exoperience trying to find work, very sad and sadly very unrprusing. That's the effect of months (years, to be truthful) of right wing propaganda. A society so browbeaten that the supermarket sector can come in and prey on these people. A society so cowed that it believes willingness to do anything is less gullibility (the boss class don't care) and more a virtue. This is categorically NOT the answer, but that's what hardworking Britain's are told to believe by the newspapers that routinely claim to be the voice of the taxpayer and the conscience of the great and the good. Fuck that and fuck their ideology. I'm looking at the DWP jobsearch page as I listen and it's the same selection of crap. Am I meant to be thankful for these opportunities? A job packing petfood? Fuck off!

And now we have some twat that wants to play the John Galt card. "Why do people always blame someone else?" Right out of the Paul Dacre Playbook. The answer is they don't. Move on.

And move on we do (i'm not discussing some upwardly mobile twat's worldview, sorry) Hayley fucking Taylor! Oh fuck me, so much for an informed debate then. I wonder how many people will bring up her propagandist crap on tv. That said she is pointing out the damage that unemployment can cause. Well ok, fair enough. But that doesn't excuse that awful populist Fairy Jobmother crap.

Onto the jokeshop, sorry I mean the Jobcentre, now. This should be good - which is the opposite of the opinions provided. They are useless, but that's no surprise to us. We know how they don't help. We hear comments about how the JC staff are themselves looking for new jobs. Some guy, used to work for Connexions, says he's better off out of work than enduring the target driven uber caseload culture! Interesting. I am a bit concerned with the view coming forward regarding how the JC are not helpful and don't do much; while this is true, the threat of sanctions is not being discussed. The implication of further distancing people from society is huge and giving the JC more authority over people regarding their jobsearch efforts is far too dangerous.

I think, now, I'm done. This debate has tired me. It's like watching people flailing around in a pool of water, rather than getting to the real meat of these problems; ie a discussion of the system - capitalism, I suppose. We can talk numbers, we can talk about how the Jobcentre is rubbish, we can talk about how we are prepared to do anything for a job or to look for work. This isn't enough: we need a fundamental change - a sea change - in all areas of society. We need to evolve beyond notions of competition: the audience applauds when one person says they just got a job. Well that's great and I'm not churlish, but that's one job less for others to apply for, and the rest of the cohort that applied for that job will be grilled by the JC and blamed subsequently for their failure to beat that person to the punch. This debate has told me nothing, but for those interested it's up on iplayer on the Victoria Derbyshire show, today, 15/2.


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