There are a lot more things I have to say than I ever blog about. Unfortunately I’m too lazy to be a citizen journalist and, if you gaze yonder eastwards, you’ll see a list of far better people than I to get facts from. Besides, this blog was mainly intended as a personal catharsis with observations on the world as it now turns. Sometimes though things have to be said.
On Question Time this past Thursday, professional fence sitter and coalition nobody, Simon Hughes MP, revealed that, during the Coalition negotiations, Osbourne wanted to penalise JSA claims by 10% in the second year. This, claimed Hughes, was his red line. I don’t know if this is true, though it’s hardly a leap of faith to presume the Tories would dream up something so punitive.
It was a revealing morsel: it tells us that everything we have endured so far, along with what is to come, is necessary and acceptable. All of it Simon thinks is necessary; the destruction of a society and the impoverishment of an economy upon which we are all so dependent, like a life raft floating in a hurricane. This could not be more telling: cutting ESA from people by virtue of a private programme that doesn’t use medical practice, a Work Programme that has failed to the point it actively inhibits work chances, benefits cut for the slightest reason on presumption of guilt not innocence – and that is one aspect of the austerity programme. None of this stands on the right side of that redline, but cutting benefit by £7 in year two (which is indeed loathsome) was the straw that would break his back.
This is typical of the liberal democrats who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in claiming that getting the poorest out of tax was a success. They don’t pay tax because they have no money; they can’t even pay VAT because they have no money to buy goods with. This isn’t a success it just further shrinks the economy because there will be less money coming in while these people will require financial support – something that’s being withdrawn as quickly and as quietly as possible. All that’s left are the supermarkets who pay fuck all for their merchandise and their staff which means less money going around. I can’t shop locally for this reason. It is insanity. It is liberal democrat policy.
Meanwhile the media has succeeded in getting people to agree with all of this. Paying benefits is a sign of social failure and a cause of social unrest, instilling unacceptable virtue. Borrowing money is what that nasty Mr Brown did – despite the nasty Mr Cameron and the nasty Mr Osbourne pledging the match Brown’s plans and calling for even lighter financial control. The crash was everything the Tories could have hoped for – yet they still didn’t win the election. It took Clegg and his friend Simon to proclaim the new king. I think it self evident that, had Cameron been in charge during 2008, he would have bailed out the banks – and probably more. He would probably have tried ushering in austerity even then, at the behest of JP Morgan who, we now learn, have a blueprint for our society. Likely he would have failed. It is ironic then that Mr Brown was the best Tory they never had.
Osbourne has increased the time claimants have to wait before claiming to a week. This is not just stealing money from the unemployed on the basis of future claims (in much the same way he claims not to like stealing money from future generations, hence the cuts – apparently). It is further cementing unemployment into the system. We already know that capitalism uses unemployment to keep wages low (and besides who really thinks we could ever have full employment from here on out), but this notion of using unemployment to introduce further cuts is nasty. It is using unemployment to punish unemployment financially. But the voters love it.
He also wants the unemployed in for weekly signing sessions as the norm. This already happens after 13 weeks (and presumably is part of the approach Hoban wants as punishment for failing the failing Work Programme). How this will save money is not clear. It has never helped people: getting people to attend weekly has only ever been seen as a punitive measure. A means of feeling the collar a bit harder: “we’re keeping an eye on you, you lazy git!” Jobcentre Plus has been under the cosh of cuts for years now, starting with labour. Now it’s needed more than ever it is far from safe from the axe man’s attentions. When I was signing they were understaffed: I could not get a regular signing time because of their hopeless system, nor a regular adviser as Fridays seemed to be the day most people weren’t contracted to work (or they were all skivers). None of this makes sense…that is unless you believe they intend to keep this within the public sector.
Fortunately I am listening to Animals by Pink Floyd as I write this; it is the only way to stay sane.