I’m not really sure what to say here. I’m not entirely sure what I can add to the blogosphere that has already commented on the recent Tory onslaught. I suppose I could attempt to hint at possible division between Osbourne and IDS because of the former announcing welfare policy ahead of the latter. Maybe I could speculate on the reason for this hard shift further (as if that were possible) to the right as an attempt to win over UKIP voters who are at the swivel eyed edge of social policy.
So again the spectre of workfare haunts the unemployed. Thanks to the likes of the Policy Exchange and their odious attitude toward work and unemployment, it is back on the agenda, and how. Apparently from next April workfare will be part of a brutal and thus ineffectual package of measures aimed at the unemployed, again focussing on them as the composers of their own misfortune. Again avoiding blame for the failings of policy and an economic system that rewards the Tories and rejects the poor.
This policy doesn’t work. It cannot work. No pun intended. How can it? There are no vacancies. By virtue of existing it proves the failure of policy because if there were vacancies surely people would be employed and thus paid which would mean they don’t have to claim – something right wingers forget: workfare slaves still get benefits. This is just appeasement based on ignorance and prejudice. It allows the government to sound tough but not act, and we all know that Duncan Smith is not a man of action.
This ironically is just further admission of this miserable little tyrant’s failure and a projection of his own insecurity. He is an incompetent; a blustering hectoring self entitled hypocrite far too eager to point to the perceived failings of others in a bid to assuage his own. This package of hard measures has been hinted at before: the Community Action Programme for example announced months ago was intended to succeed the Work Programme for the ‘hard to help’. Again it implies that the fault of those ‘hard to help’ lies not with the Programme, not with greedy bullying providers, but with the claimant. This then is his punishment, which now includes, incredibly, a plan to force daily nine-to-five attendance at DWP facilities if not actual Jobcentres (even though the latter would be completely unsuitable). This cannot be seen as anything other than a brutal admission of the failing of every Tory welfare policy thus far, particularly the Work Programme.
How much tougher are the Tories – with the fawning assistance of their craven gutless libdem enablers – going to be on claimants, on the poor? How much harder? What happens next year when this latest round of changes produces no more a success than the Work Programme (failing for another year)? Will IDS return to claim his reforms are so successful that now the unemployed need sectioning, or sent straight to prison, or shipped off as conscripts to Afghan war zones? Yet another hammer blow to the face yet again labelled as ‘getting tough on the something for nothing culture’; a culture that only exists in palace of Westminster or the imaginations of those that read the Daily Mail.
How much longer are we going to tolerate the CBI running our lives? These so called business ‘leaders’ argue in favour of educational impoverishment by shifting the goalposts of employment. These people demean school leavers and teachers by claiming all schools nowadays (i.e. it’s all labour’s fault – an excuse I’ve heard more this week than in three years) do is teach people how to text and stab. These business ‘leaders’ raise the bar for any job, no matter how menial, by making increasingly ridiculous demands, in a conveniently hyper-competitive labour market, on individuals no matter how simple or menial the job. Then, when a kid fails to make this artificially high grade, he, like the rest of the unemployed, is to blame. It’s a disgrace, to coin a phrase.
But there are those that love the idea of workfare. People so bitter and twisted they want to see the knife stuck in the bellies of those they perceive are getting something for nothing. These are people that make a virtue of never having claimed – despite years of paying into a system that has given them nothing but insecurity and intellectual poverty. They are happy to tear strips off others over stuff – material goods that they aspire to owning but can’t because they earn too little. That is all the fault of the unemployed who must be made to work even if it means undermining the insecure jobs such people are doing. People are so invested in their experience that they cannot see another, better, way. I’ve worked all my life, they say, I’ve burned myself out, so, to paraphrase Bill Hicks, this can’t be just a ride! It must be real because my stake in this is too much to lose, even though I can’t take it with me when I die.
According to the Express mandatory jobcentre attendance will end the something for nothing culture. How? They will still receive the benefits that the likes of the Express moan about in the first place. It’s punitive. It’s about being seen to keep the unemployed in their place, hence community service as part of the proposed workfare package; I’ve no doubt the unemployed, thusly criminalised, will be made to wear hi-vis attire to broadcast the fact. 35 hours a day involving people cooped up in a facility (though probably not an actual JC as they haven’t a prayer of being fit for purpose – so that’s more money being spent pursuing this agenda). It is demeaning; infantilising people who will have to raise their hand and ask ‘please sir can I go to toilet!’ Adults will be reduced in the name of improving themselves. What kind of curriculum can possibly encompass a 5 day 9-5 routine? Even the Work Programme cannot provide enough resources. It will become a pressure cooker with mental health sufferers at the very sharp edge because you can be sure that, just as with the Work Programme, they will get no support.
I can’t think of any employer who would regard this as representative of a working routine: how many happy employees spend 7 hours a day looking for a better life?
Who speaks for us? There was a welfare to work conference, starring (of course) Mark Hoban, earlier this year (and probably every year). Representatives from all across the private sector were invited to discuss further means to screw the poor, but who wasn’t invited – the poor themselves. No one bothers to invite representatives from the unemployed community. No one thinks to ask our opinion as those affected by this policy. If they reject us, I say reject them. Let’s have more people quit their jobs. Let’s leave the economy in tatters then maybe they will listen.