Sunday, 4 October 2009

Forcing the Jobless Into Work: How do you do that, Mr Cameron?

"No more 'Mr Nice Guy'...Now, I'm strong, serious and real, real meeeaaan, while refusing to answer questions concerning how many millions of pounds myself and my wife are 'worth'!"

Ah, yes. It's all coming back to me now. This is why we all hated the Tories in 1997. Because there was such a gulf in understanding of what was going on in people's lives in communities and the lives of the political class in power. It appeared, also, back then, that the then ruling Conservatives just plain hated the poor, those on benefits of any kind, the NHS and every public service and treated the whole country as an 'expense'. Since then, of course, we've learned that nearly all politicians are on the make and treat themselves at the country's 'expense'.

A lot of clear blue water has passed under the red-brick bridge since then and much of the nation is so sick of Labour's statism and interventionism that many people are looking at the Conservatives again and thinking, "We need a fresh Government in power. One we can identify with."

So what does Cameron do after years of cultivating a 'compassionate Conservatism' persona? That's right, he promises to 'force' the jobless into work. Well, Mr Cameron, if you want to force the jobless into work, you had better start calling the contractors for the labour camps now, because last time I looked unemployment has been rising sharply every day, week and month that passes. That's right, unemployment is spiralling in this country because of the recession. Are you seriously going to get all the labourers, builders, gardeners, office clerks, telephone customer sales advisors, florists and sales assistants cleaning graffiti?

Firstly, given that Cameron has suggested that the Tory plan means that 'private companies and charities (Er...Why should charities be asked to recruit more staff?) will be asked to bid for contracts to place the longer-term jobless into work', it sounds rather like the plan involves forcing the unemployed to work for private companies who will pay the jobless absolute pittance to work for them, creating a very cheap labour pool for private companies, which would be convenient for them but not so convenient for the unemployed and poor who will still struggle in poverty.

Secondly, I thought that the Conservative party loathed the power of the big State and liked to let people live in freedom? Surely, even though the number claiming benefit is exceedingly high, is it not actually in line with the Conservative philosophy to 'force' men and women to do anything, unless they have broken the law? Last time I looked, being unemployed wasn't a crime, just a misfortune. I had thought the Conservatives were the true libertarians. Clearly not.

I may be a bit of a 'feckless yoof' myself (32 on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!), but I can tell anyone who wants to know that the situation on the ground in Brighton alone is not good. There are now over 8,000 men and women unemployed in Brighton. This is something like a recent local record. Brighton is not that big a town. Every job has many applicants. Some in Brighton have mental health problems and could not hold down a job. Many of these volunteer. Some suffer heroin addiction or drug related health problems and could not hold down a job, without significant, compassionate support. I hope and pray I get the job at MIND on Monday by the way, because, if not, I'm a bit shafted myself.

Mr Cameron (I know he's not going to read this, but I like addressing people anyway). It is a recession. The recession is deep and will most likely be long lasting. Unemployment is rising and appears set to rise more. For every person you 'force' into work so that the State doesn't have to pay them benefit, another 2, maybe 3 or 4 persons will be made redundant and be reliant on some kind of state support. You can blame Labour for this if you want, because, God knows, we do too, but, at a time when jobs are not so available and the recession is biting into every employment sector in the country, save the ever successful and prosperous sector of the politicial class with significant business interests, do not 'crack down' on those who are now being hit by it. In order to be a true statesman, you need to serve the entire country - not just the Daily Mail.

By the way, I'd love to see Cameron try living on benefits for a year and go through the drudgery, the boredom and the endless disappointment of job applications refused, go looking for work for which he is over-qualified only to be refused it and end up facing some snarling, sneering apparatchik at the Jobcentre, then to know the sense of failure and then be told he's got to go and clean the streets for his benefits or become a 'local enforcer' for the anti-street drinking/anti-public smoking team. I mean, just ask Gordon Brown in a few months time how he is feeling.

Apparently in an interview recently, George Osbourne told his child that if he was elected, "Daddy is going to be unpopular". Translation: "Daddy is going to be a bad man and be really nasty to the poor. Daddy is going to be a total git." For within the Cameronian plan, there is the attack on every citizen's liberty: 'Benefits claimants who refuse to take training places will see their payments cut.' Translation: 'If you do not do as I say and take this option, even though it has little or nothing to do with your previous work history or suitability to employment, then we will reduce you to even more penury than you are currently experiencing. Quite possibly, you will end up homeless.'

Cameron stands on a podium with his 'Now for Change' mantra emblazoned before him. 'Change?' I loathe what the Labour Party became, but clearly, the Tories haven't 'changed' one bit. Either way you vote this election you'll be voting for a nasty piece of work. Let's face it, neither of them are pro-life anyway, they both voted for the HFE bill, so I'll vote for my local Pro-Life party and have done with it. The days when politicians spoke on our behalf, on anyone's behalf, if they ever existed, have long since vanished. Rant over!

Finally, is it me, or has Cameron bottled it on demanding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty for the UK?


Physiocrat said...

Laurence, you claim "we are in a recession" as though it was something that was happening to the planet, like passing through a cloud of radiation.

The recession has not affected every country in the world. It has affected countries like Britain because of their governments' foolish economic policies.

Forcing the jobless into work was tried in the 1980s. It cuts down the number of people on the unemployment register. And a few people acquire useful skills. But it is an administrative nightmare and the work that gets done could be achieved much more cheaply by letting the work out to contract on a commercial basis. I saw this from the inside. Cameron is spouting nonsensical political rhetoric.

Now get out your pocket calculator, pencil and paper. How much would someone get in benefit when out of work? Jobseeker's allowance, Housing Benefit and all the other things that come free. Now work out how much it would cost an employer to give the same person a job and leave them with the same amount, and that is before the person has to pay the extra costs incurred in going to work, such as travel and meals out.

There is a big difference between the two figures. This used to be called the tax wedge but people who ought to know about it appear to have forgotten, including all the country's politicians and media commentators.

But if the aim is to minimise unemployment, the first thing to do is to get rid of the tax wedge by raising the thresholds for PAYE and Employers' and Employees' National Insurance contributions. Which does not have the headline-catching appeal of "force the jobless off their arses" but is actually one of the things that absolutely needs to be done.

The Bones said...

Good points.

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