I found the catch…
Well, I meant to write this a few days ago, but seeing as I was out of town and very busy, and forced to upload in a Weatherspoons using the free 30 minute wifi vouchers they give out to anyone who knows about them and bothers to ask for one, I never had time to write it. That said, if this is to become a big issue, then maybe its still relevant. David Cameron might have made a brilliant conference speech with lots of admirable policies for the press to shout about, but I think I’ve found the nightmare policy which should remind people that these are still the same old Tories.
I was reading a copy of the Independent, trying to find out as much detail as I could on Cameron’s speech. I was getting tired of the continuous references to his party’s turn around in fortunes and the two policies everyone was talking about: the inheritance tax changes and the tax on the super-rich who free-ride here. And then I found it, and I felt a mixture of relief and anger. Relief that my instincts (and those other people’s who I’d been following) were right. Anger that they would even dare to threaten Britain with such glaringly unjust policy. (Yes, I’m getting to the point, bare with me…)
“Mr Cameron struck a hard line on welfare reform, saying that the Tories would implement US-style schemes to get the unemployed back to work. “We will say to people that if you are offered a job and it’s a fair job and one that you can do and you refuse it, you shouldn’t get any more welfare”.
To many this will sound totally obvious. People are on welfare payments because they are unable to find work, ergo, people who are offered a job should not get welfare payments, apart from maybe some income support. But lets start by picking at this bit by bit, starting with direct quote.
What constitutes a fair job? Is a woman refusing to work in Ann Summers acceptable? The current government thinks not. Will it still be under the Tories? Fairly good chance that it will be, given their being ‘conservative’, but no guarantees. 40 hours a week solid cleaning public toilets at minimum wage: is that fair employment when someone has a degree? Is it fair employment full stop? Who gets to decide?
What if the employer only wants people who want to do 50 hours, will unemployed people really be able to refuse to opt-out of the EU Working Time Directive, an act which so many see as wasteful and selfish when working class people dare to refuse to sign on the dotted-line (as I have always done, and encourage others to do). What if people are told they must take full-time jobs when they want part time ones?
Further down the line, we have the major worry that young people will be forced to take the job they are offered, even if its in the surveillance industry, the arms industry, indeed any one of a number of industries I would refuse to work in. What if there’s such a shortage of military recruits that young people who fail to find work within, say, 6 months of becoming available, are forced to sign-up; economic conscription is already a huge problem in Britain, much bigger than people realise, and we have seen deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan of young people who have been betrayed by society and forced to join the army because they couldn’t find any other employment.
Pushing a large number of people back into the world of work is great for business: suddenly people cannot refuse work on the grounds that it is underpaid or the boss is known the whole town over for pushing employment law to the limits. Capitalism dictates that prices go down when supply is high; wages go down or stagnate if too many people are looking for work at once. People who feel aggrieved at the thought of others getting away with sitting at home all day had better realise that their salaries are under threat if there is suddenly more supply of ‘willing’ workers.
What else constitutes a job you can do? For instance, in China, if there’s a job someone can do, and its thousands of miles from their wife or husband’s job, tough, they only see each other for a 2 weeks each year (my Mum met two doctors in this situation); yes this is extreme, but look how far people are commuting now. If Cameron really worries so much about the family, is he going to set limits on commuting distances/times (not always relative) when deciding how little time working class kids get with their Mum or Dad each night before bed?
In his documentary, Bowling for Colombine, which many see as being simply anti-gun propaganda, Michael Moore meets with the victims of exactly these kinds of policies. He tells the stories of children who have become economic orphans, abandoned at home while their parents travel huge distances with almost no public transport to undertake menial jobs, returning each night for just a few hours sleep, forced to work long hours on mutliple jobs to make ends meet.
A 6 year old boy who’s mother worked three jobs, 70 hours a week and who had almost no time for her child, found the unlocked gun at home, managed to take it to school and shoot a 5 year old girl. While the issue of gun control is clear in this case, Moore draws another connection: he visits the boss of the company which employed the mother in two of her jobs, and confronts him with the fact that he is depriving children of their parents.
David Cameron: if you implement these kinds of policies, no matter how benignly your implementation begins, you will have set in train moves to force parents to abandon their children’s upbringing in favour of creating a cheaper labour pool for the companies which are your party’s traditional support base, and even if it doesn’t result in children killing each other, you will have proven that you really don’t care about family values at all, only enforcing social controls to create a willing workforce for employers.