Tag Archive: Coalition government

It was a rather typical Tory sort of policy, get people off the dole any which way, not caring what they do just that they do something else.  It is not one fuelled by a desire to have people in work for their own benefit and development as a consequence then also of benefit to society at large, it is not part of a drive for full employment, the Tories since 1979 have always favoured policies that keep inflation down rather than do anything for the poorest section of the population.  You might think that keeping inflation down does in fact help the poorest parts of society but it would do so only were wages to continue going up above the rate of inflation as it changed, otherwise it is simply a matter of by how much your income is diminishing in real terms.

The Workfare system has a great deal of one without any of the other, there is no alternative way to look on it than it being slave labour.  Tory protests come in the form of saying that this is a scheme that enables people to get a job at the end of it, this may well be true in some cases, but there is no guarantee of it.  Furthermore to have the spectre hanging over you that you may lose your benefits is somewhat draconian.  I might have more time for the scheme if in the first instance people were given chances to do public sector jobs paid a living wage, or given the chance to work/volunteer in hospitals, youth clubs, environmental schemes, old people’s homes, homeless shelters, schools and others of direct benefit to society rather than being used to prop up the profits of already wealthy giants on as little money as possible.

It is no wonder that companies were in a rush to take part, this for them is a win-win, they get to take on the people they wish to at the end of the scheme, whilst exacting work for nothing from those they don’t.  It circumvents the interview process by holding a knife to the throats of the participants being forced to take part or suffer a loss in benefit.  This alone saves them a not inconsequential amount of time and money in not having to advertise and go through tiresome and lengthy interview and offer processes.  That companies have got their fingers burnt is heartening at least in terms of the level of public outrage to the program, the fact that companies were all to happy to involve themselves in the first place tells us much about our society, the companies who are running it and their contempt for people at the bottom of the social and financial pile.

However there is an equally more sinister element to the slave labour and that is the repression that is beginning to accompany the opposition to the policy.  The government are clearly getting very tired of protests accompanying every scheme they have to privatise each last public facet in the country and with the debacle of the Health Bill being the final straw they have decided that enough is enough.  The rhetoric surrounding begins as pretty standard petulant Tory bollocks.  Campaigners are branded by David Cameron as Trotskyites and fronts for the Socialist Workers Party, it is part of a “left-wing plot” according to Chris Grayling the Employment Minister, whilst Iain Duncan Smith has labelled detractors “out of touch” and that the schemes are “brilliant.”  Given this return to the days of the workhouses and cotton mills where labour was cheap and exploited accordingly one wonders what time it is that Smith is living in that we may be out of touch from, and whether indeed we wish to be in touch with it were we to know.

According to the government the minority, trotskyite etc. etc. protests have spooked the companies who would otherwise have continued in the scheme, which again says much about both parties here.  Hold on a second though since when have national and multi-national corporations listened to anything a small group of active left-wing campaigners said or did?  Let’s be honest governments don’t give a shit about a huge groundswell of public opinion and millions taking to the streets against wars so where would the incentive for corporations be exactly?  The oil companies have brazenly given public opinion the finger and the banks have pillaged the public coffers (with acquiescence of the last two governments) in spite of sustained widespread outrage.  What companies do care about is money, and for that they must rely on the consumer, if the consumer stays away the company loses business and revenue and confidence and that makes major shareholders very cross, so in fact far from these actions being the consequences of the left-wing campaigns and campaigners they are a great deal more likely to have been caused by the edicts from the most right-wing!

Thankfully for a start the Tories have now dropped the section dealing with cuts in benefits to those dropping out of the schemes, they claim this is not at all to do with public pressure, but then they would say that wouldn’t they?!

Song Of The Day ~ The Wailers – Slave Driver

It is almost heartening really to find that the Tories, in spite of protestations to the contrary, are still the same old sleazy lot as they have always been. Of course they have changed now in as much as their ability to handle the media has improved and they have managed this through what Orwell had described years before as Newspeak. A case in point is the currently beleaguered Defence minister Dr Liam Fox who is accused of impropriety regarding the conduct of himself and “a friend” with whom he has been seen at various functions where it would have been expected that only authorised MoD personnel or government officials would have been present.

Rather than blazon out the storm and simply say that nothing had happened, or to come out ashen-faced and say he screwed up and throw himself on the mercy of the Prime Minister as might have happened in the media-naive pre New Labour days, Fox has been a great deal more crafty and ended up doing a combination of both. Let’s have a look at what he said:

“I do accept that given Mr Werritty’s defence-related business interests, my frequent contacts with him may have given an impression of wrongdoing, and may also have given third parties the misleading impression that Mr Werritty was an official adviser rather than simply a friend”

Let’s deconstruct this tangled web woven by the minister, the phrase “given the impression” implies that despite how it might look no impropriety took place.  To then use the same term again in that the impression may have been given that Werritty was an official advisor implies that somehow people have jumped to the wrong conclusion on both points.  In fact Fox did not stop here but went on to cast aspersions in the more than a little right-wing biased Sunday Telegraph stating that “underlying issues behind these claims and the motivation is deeply suspect”.  Clearly of the belief that being held to account for his actions was a task well beneath a minister.  So did he actually do anything wrong or is this another ‘expenses defence’ in that no actual rules were broken despite the morally questionable nature of the conduct being pretty plain.

In the Ministerial code it clearly states that ministers “must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests“.  That would appear to make it quite clear that at least in respect of Parliamentary conduct Fox has transgressed.  Moreover since Werritty attended meetings with Fox and had business cards printed that referred to him being a direct advisor it is pretty clear why such an impression might have been arrived at.  What is also interesting about the latter point is that Fox claims that he told Werritty in June not to hand out these cards because they gave the wrong impression.  Given that he was aware so long ago why was the matter not made public at this point in order for Fox to be open and honest about the situation, rather than waiting until late August when confronted about it by MoD Permanent Secretary, Ursula Brennan?  After all in the Sunday Telegraph interview Fox had said that he had “absolutely no fear of complete transparency in these matters” which doesn’t quite seem to tally with the months of silence.

Let us also not forget that this is not someone just taking their mate to an office party to avail of a free bar, this is a man who has already brokered deals between Fox and businessmen being admitted to a circle that inevitably involves highly classified information of a national security nature.  How this could be construed as anything other than a serious conflict of interest and abuse of ministerial privilege is beyond me.  David Cameron on the other hand believes that Fox should be given the chance to explain, a pity the latter was not keen to do so before the revelations were made public by the media investigations and I’m afraid this is where I lose sympathy.  If you have done something wrong and you are aware of it and wish to atone you come clean and ask for forgiveness, if absolution is given then you may return to the fray hopefully a wiser person and with your integrity intact. After all we all make mistakes but it is what we do with them both during and after that defines our true conduct.

The truth is that Fox has been caught with his hand in the till but was not clutching any money at the time and would have us believe that the money in his pocket is not the result of the pilfering and that to suggest otherwise is to accuse without substantiation.  [Rather like the accusations of those on Incapacity Benefit all being scroungers that sort of thing, the Tories know a thing or two about unsubstantiated accusations.]  The fact is that Fox is trying to make a great fuss about the accusations about the contents of his pocket in order to deflect his attention to his hand being in the till in the first place.  Cameron has shown himself to be either too weak to do anything about a member of his cabinet or unwilling to take a stand to preserve the semblance of moral integrity of the government.  There may be multiple reasons for this.  Firstly Fox is a senior figure on the Tory right, given that the Tory centre is to the right of Genghis Khan this means Fox leads the rabid section of the party (you can make the jokes up at this point yourselves!)  Cameron is not keen to have such a senior member languishing wounded and angry on the backbenchers where he may snipe at an already frail government.  Additionally Cameron probably feels that Fox has been foolish but not outright criminal, but this misses the point, very often ministers and MPs have to leave their positions in order not to bring the government into disrepute because they have lost the confidence of their colleagues, this as stated at the beginning though is a new Tory party, one with the same politics as before and very often the same figures but more adept at smoke and mirrors.  Let us not forget that the Health bill is going through the House of Lords this very week so further deflection from this is also very much to the government’s advantage, especially since the Lib-Dems are having to try to pressure their own peers who are reluctant to support the bill and are not subject to the same political control as their colleagues in the Commons.

All in all it is yet another example of power and privilege, of the contempt that the national politicians show the wider population, if there is anyone out there who did not know this already then where the fuck have you been?

Song Of The Day ~ The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy – Down The Drain

(To the tune of U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name)

I’m too skint to run, too old to hide
I have to take out the furniture
that I have inside
I want to reach out
for just a few quid more
to stay where the streets have no poor

I want to feel Southern light on my face
I’ve seen the cockneys disappear
without a trace
I need to call Shelter
if anyone’s there any more
where the streets have no poor

where the streets have no poor
where the streets have no poor

they still claim there’s
affordable housing
outside the M25 ring
and when I go there
you can’t afford not to come too
it’s all we can do

the city’s affluent
but our car’s turned to rust
we’re evicted and cleared by the Tories
who betrayed our trust
I’ll show you a place
high on the Yorkshire moor
where the streets might still have some poor

where the streets have no poor
where the streets have no poor

they’re still building
their mansions in fields
as the welfare state yields
and when we go there
you’ll just have to come too
it’s all we can do

our dreams turned to rust
the writing is now on the wall
and they just don’t care at all
oh I see our fate
see our bank balance bust
the writing is now on the wall
they just don’t care at all
oh when I go there
you just have to come too
it’s all we can do

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name