For years the Conservative Party have wanted to force unemployed people to “earn” their benefits by doing unpaid work. And finally (in a coalition government with the Lib Dems, strangely enough) it seems they are going to achieve their goal.
The Work and Pensions Secretary (and failed former party leader) Iain Duncan Smith has announced in a white paper that he wants the unemployed to undertake unpaid work or lose benefits, dressing up these draconian plans as a necessary step to cut welfare costs as well as to break what the government is calling the “habit of worklessness”. The government are trying to suggest that people prefer to live in poverty on the derisory Jobseeker’s Allowance (£51.85 a week for those under 25 and £65.45 for those over 25 – what riches!) rather than take a job. And this crazed plan is apparently going to end the “culture of dependency”.
What IDS has neglected to tell us is where exactly this unpaid work is going to come from. The plan glosses over this detail, saying that “charities, voluntary organizations and companies” will provide these jobs. This totally ignores the fact that voluntary organizations don’t want people to work for them reluctantly – people who volunteer to work for nothing do so because they want to help the organizations in question and the quality of their work is therefore much higher than what will be done by those who are there under duress. And as for the companies who will provide the unpaid jobs: if there is work that needs to be done, why haven’t these companies already employed workers to do them?
This plan is an outrageous attempt to provide the Tory Party’s corporate allies with a way to get around the minimum wage. Instead of advertising these jobs to willing workers who would, by law, be entitled to a living wage, these companies will fill the posts with people who will have to work for nothing. How the hell can the Tories and their corporate friends get away with this?
And why are the Lib Dems going along with this? After the destruction of the traditional Labour Party by Blair and his “New Labour” lackeys, some of us thought that the Liberal Democrats were the only progressive party left. But now they’ve joined the Conservatives in coalition government, we can see Nick Clegg and his colleagues for what they really are: just Tories under a different name.
Democracy in Britain has been dying for many years. Now it has been shot in the back of the head and buried in an unmarked grave. We desperately need to take back the power that is rightfully ours. But the ballot box will get us nowhere. We must use alternative methods to rid ourselves of the greedy and evil men and women who claim to rule in our name.
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