The court declared that the Department of Work & Pension’s workfare scheme was unlawful, because it was not being operated as described.
Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, Esther McVey – every Minister involved has claimed that there is no question of JSA claimants being forced to work for commercial organisations against their will by having their benefits sanctioned if they refuse a placement.
This was evidently not true – many people sent on workfare said it was not true, though only Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson so far have been brave enough to take the DWP to court.
The court decision yesterday proved the Ministerial and DWP claims untrue and therefore unlawful, and yet the Department of Work and Pensions claim they won (and also said they were going to ignore the court’s decision to deny them leave to appeal).
Another question that should be asked is: can it be shown that Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, or Esther McVey, have misled Parliament in giving evidence that has now been proved untrue?
So if the court found what they were doing to be unlawful, how could they have “won”? [As we find out in March: because they intend to pass legislation to make their unlawful actions retrospectively lawful.]
Stonewall has been holding a “Bigot of the Year” award, decided by popular vote, for six years. This year, unsurprisingly, the voters chose Cardinal Keith O’Brien.
Ed West in the Telegraph suggested:
Wouldn’t it be nice if Stonewall and other SSM supporters agreed to stop using such words, and in return opponents agreed to drop the dubious “slavery” or “Nazi” analogies.
In that West has it muddled. It has to happen the other way round. Someday, maybe, the Bigot of the Year award will be dropped because there won’t be enough write-in nominations because nobody’s publicly said or done anything bigoted.
On Sunday 4th November, BBC Sunday Morning Live is to debate “Is Stonewall’s ‘bigot of the year’ award inappropriate?” (You can register and vote Yes or No.)
In December 2009, the BBC’s Have Your Say staged an online debate on the question “Should homosexuals face execution?” After massive protest, the BBC changed the title of the debate to “Should Uganda debate gay execution?” but did not apologise for or retract the idea that putting people to death for their sexual orientation could be a matter for debate rather than condemnation.
Will Sunday Morning Live debate whether it’s “appropriate” for the BBC to allow a platform for bigots to discuss whether gay people should be killed or imprisoned for life?
Government departments and their ministers, reshuffled
We’re in a recession heading for a depression, and George Osborne is Chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne believes that the right thing to do when the economy is failing is to cut government spending and to make large numbers of people unemployed. Even economists who thought this theoretically might work realise it’s long since proved to be not working (Martin Wolf of the Financial Times was recommending in May that the government announce a change of plan): Nobel Prize winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, turn out – strangely enough – to know more about the economy than a man whose main qualification for being Chancellor is that he was in the Bullingdon Club with David Cameron.
Yet Osborne is set to continue cutting till May 2015. And short of revolution, we can’t get rid of him.
In the past quarter, between March and May, the number of UK people out of work has fallen by 65,000 to 2.58m. The ONS says “the overall unemployment rate is now 8.1%, dropped 0.1% than the previous quarter” and though there are still over a million people aged 16 to 24 unemployed, youth unemployment also fell by 10,000.
The number of people in employment rose by 181,000 to 29.35m, the highest for almost four years.
Chris Grayling, Employment Minister MP, said: “This is an encouraging set of figures in what is still an incredibly difficult economic climate.”
I got a letter the other day. To clarify this: I don’t own a company and I’m not an employer. But for a few years I was a sole trader using a business name/website, and I still sporadically get advertising calls/letters for that business name. Mailing lists never die.
The Youth Contract – Supporting local businesses in Edinburgh
The letter was from Ingeus, who are doing their bit for the UK economy by taking fees from the government for “helping people out of unemployment”. Ingeus in the UK is now 50% owned by Deloitte, one of the “big four” accountancy firms who helpfully lend staff and donate consultancy work to government departments.
But it was founded by Therese Rein, one of the richest people in Australia, married to Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former Prime Minister. Continue reading
So long as the government’s workfare programmes were kept slightly blurred, it was easy for people otherwise of good will to support them. (Ideological cheap-work conservatives would support workfare all the more for understanding what it is, but genuine believers in that faith are always rare, even if not quite confined to the 1%.)
Long-term young unemployed, school-leavers or recent graduates, never had a job or at least out of practice with getting up and out of the house every day to get to a job and sticking to their work, getting experience at work which is done for the public benefit. Put that way and it sounds positively like an excellent idea, doesn’t it? Even the news that disabled people and the chronically-ill would be required to work for their benefits might not have affected the public view of workfare much, since there has been a strong public perception created that people in receipt of disability benefit are all scroungers.
Christina Patterson wrote in The Independent on 3rd March 2012:
You’d have thought that the people who can see, and hear, and move their legs and arms, and do an awful lot of things without having to think about how they’re going to do them, would think that they were lucky. You’d have thought that they’d look at the people who did have to think about those things, and wonder what they could do to make their life easier. You wouldn’t have thought that those people would be shouting nasty things at those people, and saying that they’re “scroungers”.
But apparently the impulse to shout “scrounger” is pretty strong, as Patterson was writing only a fortnight earlier Continue reading
As I noted in The Ideology of Workfare, the ultimate goal of the cheap-work conservatives in Westminster is to roll us back to 1834, the year of the workhouse.
But as Cameron says:
Today marks an historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in over 60 years.
What is he talking about is rolling back the welfare state, put in place by the Labour government elected in 1945, founded on the principles outlined by William Beveridge, the British economist who wrote Social Insurance and Allied Services, widely known as the Beveridge Report. Cameron is once again raising the giants of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness – which rightly he describes as a “historic step”.
My government has taken bold action to make work pay, while protecting the vulnerable.
David Cameron’s “bold action” was to institute a system by which high street stores and other commercial organisations can get employees who will work for nothing, Continue reading
At a table somewhere in Hypothetical Stories, there’s Dolly from Tunbridge Wells, who reads the Daily Mail and works 35 hours a week for £7 an hour and an evening job on top of that just to get by. And there’s Molly on ESA who’s been registered with WRAG as fit for work, even though she’s waiting on a heart operation. And there’s Polly from Wirral, who graduated from college last year and still hasn’t been able to find a job. There’s a plate with 12 biscuits on the table. Esther McVey and Chris Grayling sit down at the table. McVey picks up the plate and hands it to Chris, who takes 11 biscuits and gives a couple to Esther. And then Esther says to Dolly, “Watch out for the other two, they both want your biscuit,” and Chris nods and says “They’re SWP members – if they weren’t making such a fuss, there’d be more biscuits for everyone.”
David Cameron held a conference at the House of Commons this past Friday to tell Conservative MPs that from now on they had to prepare for the next General Election:
“Cameron told his colleagues they were in a ‘full-time campaign’ to win over the public. Continue reading
Esther McVey popped up on Twitter today in passionate defense of workfare. She’s been the Conservative MP for Wirral West since May 2010. As their MP, she’s supposed to represent her constituents.
In the constituencies of Wirral South and Wirral West, long-term youth unemployment rose by 100% last year.
Job seeking conditions are equally as dire for the over-50s: in Wirral South, long-term unemployment in this category was double the national average, and in Birkenhead it was nearly three times at 66.7%. (Letter to Wirral Globe, 14th February 2012)
But McVey is also the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chris Grayling as Minister of State for Employment. So while not getting a minister’s salary, she’s bound by the Ministerial Code in some respects.
Sarah Woollaston writes about her decision to refuse a post as PPS:
When I was asked if I would like to become a minister’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS), it sounded like a promotion – until I looked at the job description. It is in fact something of a Faustian pact: in return for the vague illusion of having the minister’s ear, I would have had to resign from the health select committee, agree to never speak on health matters and to always vote with the government. It turns out that about 150 out of 364 coalition MPs are on the so-called “payroll vote”, meaning that because of positions they hold, they have agreed to always vote with the government. Included among those 150 are around 45 who work as a PPS.
How could I justify taking such a role to my constituents in Totnes? How could I have looked them in the eye Continue reading