Everyone in Scotland is so focussed on the referendum that they’re forgetting the European elections on 22nd May. (And that’s worrying, because low turnout is how parties like UKIP get in.)
Illustrating this forgetfulness about the European elections, last night on Have I Got News For You an English comedian made a joke about “Methadone elections” and Susan Calman took audible offence because she’d forgotten about the EuroElections and thought he meant the independence referendum was methadone: but the English comedian had forgotten about the Scottish referendum – he was making a joke about the methadone of the European Parliament elections compared to the heroin smack of a General Election.
Rachel Reeves became Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on 7th October, Iain Duncan Smith’s new opposite number, replacing Liam Byrne. (She was Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 7th October 2011, and she’s been MP for Leeds West since May 2010.) Her first interview as IDS’s Shadow was published in the Observer late on Saturday night – and Twitter exploded. Blogs to read: Paul Bernal’s “Dear Rachel Reeves”; Mike Sivier’s “Sort out the tax dodgers, Labour, then the benefit bill won’t be a problem”; Jayne Linney “Oh Dear Rachel Reeves – You Got it Badly Wrong!!”.
But in the shouting and the tumult, a handful of people seemed genuinely bewildered as to the problem with what Rachel Reeves had said:
Neither Andrew Spooner nor Hossylass seem to have noticed that while Rachel Reeves is enthusiastic about forcing people into “compulsory jobs”, she’s said nothing about what kind of pay those compulsory jobs will get – and she’s made clear that if you are unwilling or unable to be forced, a Labour government will just let you starve homeless.
If you have been unemployed for a year or two, you are desperate. Read Jack Monroe’s speech to the Conservative party conference. You don’t need a kick in the face, you need a job. And there aren’t enough jobs going.
Well, say the comfortable people who’ve never been there, isn’t that what Rachel Reeves is offering?
Imagine this scenario, then. A woman of 23, with a child to support, loses her job. She can’t find work. After a year, she’s summoned to the Job Centre and told that from now on, she’ll be stacking shelves in Tescos, on whatever pay the DWP choose to give her. If the pay isn’t enough to cover childcare? If the job is too far away and there’s no public transport? If she’s applied to Tesco a dozen times for a paid job and been told there were no vacancies because they can get all the compulsory labour they want from the Job Centre, no cost to themselves? If she wanted to find part-time or flexible work so that she could spend time caring for her child? Tough, says Rachel Reeves: take the compulsory job or we’re done with you, you can die on the street for all we care.
As Channel 4 News publicly exposed the Universal Jobmatch site as a scammers paradise in December 2012: even easier than the old job scams offered via the JobCentre websites, this just required a scammer to register as an employer (no verification) and post job details, then harvest CV data from the jobseekers who applied.
From the Department of Work and Pensions website: Home \ Advisers and intermediaries \ Updates \ Universal Jobmatch:
Universal Jobmatch is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) online service which is radically changing the way people look for and apply to jobs. It’s one of the biggest changes to the labour market in 27 years.
Universal Jobmatch is open to all jobseekers, regardless of whether or not they are claiming a benefit.
But if you are claiming a benefit, DWP can make you use it. Continue reading
1. Enhanced constitutional rights (b) Social rights (right to universal healthcare, education)
The right to work, and to be paid for your work, is a radical demand in the UK at the moment (see Economic Rights) also A day’s work for a day’s pay:
How is it that wanting a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work has become a left-wing, radical/revolutionary value? Iain Duncan Smith notoriously called Cait Reilly “snooty” for expecting to be paid to work in Poundland – though he himself continued to draw his MP’s salary and expenses during the six months he took off work in 2009 to care for his wife when she had breast cancer.
Social rights are good for the individual, but they’re also good for the general welfare.
Article 25: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Healthcare: what you need, when you need it, free at point of access 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