Monday, November 08, 2010

The Left must deal with the new Chingford Polecat

This piece of mine appears in today's First Post.

Neil Clark: The Archbishop and Labour MPs may be angry, but IDS has White Van Man on his side.

In my copy of Birds and Wild Animals by H Trevor Jones, the polecat is described as "a furtive hunter, now rare, but still found in the Welsh mountains".

Since the book was published in 1952, it seems that mustela putorius putorius has moved eastwards - and seems particularly fond of a town on the Essex/London border called Chingford.

The original 'Chingford Polecat', first sighted in the 1970s, was, of course, Norman 'On yer bike' Tebbit, the abrasive working-class Tory cabinet minister who introduced legislation curbing the trade unions and who castigated the work-shy.

Today's Chingford Polecat is Iain-Duncan Smith, who took over Tebbit's seat at the April 1992 general election. The former 'quiet man' of British politics, IDS is now Work and Pensions Secretary and sinking his fangs into the long-term unemployed.

You can read the whole of the piece here.


jock mctrousers said...

The day before he got sacked as Tory leader, Max Hastings said, in the Evening Standard, of IDS, " this turnip makes Michael Foot look like Spartacus" Yerv gotter larf, incher? The nerd's revenge.

There's nothing new about this stuff though. There have been compulsory New Deals, and Job Creations, and what-nots for years. You can imagine what the work experience amounts to - mostly doing nothing for some charity that gets paid for taking them on.

The basic jobseeker's allowance or income support is not now enough to live on, even if you have your gas and electricity disconnected. A phone is out of the question, as is riding a bus " Get on the bus and look for a job!" indeed! These people haven't a clue. Already most housing benefit falls short of even council house rents, and they're going to cut it back even further. So that £ 65 a week to live on is a lie - it's already much less than that, and it could soon be down to about £ 30 a week. You have to find some way to at least get cheap food ( and candles). If you're forced to spend 30 hours a week doing nothing, then you won't have that time to feed yourself.
Then there's all the seriously ill people who have no chance of getting a job, who are going to be put on JA for a year, then cut off - most of these will starve to death. The Mainstream media won't report it, or will describe it as 'revealed death' or something, you know, like ' revealed unemployment', the one they used to come out with to justify closing nationalised industries who weren't doing anything more useful than giving people a living, and providing vital services much cheaper and more efficiently than the privateers... Need I go on.

Mr. Piccolo said...

“. . . and the poor, it is well known, are of two kinds, ‘the industrious poor’ who work for their betters, and ‘the idle poor’ who work for themselves. “ --- R.H. Tawney

I have been reading a lot of Tom Hodgkinson lately, and I am stating to wonder about this whole job culture. We know that the capitalists don’t like full employment policies since they benefit from the downward pressure on wages caused by the reserve army of labor, and because capitalists have the money to control the politicians that control government, it will be tough to get the State to work towards full employment, unless there is some countervailing pressure from, say, a very strong organized labor movement, as was the case in many Western countries and Japan during the post-World War II era.

In light of this problem, why not dump the job culture and focus on actual production outside the “official” economy? For example, in the United States there was a strong worker self-help movement that concentrated on things like developing cooperatives and other alternatives to the dominant capitalist system. These self-help projects were often quite successful until they were destroyed via direct repression or through government policies that sought to discourage worker self-help.

Today, my understanding is that in many Latin countries, such as France and Italy, actual idleness is less prevalent than official statistics indicate, as many people work in the informal economy for relatives and the like (yes, I recognize some of this might be criminal activity, especially in areas like Southern Italy!).

While I recognize the benefits of the social democratic full employment system, I often wonder if we will ever be able to get back to that system with our politics so totally dominated by money power. Perhaps it is best for poor people to build their own destiny while telling the busybodies like Iain-Duncan Smith to take a hike.

Czarny Kot said...

The focus on benefits-- whether cutting them or defending them-- distracts us from the much more important issue of job creation.

A lot of the proposed benefit reforms would be OK if there were plenty of jobs going but undertaken at the same time as job-shedding cuts across the board they are a recipe for disaster.

Labour are guilty of not doing more to get long-term claimants into employment during the boom times when there were jobs about.

In the short-term, drastic benefit cuts should be opposed (but with reasonable counter-arguments rather than emotion0

In the long-term, we need to reduce the Welfare State to a minimum-- not by taking away benefits but by reducing the demand for them.

Sadly, Mr. Piccolo makes a good point when he says that most governments are not too interested in full employmeny.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism's logic works against the ideal of full employment. As the Phillips Curve demonstrated, when unemployment goes down inflation goes up. The moneyed classes do not like inflation because it reduces the value of their money and their debts-as-assets. The Phillips Curve theory was allegedly updated by monetarists with their idea of the natural rate of unemployment (NAIRU), but this turned out to be misleading; the basic inverse relationship holds firm. The relationship changes only in times of 'stagflation', where inflation and unemployment both go up together, but this is a temporary phenomenon that recedes when unemployment reaches a point at which inflation levels out and begins to drop.

We have to face the fact that the logic of capitalism - and this logic is even more rigid now that capitalism is finance-driven - is simply not geared up for full employment. This is one of those strange open secrets about which the media and the political classes keep quiet.

- questionnaire

brian said...

I got this note from a little friend:

'why do humans insist on insulting us by comparing us to odious humans?

Tom the (honorable) Polecat