Thursday, December 04, 2008

Queen's Speech and the "biggest shake up"

"In Britain", Gordon Brown said yesterday, there could never be "one rule for some and another rule for others". So watch out, you scroungers.

Amidst the medieval style pomp and pageantry that accompanied the Queen's Speech, it was ironic that the word modernising was the order of the day. They all want to modernise. All those hardworkers, Brown, James Purnell and even a Lord, Mr Mandelson. "In Britain", Gordon Brown said yesterday, there could never be "one rule for some and another rule for others". Good, isn't it?

But Brown wasn't talking about the country's feudal structures. He wasn't on about Prince Charles and his untaxed £16 million income from the Duchy of Cornwall. Nor was the Prime Minister referring to Britain's annual £25bn lost from tax avoidance (according to the Observer, the sum would be "enough money to increase old-age pensions by 20 per cent"). How about Britain hosting 35 tax havens out of a world total of 70? And would the Prime Minister do whatever it takes to stop billionaires like Mohammed al-Fayed "negotiating the amount of tax he paid with the Inland Revenue"?

No. Not a word about all that. Gordon Brown's modernising means yet another "biggest shake-up" in the benefit system. It means picking on the easiest targets. Those that the tabloids pour shit over day in day out. Those that don't bring party donations or political clout. Those that make you look tough-and-no-bullshit. Watch out disabled, benefit cheats, single mums who keep getting up the duff and incapacity fraudsters. "Everyone has an obligation to work". No matter how crap, underpaid, insecure, alienating. Just get back to work. And they always dress it up as if the current system was a load of money thrown at you, no questions asked. They don't tell you that signing on is already mean-tested, monitored, subject to a list of conditions, restrictions and exceptions, interviews, restart interviews, sanctions and Decision Makers.

Well, at least you can't accuse the Government of incoherence. This country may suffer from chronic goldfish memory, but this has been New Labour's relentless drive since its inception. Take a look at this BBC budget report from ten years ago. Scroll down a couple of paragraphs. It's as if we never moved on. The language, the priorities, the soundbites. We're still stuck in 1998.

You'll find the deeply ironic: "The Queen told parliament: 'My government has made clear its determination to modernise the welfare state upon clear principles of work, security, fairness and value for money'". And more, "The measure is intended to help disabled people identify what they can do, as well as what they cannot do[...]". The word modernise pops up again: "Incapacity benefit will also be modernised".

Fast forward to 2005 and "The Government will announce the biggest shake-up to benefits for the sick and disabled for 60 years today by removing the financial incentive for people to remain on incapacity benefit".

Which tells you one thing. Either a) this Government is completely inept and whichever "biggest shake-up" they still fail to achieve anything. Or b) there is nothing to be achieved, and no difference to be made, as Britain's problems and galloping unemployment have absolutely nothing to do with people claiming £59.15 a week.

4 comments:

Anita said...

The best article I've read on the subject. I thought I was the only idiot thinking that each couple of years New Labour annoucne a new "big shake-up". They shake it so much it's gonna turn into an earthquake. And hopefully it will for them at he next elections....

DARWEN REPORTER said...

If you have kids you should be prepared to support them. You can't expect other people to work to pay you to bring up your kids.

Personally I'm fed up of seeing young lads hanging around our town centre during the day in designer sports clothes with mobile phones clamped to their ears.

They should be working. A low paid job is better than no job. Once you have one job it is easier to get another.

When my kids were small I worked two part time jobs fitted around my husband's work hours so he could look after them.

It's much too easy these days to hold your hand out rather than getting off your backside and working!

Anita said...

Darwen Reporter,

"When my kids were small I worked two part time jobs fitted around my husband's work hours so he could look after them."

But some people haven't got a husband "to fit" part time jobs around.

That said, it's true that quite a few people get pregnant, how can I put it, light-heartedly. And here I am waiting for my financial circumstances to be right before I drop a sprog. But like it or not, there are millions of different situations.

DARWEN REPORTER said...

Anita the point I'm trying to make is if you have children "you" should be responsible for supporting them.

Anyone can make a mistake and get pregnant and not be in a good position to support their child.
But it's when they carry on having child after child with different fathers and expect the tax payer to pick up the bill that they are really taking the ****

Yes, I had somone to help look after my children while I worked but I could have sat at home and claimed it was impossible with two young children. (I first went back to work p/time when my daughter was just six weeks old!)

Working sets an example for children. There are some families where several generations haven't worked as they have no role model.