Thursday, May 27, 2010

Welcome back, good old Tories

From "cuddly" government to Iain Duncan Smith: here's the Coalition in all its glory.

After the election binge and the disappointments that came with it, this blog had made a vow to stay away from politics for as long as possible.

We learnt that objecting to proposals and bills is the wrong thing to do. Apparently you have to keep quiet and wait until they've been tried and tested. Even if it's tens of millions of pounds axed from children services and transport. Even if that may cause mayhem - it's in the national interest, so that's alright.

We learnt that fighting for a manifesto on May 5 and then doing the exact opposite on May 7, a-la Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, is perfectly fine. It's your problem if it doesn't add up. It's in the national interest, so we should get on with it.

We learnt that, no matter what, Britain will enjoy fixed parliaments and that, in three years' time or maybe longer, we'll have a referendum on AV which the Tories will campaign against, so everything else is alright.

And in any case, with a coalition government so fluffy and cuddly that 90% of the media are currently offering their love, what could possibly be said against them. They're working in the "national interest", after all, so we decided to stop whining for a while.

Two weeks on and after the declarations of love and national interest, however, this caring government needs to be pulled up over something.

Today the limelight is on ├╝ber Tory Iain Duncan Smith and his plans over at Work and Pensions, which come straight from the darkest days of Thatcherism.

In a speech that sounds like the a tabloid's wet dream, IDS laid out his no-bullshit action plan consisting, amongst other things, of: the unemployed being forced to do community work in exchange for benefits; immediate requirement to sign up for training schemes; benefits suspended to those who refuse job offers; a "significant number" of those on incapacity benefits moved into work asap.

Let's ignore the fact that -especially post recession- millions are on the dole through no fault of their own. Let's turn a blind eye on the fact that when you can't find a job it's absolutely disheartening and the last thing you need is national campaigns that make you feel even more worthless and in need of self-flagellation. Let's ignore all that.

The thing is, IDS forgets three enormous things.

1) There's a massive recession out there. Unemployment is at its highest in twenty years. There are less jobs available around. The "aggressive cuts" (to quote David Laws) will mean even less jobs available in the very near future. So, very simply, how are millions of alleged lazy layabouts going to find a job?

2) IDS repeated that at present the rewards for choosing to work were "very minimal" or even "none at all". His party however, have consistently ferociously campaigned against the minimum wage.

I will swallow humble pie if I'm proven wrong, but they're extremely unlikely to rise the minimum wage in the foreseeable future. So how's that going to be rewarding?

3) Also, the famous "tax incentives" outlined in the Queen's Speech fall well short of the original promise to raise the tax threshold to £10,000. So how are dead-end McJobs that will still be paid a pittance supposed to suddenly turn from demoralising to "rewarding"?

Welcome back, good old Tories.


roym said...

yeah, stupid tory platitudes about scroungers. surely you expected it?

i think you should continue the "no politics" rule for a while yet. at least enjoy the summer!

claude said...

I will...I will...Also important stuff is going on anyway in my life so I don't think I'll be blogging as much in the near future.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Out of curiosity, given the dire state of the nation's finances, what would be your approach to the problem?

The issues at hand feel huge, I wish we had a Labour government dealing with them but we don't.

claude said...

What would I do, Daniel?

Exactly what the Lib Dem election manifesto claimed was possible.

Three examples. Instead of "aggressively" cutting public services immediately, I'd get funds via the "mansion tax", or by scrapping the Trident replacement or/and by increasing NI a touch.

That's what Vince Cable argued with passion between 2008 and 5 May 2010. It sounded good to me.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Indeed, although considering the mountain of debt I am not totally agreed that all those matters would do the job required, not saying the current efforts will do that either.

And to be clear, I feel betrayed by what the Lib Dems did, so much so that I joined the Labour Party!

Anonymous said...

I hate the bloody Tories. I also hate how they are taking the Lib Dems for a complete ride. Makes me sad.