Skip to main content

Labour joins the 'worker' versus 'shirker' poor bashing?

The political obsession with the 'squeezed middle' hurts the poorest. It is understandable. Whichever political party can appeal most to the middle income earners is likely to win the next election.

Sadly this is why some in the Labour party appear ready to abandon the poor. You don't win elections by being compassionate and understanding about poverty.

So, Labour's Rachel Reeves, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary,  vows to be tougher than the Tories on benefits and force the long-term unemployed to take up 'work offers' or lose their benefits. Labour is now in the same unethically divisive  game played by the Tories, to portray the unemployed as work-shy  'scroungers' or 'benefit cheats'; it is the 'workers' versus the 'shirkers' divide.

It is an easy story to buy into. We all know (don't we?) people who are on the dole who don't look for work and live in a 'benefits culture'. There is work out there (isn't there?) if only they would get off their backsides and look for it.

Unemployment in the North East is twice that in the South East. Are we to believe that those in the North East are twice as lazy as those in the South East? That these North Easterners are work shy compared to their cousins in the South?

Now, there is a problem for the long-term unemployed. The longer the period of unemployment the harder it is to get back into the job market. Help is required. But also what is required is relevant skills, experience. what is also needed, and here is the rub, is jobs.

No doubt a bit of stick should go with any carrot, but let us not deceive ourselves. Labour's tough position is little more than political expediency. It addresses not the real problem of getting the long-term unemployed back to work. It address and at that same time panders to the misconceptions about the unemployed held by the 'squeezed middle'.

The Tories have been rocked by Labour's potential appeal to this 'squeezed middle'. The standard of living has become a major issue. It has now outstripped the economics of growth or no growth and 'double dip' recession. As the latter recedes the Tories would expect a bounce in the polls. That it hasn't yet materialised is put down to the decreased earnings of the 'squeezed middle'.

The YouGov London poll for the Evening Standard is grim reading for the Tories with intention  CON 32%, LAB 45%, LIBDEM 10%, UKIP 9%  a swing of 5.5% from Con to Lab since the general election. This is in spite of the fact that Boris Johnson polls well with 64% approval for his job as Mayor.

There isn't much any of the parties can do about earnings (is there?) so the next best thing is to blame the poor. We would all be better off if we didn't pay so much on welfare (wouldn't we?).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Mr Duncan-Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison

Some time ago, actually it was a long time ago when I was in my early teens, someone close to me bought a table. It was an early flat pack variety. It came with a top and four legs. He followed the instructions to the letter screwing the legs into the top. But when he had completed it the table wobbled. One leg he explained was shorter than the other three; so he sawed a bit from each of the other legs. The table wobbled. One leg, he explained, was longer than the other three. So, he sawed a bit off. The table wobbled. He went on cutting the legs, but the table continued to wobble. Cut, cut, cut! By this time he had convinced himself there was no alternative to it.  He ended up with a very low table indeed, supported by four very stumpy legs and a bit of cardboard placed under one of them to stop it wobbling on the uneven floor.  Mr Duncan-Smith argues that we need a 1% cap on benefits to be 'fair to average earners'. Average  earners have seen their incomes rise by less tha

His way or none? Why I can't vote for Jeremy

There is an assumption that all would be well with the Labour Party if people hadn't expressed their genuine concern with what they consider the inadequacies of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If only, it is said, the Parliamentary Labour Party and his Shadow Cabinet had supported him, instead of undermining him, all would have been fine. If they had been quiet and towed the line, then the party would not have been in the mess it is in. So, should they have stayed silent, or speak of their concerns? There comes a point when the cost of staying silent outweighs the cost of speaking out. This is a judgment. Many call it a coup by the PLP. They paint a picture of a right-wing PLP out of touch with the membership.  This is the narrative of the Corbyn camp. But Jeremy Corbyn, over the decades he has been in politics, showed the way.  It was Jeremy Corbyn who opposed almost all Labour leaders and rarely held back from speaking out, or voting time and again against the party line. As