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

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

Noise pollution puts nature at risk

 "I just want a bit of peace and quiet!" Let's get away from all the hustle and bustle; the sound of endless traffic on the roads, of the trains on the railway, and the planes in the sky; the incessant drone; the noise. We live in a world of man-made noise; screeching, bellowing, on-and-on in an unmelodious cacophony.  This constant background noise has now become a significant health hazard.   With average background levels of 60 decibels, those who live in cities are often exposed to noise over 85 decibels, enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.  It causes stress, high blood pressure, headache and loss of sleep and poor health and well-being.   In nature, noise has content and significance.  From the roar of the lion, the laughing of a hyena,  communication is essential for life; as the warning of danger, for bonding as a group or a pair, finding a mate, or for establishing a position in a hierarchy - chattering works.  Staying in touch is vital to working

Therapeutic animal stress

Interacting with animals is known to be therapeutic,  particularly in reducing stress.  But do we consider sufficiently the effects this may have on the animals involved?   We might assume that because it is calming for us, then it must be so for the therapeutic animals, but is this so?  New research suggests that it isn't always without stress for the animals involved.  Positive human-animal interaction relates to changes in physiological variables both in humans and other animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress (fear, anxiety) and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain.  It also reduces the 'stress' hormone, cortisol. Indeed, these biological responses have measurable clinical benefits.  Oxytocin has long been implicated in maternal bonding, sexual behaviour and social affiliation behaviours and in promoting a sense of well-being .  So far, so good.  We humans often turn to animals for stress relief, companionship, and even therapy.  We kno