Labour MP would like to ban your benefits if you don’t vote

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh would like people to be forced to vote in order to be allowed access to benefits, should they require them at any point. She would like to “ensure [that people] engage with democracy”. How entertaining. So Labour MPs can abstain en masse from voting on whether people who have had their money unfairly sanctioned should have it paid back, or from voting on whether there should be a public referendum on the UK leaving the EU; but the “underclasses” cannot themselves abstain from voting and should be forced onto the electoral register and sanctioned for refusing to choose between (as South Park put it so eloquently) a douche and a turd.

Which do you like best?

Which do you like best?

That “underclass” reference is lifted directly from her own argument, it’s not hyperbole:

“What we will see if we are not careful is the people on the edges of society will slowly disengage, we will institutionalise the underclass.”

And it is with that argument that we can see the very cynical motive for her proposed suggestion. The “underclass”, if they absolutely had to vote, would almost certainly – given no other option – vote for Labour. This is because Labour are the only party whose lies include lipservice to the needs of the working class. The Tories make no bones about being all about the wealthy and their best interests, and the Lib Dems are universally acknowledged pissweasels. McDonagh just wants more votes, and her disgusting patronisation of poor people is nothing but a whitewash to cover that it is in fact she who wants something for nothing – more votes for doing sod all except restricting civil liberties.

I was considering whether or not to give Labour my tactical vote next time around. After this they can sod off with the rest of ’em.

Paul Routledge quips awkwardly about “getting the chair leg” out on “bad tenants”

Paul Routledge, founder of tenant “lifestyle referencing” site Landlord Referencing, having a little joke here with presenter Vanessa Warwick about “getting the chair leg out” on what we must assume are people he would consider to be bad tenants. The exchange occurs about a minute into the video.

VW: “I’ve heard some entertaining stories; um, I’ve heard a gentleman suggesting that when you have a bad tenant, you get the chair leg out…”

PR: “Aaah… Well no, he ah, ah that was his suggestion, he turned around and he said – I don’t think he was – I think he might have been Russian actually – I don’t – [in heavy accent] “We don’t need that, ah we get the chair leg” ah that was a bit Greek wunnit? Heh, a heh, heh – My Russian’s rubbish… Erm… but he, yeah “get the chair leg out”. I said “I don’t know if we can do that anymore really but you know… [indecipherable] if we could get the chair leg out it would probably solve a lot of problems” but -“

VW: “But seriously though you’re a professional landlord…”

This exchange is obviously referencing a conversation that Vanessa and Paul had off-camera with the “Russian” gentleman in question. I had a similar exchange outside a gay bar in Soho last year, where a Ukranian bouncer was talking about how he has to put up with too much rudeness from some of the male clientele, and how in the Ukraine, bouncers carry weapons and people look the other way if a gay man is beaten up. I asked him whether he actually wanted to beat up gay men who were rude to him in his job, and he said “No, of course not, but I would like respect”. I think he was angry because he knew that gay men would be less likely to be rude to him if he was working in his home country; but the reason why they would be more polite would be the fear of violence, not because they thought he was a good person – so to my mind that is a poor form of respect.

In this very similar exchange that Paul and Vanessa reconstruct between themselves – amidst awkward guffaws and giggles – it seems very apparent that Paul Routledge has issues with being treated respectfully. He seems to be fondly remembering a time when the threat of the “chair leg” – or other such tool of violence – was part of the private landlord’s arsenal when it came to tenant management. Routledge’s lifestyle referencing agency is a “chair leg” that he can get away with wielding, and is entirely to do with the “attitude” and “lifestyle” of the tenant, not their payment record or stewardship of the property.

Paul Routledge was evidently not a well-respected landlord when he couldn’t threaten his “disrespectful” tenants. I believe that this is why he set up his lifestyle referencing agency. He believes that he is the “good guy”, a pillar of morality; a self-made success – looking out for the little fella or lass and weeding out the “problem people” from what he perceives to be his own little community. Unfortunately for him, and for his tenants, his own fragile narcissism requires that every tenant metaphorically ‘doff their cap’ or suffer his wrath, be labelled a “problem person” and thus blacklisted; then subsequently struggle and suffer to get a roof over their heads.

There are already measures in place for landlords with actual problem tenants. We have an entire justice system with police and courts to deal with reported antisocial or illegal activities. Paul Routledge is a landlord, not a vigilante messiah. If they’re paying on time and haven’t wrecked your house, it’s not your job to change their souls, mate – either by the first gentle conversation suggesting some little lifestyle changes, or the final blacklisting and threats of homelessness if people don’t change to ape your own personal morality.

If It Makes You Tall

Twist, and lie, and obfuscate
If it makes you tall
Slink around the alley gates
Scale the garden wall
Darkness was and is your friend
She’s known the darkness too
The bitterness, the avarice –
Aversion to the truth
So warp your mind
Around the time
When you switched love for hate
When you decided
“Fuck the light”
“Fuck the path that’s straight”
And tell yourself
It isn’t fair
That you deserve to choose
To lie to keep things
As you’d like –
But if you do, you’ll lose.

I agree with The Daily Mail: Name us and shame us!

Mark Littlewood, former darling of the Liberal Democrats and now the director general at the Institute of Economical Affairs (a free market think tank that has as much to do with thoughtfully applied economic theory as a McSalad has to do with healthy eating) has written today in The Daily Mail that he believes that George Osborne should publish the names of every welfare recipient in the country, along with how much money they are receiving, and the duration of the time they are receiving welfare payments. He believes that this would help to reduce the government’s welfare spending budget.

He’s a funny little man this Littlewood, the sort of person who stops donating money to third world children the second the government increases their foreign aid budget. The sort of person who expects a personal thank you from benefit recipients and updates about the steps they are making to improve their lives. A peculiar stance for an ostensibly libertarian chap, but nobody really expects consistency from shills and blatantly provocative media whores; you’d be as well expecting a prostitute dressed as a french maid to know a damn thing about getting stubborn stains out of the carpet.

Mark Littlewood just buys a new carpet.

Mark Littlewood just buys a new carpet.

Outrage, I suppose, is what he intended to create with his poorly-argumented Daily Mail OP. The funny thing is, I find myself agreeing with Littlewood, I think it would be fantastic if such information was made public (don’t worry, it can’t and won’t be, Littlewood’s suggestion is entirely unfeasible). Over 50% of the public are net beneficiaries of the state. Far more people receive benefits than The Daily Mail would have its readership believe. Indeed, a very large proportion of its readership will be on some form of state benefit, whether that be Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Tax Credits, State Pension or a whole host of other named benefits that are available.

If the actual figures were made public, for the first time many people receiving benefits would see that they are part of a massive crowd, a throng if you will, of individuals who have all, for one reason or another, found themselves struggling and requiring assistance. Each and every individual who was publicly named would be experiencing a simmering anger at the way they had been treated in having their personal financial affairs made public, and for the very first time would have a list of potential allies in their hometown – with each potential ally also feeling this simmering anger, and no longer being inhibited by the social expectation to pretend to the outside world that they are not receiving state support. Instantly a crowd of people with not much left to lose (one can’t attempt to “keep up appearances” when one’s financial matters are out on display for all to see) would appear, seemingly out of nowhere.

And this is why the assistance you receive from the state will not be made public. But Littlewood can rest assured that if his idea was implemented and actually came to fruition; a whole bunch of jolly jobseekers would be round his place to personally update him on the steps they are taking to improve their situation.

I wonder if he’d put out cake?

Stop shaming your out-of-work friends and neighbours.

It only exposes your own ignorance when you do.

The UK is currently experiencing high levels of unemployment as a result of the damage to the economy caused by the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The country slipped into a recession that resulted in countless businesses going under, and many jobs being lost. Due to the austerity measures enacted by the current government, the UK’s economy has barely lifted from this slump and the current level of unemployment is 7.8%, an over 50% increase from its pre-recession level of just over 5%.


The austerity measures of the current government have not resulted in an increase in work vacancies, and a shaky Eurozone has enabled the incumbent government to attempt write off the double dip recession that occurred under the watchful eye of Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. The stubborn fact remains however that there are simply far more unemployed people than jobs available in this country. Click this link to see how your area fares ratio-wise; and notice that the only area in the country with more job vacancies than unemployed people residing there is the City of London. Fortunately for the predominantly very well-heeled residents of the City of London and immediately surrounding boroughs, the housing benefit cap of £500 maximum a week ensures that those jobs remain available only for those who can either afford the inordinately expensive city rents even while out of work, or are able to afford the time and money to commute from the outer zones. Everyone else in the country, apart from those who can afford to work in the City of London, is having to face the grim reality of there not being anywhere nearly as many jobs available as there are people who are unemployed.

Why, then, are the ranks of those being expected to be out and looking for work rising day by day? Why the media narratives suggesting that the high unemployment figures are somehow in any way related to the attitude of people who are unemployed? If every single unemployed person decided next week to spend every waking hour applying for jobs, handing CVs out, writing to employers, joining agencies etc; jobs for them would not magically appear. More and more disabled people are being ruled “fit-to-work” by the much-maligned Atos-administered Work Capability Assessment. Lone parents with children aged between 5 and 13 are also for the first time being expected to find work. In an environment where there may be (as in my local area) 8 unemployed people for every 1 job vacancy posted, more people are being sent out to compete, even though the latest additions (disabled people and lone parents) have existing disadvantages that mean realistically that they have very low chances of securing employment compared to people who are able-bodied and/or don’t have care commitments.

There is a massive industry built around the existence of unemployed people. If enough people believe that unemployment exists because unemployed people don’t know how to get jobs, or don’t want to get jobs; then businesses can, instead of offering job vacancies at minimum wage or higher, simply get people on the dole to do it for their benefits. They are supplied these unfortunate unemployed people by Jobcentres and Work Programme providers. The Work Programme itself is founded on the idea that the people who are most struggling to find a job (i.e. those who have been unemployed for 9-12 months) would be able to find nonexistent work if they went to more frequent weekly sessions teaching them about how to look for the nonexistent work. It costs the taxpayer, and has no quantifiable results insofar as getting its clients back into work goes; the December 2012 report strongly suggests what everybody who is actually going through this recession as an unemployed person already knows – that you are just as likely (or even more likely) to find a paid job without any specialist taxpayer-funded Work Programme help as you are if you’re on their books and being dragged in for pointless make-work every other day.

So, we have a situation where the dominant ideology regarding unemployed people is that if they “try hard enough”, they’ll certainly find something. People who have not been able to find work in this current environment of there being far more unemployed people than there are work vacancies are being told by everyone – friends, family, media and the government, that they aren’t trying hard enough. Paid work has become the only sort of “work” that a person does that is to be considered of any real value to society in general. Reject this toxic notion.

Society is built not only by people going out to work for money, but also by the people who work by helping others out for free. When we devalue the latter form of work, when we tell people who are not in paid work that they are “useless” and a “drain” on society, they can start to focus and obsess about finding paid work and their care commitments can be viewed as being a useless waste of time, keeping them down and stopping them from ever becoming valuable in the eyes of society. Who the hell wants to live in a society where a person who is good at caring for a vulnerable person is being told they aren’t valuable enough yet, and have to go and look for nonexistent jobs that fit around their care commitment – when there are currently many people without care commitments who are applying for the same jobs? Who wants to live in a society where despite there being scores of able-bodied people having to compete for the scant amount of paid work available, disabled people are being labelled “workshy” and forced out to find jobs? Despite over 50% of the people in this country being net beneficiaries of the tax system, an alarmingly large amount of that same percentage of people believe that because they work and pay tax, they’re paying for other people’s households while they’re out of work, not realising that they haven’t even covered their own household’s cost to the state yet, nevermind the cost of anybody else’s. This group is responsible for a lot of the daily misery suffered by jobseekers, as they are often part of their peer network; and through ignorance of the facts make life very difficult for those around them unable to find paid work.

Society needs to return to a belief in the value of unpaid work and the work of those with caring responsibilities. If you are a person who currently cannot find paid work, but you do unpaid work and/or have caring responsibilities that you do well with, you are just as much of value as the citizen who is fortunate enough in the current economic climate to secure a salary that is taxed and redistributed. The only citizen without value is one who does not help to rally people together, or support them, in these tough times. The liar who knowingly blames innocent people for the failures of himself and his cronies. The person who has plenty to give, but hoards and keeps everything for herself and people she believes to be just like her instead.

This doesn’t sound like any decent person I know, in paid work or not. I want unemployed people who feel as though they are struggling to stay strong. Remember that as long as you contribute daily, it’s only a ballsed-up narrative telling ignorant people otherwise that is bringing you down. This won’t stop those ignorant people, but it will help you to stop believing in them and their value judgments, and to focus on improving your quality of life without the strain of feeling as though you can’t be useful if you’re not currently in paid work.

Respect and solidarity.


We walk alone
We die alone
We hate their dreams
We know enough
Enough to fall
Away from grace
And fuck their grace
It’s not for us
They medicate
They feel no pain
We feel no pain
Unless we choose
To love or hate
On our own terms
And in their games
We play to lose


Never thick and easy
But nervous
Waiting for them, with me
Swarming softly
They weave, they fold
Engulf and drop me
Through labyrinthine dreams
Of others
A demon cast out
By my mother
A demon summoned
By my father
Spans timeless voids
And darker matter
They bargained over souls he’d brought
My father lost but never talked
One child died later
In the sun
One child died slowly
One child won

Never thick and easy
But screaming
Waiting for them, with me