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.

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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%.

austerity

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.

People Should Not Lose Out of Work Benefits for Being Overweight

Jonathan Carr-West of the LGiU think tank has been a busy little thinky-bee lately. His organisation have published a paper extolling the possible public benefit of mandating exercise sessions for benefits claimants who are overweight. The arguments contained within are, according to Carr-West, “intended to stimulate and provoke… [with the hope that] they can lead to a debate”.

Jonathan Carr-West. Twitter: @joncarrwest

Jonathan Carr-West. Twitter: @joncarrwest

The thing is though, there is no debate to be had. It’s a thoroughly stupid and unenforceable idea for a scheme, dreamed up by a bunch of middle class wankers who long ago stopped viewing people on low incomes as being anywhere near capable of having valid ideas, views, thoughts, opinions or plans. We’re scrawping baby chicks who refuse to leave the nest; ugly, flightless, and utterly dependent on regurgitated sustainence spewed down our throats as often as is required to keep us alive – and we’re happier about all this than pigs rolling around in shit. This view is shared by many middle class members of society, regardless of professed political affiliation. This view is so popular that people like Carr-West can make professional names for themselves as guardians of the poor, offering their warped interpretations of so many bits of data to other, even more insulated middle class people, who haven’t a clue about the actual lives of poor people. These patchy, guesswork assessments of poor people; loaded with cognitive bias, become accepted by the majority of middle class people. Once the basic model of the feckless idiot pauper becomes generally accepted by the majority of the middle class, it’s a veritable piece of piss to convince them that the best way to deal with us is to treat us like stubborn, petulant children.

So pervasive is this attitude that intellectual rigour flies right out of the window, and even the most mediocre middle class bore feels quite at home donning the imaginary doctor’s coat and prescribing their invaluable homespun remedies and cures for all the poverty, addiction and illness in the world. I spent ages today, transfixed by the idiots on CiF who were blathering on about what’s to be done with the fatty fatty scruff scruffs; and the appalling lack of evidence offered to back up the sneering proclamations from on high was enough to make me shed a single tear for all those unfortunate children who are never taught to think critically – then grow up to become thick, insufferable twats.

Not like these guys. These guys are cool.

Not like these guys. These guys are cool.

The truth of the matter is that forcing people to exercise for their out of work benefits is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Aside from there being absolutely no medical evidence to suggest that the strategy would work in the long term, the point remains that as long as a person is honouring the agreement they made to actively look for work, they should receive their Jobseekers Allowance and any Housing Benefit and Council Tax Allowance that their active Jobseeker status entitles them to.

If the NHS genuinely can’t deal with the sick people in this country then it is sadly not fit for purpose. No amount of crying about which illnesses cost the most to treat can change this fact. I suggest that all these truly concerned, bleeding heart middle class people go private for healthcare and ease the burden on the people at the bottom who cannot afford to take that action. See, we can all just say things. I came up with that in my bedroom think tank, fuelled only by a delicious can of sugary, branded cola; which also helped immensely with the hangover from yesterday’s heavy drinking. I bet loads of you would like to know whether your taxpayer money paid for it. Well fuck off and stop being so fucking rude before I shit out septuplets just to get a free house off you, because I’m poor aren’t I; and I haven’t got ambition like you, and I want to cripple myself with care commitments until I die so that I can keep taking your money and getting spoken to and about like a piece of shit.

Get real, thinky-bees, and come back when you have something of more substance to offer than the tired, unevidenced recommendation that we simply shepherd strawmen.